Friday, August 9, 2013

Buck Creek Pass (Part 3)

(continued from )

It seems that if you've taken a three mile detour to see an amazing view of a lake, you should at least suck it up and go the one mile more to actually see it. Though, considering the circumstances, can you blame me for not giving a crap? I figured I had about five to six more hours of hiking to get to Middle Ridge (the next stop to "tent"--with no tent, of course) and I had no time to waste. So, with a "screw you" to Image Lake, I turned right around and headed back to the main trail.
This loop takes you for a few miles on the PCT...pretty cool

A little taste of the PCT
I told just about every person I ran into (including the three guys from the previous day) about leaving my tent poles at Upper Lyman Lake. I didn't care if I looked stupid, (I was stupid, after all) I was just hoping I could somehow get my poles back if enough people knew about it. I had to talk fast though, because if you stopped for more than 10 seconds, the black flies were on you like white on rice.

I hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and hiked. There was one little camp site I didn't know about, in the woods just before you start the real push up. Very cute--right next to a stream. I took off my pack and stocked up on water, thinking it may be my last chance. (It wasn't...not by a long shot. Middle Ridge is a dry camp, so you need to get your water sometime before you get there; though I could have waited at least an hour) I really thought about staying there, but I had heard there was a spot on Middle Ridge that had "the best views ever". I just had to go for it.
Happy little trees...looks like Bob Ross painted it himself
By the time I got to the top, I again couldn't have given a crap about the views. I started in on trying to attempt to make some sort of use out of my pole-less tent.
Glacier Peak in morning glory
All I had were the tie down ropes that came with the tent (to secure your tent in high winds) and I thought I was quite clever to attach them to trees; converting the rain fly into a kind of tarp. Although, MacGyver I am not...all I was doing was making a sort of bowl to catch rain water--and there was still some threatening clouds and thunder in the sky.

At this time two men came over the ridge and asked if I minded sharing my site, because they couldn't take another step. Boy, did I get it; and of course there was plenty of room. They took one look at my monstrosity of a tarp covering and asked if I could use some help. Hell yes! Saved again by those who know what they are doing--hallelujah!
Thank you Peter and Earl! I'm so mad this picture is so blurry.
It looked good to me when I took it...
which says a lot about my brain function at the time

I am always so humbled by other hikers. They had all kinds of extra rope, extra water (I was almost out) extra poncho in case my tent failed (though now it was new and improved and even upright!)...those guys had everything. I loved Peter's ancient looking cooking pots. They have seen their fair share of adventures, I am sure. They were just so nice to me, and I am forever grateful for their kindness.

I woke up early, and was excited to hike up a short side path that went even higher to see the sunrise. It's these moments that make it all worth it. No words to describe...and the pictures are garbage compared to the real thing. You just have to go there yourself.

I left at 7:30 in the morning and didn't stop. Hiking, hiking, hiking, hiking. The views over Buck Creek Pass...the best ever, really. But as soon as I was headed down, I was over it. And let me tell you, the slog out is LONG, boring, and fu@#ing endless. I was SOOOO over it. I finally stopped at a camp I came to in the woods--the black flies were making me crazy, but I had to stop. A pair of hikers past me by on their way out. They said I had 4 miles to go. (they had hiked in that way the day before) Deep breath...just four more miles. 

A mirror is not one of the 10 essentials...obviously
Thinking I could calculate my mileage by how many songs I had listened to (according to what I averaged whenever I worked out on a treadmill...when I'm not wearing a pack or completely dead tired...but I have never claimed to have the best reasoning skills) I figured I was on my last song...MY LAST SONG! I just cannot convey the level of my exhaustion; I have never been so utterly shot. I was so relieved that my car was going to come into view at any second...probably before the end of the song, actually. This is when I ran into the first hiker coming towards me; I couldn't resist asking..."how much longer until the parking lot?" (was he going to say one minute, or five? Oh please God, not ten!)

"Oh...I'd say about an hour."

I think I asked if he was kidding three times. He finally said, "well, maybe it's not an hour, but I've been hiking quite a while"...with a "what the hell is your problem?" tone in his voice.

Buck Mountain
As soon as he was gone, I threw my pack down, laid on top of it, and sobbed for 5 minutes straight. I'm not even kidding--SOBBED; like a someone had just died. It was so ridiculous. A hiker on the Appalachian Trail averages about 20 miles a day. My daily average was about 12. I think I may be screwed. 

I did eventually make it to my car, of course. (in one hour and 15 minutes...the final 15 minutes seemingly lasting 4 hours) It was there in the lot, as promised; and my extra key was still in my pack where I had hid it. (Not that I was obsessively worrying or anything! ;)) But take a look at my ride:
click on the pics if you can't read the messages

Have you ever seen anything so sweet? I'd love to do 500 miles on the Appalachian Trail when I turn 50...but if I never do, it's okay. I have family and friends who really love me, and that's what truly matters. I hope I never forget it.

You gotta stop at Zeke's...even if it makes you sorry later.


  1. I love your stories ... all of them! Love ta! -Deb

  2. Great writing, once again.


    I'm a big chicken. I start thinking about bears and cougars. Fragrance Lake is about all I can handle.

    Good for you. Keep it up.


  3. I thoroughly enjoyed your story! I hiked this exact loop earlier this summer (Hiker Dad report om WTA) and know exactly how you felt. Sooooo long but so worth it! Congrats on finishing!

    Hiker Dad

  4. Hi Kelly, this is Mike from Marmot. Please email me or give me a call so I can get this taken care of for you. Talk to you soon!

    Michael Beaver | Customer Service Rep
    Marmot Mountain, LLC
    5789 State Farm Dr.| Rohnert Park CA 94928
    Ph: 800-357-3262 x2932 | F: 800-633-9325