Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 16

So much for bright and sunny! It rained steadily throughout the night and was still coming down hard this morning. We knew we had to make miles today so we packed up and got moving. The trail was an absolute mess--water and mud all over the place. The hills were like streams with 4-6 inches of dirty water running down on the trail; the flat sections were puddles of 6-inch deep water just covering the entire trail, and mud and wet rocks on either side. We were soaked and our feet squishy within minutes, and it was cold! The temperature was about 60 and the rain was cold. I had my full rain gear on but was still soaked. It was very slow going as we picked and slipped our way up the trail. We stopped for a quick break at a shelter about 5 miles away, and we got to thinking that drying out and warming up sounded pretty appealing...
We came to a water crossing, a stream that normally would have been simple rock-hopping, but with 36 straight hours of rain, it was incredibly swollen and the current intimidatingly strong. About 30 yards downstream was a 30-foot waterfall as well, just gushing with all of the runoff. Scary? I think so; for me it was the scariest crossing yet, and I shamefully admit I got the sniffles as I started across. I wasn't afraid of getting wet--I was already soaked--but afraid of getting hurt. There were rocks spread across to help with crossing but several were under the water. Bear Bag went first and I followed, picking our way across the water. The rocks were unsteady in the current and at times I couldn't use my poles as the water was so deep and the current so strong. Of course the rocks were soaking wet (some with water gushing over them) as well; I held my breath with every step.
Thankfully we made it across safely and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I've come to realize that water crossings are one of my biggest fears out here. The small ones I can handle but crossings like this definitely get my adrenaline pumping.
We got to a road about a mile later and Road Runner was there; he had a ride to town but was waiting on his hiking partner. The guy offered to take us as far as Wallingford and we couldn't resist the thought of a hot shower. He dropped us off in a few miles and we stood on the corner in the rain with our thumbs out. In a matter of minutes a truck pulled over and he even let us sit in the cab! He took us into Rutland and dropped us off at the McDonald's. He even gave us his number for a ride back in the morning! Amazing. We ate some food and ran into Radio who said he and Strawberry had stayed at the Comfort Inn for a good price, so we headed that way and got a great deal on a room. We took advantage of the swimming pool and hot tub as well! We walked to the laundromat to wash all of our dirty (dirty) clothes, and then ordered pizza for dinner. The day cleared off a bit but it's been raining off and on this evening. Hopefully the trail has dried up a bit..?
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4 comments:

  1. Thank you for the update. Be safe with swollen streams. Its starting to feel like fall here in Ohio.

    Lonewolf

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  2. Great description of conditions. Imagine (you probably have) of facing the crossing alone. But ah, reality: a hot tub is never far away!

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  3. Bear Bag and I have made some pretty scary crossings in Utah and Colorado. Ask Bear Bag about his Utah river crossing with the water falls.
    When crossing a raging river always unbuckle your waist strap. Never jump rocks that are under water, or have water flowing over them. Face up steam, each use one pole and hold each other hand. Only one person takes a side step at a time. Bear Bag knows how to do it. He has done it enough in the past. Maybe he is too shy to hold a girls hand.

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  4. I was going to suggest removing the pack but I see Bear Bag's Dad has already covered that. Glad you made it across and that you had a chance to grub up, warm up and clean up.

    Woodenarrows

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