Backpacking, Round 1 (Part 4)

Continuing from yesterday’s post, I slowly dried out as we went in and out of the morning sun on the trail.  The views were nice, especially when we’d descend to the river crossings which thankfully were covered by real bridges, not skinny logs.  The only bad thing was that once you got down to the river, the trail then would take a steep vertical climb on the other side.  When we got to the point where we needed to detour around the washed out bridge, we thought about going on the original trail just to see what the condition of the bridge was, but decided not to.  I have a feeling at might have looked something like this (which was taken at a river crossing on our next trip in the same park):

The detour was a brutal mile and a half straight up.  Then after cresting and making a slight decrease in elevation, we hit another stream crossing.  On the other side a couple were on some rocks, laying out the entire contents of a backpack.  The guy was down to his skivvies, obviously he had fallen in.  Like this morning, the water was fast-moving, not quite as deep, still freezing.  Difference was this waterway had about a one hundred foot waterfall about 10 feet from where the trail crossed the water.  Taking the morning’s experience to heart, we immediately started looking upstream for a crossing point that would give us some breathing room if something bad happened.  The female hiker came over and then told us how her friend had fallen crossing, and lucky for him had gotten swept into an eddy right by the waterfall.  He was stuck there until she tied a sweatshirt to a tree and he was able to pull himself out.  Otherwise, he would have gone over and well, that would have been that.

We eventually found a spot that had some promising-looking rocks to use as anchors, and we each grabbed a long branch to steady ourselves as we crossed.  We’d tossed our packs across to the female hiker so we didn’t have to worry about the extra weight.  We each made it without incident, other than some cold legs.  We came across snow on the trail in our last mile and once we saw the big sequoias we knew we’d reached our destination.  It was very peaceful, we were the only ones there.  There were campsites, but no one was there.  In the middle of the big trees there was a grassy meadow.  We ate our lunch on two log stools in front of  a giant sequoia.  After a stroll around the meadow, we decided we needed to get going back.

The trip back was mostly uneventful, though when we came to Mehrten Creek again, I swore it was not the same creek.  It looked totally different to me.  I think Sarah thought I’d lost it, or maybe I’d already blacked out the entire memory of the morning.  This time we eschewed the log, which was now in the water (thanks to me or some other unlucky soul we didn’t know).   We waded through the water instead.  We helped out some guys whose water filter wasn’t working to fill up on water, then we headed back to our campsite for dinner.  We figured we’d gone about 18 miles, which is a good job for a day hike.  We had our second freeze-dried meal, only worth mentioning because when Sarah dumped out my portion I got the silica gel packet that we’d forgotten to remove.  I ate anyways, and some googling on our return determined that there was no harm in doing so.

The next morning we broke camp and got off early.  Legs were tired and I still was hiking in my Keens since my boots never got fully dried (the insides were still damp even after leaving them by the campfire for a bit).  We moved pretty quickly and made it back to the car in a couple of hours.  Overall, a successful first trip.  No problems with any of our gear, though my boots didn’t get the workout I wanted them to.  Our MSR stove and water filter performed fine (though our attempts to backflush the filter did not work).  Amazingly, the cooler we’d left in the bear canisters at the trailhead had remained cold enough to yield a cold Coke, so that was a welcome bonus as we drove out of the park.  For a first backpacking trip, we were very happy and definitely learned some things.  (Btw, a bag of rice and a few days later, my camera was working again.)

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One Response to “Backpacking, Round 1 (Part 4)”

  1. Sarah Says:

    I believe the Merhtan Creek log was still solidly above water, despite your hopes otherwise. :).

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