Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day Two--Hannegan Pass

Hiking out of YAB on day two...not a cloud in the sky!

As lovely as the evening was, I can't say I slept very well. That's always to be expected, but the worst part was waking up in the middle of the night and realizing I had a pack of berry flavored gum in my pocket. We must have took 3 trips back to the bear bin to stash yet another item of food we forgot was out...I should have made one more, but I just couldn't bring myself to get up. I'm glad we weren't eaten by bears; that would have totally been my bad.

In the morning, we kept tying to get a hold of Ken to find out for sure if he was coming, and when he would be at the trail head. We were lucky to have service, but it was sketchy. Plus, Melissa's battery was almost dead--so every text needed to count. Finally we get a text from Ken--is he coming? Is he annoyed? "Good Morning". Not very helpful; but at least he didn't sound mad. There were other options other than him coming that day, because Melissa had her car. (Though, hitching a ride down to it might be problematic) We kept trying to let him know that, but the messages were not going through. Another text from Ken, "I'm on my way". Dang, we better get going! 

Ken beat us there by about 30 minutes; and said he spent the time looking around in the car for the key, and that he found it...in the ignition. I about passed out before he could tell me he was kidding. (He lives for that kind of thing) I had to forgive him though--he was our knight afterall. I was really thankful that this rescue mission worked into his schedule and wasn't too much of an inconvenience. Lots of "thank yous" and hugs goodbye to both, and it was time to head to Hannegan!

The forest road up to Hannegan is like a freeway compared to the one to Yellow Aster, and the parking lot is huge and the Port-O-Potty is top notch. This was going to be a cake walk! I was glad, because I already had 3.5 miles for the day getting down from YAB.
The valley view heading into Hannegan...most of the trail in the sun
I think this was the hottest day of September--it felt like the hottest day of all time. I know I shouldn't complain about it being too hot...it's so annoying when people from Washington do that, because it's never too hot here. But, I really felt like my head was going to explode. Suddenly the trail started making turns; I looked at my green trails map and saw switchbacks ...just a few, and then the top of the pass. I must be at the start of the switchbacks; so I'm almost there! Thank God, because I was so tired! I saw my first hiker, and excitedly asked, "How far to the pass?". He looked at me like I was nuts, and curtly replied, "A long way". I realize now I was just two miles in, and these switchbacks I was so exited about don't even register on the map because there are only two. So indeed, I had barely gotten started. I'm glad he set me straight though, because I understood at that point this was not going to be a cake walk, and I had better get my game on. I'm so glad Melissa insisted I bring my iPod, because it really helped.   

When I thought I must be getting close to the real switchbacks, I got up the courage to ask a cute couple coming down. Before I could say anything though, she immediately asked me if I wanted some water. (Not only did my head feel like it was going to explode, it must have looked like it too.) When I asked how far to Boundary Camp (where I had my pass to camp--and the ranger let me know I could not change my mind) they were very encouraging. "Oh, you only have about a mile of switchbacks to get to the pass, then just another mile to the camp." A MILE OF SWITCHBACKS?! I must have looked like I was going to cry, because he gently said, "Maybe it's not a mile". (It was exactly a mile--I clocked it on my iPod on the way down...something I should have been doing the whole time to avoid all this grief.) Did I say how very tiny these switchbacks look on the map? I think it's showing the very last of them that go up a field, but trust me--it's steady uphill way before that.

At last I came to the beautiful sign that let me know I was done with the stupid switchbacks, and I little farther...
Just one mile to go...maybe I won't die afterall

the sign showing the way to Boundary Camp. (You can't see the arrow, but man was I thankful for it. There is another trail going the opposite way, and I probably would have taken it.)

I saw more switchbacks on the map, and panicked for a minute...until I realized they were going down. I honestly just about skipped down them--and I was quite literally singing out loud. And then I was down in the valley, and something changed. It's hard to explain, it just felt ominous to me. Suddenly I felt very alone and vulnerable and exposed. I got to the camp and put my food in the locker. (I'm so thankful that the ranger told me about that so I didn't have to pack in the bear bin.) The fact they have a bear locker though got me thinking quite a lot about bears. My logical mind kept trying to tell me how very rare a bear attack is (average of only 1 fatal bear attack per year in the states vs 55 from lightning strikes)...but my freaked out mind was just not listening. I was in that tent at 6:30 and let me tell you, it was a long night.

The worst was waking up with such alertness that I was SURE it had to be close to morning...like 4:30 at the earliest. I always fail the "don't look at the clock" game, and I'm always sorry I played. (The worst was my first night alone backpacking--with no tent--but that's another story.) Guess what time it was? 12:55. Yes, it was a very long night, for sure. But of course, morning would have to come eventually, and I had the whole day to do Copper Ridge. It proved itself to be worth the wait. (again, stay tuned :)) http://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2012/10/copper-ridge_4.html


  1. I'm seriously thinking of this hike (Hannegan Pass) for my first solo hike next week. You give me inspiration...you also make me want to ask you to join me; I'm a little freaked myself!

  2. Next week! Good for you. I'd love to hear how it goes. Be sure to include Copper Ridge, that is the best part. In fact, I would suggest saving this one for a time when you can do the whole loop--that's what I would have done had I known about it. (and had a little more experience)Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll do awesome.