Then my daughter made a new friend who was totally excited about doing her first backpack, and I remembered that the 14.5 East Bank Baker Lake "thru" hike has been on my to do list for years, and it is totally doable in April!!! Most likely wet and miserable, but doable! I also made a new friend, Mimi, who was totally excited about getting back into hiking...and wallah! Spring Break Plan B was set!
Because the weather went from "Hooray, maybe we won't get rained on!" to "Holy crap, almost 80 degrees in April, are you kidding me?!?!", two more friends hopped on board; so we were almost back to a full swing horde! Onward ho!!! (I said that a few times while hiking as if there was a comma after onward and an "es" on ho. Yes, in some ways my humor has not progressed past the 5th grade)
|Always gots to get the crazy shot in before bed|
|I like to hang with immature goofballs!|
We left with a full car at 11:30 am to meet Mimi at the turn off to Baker Lake Road. After dropping off her car at the South trail head, we all headed with a now illegally full car to the North trail-head, and finally started hiking at 1:45.
I was so happy to have a fellow "speed impaired" hiker to keep me company! Debbie, bless her heart, tries to keep it in a low gear when she's with me; but this time I gave her permission to go full throttle...as long as she agreed to watch over the 3 teens.(all long legged speed demons) After this whole experience, she has been dubbed the "camp counselor"-- she earned it!
|The Camp Counselor in action!|
|She had her hands full!|
I don't know what I would have done without her!
With less than a half mile to go, my heart dropped when I saw the "speed team" coming back toward us. I couldn't believe Silver Creek was already taken! But that wasn't the problem. "The trail just comes to an end", Debbie announced with exasperation. "We've been looking for over an hour. We just have to go back."
|Giant wash out just before Silver Creek|
|If you don't go straight across, it's very easy to miss the trail on the other side|
In the morning, I could tell that Mimi was really hurting. I knew her bad knee had been acting up, but I was hoping the night's rest was enough to make things a bit better. What I didn't know was that she had fallen when exploring down by the beach and had knocked her hip out of whack.
I don't blame her for not saying anything. She was determined to tough it out; I mean, there was not a whole lot we could have done about it anyway. (except maybe go back the way we came; but that would have only cut off about 2 miles)
At two hours in I realized everything about this plan was going to be a major fail. Mimi's injuries had slowed her down to a mile an hour pace (getting over or around the plethora of blow downs when you can't bend your knee is challenging to say the least) plus we had all been too leisurely in the morning and didn't leave until noon. I'm not the best at math, but I understood we were not getting to the bridge any sooner than 7:00 pm...and quite likely even later; making the possibility of fording a creek (which I heard was an hour diversion) a very daunting thought. (not to mention we still had a mile and a half to the car after that) Additionally, I was guessing the speed team was going to be there waiting at the bridge like at 4:00 pm. (I later found out they got there around 3:00...punks ;))
|One messy trail!|
Time for another plan. How about I go as fast as I can ahead, drop off the gear at the next campsite where we would camp for an extra night, then continue load free at full speed to the bridge, give Mimi's keys to "camp counselor" Debbie, they leave to retrieve the 2nd car and come back to leave it for us while they take Mimi's car back home. Whew. I hated leaving Mimi to make it to Maple Grove alone, but it was a necessity.
It took awhile (along with the miracle of her getting one bar of cell phone reception to talk to her husband at just the right time) for Mimi to agree to the plan. She had business in the morning that she felt she would be "flaking" on; but she finally agreed that safety always trumps obligation. She's a stubborn one, that girl! But I decided that's why I like her. :)
|Mimi was into the tree fungus. I bet she has 10 pictures featuring it|
|She didn't know someone had drawn on this smiley face until after she took the shot|
|How about this one?|
The bridge has taken quite a beating since then, and looks suspiciously like it could fall at any second...plus it doesn't even reach all the way across anymore; making a climb down into the water and over some rocks unavoidable.
|Do I have to?|
|Mimi took these next day, of course|
|In Debbie's world you fold your clothes in the tent.|
And you NEVER leave keys in an unlocked car!!!
God, I love her! :)
|Saying Goodbye at the Bridge|
|"Naked and Afraid" wannabe|
"Hope you know how to swim" they chuckled as we shoved off, "because we are already 1000 pounds overweight". Seriously?!?! They had to be exaggerating...though the water was nerve wrackingly close to the rim of the boat the entire way to Anderson Point. I was pretty sure if we tipped over, I was going straight down to the bottom because of my pack. "I hope you're praying", I whispered to Mimi with a grin, "because right now I'm not sure if we are riding with angels or devils".
Anderson Point is, wouldn't you know it, just before the bridge of death, so we weren't out of the woods yet. (figuratively or literally) As the fearless leader, I headed over it first. I didn't even hardly get to the end before Mimi was bounding over, camera in hand, taking selfies along the way. I guess we can't all have the same neuroses.
|You got this!|
|Our hitch hikers|
|A done deal!|