I hope this works….

If you don't experiment, you don't learn.

Adventures in the Wilderness: Part -the third

Back at the Historic buildings, Comedy Girl is having problems with her pack. She sees us leave, but doesn’t realize we weren’t heading down the trail, but off to look at the collapsed building, so when she gets her pack together, she starts off, thinking we are ahead of her and we will stop and wait for her. When we turn around and don’t see her, we think she is the one that is ahead of us and will stop and wait for us.

You must realize that we are in the valley created by Lost Creek. Lost Creek got it’s name because it disappears under lots and lots of boulders that have fallen off the mountains above it. These boulders are HUGE and are everywhere, piled up on top of each other. Some of them must be 50-60 ft tall. Where we were, you rarely have a long view of something, because a boulder is in the way. The other thing is that creeks are noisy. We were yelling, but not hearing each other, so we missed each other. We just didn’t yell soon enough, while we were close to each other.

So Comedy Girl keeps on following this trail, that while rough, did not peter out. She follows it for about an hour. She doesn’t have a good distance sense, we only needed to go about 15-20 minutes to go the quarter mile. And this is the strange part. We never found another trail, but she did. She even found a really cool campsite, complete with fire ring on this trail. She had quite the adventure, and ended up at this campsite and wisely decided to stay there. She had everything she needed, except a water filter. (I thought she had one, but it was still in the car…I had missed giving it to her when we left) She knows I have the personal beacon and figures I would use it if anything happened.

She sets up camp, hangs her hammock, makes a signal fire…does everything right, even hanging her food in a bear hang. (Unlike me, who can’t eat dinner, but goes to bed with a bag of trail mix in case I get hungry in the night….I didn’t, so put the bag in the little gear hammock that hangs under my sleeping hammock. The mice chewed through the gear hammock and the trail mix bag and ate a half quart bag of the mix, leaving only the coconut. Yes, they can smell through plastic.)

At around midnight, she decides to go to bed, putting the fire out. The moon isn’t up yet, so she can’t see the hammock in the trees and has to use her bic lighter to find the hammock….:) She had a huge 15 inch machete knife-like blade and sets it next to her shoes. She is ready for anything.

personal opinion time: I try to be a lightweight packer, Everything I bring is as light as possible. Comedy Girl brings things I think are crazy…a down pillow, a solar shower…that huge blade…. but you know? She had everything she needed and used everything she brought. I will never bug her again. After all, she is the one that carries it, not me…. end personal opinion time.

She is in her hammock and hears shouting. It is far away and getting further, so she doesn’t try to answer. After a bit, she hears the shouting again, this time closer, so she yells back. At one in the morning they find her.

They are yelling my name so she knows I must have set off the beacon and so pretends to be me until she can explain the situation. They admire her set up and comment on the knife. They ask if she wants to hike back with them and after thinking it over, she agrees, so they help her strike camp and head out into the moonlit night. One of the guys has a GPS and says they need to be 850 higher up the mountainside. So they climb straight up…in the middle of the night…almost a thousand feet. They compliment Comedy Girl on her cardiovascular strength. They reach the main trail and head back to the car.

Two hours later, another team finds me and SpiderWeb and the beacon. We decide to hike out the next morning as it is a lot safer to walk when you can see. When we reach the trailhead, we find the car and her gear, but Comedy Girl is nowhere to be seen. Not again! We shout and she answers this time…She is up on the hill picking up trash. She comes back down with a bag full of broken glass, beer cans, and a mylar balloon. Yes, Comedy Girl has class.

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Wilderness Adventure: Part the second

My husband says I should subtitle this, “Ropes, ropes and more ropes.”

We get to the historical site around 3 and explore a bit, then decide to see the pump house where they tried to block the creek. It is only a quarter of a mile away.. There are lots of camping sites along the way, so we decide to look for one to camp at.

The youngest member of our group (whose trail name is now Spider Web) calls me over to look at a collapsed building on the other side of the creek and when we turn around, Comedy Girl is nowhere to be seen. We figure she will wait for us as we have been waiting for each other all along the hike, so set off down the trail. About 5 minutes later we haven’t caught up with her, so think maybe we missed her and stash the packs and head back to the buildings. Nope, she isn’t there, so we turn around and start back down the trail, thinking that we will see her soon. Nope. We find a place to camp, drop the backpacks and I think I will continue to hike down the trail, maybe we will see her. the trail peters out about 15 minutes later, so I turn around and talk to Spider Web and we go back to the buildings and head off on another trail that goes in the opposite direction of the first trail we were on, but there are spiderwebs on the trail so we figure she hadn’t gone that way and turn around again.

We meet a group of hikers coming in and ask if they had seen anyone, no they hadn’t, so we explain what is going on and bless their hearts, they offer to help. After they set up camp, (One guy has a hammock!) they join our search party. They jog! down the trail that had the spiderwebs across it, saying that is the trail to the pump house and we were the ones that had gone the wrong way. They are shouting her name every turn and bend and they get to the pump house and Comedy Girl isn’t there. They are troopers and follow the trail a little more until it ends in a beautiful campsite and a jumble of HUGE boulders. We head back. By now it is 3 hours since we have seen Comedy Girl and we are starting to get worried. The guys ask how far we had gone down the trail we thought she was on and said that it did kinda just wear itself out, so there was no need to check it again. I start to pray. I set up my hammock, hoping that she will appear as quickly as she had disappeared. Nope.

I have in my backpack a device that is called a Personal Beacon Locator. About three months ago, a hiking friend said I should have one with me at all times in the wilds. It was quite expensive, but well recommended, so I bought it. I had to register it and get a code. When activated it sends out a signal that within 5 minutes will contact a satellite which will forward the signal to a place in Florida and they will send out a local Search and Rescue Team. it needs a clear place to send the signal, so at 6:30, I climb a nearby high hill and activate the signal. And then I wait. and wait.. there is no way to tell if the signal got through, it just flashes a strobe light every few seconds. About 2 hours later, it was getting dark, so I head back to camp. I expected helicopters to come roaring up the valley, I expected guys to parachute in….nothing, there was no way to tell if it was working, except that strobe light.

SpiderWeb had done a good job of setting up camp. She tried to get me to eat something, but I wasn’t interested. I didn’t want to go to sleep, so I puttered around and prayed using Psalm 139. “Lo though I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy right hand guard me and even the night shall be light around thee.” That isn’t the correct quote, but it was what I remembered. I also remembered Daniel and the Lions Den, knowing that Comedy Girl would be safe from wild animals.

Around 10, I pack it in, only to think a few minutes later that I should hike out and get help as the beacon didn’t seem to be working. What I didn’t know at the time, was that help was on it’s way. The Alpine Search and Rescue team from Evergreen! had been contacted around 9 and had to drive 2 hours to get to the Wilderness Area before they started up the trail and surrounding areas in three groups. My husband had been contacted around 8 and he verified all the info. My other emergency contact was a Christian Science Practitioner who started praying immediately, even tho she didn’t know what the problem was. No-one knew the problem, they just knew that a beacon registered to me had been set off.

Strangely enough, I got this very strong urge to stay put, so I did. I was worried, but I wasn’t freaking out. I wondered if I should be more worried, but I knew she had her pack with her that had everything she needed. The biggest thing was the part that we just didn’t know what had happened to her. Did she fall? Was she hurt? We had called and called, but no answer, but we were also next to a very noisy creek. So I kept on praying.

Before we left I made a clear tarp out of heat-shrink window wrap, because I wanted to see the Perseid Meteor shower. When I finally was in my hammock, I laid back and was amazed at what I saw. The sky was clear and very bright; it was a full moon, so I didn’t see any stars, but it was so beautiful, I just relaxed a bit. I didn’t get much sleep at all, but I must have fallen asleep at some point, because I was woken up by someone shouting my name. It was 3 in the morning and the SAR team was there! They told me that Comedy Girl had been found about 2 hours ago, she was unharmed and the team that found her was walking her out. I gave my car keys to the guys that found me so she could get into the car. I hugged one guy and was crying a bit. They are all volunteers and do this because they want to help others! They left and I was finally able to sleep. We hiked out the next morning in record time (for us) and we finally got to hear her side of the story. You will too in Part the third…

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Wilderness Adventures: Part the first.

How a 4 day camping trip turned into a 3 day, which turned into an overnighter.

Comedy Girl and I had been planning this trip for almost a year. We wanted to do a 4 day trip into the Lost Creek Wilderness Area. Start at Goose Creek and hike around the area at 6 miles a day until we were done. The dates were from the 11-15 of August.

At the end of July, Comedy Girl gets an offer to open a Comedy gig in ABQ New Mexico on the 13th and 14th of August. We confer and decide to push the start day back one day and make it into a 3 day hike. No problem, we only have to walk just a tad over 7 miles a day.

Meanwhile, I decide we need another person in our group so advertise on some local hiking meet-up groups I belong to. No one is able to hike during the week. Back to square one. I am still looking for another person and find a young lady who is an experienced hiker and she is able to get the time off. I get a hammock together for her and we are ready to go.

The 10th arrives and I pick up my two companions and we head out. About a quarter mile into the hike, the trail splits (this is a loop we are hiking) and we decide to take the more difficult route at the beginning of the trip rather than the last day. We head off down a valley that has a stream which we cross….many times. About an hour later the trail takes us up out the drainage, so we eat lunch and fill up our bottles.

As we eat, it starts to cloud up…..quickly. By the time we are done, patters of rain are falling. I do not like getting wet, It just complicates things when on the trail. Then one of our party members can’t find her rain gear. I lend her my pack cover, as I have a poncho covering my pack but it doesn’t quite fit, her sleeping bag is sticking out on both sides. I do not like this, but she urges us on. I make an executive decision and say that we will keep on going, but if it becomes more than a sprinkle, we are turning back.

It turns into a deluge about 10 minutes later. Thunder and lighting are flashing and booming and we are out of the valley and into Aspen meadows. Not a safe place to be. Clouds are lowering around us. It looks like a good old Washington State rainstorm, not the little sprinkles of Colorado.

I am not familiar with this trail and don’t know if there is good camping up ahead or not, so we turn around. I want to get back to the stream, as there is more cover. We find a big fir and spread out our largest tarp over some of the bottom branches and sit…..and wait….. an hour later, it starts to rain harder. There is nothing for it. We need to turn back and head for home, Everyone gets wetter, but we make it out in good time. As we drive back to the city, we make plans to meet up again the next day and at least try to stay one night. We run into hail and find out later that Hwy 24 was closed for a while. It was a big system, so I felt better about leaving.

The next morning we arrive at the trail head and head right at the fork. It is a pretty trail and the rock formations are fabulous. We can see Harmonica Arch and the Finger rock formations from the trail. Goose Creek is bigger than Hay Creek and there are oxbows, beaver dams and small ponds to look at. We run into at least 3 groups of ppl who are planning on doing the loop in 4 days. sigh. We make it to the historical site and turn off the main trail to visit. There was a company that tried for 22 years to dam Lost Creek..from 1891 to 1913, they poured tons and tons of concrete into the creek, but never succeeded. The creek always found ways to go around the concrete. We decide to hike the quarter mile down to the Pump house where all the action took place.

Part the Second continues the saga. I am falling asleep right now, so see you later.

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Spring Challenge

I have a friend who lives in the Carolinas, in an honest to goodness antebellum house.  I have never visited, but would love to see what she and her hubby have done.  We knew them back when we were all in the Air Farce, stationed in the UK. They were the consummate antique hunters. They had some amazingly beautiful furniture. We still have the piece they found for us.  It is a coffer….like a giant foot locker on legs, that they used to store clothes in.  It is carved on top and all around the sides and is made of Bog Oak, so is very dark.  If I remember correctly, it is about 300 years old.  It sits under the main window in our house and I have put a piece of glass on top and all my plants are on it.  I love that piece.  It has a lot of memories.

Anyway, She also has a blog and she is doing a Spring Challenge.  You can read her post and see her pictures here, but this is what she says:
The Challenge
Everyplace has it’s own unique sign that Spring has finally arrived.
I will show you three pictures for examples.
I want you to post a picture, a paragraph, or even a poem, describing your idea of the ultimate sign of spring on your own blog. Then leave a comment on this post with a link to yours.

So that is what I am going to do.  Keep in mind that the three pictures I am going to post were all taken on the same day.

These fall off our Silver Maple every spring.  I think they protect the leaf buds.

These fall off our Silver Maple every spring. I think they protect the leaf buds.

This was taken in the morning.

Is it starting to snow?

Is it starting to snow?

This was taken a couple of hours later.

Yes, yes it is.

Yes, yes it is.

This was taken around 2 in the afternoon.

These are the two signs at my house that Spring has arrived. Those bud protectors falling off the Silver maple and snow.

I love living in the Rockies……:)

 

 

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