Monday, June 24, 2013

East Bank Trail Ross Lake, Part One

Sorry for the boring title. I had the best title picked out; "5 Days and 45 Miles When I Turned 45"...but it wasn't to be. This year I'm supposed to be up to 4 nights; but I've realized that I'm not supposed to count my trips by nights--nobody does that. You count the days you hike--and fortunately that settles my dilemma about wanting my nights to correspond to my age. (As I explained in my "I'm Up to Three Nights" post) Now that I'm counting days, everything is in alignment; as my would be cute title demonstrates.

I wanted to do this hike as close to my birthday as possible--a sort of birthday present to myself; but there are still not a whole lot of good hikes available in June. (damn snow) After obsessively looking through my hiking books, I decided to try the Big Beaver/Little Beaver Loop. But I didn't get much positive feedback about that hike when I asked on the NWhikers website. Somebody suggested the East Bank Trail, and the fact that you access Desolation Peak that way really sold it to me. But there are SO many options, thanks to the availability of a taxi boat to take you to or pick you up at several places on the trail. I wanted to make the most of it--maybe I could do the best of both hikes? I had a whole five days to do it, after all.
Getting close to 4:00--I gotta get going!

My friend Debbie wanted to come, and because of the boat ride option, I thought it would be great fun to have our husbands meet us the last day--with birthday cake of course. I had an awesome plan for us to be picked up at Desolation Peak, then dropped off at Big Beaver, then husbands hike in--two cars made it all possible.

This was all such a perfect plan, until the weather forecast. I knew Debbie was not willing to do rain, and I didn't blame her. She's not preparing for a 50 day hike; she just wants to have an enjoyable experience. The forecast went from two days, then three, then four days of rain. Not what you would call enjoyable.
What a crazy flower, right?
But I am preparing for a 50 day hike--and I know I can't count on 50 days of sun. I needed to test out my gear and learn how it performed in the rain; and see how I performed in the rain as well. So I needed to revise my plan.
No, I'm not recovering from cancer.
This is my "tick hat" I sewed myself.

Because the last day and a half looked possibly decent, I still wanted my birthday party. So why not have everyone come meet me the last night, and then hike out with me?  Everyone just needed to hike the mile to the Ross Lake Dam on Friday, catch the boat to Devil's Junction (one site right on the water---time to party!!) then the whole day Saturday to enjoy the best part of the East bank trail back to my car where I could shuttle the crew back to the other car.
Oh, if only our best laid plans were so easily realized. Anyway...

I headed out on Tuesday, and when I stopped at the Wilderness Information Station in Marblemount at 3:00 to get my permit, the first thing the ranger said was, "Are you sure you're going to make it?" What the hell does he mean, am I going to make it? Everyone described this trail as a highway--flat and easy. It was only 6.5 miles to my first camp (or so I thought) and it stays light until at least 9:00 pm...why wouldn't I make it? Was I missing something?
He let me know that lots of people don't know what they are getting into, so he was just making sure...but that yes, I should make it just before dark. This was unsettling; I expected to get to camp at like 6:30. He let me know what camps I could make fires at, (all but Desolation) but of course I wouldn't be making one tonight, as I would be getting in so late. Again--what the hell? I did NOT want to be setting up camp in the dark, so I just decided I'd better hike fast, in case the ranger knew something I didn't. (remember hiking lesson #16 "The rangers know more than you"...yep.)
A froggy friend

Nature's art sculpture 
I wore my ipod this time, so I wouldn't be doing the "guess how many miles" game. I was making good time, and got to 6.5 miles at around 6:30, just like I thought...but there was no camp. Sometimes the information you look up just isn't completely accurate--why didn't I just ask the ranger how many miles it was? Because I didn't want to look like one of those people who didn't know what they were doing...stupid pride. What to do, but just keep going, and pray I got there before dark.
My first camping spot

There are lots of little creeks to cross, and even though my shoes got wet, they didn't get wet inside because I bought super-duper water proof shoes. I was feeling so confident about their water repelling capabilities, that when I got to a "big" creek, I decided to just run across. I was at 8 miles, so I figured I MUST be at Roland Creek, and my camp would be found as soon as I crossed. (at least I was right about that) I was really tired, and I didn't want to take the time to take off my boots...I could take them off as soon as I got to camp and let them dry overnight, right?
It doesn't look so bad, does it.
Yes; yes it is
This was my biggest lesson of the trip--shoes don't dry overnight. They might dry in a day--if it's not raining constantly. But super duper water repelling shoes don't repel water once they are soaking wet, idiot. So, lesson # 32  is a big one that I can't emphasize strongly enough: just take off your flippin' shoes, and ford the creek like your supposed to. Click here for day two.
I had plenty of time to make a fire.
Maybe the rangers don't know everything. ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment