A little gypsy update

IMG_5195.JPGDaddie Gizmo:

X-rays of the knees again. Nothing broken or major ligament damage which is good news. The pain is exceptionally strong and the not-so-good news is a torn meniscus now in my right knee. It’s in a different area than the one we rehabbed on my left knee and it didn’t feel like the same type of pain, so I was a bit worried to get the diagnosis. Once again, more therapy recommended before I get back on trail. Movement, yes. Weight bearing stretches, yes. But no extended miles, elevation change and definitely no pack weight on my back. It’s hard to swallow, taking my wife back off the trail that she loves so much, again. Realistically, though, three weeks should be enough time to get my knee back in decent shape. I’ve learned to be very disciplined with the therapy simply because I know it works, now. Three weeks will also lessen the snow load above 10,000 feet and hopefully lessen the severity and danger of the creek crossings for both of us as well. We really want to pick right up where we left off and continue traveling north on the thru hike. So many people are skipping around and hopping around this year north-south-north again, but the experience of a straight thru hike is what we are here for. To begin at the southern border and make our way up through California 770 miles so far has been incredibly rewarding. Hopefully, we can continue this after a few weeks off. In the meantime… We rented a little Jeep and are going to explore all the areas around Mammoth and further north to Lake Tahoe. Maybe further north than that and even up to Oregon. Can we resist the urge to head west to the beach?

6241758960_IMG_0771

Hot Creek Geological Area

6241758960_IMG_0775

6241758960_IMG_0786

Got some wheels for two weeks

6241758960_IMG_0792

Convict Lake

The Eastern Sierras are a magical sight and the experience of being in the high valleys, lakes, mountains and breathing this air is something we both love so much and just want to soak it all in. Just like on the trail, it is a great feeling to be unburdened by time or day of the week or some sort of preset itinerary where we can go with the wind and do exactly what makes us both happy. Travel. Experience nature. Experience the camaraderie of people we meet. Receive a little help when we need. Give a lots of help, when we can. Throw in a margarita or two along the way, maybe a rum punch, and life continues to be good, even in the face of injury and adversity.

IMG_6632

Hilltop hot tub with a 360 view

IMG_6618

Swimming in Convict Lake

IMG_6612

Rock Hot Tub where we camped the first night we had wheels. Cocktail in there by night and coffee in the morning

Figure 8:
It’s been a week since we got off trail and in typical fashion for us, we are having way too much fun. We weren’t really sure how to inexpensively spend 3 weeks, but finally decided on renting a car and making everyday a new adventure as we explore the Eastern Sierras. Taking the bus from Independence where we had picked up our bounce box to Mammoth Lakes turned out to be a fantastic idea. We are both blown away by how pretty it is here. Just about every outdoor activity is available here – hiking, snowboarding (we watched people coming down the Mountain at the Main Lodge), mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing etc. We have been exploring the many Alpine Lakes in this area. Just when we think we have seen the most beautiful picturesque setting of water and mountains, the next lake is even more stunning.  The melting snow is creating magnificent waterfalls coming down the mountains that are more lush and green now than any other time of year. There is an abundance of gypsy (free) camping in this area.

IMG_5213

Gull Lake

IMG_5220

Unpacking for third gypsy campsite. We are using snow in the cooler so we don’t need to buy ice

IMG_5222

Marina at Lake Mary

6241760480_IMG_0820

Lake George

IMG_5227

IMG_6653

Waking up in the 4SR

IMG_6656

Lakes George and Mamie from above

IMG_5216

Camping spot #2 in Inyo Forest

We have camped by the Hot Springs and in the woods. All the time enjoying finding a new place each night. Last night as we discussed how much we are loving this little adventure a deer walked through our camping area. This was the third deer sighting we had yesterday. The largest were a dozen young bucks playing on the side of the road. Between a cast iron skillet and grill top purchase we are easily making dinner each night. We have tried to repay the hitchhiking love and spent a couple hours with a lady we picked up earlier this week. We took her to swim in Convict Lake with us and she invited us to the hippie Rainbow Gathering in Oregon. We declined, but it was fun getting to chat with her. We have the car for two weeks and are going to wind our way up 395 while exploring all the little mountain towns and natures beauty along the way to Lake Tahoe. It’s likely we come back through Yosemite before getting back on trail where we left off. We still find that all we need is everything we used on trail – tent, sleeping bag, stove etc – and our never ending desire to discover the next gorgeous scene. 💞🌈💜

 

Day 67 Hitchhike from Lone to Independence June 23, 2017

IMG_6571.JPG

Gizzie’s pen pal, Hawk

Figure 8:

We were up much to early this morning for our liking. Since we couldn’t fall back asleep and both woke up starving, we rolled out of bed and into the Alabama Hills cafe at 8:30. Daddie Gizmo had a massive chicken fried steak for breakfast. He is losing weight again on trail so it was great to see him eat what looked like a breakfast that could serve a family of four. We sat at the counter and drank several cups of coffee while discussing what to do this weekend and where to go for a few days to rest and figure out our game plan going forward. Originally, we thought that we would camp in Independence but it’s over 100 degrees there and doesn’t seem like a good idea. We have to go to Independence to pick up 2 packages and it’s only a 15 minute ride down 395 so should be an easy hitch. Since there is a bus that runs to Manmoth tonight and it’s only 80 degrees there we decided to do laundry at the laundromat next door and then head that direction. Clean clothes and all (what a treat!), we stood in front of the gas station and quickly got a ride to Independence. It’s a good thing because it was so hot that my toes were burning in the sun. We were brought to tears when we opened another special package from our great friends, Sam & Kalynn, in Dallas. They always pick the perfect hiking goodies and include great notes. I was smiling before even opening the box because it was decorated in a hiker theme! The boxes were shipped to the Courthouse Motel and we were going to kill an hour there until the bus arrived to take us to Mammoth. I immediately saw they had Scrabble and we were thrilled to play a game.IMG_6535.JPG Noticing that they have a bunkhouse that is completely empty, I asked what the rate is to stay. At $25/night per person to have a bed, kitchen, bathroom and tv it seemed like a no brainer. Again we lucked out having the place to ourselves. Later in the evening we walked one block to the only cafe in town. We were both laughing at how strange it was to have a French restaurant in this little desert town, but they served damn good escargot, so there were no complaints! We love having the flexibility to change our plans at a moments notice and go-with-the-flow whether on trail or not.

Daddie Gizmo:
Our bodies were feeling the after effects of climbing Mt Whitney yesterday. Sore, tired and hungry. All in a good way. After our massive breakfast, I proudly walked over to a souvenir shop and bought a geomarker pin of the mountain and our accomplishment yesterday. Since we have been cramponing over so many miles of ice and snow, climbing more rock trails and doing more bouldering than ever before, I’ve had a pretty sharp pain in my right knee. I can’t tell exactly when or what happened but it’s not very much fun. It seems different from the meniscus tear in my left knee that we took 3 weeks time off trail to rehab. That has actually been very successful with only a little bit of regression. We made an appointment with an Orthopedic MD in Mammoth on Monday just in case a rest weekend doesn’t improve things. Later, we hitched a ride to Independence from a Mother/ Daughter pair that were the support crew for their Husband / Father on his PCT hike this year. It remains a great community of people along the trail. We couldn’t do all this without them.

Day 66 – It’s a good day to be alive🌈 14.9 hard miles to summit Mt. Whitney and exit to road. Total elevation gain & loss of 10,100…big day June 22 ,2017

 

IMG_6559IMG_6554Daddie Gizmo:

We woke up early from our campsite above Guitar Lake on the west side of Mount Whitney. Not hiker early like many people who start this leg of trail at 4 in the morning, but early for us at 6:30. There were already a number of people who had gone by our tent as early as 2:30 am on their way up to Whitney. (Betcha they had camp site envy 😉).  IMG_6430The goal today was to crampon through several more miles of snow and ice while it was more firm in the morning before too much sun turned it softer and slushy. Our crampons are truly evil looking but the 2–3 inch long claw-like spikes really give you a lot of confidence going across the ice. We’ve learned to use them and move quite quickly with them thanks to some YouTube videos on techniques. It’s pretty different from regular hiking. Higher steps and landing the main 8 bottom spikes at the same time flat footed. When we are climbing, we stay on our toes and front ball of our feet and use the main front claws to kick our way up steep slopes.  It took about 2 1/2 hours to reach the junction where the east side of the trail meets the west side of the trail just 2 miles below the peak.

IMG_6560

Nice to be on rocky ground overlooking the snow

IMG_6442IMG_6437It was about a 3500 ft gain in elevation overall to that point.  The trail has turned from snow to rock as we get closer to the peak where it has had long sunny days up to now to melt. We met up with Duke again at the junction. One in his group couldn’t make it up further so they were just going to head out the east side portal trail.  We were at 13,400 feet now. 1150 ft to climb now on broken and jagged rock. There was some trail via ground down gravel paths but you mostly knew where to follow by seeing people ahead of you and just climbing rock ledges around the edge of the mountain. Figure 8 had some fears and frights along the way. Not that we were in real peril or danger but the trail loomed ominous in front of us and was steep but several mini passes along the way were 2000-3000 ft drop offs just a few inches to our left.  I put my hiking pole down into nothing but air a few times along the way which chills your stomach quick as you catch yourself leaning the wrong way. I was eager to reach the pinnacle but every time we came around a ridge line, we saw nothing but rock further ahead. We hadn’t seen the top of the mountain since early yesterday when we were still about 6 miles and 5000 ft below the top. The more we climbed, the less you could see straight above you.  Now just 400 ft away, it was sunny, hot and our legs were burning. The other hikers congratulated us as we neared the top and gave us encouragement to climb the last few hundred feet. We didn’t need it since our adrenaline kicked in as you could see some of the people and flags at the top.   A long grind up to 14,508 ft was worth it.IMG_6553IMG_6555

IMG_6541

Giz take in the view a the 14,508

IMG_6556

We did it! We climbed Mt Whitney!

IMG_6447The 360 degree view was stunning. There were about 20 people at the peak when we also reached the tip of the mountain. Smiles,  sighs, deep breaths, lots of photos, several different languages, a snack, some water and a rest to soak everything in was the routine for just about everyone. The sun was intense and the air was thin so we enjoyed our 10 minutes of sightseeing and began the very technical trek down. It was so much more difficult to boulder down the top 2 miles than it felt going up. A different type of hike down than up over the rocks was just the beginning of the story. As soon as we made it back to the east / west trail split, we saw our next challenge. 3000 of the 6000 foot decent was right in front of us and nothing but snow. IMG_6454IMG_6457

There were about 10 of us resting at the lead out of the trail down.  I was eager to begin the glissade but scared shitless at the first step. A snow shoot dropped 10 feet straight down and then there was nothing to stop you for 1200 feet. I was the first to go. The initial drop wasn’t so bad because I landed in soft snow on my butt. However, I took off down the mountain a little faster than I expected. The speed came on quickly as I leaned back on my butt and the back bottom of my pack. I held my feet just a little above ground and used my two poles, shortened and in my hands, as a bit of a rudder and brake. A few times I dug my heels into the chute to shed some speed. It was a tough balance between being safe and the sensation of speed coming down such a steep slope so fast.  I’ve skied down slopes like this when I was at my best, but never imagined myself coming down on my ass on purpose.IMG_6468IMG_6542IMG_6470 At the bottom, I could finally turn and look back up the mountain to see Figure 8 and several other people coming down behind me. It was the first time I could catch my breath and was really happy to see the excited smile on Figure 8’s face as she caught up to me quickly.  1200 feet and about a mile or more of switchbacks saved versus coming down this way in the snow. As great as that was, we had many more miles to cover to reach the bottom trailhead. We had options of trying to follow the regular trail via gps or to use the snow and glissading to short cut some of the crisscrosses and zigzags on a much steeper decent. 3 more shorter glissades of several hundred feet each were connected by bouldering over exposed rocky ridges and traversing snowy hillsides. We passed several postcard worthy alpine lakes on the way below the the snow line and back into the pine and fir trees. IMG_6479IMG_6486IMG_6489We also needed to ford a few streams but nothing like the ones higher in the mountains.  We connected with several day hikers as we came down and Eric and his buddy were great to offer us a ride into Lone Pine when we finally reached the trailhead.  We piled in their car and I had a hard time not just passing out from the whole day’s events.  One thing that helped me over the last few miles was knowing that we had a shower, warm bed and likely a margarita or three waiting for us in Lone Pine. Sure enough, we made it to Seasons in time to have a seat in their little bar and chat with Terri and Rod. Great couple to share stories with.  Hope we see them again along the trail or in our travels. I’m minus one pair of beat up Revo Sunglasses but plus an experience that we accomplished together and will never forget. True survivors have a way of gaining greater confidence and respect for all things after being tested as we were in the last 7 days.

Day 65 7.8 brutal miles in the snow to Guitar Lake on way to Mt Whitney June 21 ,2017

IMG_6546.JPGIMG_6389IMG_6387Figure 8:

I woke up this morning with a feeling of dread. We could hear more people crossing Wallace Creek next to us as we lay in our sleeping bags and I knew that would be us soon. Damn, another crossing after going down in Wright Creek 2 days ago. I told Daddie Gizmo I wanted to pack up and get it over with as quickly as possible. This was only one of the challenges we had ahead of us today that worried me. I dressed in everything but pants and we went to the creek edge. The water was moving much faster than I was comfortable with and I was really really nervous, but I put one foot in front of the other and stepped in the water. DG waited in the middle for me and as soon as the high pressure water hit me I started to get so nervous and scared that I told him I was going back. I started screaming over the water “I can’t do it”. DG said I had to and he would help me. He stood in front of me and broke the pressure of the water flowing at me and then pulled me to the other side. Feeling the rushing water up to my mid-thigh brought back all the fear from two days ago and I froze up. Thankfully DG was there to give me the kick in the ass I needed. When I got to the other side of the creek I sat down and cried. I let out all the fear that I had and the flashbacks of going down Wright Creek that came back. We had a big day ahead of us to get out of these mountains so we dried off and set out. Unfortunately, we had an icy climb ontwo north sides that morning which we had already descended days earlier. It’s a little defeating going back over the steps you already took. I was not feeling good about the ascent because I only had one pole, but we put our crampons on for the first time and kicked those climbs asses. The crampons are great and we went straight up with ease. Easier than coming down even. And with one pole! We were feeling good that we had accomplished the creek crossing and climbed the north faces but knew there was lots more to go.IMG_6544IMG_6545

IMG_6537

On our way to climb Mt Whitney tomorrow

IMG_6388

Hiking the John Muir trail to get to Mt Whitney

IMG_6390IMG_6396We thought if we stopped at the ranger station on the way to Mt Whitney we might be able to get another hiking pole for me. Down the mountain we went only to find that you had to cross a large creek to get to the ranger station. As luck would have it, we ran into another hiker, Duke, who was heading that way. Sweet guy. When we explained the situation he offered to bring us back a pole if the rangers had one. In the meantime we had a little lunch, chatted with other hikers and rested. An hour and a half later Duke came back and put a huge smile on my face when I saw he had not two but three poles in his hand. My hero. Yes – back to two poles and feeling like a million bucks!! Knowing we were going to climb the highest mountain in the 48 contiguous states the next day, we wanted to cover more miles today to make the climb easier tomorrow. These were not easy miles ahead of us. Again we were using crampons to get across slushy snow.IMG_6400IMG_6540IMG_6411 We were both exhausted and wanted to be done but knew every step we took now made tomorrow easier. And tomorrow is already going to be hard. Finally we got 4 miles through the path to the Whitney Junction and found a tiny spot without snow where we could camp. It wasn’t flat and we slid down the tent all night but it was worth it! The view was sensational!! We felt really good about what we accomplished today, a day we were calling our survival trek out of the mountains. My leg wasn’t bothering me too much from the creek debacle, but Daddie Gizmo’s other knee is really hurting him. Together, we are making it. We snuggled in our sleeping bags, watched the sunset and listened to an audio book. Life is good 😊IMG_6530.JPGIMG_6547IMG_6548

IMG_6413

DG cracks me up

IMG_6549.JPG

IMG_6418IMG_6423

IMG_6429

We love watching the sunset over the mountains from our tent

IMG_6550.JPG

Day 64 Miles 771 770.3: 1/2 mile backtrack to Wallace Creek June 20 ,2017

IMG_6383

A beautiful scene to recover by…at the banks of Wallace Creek that I will need to cross tomorrow, like it or not.

IMG_6385

We watched the sunset over the mountains from our sleeping bags

 

Figure 8:

I woke up with an emotional, mental and physical hangover from yesterday’s events. Fighting to make it out of that creek alive yesterday was one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever had and certainly the closest I have ever been to thinking I was going to die. Daddie Gizmo was laying next to me in his little 25 inch side of the tent. I immediately layed on his chest and started crying a little. The trauma from yesterday was setting in and I knew I did not have the strength to hike out today. Since the sun was blazing on our tent we decided to pack up and move down the trail to some shade and figure out what to do. My right thigh that took the brunt of the beating in the creek is really hurting me. The rest of my body seems to be ok except maybe my neck. Feel like I have some whiplash. By far the worst part of this is not having my hiking poles to get out of here. I’m really concerned about the lack of safety now going up and down the snow. My new pole was a whippet and meant for ice climbs since it has an ice axe on the end of it. Hiking without poles is a pain normally but in the snow it seems dangerous and my tolerance for risk right now is pretty low. That aside, I am still feeling a wreck this morning. We can’t keep going north to cross Forrester Pass because you need an ice axe and mine is somewhere in Wright Creek. I feel terrible that I didn’t make it across the creek and now we have to turn back. I keep apologizing to DG and he keeps telling me I’m being silly. I hate seeing other hikers passing by to keep going north and knowing that we aren’t. It hurts my heart. I’m disappointed we won’t be traversing the highest pass of the PCT today, as planned. Missing those views and experiences make me feel like I let my teammate down. We hiked a half mile down back to Wallace Creek to set up camp for the day since I need a day to rest my mind and body in order to have the confidence and strength to climb back up over this snow and ford through another creek to make it out safely. Admittedly, I shed a few tears down that half a mile. I picked up a big branch and used it as a walking stick to relieve some of the pressure on my right leg. It hurts but I’ll push through it to get out of here. We are in the middle of nowhere and need to figure out the best way to exit in our current situation. We scouted out a couple places to cross back across Wallace and retrace our steps to a road and civilization. My heart sank looking at the rushing water. I had told him I might be able to do the crossing today if we found a place that is calm enough, but it’s not calm enough for me after yesterday. I just don’t have the guts to do it today and that’s what I told him. Tomorrow morning, nice and early when the water is at its lowest, we will cross. And I will be scared out of my Fing mind. But what else can I do? My view of the Sierras while I am writing this is absolutely breathtaking. I love being here. I’m going to enjoy the next few days as much as I can because I don’t know when we will be back. At this moment, I don’t think right away, but I definitely want to experience natures beauty here again. With hiking through snow and ice and the melting snow making the creeks dangerous, the Sierras are a like a chick you date that is simply gorgeous and great to look at but manages to make everything more complicated somehow. In the afternoon Sauce and Giggles, who we had stayed next to at the Timberline motel in Lone Pine, crossed the river to our side. They gave me a really really great hug and chatted for a while which made me feel a little better. They hiked Whitney Mtn yesterday and shared the trail conditions up Whitney Portal which is the path to the mountain from the PCT. Hearing that the trail that way seemed better and less icy than we expected we decided to get out of theses mountains via that route tomorrow. Early evening, by a stroke of divine intervention another group crossed the creek later and came to ask us if we had lost a pole. The pole they had was not the one I lost but we very gladly took it. Wow – getting that pole is HUGE! DG and I felt a lot better getting out of here tomorrow and crossing the creek in front of us having three poles between us. Now for some rest under this beautiful starry sky.

Day 63 – I almost drowned today… Miles 766 – 771 June 19 ,2017

IMG_6371IMG_6377IMG_6516Figure 8:
We woke up to the shrills of ppl crossing the creek in cold water. We packed up our tent and pack but didn’t put on any pants so that we could cross in just our underwear and sandals. While the lower part of the creek is a raging waterfall, the upper part we are crossing is very calm. From there we went straight up the mountain . Thankfully it was still early, 7:30am, without the hotter sun, but it was an intense climb. This morning, we really started to feel the difference of hiking in the Sierras. The trail was completely covered in snow and we were following other peoples snowy steps through sun cups while checking the map to make sure we were actually on trail. It was taking forever to make miles. Fortunately, there have been cute little chipmunks running around the past few days while we hike that make us both smile. As we were following tracks and trail, we noticed that the people in front of us started glissading down the steeper snowy parts and we didn’t hesitate to do it either. Sitting on our butts with our packs on we slid down the mountain and gained some mileage. We were already exhausted by 10am when we got to Wallace Creek. I told DG I needed a break so we had some tortillas and peanut butter and I began to realize, at this early part of the day, that doing another 8 miles would take us all day in these conditions. Daddie Gizmo forded the creek first and then me. The water was fast and up to my waist, but we both made it through just fine. We climbed straight up the mountain another half mile to cross Wright Creek. As we approached Wright Creek it looked just as fierce and unwelcoming as it sounded when we descended that side of the mountain. The water was rushing so fast in the section near the trail that we needed to go up and down the creek for a while to find what appeared to be a suitable place to cross. Even here, the water was fast but it appeared to be shallow enough with slightly calmer water to be a safe crossing. We were wrong. Daddie Gizmo forded the creek and made it across safely to the other side. I started my crossing and hit a spot where the water had so much pressure I was struggling to keep my poles in the rocks at the bottom of the creek as I sidestepped across. I could feel one of my poles repeatedly slipping back which was in turn pulling my arm and that side of my body back that direction from the force of the water. Suddenly I was swept away by the water and caught on a nest of young trees in the middle of the creek. I still had both poles in my hands but I couldn’t stand because the force of the water was pushing so hard on me. I could barely move an inch. Plus I now had the weight of a soaking wet pack on my back as I am plastered to the little trees holding on for dear life to their branches. I had worn my hat while crossing the creek and now it was blocking my vision. DG, on the other side of the creek, wanted to come get me but there was no way. I was stuck in the middle of a fiercely rushing creek and he couldn’t make it to me. My hands were slipping on the branches. I was still holding my poles because I knew I needed them to have any chance of making it out of this. I was becoming really scared because if I lost my grip I knew I was heading down the raging white water creek with no definitive safe way out. Even as I held on, i couldn’t move. I was stuck! I yelled to DG that I was scared. Really scared. He looked scared. The water was so much more powerful than I could fight against. Finally my fingers let go of the branches and I was swept away down the creek. I was terrified and literally fighting to survive as I was tossed and turned upside down in the narrow, rushing, tumbling white water area of the creek. I kept waiting for my body to be thrown against the rocks and each time they did and it didn’t take me completely down I bought another second. Another moment to keep my hands up and reaching for anything to grab or hold on to stop me from being pulled down the creek and against more rocks. My head was being forced under and I thought I might drown. I kept reaching out for anything to grasp onto to save myself from drowning or hitting my head. Somewhere between 200 and 300 feet down the creek I managed to grab some branches on the bank. In a complete and utter state of shock that I have never before experienced, I pulled myself to a standing position and saw Rob on the other side. Looking down, I saw that my shirt was completely torn open. Rob ran down the creek bank, scared as hell, and was so relieved to see me safe. I had no energy to move and barely mustered what was left to lay my body on the snow shelf on the edge of the creek, legs still in the water. DG was yelling for me to get out, take my wet clothes off and get warm. The shock wore off right then and there and I started to bawl, standing in the creek. I was so scared. I thought I was going to die in that creek today. I had to move, though. Tapping into whatever energy and survival instinct I had left, I dragged my body up the snow and onto dry ground beyond it. It was so difficult because my pack was also soaking wet. Shivering, I removed my wet clothes and could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the damage that the creek had done to nearly every part of my body. Foot to wrist, chest to back, I am covered in massive bruises and lacerations. My right thigh is incredibly swollen and hard to walk on. Both knees banged and bleeding. Up and down my arms I’m scraped. DG still had to cross the creek back to me so I managed to pull my mostly dry sleeping bag out out of my soaking wet pack as I fought through hypothermia and wrapped it around my naked body. I lay there shivering until DG made it back safely. He immediately set to getting me warm, drying everything in my pack, tending to my wounds, giving me his dry clothes and sleeping bag to use to come back to a normal temperature. I was still crying a lot, recounting to him what happened and telling him I really truly thought I was going to die in that creek. My hiking pole, Whippet, hat, silicone wedding ring and thermarest seat were all washed away down the creek. A small price to pay to have survived. My whole body hurts. I’m concerned about getting off this trail with the pain and without my poles. But, thank God I am here with my husband right now. He is taking such good care of me after having one of, if not the most, scariest moment of my life.

IMG_6513IMG_6514IMG_6372IMG_6515Daddie Gizmo:

I forded our third creek of the day and it was harder than either of the other 2 but still doable. We had walk a half mile up from the regular trail crossing of Wright Creek to find a spot because it was absolutely a raging white water torrent until that point. It was still very strong but it was in an area where the creek was just simply wider than before so it spread the force out further. After I made it across, I turned to see Figure 8 already in the water coming up the ford area. She made it through the upstream crossing area well but as she begin to sidestep I watched her lose her balance and roll sideways and backwards 20 ft into a pile of brush and trees. Half of me was freaking out, but the other half was calm for some reason. I don’t know why but I just went into crisis thinking mode. We tried yelling back-and-forth but the creek drowned out most of our words. After a few minutes of jostling around she began to slip further towards the deep and powerful rushing area of the creek in the center. I could hear her say she was scared and I’m certain she was also freezing cold in the ice-water. Much much colder than my stomach had gone in about the last three minutes. I rushed down the bank and jumped in the edge of the creek on my side and waded out to where the water was splashing up on my chest. I was using a rock for leverage to keep me from going down stream but I was still 10 feet away from her and no way she could reach the pole I had in my hand. I lost my own balance once and barely put myself back into the shallow area. Without even a sound she was immediately 20 than 40 then 80 feet down the creek. I saw her blue legging, then white water, her pink shirt, then nothing. I climbed over snow banks and ran as far and as fast as I could. All I saw was water. Finally a glimpse of her pink shirt and then she passed around the bend where I couldn’t see her at all anymore. I thrashed my way through the brushes on the other side and climbed a few more snowbanks in a mad scramble to try and keep my eyes on her. I saw her tumble once more and she was gone again from my view. She was in the fiercest and most white water area of the creek and it took no time at all for her to get out of my line of sight. The current was deep, strong and easily enough to whisk her downstream faster than I could keep up even with my eyes. It took me two or three more minutes to get down far enough to see her finally clinging to a sapling Pinetree coming out of a snowbank on the far side of the creek. We were easily 200 or maybe 300 feet down through some of the worst and most raging area of the creek. I was scared again for her but so happy to see her upright and clinging to the tree. I yelled and she could hear me now. She seemed frozen but thankfully clinging to the little sapling. It took her another three or four minutes to gain composure and begin to pull her self up the other side. It was a sharp drop of a snowbank but she was now attempting to pull herself up. I could see so much fear, pain and fright in her face. She must’ve used all of her strength and willpower to get herself up and out of the water. I had some relief knowing that she knew how to take care of herself when she got up and over the snow. I was thankful we had talked about what to do in situations like this before. I began to race back to where I had dropped my pack maybe 100 or so yards up the creek. There was really no way I could ford back across the creek to her at that point because it was an upstream diagonal crossing. To go backwards at that point would have been too dangerous. Just above that turn the creek narrowed again and was raging as I ran climbed and push through trees to find a new spot to get back across the creek. It took me over a mile and every moment I was thinking of my dear sweet beautiful wife who was freezing cold on the other side of the bank nearly a mile and a half away from me now. I finally crossed at another wide spot but now had to make my way back through a very large field of snow that was soft and nothing but sun cups. It felt like forever to go track back down the other side of the creek now to get to her. I finally reached her and saw nothing but a bloody sleeping bag and her pack open and clothes strewn everywhere. She was still shivering very strongly and crying. I think we were both still very scared at that moment but glad that I had reached her and we could start working on getting her warm. She’s already done everything correctly by stripping her clothes and getting into her down sleeping bag. When she came out of the bag to put on some of my warm clothes all I saw was serious road rash and bruises all over her body with spots on her hips, legs knees, ankles and wrists bleeding. We tried to cover those spots up with big bandages as best we could so the clothes wouldn’t stick to the open wounds. She had my thermals, fuzzy socks and thick shirt on as she climbed into my dry down bag. We got her into the sun but she was still shivering quite a lot. I got out some Advil and she took that with a lot of water to rehydrate. I steadied my nerves and my emotions by going through everything wet and getting it out in the sun to dry. She had fallen asleep from exhaustion in the sun but had also stopped shaking for the first time. I set up camp so she could be more comfortable. She is battered and bruised all over but I’m so thankful and grateful she wasn’t hurt much much worse tumbling so far down the rocky rapids. I went to sleep as the rain started to fall and finally cried, hiding it from her as best as I could.

Day 62 – Creek crossings and marmots‼️ Miles 754 – 766 June 18, 2017

IMG_6338

IMG_6529

Snowy tracks

IMG_6335Daddie Gizmo:

The first five hours today we were up about 3000+ in elevation. Unlike yesterday, it wasn’t total up elevation but in up-and-down total. I’m now at a mid-height pass in the Sierras and when you climb 1600 hard earned feet from a creek up to a pass, I think it should have a name. Just too many bigger mountains and passes here, I guess.

IMG_6340

Going above 10,000 feet

IMG_6341

A little trail sign to the log

IMG_6353IMG_6355

IMG_6523

The uphill took it out of me!

There’s a lot more open trail than snow than we expected but the former snowdrifts are now just obstacles in the way of the trail that you have to climb over or get around. They slow you down, quite a bit, but they are just part of this section of trail especially on the north facing slopes. One more obstacle was a big one. Rock creek was about 15 ft wide and you couldn’t see the bottom or even any rocks to show you how deep it was. Solid raging angry water. The side-by-side logs that made the summer crossing point was totally submerged in the water causing a big wave over them and huge deep eddy behind them. The only way to cross was a tree that had fallen across the creek but was about 15 ft up in the air above the white water creek. It was perched on our side up the bank a bit and had fallen on to a huge boulder on the other side.

IMG_6342

The raging white water in Rock Creek

IMG_6343

IMG_6527

The fallen logs to cross Rock Creek

IMG_6526

I was so nervous with the water raging below

IMG_6346

DG crossed like a pro

IMG_6524.JPG

Thankfully the top of the tree broke on the boulder and acted just like a ladder to climb down once you braved the height of the log crossing. We both made it across safely and decided that would be a great time for some breakfast tacos. Second breakfast for us Hobbits. Later, and after another climb, Figure 8 and I glissaded down a few snow fields. Basically you sled down on your butt with no sled using your poles like a rudder and feet for brakes.

IMG_6519

Glissading down the mountain

IMG_6517

IMG_6360

Snow chunk in my crampons after glissading

We came to a wide part of Whitney Creek crossing and decided to camp. It was next to a large rock and boulder field in the sun. We began watching 2 Marmots play which turned into hours of watching them and their friend pop up, scurry after each other and munching on the brand new grown grass near us.

IMG_6522

I’m not as exhausted as I look here, but the mid-day sun and the snow

IMG_6356IMG_6521IMG_6359

IMG_6520

Marmots!

This lasted all night as we cooked up some smoked meat, mashed potatoes. We also saw a group of 8 decide how to cross creek. The group included Sauce and Giggles who we met and chatted a lot with while we were in Lone Pine. We all decided to ford through a 25′ wide but 3′ shallow area about 100 ft in front of a double waterfall that had about a 40 foot drop in the morning and settled in the watch a blood red sunset.

IMG_6363

Another wonderful campsite

IMG_6364

The waterfall by the site

IMG_6367

IMG_6370

♥️