First of all I have to admit an error in judgement. I was told straight up that I chose a trailhead that immediately led into a 3000 foot elevation rise. I knew that but Ego said, hey let’s go for it!
I was so pumped up I agreed with Ego, and we went for it. Katrina sent me off from Seiad Valley where I first signed the registry and had a decent breakfast. The waitress was even kind enough to wrap my extra pancake for the ride. I carried that pancake with me all day. I was also told a storm was expected and several people have hiked back out. But I don’t want to talk about that anymore.
It was slow from the get-go, because my pack weighed in at over 40 pounds from me trying to stuff a 8 days worth of food into it. That was mistake number two. I basically went from switch back to switch back feeling every muscle in my body come to life. I trained a little bit but nothing slightly compared to this ascent. It was up, up, up the mountains. Just when I thought I was reaching the top of a mountain, a bigger meaner mountian was waiting behind it. Hours went by and I stopped off and to enjoy the view, breathe the air, and acknowledge the various bugs, flowers, and the gorgeous Cedars that have been there longer than us.
By the time I reached what I thought was the final tip top of the mountain, I checked my GPS and was told it was still a half-mile away. The sun was starting to go down and I had to find camp.
Let me explain a little bit about me. I am terrified of heights. More specifically I am fearful of small walking paths with steep drops immediately next to them. I told my dad before I left that if I encounter any of those that I was going to turn around and come straight back. Well joke’s on me, that happened immediately and the entire 5 miles uphill were all those. Meaning that you can’t just stop and make camp, or even stop and sit down until you find a Switchback or a fallen log. Also if a log has fallen across the path you have to navigate over it, generally next to the what I call a cliff, with a massive backpack. That is where my cuts came from.
Moving on, by the time I got to camp I could feel the change of elevation in the temperature, and when I saw my campsite I was thrilled to finally be able to set my pack down for awhile.
The brown bear with the white fur on its back was not thrilled that I set my pack and he/she made one of those loud sounds that only a bear can make as it’s running down the hill through leaves and sticks. Fortunately he was running down away from me; I tried to snap a picture of his fuzzy butt. Someone with a good editing program can blow it up and see his butt.
I was too exhausted physically and mentally to be scared, but it certainly set the tone for the rest of the night and I was hyper-aware of every sound and armed my bear spray, hung my bear bag up as far away as I could, and talked loudly to the forest as the instructions say to do.
It was too late to cook dinner, and at this point I didn’t want food anywhere near me in case fluffy buns decided to get curious. So I grabbed a Clif Bar out of my bag and called it good. Everything else was hung.
Setting up the tent was easy, I absolutely adore it. I didn’t need to stake it down all that the wind was blowing pretty good. I was freezing and just wanted to get inside. It was then that I noticed the absolute cold, and I changed into the pants my dad insisted I buy. When I got in my bag, I knew immediately that it was too cold and I would need a better bag. I got out put all of my clothes on and took out my emergency blanket. That seemed to do the trick and I was able to make a cozy shell. The truth is, everything hurt and it was impossible to get comfortable. But I just took that as a sign that I had worked my body over, and was totally okay with that. To be expected.
It was then I realized I had to pee. Awesome timing. Oh well.
The wind and some rain started picking up and it was pretty loud, that on top of the bear anxiety I didn’t sleep at all the first night. I questioned my sanity, the entire reason I did this, and then I started doing math for the next day. The math did not come out right.
It had taken me all day to ascend 3000 feet and 5 miles, granted it was a straight incline. But now I knew how the campsites are set and you couldn’t just set camp when you got tired. The next day I would have to ascend 2000 more feet and go 15 miles before I hit the next campsite. Mathematically it wasn’t working out. I am not fit enough to do the 15 miles in one day yet especially all uphill and if I didn’t reach the camp site I would be stuck hiking in the dark.
I ended night one feeling frustrated with myself, and even wishing another human were nearby. Day one…they will get better.
Bear running away.
Nap time yet? (Walked ten feet)
Pancake and I