From the depths of the sea, back to the block…
Then I step through the fog and I creep through the smog…
What’s my motherfucking name?Snoop Dogg
Or really who are any of us to think we can pull off the crazy shit we did today! In yesterday’s post I mentioned the final obstecale we faced in getting to camp, today we started with going back up the giant boulder pile of death, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Last night we did catch a very brief 10 minute break in the rain to “enjoy” our jerky dinner. Then it promptly started raining again and did not stop.
All night long the patter of rain on the tent nearly drowned out the roar of the waterfall we were camped next too. When we finally got up in the morning it was still raining and everything we had with us was wet. Since it was still raining and we were in the cloud it didn’t make any sense to try to wait out sunnier weather so we shoved the wet tents, wet sleeping bags, wet clothes, and wet bear cans back into our wet packs. Then we put on some other wet clothes and wet shoes and slung the wet packs onto our backs.
We only made it a few steps – across the pile of logs and to the bottom of the boulder pile when we realized that leaving Thornton Lakes was going to be a severe challenge. I climbed up onto the first boulder and tried to make progress up, but since the rock was also wet went absolutely nowhere. I quickly realized that this 30 foot climb was going to be a marathon. I took off my pack and tossed it as far up the rock as I could. It stuck.
I told everyone else to take off their packs as well, then one at a time I tossed them up as high as possible. Once all the packs were up I started to carefully climb up myself until I reached the first ledge. I was able to anchor myself a bit, and one at a time everyone else followed. We repeated this pattern about 4 more times until finally half and hour later we reached the top of the pile.
Already exhausted, and with less then a 1/10th of a mile under our belt we strapped our packs back on and began ascending the 500 “strenuous” feet to the saddle we’d have to regain before the 2,500 ft descent to Fred. While it was certainly HARD it wasn’t the worst part of the trek. The trail is nearly straight up in this section. It’s formed of an assortment of tree root ladders, rocks with tiny notches for footholds, and near verticle sections of mud. We all persisted and before long were to the top.
The hardest part of the hike for me today was the next section. Deemed “moderate” by the NPS, it is a 2,500 ft drop over two miles. Two miles normally isn’t that far, but when every step is down, and every one of those steps down is slippery, it felt like it went on forever. It seemed like it would never end. Mercifully, it eventually did and we moved into the final “easy” section. The last two miles were nearly flat, but with everything we’d already endured they also seemed to go on forever.
When I finally spotted Fred it was a major relief. He still had all all his windows intact, there was cold water inside, and we’d soon be taking showers and eating hot food. We piled all of our wet, dirty, smelly gear inside. The nearest town was about an hour and a half drive away so we did our best to feel clean and dry until we finally pulled into a parking spot in front of the Old Schoolhouse Brewery in Whinthrop, WA. Throughout the hike I’d told everyone that our post hike meal would be your choice of any two “rolly foods”, but with no 7-11 in sight we settled for local IPA’s, totchos (not a typo, that’s tater tot nachos), burgers, salads, sandwiches, and fries.
The afternoon was spent drying everything out. Literally everything we owned was wet since all the wet stuff went into the back of Fred with all the dry stuff. Fortunatly, the weather was cooperative and we were able to get everything dried out and packed away. I even did laundry. Apparently, everything we ate at the brewery wasn’t quite enough because we still managed to put away 2 salads and a pizza for dinner. Tomorrow we’ll head on to Kalispell, MT and Glacier NP!