17 08 2010

This isn’t a typical “relaxing” vacation – but we’re still OK with a slower pace. So, this morning, we didn’t get up until 10:45. Kristin and I sat in our Crazy Creeks and enjoyed the view – it’s overcast today, but the temperature is still fairly decent and the foggy mist in the air has it’s own unique feel.

Relaxing - crazy creek style

Our campsite

We eventually make our way to the bear canisters and then position ourselves to make some food. We decide that we are going to have dinner for breakfast at lunch. We need the calories, and since we slept through breakfast it seems like a practical solution. Just as we’re cleaning up, we start to feel more drops of rain. The group consensus is to hang out in our tents for a bit, hoping the weather will pass.

Chef Dan

I alternate between napping, reading, and journaling for the next few hours. By three, the rain has yet to throw in the towel, and we hear Dan and Kristin talking next to us. Dan dons his rain gear and spots a caribou in the process. He then makes his way to our tent with his map in hand, showing us where he thinks we are and the route he is suggesting we follow. We agree, reluctant though we are to exchange the warmth of our sleeping bags for the cold and rain.

The view from inside the tent...not really wanting to leave just yet

Packing up takes awhile, and taking down a tent in the rain proves to be as unappealing as it sounds. I find, however, that I can get the entire tent packed up and put away while leaving the rain fly over me as a cover – a feat I am still proud of.

The next several hours are a blur of rain and cold and perpetual wet. We eventually come to a riverbed and decide to walk along it as long as we are able. At first I’m disappointed. With all of the gorgeous terrain surrounding us – a flat, rocky riverbed is the last thing I’d imagined for today. But I can’t help but feel grateful. I’m cold and soaked, and the rain does not appear to be letting up. The hills around us are protecting us from the worst of the wind, and the rocky surface, while slippery, is easier to navigate than any of the alternatives.

Our riverbed...

Cool in its own way

We finally stop for water. We haven’t been drinking as much as we should, but, when all of your mental energy is focused on putting one foot in front of the other, little things like hydration tend to slip your mind. I dip our Nalgene’s into the frigid water and Dan positions his filter. My gloves are soaked through at this point, and I’m starting to lose feeling in my hands. They are swollen and don’t really work as well as I would like them to, but I don’t think too much of it as we pause and take in the still-breathtaking views around us.

Ah yes, drinking is a good idea

Dan climbs up the hill at one point while Margo, Kristin, and I take our chances with the rocky cliff jutting out into the river. I think it looks like fun, so I grab on and climb sideways across the rocky wall. Margo comes next, and I have to coach her through it as she clings for dear life, trying to avoid slipping into the icy water. Kristin, always the practical one, opts to simply walk through the shallow water around the wall.

From his spot above us, Dan spots some white blobs in the distance – he calls out, announcing the approach of what he assumes are sheep. As we wind around the bends in the river, it becomes clear that they are, in fact, people. It’s kind of hard to believe that in the six million possible acres of the park we actually run into another group, but we stop and briefly chat. Their tennis shoes and cotton garb make me feel infinitely more prepared by comparison. And as they talk I’m even more thankful for the riverbed and our current position. They had been dropped off about an hour earlier – meaning we aren’t far from the road. No one has verbalized it yet, but an unstated agreement has materialized among us – it gains strength with each step we take: if it doesn’t stop raining, we’re leaving the park early.

But we’re not to our unit yet, so we continue up and down the muddy banks of the river, picking the rocky areas whenever we can. Margo almost loses her shoe in the mud at one point as we climb a steep hill, but this potential tragedy is avoided.

We know there is a lake in our unit, not far from the road and when the riverbed opens up, we are all convinced we’ve found the seasonally dried-out remnants of it. We climb a final ridge, hoping to get a better gauge of our position. Dan thinks he sees the road, and all doubt is erased as we see a bus go rolling by in the distance. The relief I feel is literally overwhelming.

We aren’t supposed to camp within sight of the road, so we walk around the hill trying to find a spot shielded from sight. But that’s not really very safe, and the brush is still pretty dense. The wind and rain are picking up. It’s 9:30, and with the cloud cover are opportunity to set up camp with natural light is dwindling. So in the end we decide to camp in the lakebed – we’re done caring if a few bus passengers see us as they drive by.

Rain gear

Nice pants!

I’m literally shivering at this point and suggest we set up our tents one at a time – the wind is so strong I figure it will take a person on each corner to get them up well. It’s ten by the time we’re done, and I make my way across the rocks to the bear canister. My hands still aren’t working, and my whole body is shaking from the cold as I fumble with the lock – fighting to secure a power bar I don’t really even want to eat. My attitude has been pretty good up until this point, but when I climb in my sleeping bag only to realize I have to go back to the bear canister because we have some scented things still in our tent – I’m finally frustrated.

Eventually, I crawl into my sleeping bag for good – too exhausted to care if parts of our bags are sticking out in the rain. I pull the drawstring around my mummy bag tight and literally only my eyes are showing.

Throughout the night I wake up as I toss and turn on the rocky ground, and each time I do I can feel the frigid air on my face. I’m not sure if I’m excited for morning or dreading it – knowing I’ll have to once again abandon my warm cocoon.




2 responses

12 10 2010

Way to conquer the Half Dome in the rain! I’ve never had to pack it up that way but I like it!

12 10 2010
Amy White

I’ll give you a lesson next time we’re out in the wilderness together! Maybe I’ll buy a tent soon and then Abigail can be my tent-mate 😉 Or I’ll get a three-person tent so you and Kristin can sleep with me and the men can take Abigail and Baby Hamilton respectfully…Typing that just made me realize our guy-girl ratio is getting WAY out of whack now! Ha!

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