Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What is Wrong With Us?

Hiking addiction can alter your decision making abilities...like the one that tells you, "stay warm and dry and avoid sleeping outside in the rain if possible." That's how I know my friend Leigh is also a true addict. Laying in the tent and listening to what sounded like someone hosing it down with a sprayer on full blast, she turned to me and said, "I'm sure glad you're crazy enough to want to do this with me." Of course, the feeling was mutual. But let me start at the beginning.

Leigh has gone with me for all or part of my big trips for 3 years running, so to have to miss it this year because of her very busy summer was a big fat bummer. In fact, Leigh hardly got any hiking in at all, and so she was in somewhat of a desperate state when September rolled around. She had one weekend free during the whole month, and was busy planning and preparing and looking for "suckers" to go along on an extended backpack. As much as I wished I could, I had a prior commitment; but she was full steam ahead anyway with a whole crew. I knew I couldn't be jealous, because I had got a lot of hiking in...but it's true I hate missing out.
Then the weather went from decent, to not so good, to kind of bad, to hell no. And one by one, Leigh's crew had their normal, fully functioning decision making abilities kick in to say they were out. Meanwhile, my dysfunctional brain was furiously figuring out how to make it happen, because my plans had changed and therefore had opened up a small window of opportunity.   
Poor Leigh had to completely abandon her aim of 4 glorious days on the PCT, and settle for 2 nights off the I-90 corridor. But beggars can't be choosers, right? Leigh was out of options, so it was me or nothing...and I had to work around my need to be in Bellevue by 2 pm on Sunday. Otherwise I would NEVER pick a hike off of I-90 on a weekend, because that's insanity. 
Unless it's pouring rain! What a blessing the horrible forecast turned out to be! There were still people around, don't get me wrong (we are not the only hiking addicts out there, after all) but not the hordes you would expect on a typical weekend. And we were actually completely alone at both camps! That's a FRIDAY and a SATURDAY night...miraculous!!!

How come nobody else is here? Doesn't this look FUN? ;)
Because we did need to have two cars, we decided to take advantage of it and park one at Denny Creek (where we would come out) and one at our Pratt Lake entry point. We thought we were taking it easy on this trip with low miles; but I have to admit as much as I was expecting it to be a piece of cake, most of those miles felt more like a chunk of gristle.
Dry and happy at Pratt
Soaked and done at Denny Creek
So, a couple warnings to anyone who is researching this area: the "mile" between the Pratt Lake trail and the Island Lake trail feels more like three. (So much so, that I'm convinced the map is wrong--seriously.) Also, the supposed 3 miles from the Kaleetan trail turn off to Melakwa Lake has got to be closer to 4...especially when you're drenched and freezing! ;) (Okay, the map may be correct here, but it's better to adjust your expectations anyway.)
It's a long ass way to Island Lake!
Seriously, why would you not want to do this?
And speaking of maps, I bought a $12 one (Green Trails 207S) even though I didn't think we'd need it (being it's such a popular area with plenty of signage) but the ONE spot where a sign is really needed...nothing. We would have ended up at Tuscohatchie Lake had we not decided last second to go ahead and dig the map out. So thank you hiking lesson #1, you have served me well! 
Here you go...save yourself $12! ;)
Keep left at the fork at Lower Tuscohatchie
if you want to end up at Melakwa! This bridge
does not just lead to campsites like I thought it would.
Once at Melakwa Lake, we pitched our tent in the "day use only" area, and I don't care who knows it. It was MISERABLE, and we just couldn't bring ourselves to go searching for the legal camp spots. We could not get that tent up fast enough, and it took a good half hour of being cocooned in our bags with every last one of our hand warmers stuck to feet and shoved into underwear before we felt like maybe we wouldn't get hypothermia. 
What sign?
Wet, wet, wet, wet
At one point in the night, both Leigh and I smelled a definite sewer smell. I couldn't blame her for asking if it was me, but for once I had nothing to do with it. Because of the relentless rain, and the sign for the backwoods toilet that might be closer than we thought, we both wondered if the saturated ground had given way and caused some sort of collapse. We kidded around about having a wave a crap come washing down the hill on us...but I think both of us were actually kind of worried about it. The smell dissipated, and so we went on playing cards and eventually forgot about it. But then a little later, there it was again! Where is it coming from? Then Leigh said, "Wait a second", and gave a big whiff into her tightly sealed sleeping bag..."Oh sorry, I guess it was me." OMG, we laughed so hard!!! Damn those dehydrated meals, they seriously do a number on you! After we finally settled down was when Leigh told me she was glad I came. And the truth is, even with the harder than expected miles, and worse than anticipated weather, and gas that could melt your eyebrows off, both of us knew we'd do it all over again...what is wrong with us?!?
Do you smell that?
P.S. Leigh gave me permission to tell that story, in case you start thinking I'm the worst friend ever. Reluctant permission...but nevertheless, I did get the go ahead. :) 
Denny Creek's "slide rock"...not so fun
without sun

No comments:

Post a Comment