Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Desolation Decimation

(continued from Ross Lake East Bank Trail Part Two)
Desolation Peak is number 14 in my "100 Classic Hikes of Washington" book, so I was really excited to do it. It's claim to fame is the writer and poet, Jack Kerouac, who spent 63 days at the lookout on top in the summer of 1956. I've never read any of his stuff, but it seemed appropriate to bring one of his works along to read while I spent the night there. So I went to the library, and found a couple books that looked to weigh about 5 pounds each. So much for that idea.

Lightning Creek's dock is not so much fun in June
I did find another book in the same section that was the perfect size called "The Places That Scare You". Facing down fears is a lot of what backpacking is for me; so I grabbed it, knowing I could use all the help I could get.
Living on the edge

Therefore, as I sat in my tent that Thursday morning listening to the rain and deciding what to do, I tried to be really honest with myself and my fears. I wanted to prove I could do this, I knew that. I didn't want to come back not having accomplished what I set out to do either. Having people think I wimped out was what I really feared, and avoiding that would have been what drove me up that mountain--and I didn't like that. Bragging rights were the ONLY motivation for me, because I knew hauling that heavy bag up there to look at nothing else but clouds would have just crushed my spirit. It was hard, but I finally gave myself permission to not do it.
Good times in my tent...will these socks ever dry?

I would just stick it out where I was for another night, and then meet my friends at Devil's Junction the next night as planned. But laying there, doing absolutely nothing but thinking (and knowing I had HOURS to do it)...well, it was awful. I started imagining really terrible things; like falling off that bridge on my way back and breaking both my legs. I knew it was ridiculous to be thinking that way--but I was in a dark place.
A spooky part of the trail. I walked extra fast here.
The book I brought along talked a lot about how much we long for comfort and security, but ironically our clinging on to those things often becomes our prison. This certainly rang true for me, as I lay there in my comfy sleeping bag not wanting to get wet, and yet feeling miserable at the same time. I needed to get out of there! The biggest problem was wondering if I could get out in time to stop my friends from coming in. I had waited so long to decide to wave the white flag, that I didn't have time to make it out before dark. (plus, 17ish miles in one day would have really killed me) I finally figured I could make it to Rainbow Point easily enough that night; and even though I didn't have a permit, I doubted it would be a problem on a crappy weekday. The next day I could high tail it out of there first thing in the morning and be able to get to Newhalem around noon. (where I knew there was phone reception)
Once I had this plan, I was like a machine. I packed up in record time and got to Rainbow Point lickity split. I credit this in part to the "You Go Girl" in my pocket. Can I just say this piece of "equipment" has changed my life. For anyone who doesn't know, it's a rubber "thing" that you use to pee. (for a girl, obviously...boys have their own thing) Hence, much time is saved because I no longer need to stop to pee. Of course, I stopped in the sense that I stopped walking...but no taking my pack off, no tromping off trail to find a hidden spot, no squatting down and wondering if a tick is going to find a nice little home...(YUCK! Ticks are my new phobia. I was devastated to recently find out we have them in Washington) I just face away from the trail and take a whiz like a man. Boys DO NOT UNDERSTAND how good they have it! But no more will I have to worry about getting caught with my pants down...and if you want to know why I'm so paranoid about that, read my "For Barefoot Jake" post last January. 

My "special" pocket
I did take one little side trip before Rainbow Point. I needed to see what we would be missing at Devil's Junction, so I dropped my pack and ran down there. (glad I took the pack off--it's almost a half mile to get to the single camp site on the water) I saw from a distance that it was occupied, and I figured it would be nice of me to go tell them they could have it another night if they wanted. They were really thankful they didn't have to move to another camp, as they had everything all set up with their tarps and all. And I was thankful too, because there was a toilet with a door right there, and this time there was no avoiding squatting, if you know what I mean. So, that little excursion was a real win-win for everybody. 
Happily staying put

The view...maybe I can have my 46th party here
The next day was completely uneventful. Me and my little rubber friend cruised on out of there in plenty of time to stop the gang before they left. Debbie was so happy she didn't have to chance a night in the rain, that she promised me a party at her house--with cake and all. In the end, even though I didn't make it to Desolation Peak, I learned that in my being able to let go of my super duper birthday hike plan, I ultimately got everything I wanted. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it too. (stupidest saying ever...but it does sort of fit here, right?)
I did Roland Creek the right way the 2nd time.
I LOVE the Rei towel Rick gave me on my actual b-day.
I would have never got one myself,
but now I know I won't ever hike without it
All done, and now the sun comes out, of course.
But more importantly, how's my hair?
I even got special candles...I love you, Debbie!


  1. I enjoy reading about your adventures - thanks for sharing.

  2. I just ordered a Go Girl "thing" the other day (the other brand though...). I'm quite excited to use it!

    Great job handling the backpacking in the rain. That's a hurdle for me someday...and backpacking alone--might do that in July. You're an inspiration!

  3. And perhaps the most important backpacking lesson you could ever hope to learn - It's difficult, but perfectly OK, to decide to bail on "plan A" if the circumstances warrant it.

    What an amazingly smart and strong person you are to have learned that one so early in your backpacking career. You wouldn't believe how (painfully) long it's taken this 56 year old guy to figure that one out :) Very very nice !