Monday, January 18, 2010

Hiking in the jungle

Another great weekend out in the woods. Dan, Laura, Natalie and I headed up to the north cascades this past weekend. The plan was to head up into the snow so we all loaded up the packs with winter tents, snowshoes, and all the warm gear we could carry. Well we got to the trailhead and even after driving uphill for 30 minutes the snow line was still so far above us that we decided to leave the snowshoes in the car.

We headed out under skies that were pretty nice but had a hint of darkness to them. About 30 minutes into the trip things began to get interesting as we came across an unexpected river. It was not really cold (probably low 40s) but still to cold to just wade across a river of snowmelt. We searched around a little and Dan and I decided the best crossing was over a fallen tree that was covered in ice. What could go wrong right? Well everything went well and after a little sawing of branches and handing of packs we were all across. In the back of my head I was thinking, hmm I hope the water level does not come up overnight because I have no idea how we will make it back across.

After crossing the river we headed into what looked like the set of Jurrassic Park. The trees were huge and covered in moss. We spent a good portion of the hiking heading up a creek bed. There were quite a few blowdowns which resulted in the trail just disappearing. We would realize after about 15-20 feet that we were not on a trail any more (this was a lightly used trail anyway) and would have to fan out to locate the trail again. It was cool to have to do a little route finding. I felt like we were making good time but as it started getting later we were still nowhere near the treeline where we had planned to camp.

A little after 4 Dan said he thought we should call it and use the remaining light to find a campsite. I really wanted to make the treeline for the views and so while he went off to the side of the trail to find an area to camp in (we were on the side of a mountain so not many flat spots were to be had) I dropped my pack and jogged up the trail in the off chance that

a. there was an established flat campsite ahead
b. that by some miracle the treeline was closer than we thought

Turns out the the trail just got steeper up ahead and there were not any good campsites up there at all. I reluctantly turned around and started jogging back down the trail to see if Dan had found a campsite.

When I got back Dan had just re-emerged from the woods and thought he may have found a place. We all heaved our packs back onto our backs and headed off the trail and into Jurrassic Park. The campsites were not much to look at but after adjusting the tents a few times we decided they would work well.

After getting setup we all changed into our warmest clothes and headed to our dinner/bar area. Between all of us we had two bottles of port, one bottle of wine, and a bottle of bailey's to have with hot chocolate later. It started getting cold so we fired up the stoves, opened up the port and ended up having a great night just catching up and talking trash. The hanging of the food line was a memorable experience. Booze+waterbottle tied to a rope that needed to be thrown over a tree is always interesting but this was a classic. Classic bear bag setup....

It had gotten dark at 4:30pm so we had all turned in by nine with full stomachs and faces that hurt from laughing. Great times with great friends.

The hike out was uneventful and my worst nightmares about the river crossing on the way out turned out to be nothing more than paranoia.

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