Monday, September 25, 2006

The Best Worst Trip

On Tuesday, September 19th, I was driven to the bottom of the canyon. Ok, really I was driven to the location of the start or end of the trail system. I was shoved out the door with my 900 pound pack with a beautiful canyon floor awaiting me below. And then I dropped into the canyon and began my four day, three night adventure. I was hiking into old indian country, but I was pretty sure I was not going to get scalped or impaled. But I was wrong. The trail system had not been used in quite some time because of the scorching heat so there was a lot of bush whacking and relocating the trail quite a lot during the trip. Within the first two miles, I was impaled in the lip. It is amazing how much the lip bleeds. I exited the marshy area to find my lip and arms splattered with blood. But then I kept reminding myself I was getting paid to do this and should not complain too much. There was so much to see, but I had a mission and I stuck to it. That first night I hiked approx 5 miles. And fell asleep peacefully under the stars.

The second day I trudged on. As many of you know, I have a slight problem drinking water. And I was about to spend 4 days hiking 22 miles so at some point I was going to have to filter water. I was kind of nervous since I barely can drink tap water, but I have to say that the filter water wasn't that terrible. The second day when I awoke the gray fluffless clouds were forming in the west and by mid-afternoon I would be ducking and hiding from the rain every chance I got. I actually waited out the rain at one point only to get absolutely drenched after bush whacking through the reeds. But then sometimes it was worth it.

The rain always brings out the best in colors in the desert. Of course while I was taking this photo, I am sure this is where I missed the trail for about the third time. The wind and hail were an extra bonus of fun. What is nice is that there are tons of nooks and crannies where I could shelter myself from the torments. On the second night after losing my Nalgeen bottle down a 20 foot cliff, almost falling down the cliff when the sand embankment gave way (well at least I could have gotten the bottle), and bush whacking to hell; I gave up and climbed up the embankment to sleep with a pack rat. Each night I set up the night under an overhang because it had an integrated rain fly and I wasn't too confident in it, but in the end it held true. The pack rat or mountain lion only scratched at my pack once.

The next morning I hiked to my last location. According to the map, I would have 8.5 miles from the canyon head to the end. Due to the rainy time, I was afraid my pickup might not be at the trailhead because of the road being impassable and figured I might have to travel an additional 3.5 miles. So I decided I would hike down 5 miles and be that much closer to the trailhead just in case I had to walk the additional. Well sometimes GPS units or maps lie. Thursday night it rained all night and when I awoke on Friday the creek was running at a good speed and amount. I packed up early and headed down the trail. A fresh pair of socks never felt so damn good. 10 minutes later they were soaked from crossing the creek in numerous places, some places up to my knees. The quick drying pants weren't drying quick enough. Within an hour I was at the trailhead. As I said things lie sometimes. I called for my support vehicles, who said she would be there in 30 minutes. An hour and half later she arrived. I was near hypothermic at that time. But it was well worth it. Like a good condor, when the sun appeared, disappeared, and reappeared, I stretched out my wings and sunned myself to warm up.

As always enjoy the rest of the photos:

Week 4

Week 5