I hope this works….

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

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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Travels of a Tripmuch….part one

Don’t ask how I got that nickname.

Last September, a week before the floods that devastated part of Colorado, I went back-packing with three other friends. The main purpose of the hike was to test the Hammock out in a real-life situation, rather than the back-yard simulations I had been engaging in.  We went to the Lost Creek Wilderness Area and started on the Goose Creek trail. I should let you know that I hadn’t been seriously back-packing for at least 10 years.

My equipment consisted of an ancient, external-frame backpack (Alpinelight) that was bought in the 70’s, a brand-new Jetboil cookstove, an old Polarguard 3D Sierra Designs sleeping bag, the ENO doublenest hammock and a Profly tarp that I wanted to test out, and clothes and food.  Food that I had dehydrated myself and was yummy. (That is another post) (If you are interested). The pack weighed 30ish pounds.  I weigh 120. It was heavy. I also had a new pair of trekking poles that I had bought in the kids section because they were cheaper….Kids have trekking poles nowadays?  Who knew.

One companion does Wilderness Therapy stuff with troubled teens in the Rockies. She had all her gear with her in a beat-up backpack that must have weighed 40 or 50 pounds. It sounded extremely heavy when she dumped it on the ground.  She wore sandals…..Sandals!!!!!  Whatever happened to good, strong, tough hiking boots?

One companion was loaded for bear.  Seriously.  He had the bear can (for food), the bear spray, the holster for the bear spray and a gun. He had on sensible hiking boots and his gear probably weighed in at 50-60 pounds, even after he left his tent at the car because everyone decided to sleep under a tarp that Wilderness Girl had. He had a camera that he forgot to use for the most part, but he did take a vid of us putting up the Bear hang…..lol.  What a bunch of fashionista’s we were.

The last companion is an artist, a comedian, rides her bicycle everywhere, and like me, hadn’t been back-packing in decades.  She had a conglomeration of borrowed stuff that actually was pretty efficient and lightweight.  It just looked awkward and unwieldy. She was also the only one that remembered to bring and actually use her camera.

Got to the trailhead after only getting lost once (thanks Ms. Construction Lady for the correct directions). We started hiking.  The first part of the hike was/is through the burnt remains of the Hayman Fire.  New growth aplenty, just not a lot of trees tall enough to shade the trail, so it was hot going at first. We stopped for lunch (vacuum-packed salmon mixed with shelf-stable mayo spread over a tortilla and sprinkled with dried fruit and nuts and rolled up.) at the creek and then continued on, following the creek until we found this really nice camping spot between the trail and the creek.  We set up camp.

Through the Hayman Fire burn area.

Through the Hayman Fire burn area.

My hammock and tarp were slung nicely between two old pines and over some wild roses and juniper-like prickly bushes.  The others cleared out an area of pine cones and rocks and threw down a ground cloth and put up the tarp.  Everything was nicely hidden from the trail.  Bear Boy stayed at camp, while the three ladies explored the area some more. Dinner was cooked and enjoyed, multitudes of stars came out, we stayed up late talking. Aaaaaaah.

 

Over the rose-bushes and under the pines...

Over the rose-bushes and under the pines…

Goose Creek before it turns into Lost Creek.

Goose Creek before it turns into Lost Creek.

The next morning after brekkies, the ground dwellers wanted to try the hammock.  Even tho they had removed any rock they found, there was still one under Bear Boy. Comedy Girl’s self-inflating air mattress hadn’t self-inflated, so she spent the night rather cold and was grateful for Bear Boy’s warmth next to her.  I was proud to show off my hammock.  (They all have hammocks now….).

Anyway, that is part the first.  Join us again for the rest of the trip as we climb straight up the mountain to some cool rock formations named “Harmony Arch” and “The Finger”…..

 

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Sleeping with the Animals

So now that we have thwarted the skunks, I find we have raccoons as well…..  Still signs of digging, just not as much damage and not every night. Raccoons can climb. Fences are useless. Grow a garden with good organic methods and you find out what kinds of wildlife thrive in urban environs. Do ‘possums live in Colorado? At least I haven’t had to weed hardly at all this year…

I went out and bought a cool outdoorsy thing last week.  It is a camping hammock, so no wooden spreader bars that make the hammock unstable.  It is made from rip-stop nylon and the design is only a couple thousand years old…  I hung it between the maple tree and the outside deck post.  It is very comfortable.  It sways in the breeze. I can lie on my side and my back, but not my stomach. You don’t lie in the exact center, you lie crossways or diagonal, so you are more flat. Here is a better explanation. I would like to sleep in it.  It has been raining every night since i got it. I haven’t slept in it yet.  Perhaps the other reason I haven’t slept in it has been the garden raiders.  The hammock is further away from the house and quite low to the ground.  I don’t really fancy waking up to find a baby skunk or raccoon curled up with me. However.

Last night I was sleeping on the back deck and wake up this morning (it was raining) to find that the  2 container plants had been dug up/gnawed on.  The lovely Jade plant is no more. My Basil has been shortened a good deal.  Anyway, the point is that while I was sawing logs, the critters were right next to me…like a foot away and they had to practically walk on me to get to the plants. They didn’t wake me up and they didn’t bother me either.  So, with that in mind, I only have the rain to worry about.

I shouldn’t be worrying about the animals anyway.  We camped a lot when I was a kid. Growing up on a Ranger Station in the Cascades meant we camped most of the summer and into the fall.  Two week hikes were not uncommon.  Sometimes we stayed at lookouts or guard stations or with trail crews, but mostly we were alone. Just our family of 5 wending our way through the mountains. I loved it.  I love the hollow sound the ground makes when you are up high. The pink alpenglow in the early morning. The sound of snowmelt and the rushing green silt water.

I never remember being threatened by animals.  We saw cougar and deer, beaver and marmot, and of course all the birds, but we only heard stories about bear, we never saw them.  In fact, the animals I remember best are mice.  We encountered them at one of the guard stations. It was a floating station on Ross Lake, next to the dam.  I remember those little buggers running around on top of our sleeping bags. All night long.  It got real tiresome. Kinda funny….out in the wilderness we were never bothered, but in a man-made structure we were overrun with mice. My mom made sure we never stayed there again.

In an interesting side note, one of the kids I grew up with turned those floating guard stations into a floating resort. I’m trying to convince my hubby we should go there some time.  i think it will be fun and I know we won’t have to worry about mice this time.

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