Monday, October 17, 2011

Thunder Creek Trail

I have a good friend whom I've mentioned on here a couple of times named Debbie. (I won't say her last name, because she's a little paranoid about cyber weirdos) I figured she only reads my blog because I bug her to, and so she can appreciate all the reasons she dislikes camping. (And to check and make sure I'm not razzing her too much!;))
Imagine my surprise when she asked to go on a backpacking trip with me! I won't say I had the impression she's too prissy, because I know she's not. However, I will say she's a bit of a contradiction. How can someone who didn't want to go to a bed and breakfast because they might have to share a bathroom with a stranger be OK with the possibility of pooping in the woods? But then I realized we are all paradoxes in one way or another. Why would someone who won't cry in a movie because they hate anyone seeing them emotional, then go and blab about their life for anyone to read about in cyberspace? Humans are too complex to put in boxes--and aren't you glad?
And so, Princess Debbie made sure to let me know just what kind of hike she was willing to do. (Calling her a princess is funny because I just said we can't label people...and don't forget Debbie can take some razzing!) It couldn't be too long, too steep, too cold, too wet, or too buggy. Thank God for where you can get all and any information about every hike in the Northwest. (And from real hikers...not posers like me ;))  I finally settled on Thunder Creek trail, though I was a little nervous about the 12 miles. Debbie warned me she hadn't exercised consistently for over a year...and she struggles with shoulder and knee issues. One of the great things about this hike is there's a camp just two miles in, so I knew we had that option if things didn't go well. 
The day of the hike I almost cancelled.  After the forecast changed from rain to sun to cloudy to back to sun, I did a final check to find the possibility of snow. I was thinking that would be a deal breaker for Debbie, and I was pretty disappointed because I already had our packs all set up.
Everything once again borrowed from my friend Melissa and her husband...
if anyone wants to take their place as benefactors, please let me know :)
Ken's solution when I complained that we probably wouldn't be going...don't tell Debbie the forecast. (Deception...why didn't I think of that?) But when Debbie got to our house, she was game on. When I spilled the beans about possible snow, she was all in anyway. When we got to Marblemount to get our over-night pass and the ranger said bear sightings are common, "paranoid" Debbie was actually excited. When we got to the two mile mark, she was barely warmed up. Trees over the path...nothin' but twigs for my princess suddenly turned bushwoman friend.
I was surprised and humbled by her at every turn...especially when I had her lead and she completely left me in the dust. She said not to feel bad, because she's learned to walk extra fast to keep up with her 6'6" husband; but because I'm always trying to catch up with Mel too, I have to face the fact I may just be slow. And when it was time to make the fire, Debbie was all over it. I won't use the word "obsessed", but she was definitely into keeping that fire going.
The only thing Debbie found difficult about this whole trip was going to bed at 9:00 pm. Granted, most people under the age of sixty don't like to go to bed that early, but Debbie is a true night owl and usually doesn't retire until well past midnight. But poking a fire is only entertaining for so long, so what else is there to do but hit the hay? We did extend our fun to a more acceptable 10:00pm by taking some silly pictures in the tent, but then it was lights out for both of us.
In the morning Debbie was back at the fire...a little more challenging without the dura-log (see P.S.) but successful none the less. I think she was stalling packing up by not letting that fire die.  I finally said, "You are not allowed to put anything else on that fire!", but even so she could poke and blow on that thing and get it going even when it looked hopelessly dead.

The next day way gorgeous, (it never even got close to snowing) and neither of us was nearly as sore or tired hiking out as we thought we'd be. It was a completely successful trip--but the best part was hearing Debbie say "Next time we have too...", because I knew she was hooked.  Guess I need to learn to hike faster.

PS.  I almost forgot my hiking lessons.  Lesson # 12-   when camping in an area that is so damp you can practically wring out any wood that's been on the ground, bring a dura-log. They make a tiny one that fits easily in a pack...I wouldn't have known this except for the kind man we passed on the trail who gave us one. (we never would have got that fire going without it)  Lesson #13, make sure you put your water bladder bag in with the tube on the bottom so that the water actually comes out when you suck on it.  (can't believe I'm confessing that...but I figure there has to be someone out there as stupid as me ;)