To Virginia and Back, In A Week. Part 1 to the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

Recently a friend of mine was given a chance of a lifetime, but it also meant she would have to move from California to Virginia. So when she asked if I would come along with her and her boyfriend to drive across the country, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, I’m an adventurer, how am I supposed to turn down an adventure? So even though I only came home from another adventure a few days prior, I packed up my bag again and was off to adventure on the open road once again.

When we left we only had four days to make the 40-hour drive to Virginia. The only problem was we were only going to drive for six hours our first day as we had planned to stay overnight at the Grand Canyon and visit it in the morning of the second day. I was more than happy with this decision. After all, it’s the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times I visit it, I can’t get enough of it. Plus I convinced to team to travel a little out of the way to visit Horseshoe Bend in Page Arizona. I knew it would add a couple of extra hours to our drive, but I also knew it would be so worth the time.

When we woke up the second day, we quickly broke camp and entered the Grand Canyon. We saw Mather Point at early light, the partly cloudy skies added to the ambiance and spectacular views of the canyon. Often times a scene like this looks as though you are stepping into a painting, it’s so beautiful, you think that it can’t be real. Then you breathe, and you know it is real, that this splendid beauty and chaos is the most real moment you have had in a very long time. 20160505_070408_Richtone(HDR)

Soon we were leaving the Canyon and heading north on the 89. We were going a bit out of the way, but I knew this detour would be worth the hours lost. I had planned to make an important rest stop at Horseshoe Bend near Page Arizona. It took us nearly two hours to reach the parking lot of the bend, and the sign marking the area was no help at all. It’s tiny, one blink and you’ll miss it. That is if you don’t notice all the other cars turning into a random dirt road and lot.

As we hiked towards the Bend, I was anxiously rushing up the hill that stood between me and that marvelous natural wonder. Once I was at the top, I could feel my asthma kicking into overdrive, but I didn’t care. I could already see the top of the formation, and it made my heart skip. The soft sandy trail down was not going to slow me down, nothing would until I was finally setting foot on the Navajo Sandstone. It was already midday, and there was a lot of people gathered at the mouth of the cliff, but lucky for me I was able to grab a spot that had unrestricted views. IMG_20160505_125509

As I sat and soaked in the view of from the cliff face, I let my feet dangle off the edge. I’m terrified of heights, I don’t even like to be on ladders; and yet this was fine. Maybe nature just has that effect on me, or maybe the beauty of nature is like the flame to a moth for me? Regardless, I could have stayed all day on that edge just looking down at those cliffs and the river, and not feel like a moment was wasted. Unfortunately, we had to be hitting the road. So I had to say goodbye to Horseshoe Bend and hello to the open road.

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Purple Rain, on the way to Morro Bay

I’ve been driving through the Los Angeles traffic for nearly two hours when the congestion finally seems to break. I’m only in Ventura and I still have a ways to go. Morro Bay is my destination on this trip, and even though I can feel my morning caffeine begin to wear off, I can’t help but feel excited. I’ve been impatiently awaiting another outing since my last overnight trip to the Trona Pinnacles and I must say it’s been too long since I’ve slept in a tent again. I don’t know what makes camping so special but it truly is. Maybe it’s being detached from civilization? Or maybe it’s just a connection with mother nature that puts one’s mind at peace? All I know, is that I love it, and it makes me happy. 20160422_130254_Richtone(HDR)

It’s about 10 am when we arrive at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo. My legs can’t wait to get out of the van and walk around and the first step on the parking lot feels like heaven. I take in a deep breath of the salty air and it comforts me. I can already hear the waves crashing along the beach and I quickly grab a couple of things and begin to head off to the beach. Even though it’s early the beach already has some visitors on it, but lucky for me and my group we know an area that is less traversed. As I climb onto the pillow basalts to avoid the crashing waves I’m treated to a small but private stretch of beach. There isn’t a lot of sand at this part of the beach but that doesn’t matter. I’d rather look at the rocks anyways. I boulder up some of the structures and I perch myself up not too high but high enough just to get a better view. The sun is shinning and wind feels perfect and there are sea otters and seals playing in the water. It’s almost perfect here. I almost wished that we were staying longer than a couple of hours, but there is much to see and do, before arriving to camp.20160422_121351_Richtone(HDR)

We’ve only been driving for a half hour when the skies begin to pour with a vengeance. We knew before heading out, that we were going to get rain, but for a moment we forgot all about it, and felt surprised as the rain began to pour.The whippers on the van moved fast to keep the drops clear for a view of the street, but it didn’t seem enough. This storm was hitting hard. As we came closer to our next destination it began to lighten up dramatically. The once powerful and mighty storm was now just a light sprinkling and when we stopped, I couldn’t help but snap a few pictures. That’s when the music began to play in my head. I could hear Purple Rain playing and I felt a little sad about the recent lost of the artist known as Prince, but so happy to have known about his work before hand. It’s funny how a celebrity death can hit you so hard. You may not have ever meet them or knew them personally, but through their work you felt a connection. You grew up learning about yourself and making memories and having experiences to their work; so when they die, it’s like a piece of you died too. 20160422_142842_Richtone(HDR)

As we walked down to the Estero Bluffs we were treated to a field of blooming mustard plants before reaching the beach. Once at the beach we spent some time looking around. I found a couple of hidden plastic Easter Eggs, and I wondered who had an egg hunt here? One of the eggs was empty but the other had some candy in it, but the ants had already claimed it as their own. It was beautiful there at that beach. I got to see the remnants of the storm pass by and leave us and welcome back the blue sky and sunshine. Soon after that it was time to finally make our way down to camp to set up for the night.20160422_163904

I had never stayed at Morro Strand Campground before. It’s a little too close to  civilization for me, but it wasn’t too bad as it is right on the beach. I pitched my tent on a dune and then went for a walk along the beach as the sun began to set. The beach was littered with sand dollars and I watched the sandpipers congregating as they searched for food in the sea foam. Morro Rock towered in the distance in the evening glow. I watched in amazement for a while just trying to take in all the scenery. It really was a wonderful day for adventuring and I’m looking forward to getting a good nights rest. After all tomorrow will be another busy day. 20160422_195644_Richtone(HDR)

I’ll Meet You At the Trail…Or At Least I’ll Try To.

This past Sunday I was supposed to meet up some friends to hike a portion of the Mt. Wilson Trail in Arcadia California. We had been planning for over a week to meet up at the trail head at 7:30 am and hike up to at least Orchard Camp. I haven’t hiked this trail in about a year, and I remember it being very challenging. So I really did want to get an early start as Sunday was the projected hot day of the week with temperatures reaching the mid 80’s.

It’s 6:45 am and I’m barely getting out of bed. I rub my eyes in disbelief. It feels like I only just closed my eyes. It was as if I had blinked and jumped ahead in time. Last night was restless, but luckily I don’t feel groggy. I hurry to get ready and soon enough, I’m out the door. I look at the time and it’s already almost 7:30, well it looks like I’m not going to make it out there in time, even with the traffic being almost non existent, there is no way I’m getting that far in a few minutes.  I send a text message to my friends from a McDonald’s parking lot, letting them know I’m running late and that I’ll meet them on the trail. After I send the message I decide to grab an Egg McMuffin. I figured I was late already, might as well get some calories in me before I hit the trail. 20160417_122228_Richtone(HDR)

By the time I get to the trail head and reach the sign in box, it’s almost 8:30. I think to myself “Damn, I’m going to see them when their coming down the trail.” I decide to just enjoy as much of the trail as I can before I meet up with them and I proceed up the long steep hike towards the top of Mt. Wilson. The first portion of the trail is exposed to the east and there is no shade at all. The warm spring sun beats down on you as you climb higher and higher up the dusty trail to the top. Even though it’s still morning, I’m already wishing I started earlier. Other than the sun being very warm, I feel okay. I’m doing pretty well on this trail, even though I haven’t done a hike this strenuous since Flattop Mountain in the Summer (Which is easier than Wilson), I’m making good progress.

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Soon I reach the first place most people take a rest at, and that is called First Water. It’s a nice shady area with a little creek going through it. Even though it’s a pleasant area I don’t stop long. I’m too concerned with finding my friends. So I continue on up the trail towards the next stop, Orchard Camp. It’s only two more miles up from First Water So I figure I should be seeing them soon.

20160417_102801_Richtone(HDR)This portion of the trail is so much nicer.
As the trees provide much needed cover from the sun. I think this is my favorite portion of the hike. It’s so beautiful, the trees, the mountains. The people seem more friendly and happy. It’s just so wonderful there. It was even better seeing a bunch of butterflies hanging around the trail. Everywhere I looked, I would see a butterfly. It would either be resting or flying about in the air. They made me happy and I had to stop and just enjoy them for a while.

As I approached Orchard Campground I thought I would finally see my friends, and then we could travel the rest of the trail together. You can imagine my surprise when I arrived and didn’t find them.Could they have gone up to the next stop? Maybe? But it was getting closer to being the hottest part of the day, and I didn’t feel like going any further with the heat. Perhaps I missed them when I stepped off onto a ledge to get some pics? It’s possible, only one way to find out, and that meant I would have to keep going and hope to find them. Somewhere down the trail.

 

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As I began to begin my decent, something strange happened. I actually felt alone. I’ve gone on many adventures alone. It’s never bothered me before. So what’s changed? Me, I guess. Sometimes life just catches up to you, and sneaks in a hit when you least expect it. So I was alone to my thoughts as I rapidly descended down the trail. Now everything seemed just a little dimmer, a little quieter, a little colder. I don’t think I ever wanted a hike to end so soon. Usually I just relax and take it all in, the beautiful chaos that is nature, and I’m humbled and amazed, but not today.

As I was getting closer to the trail head, I kept seeing more and more people 20160417_102318_Richtone(HDR)beginning their journey, at the mid day point, in the hottest part of the day, and I wished them well in my mind. Some didn’t even seem to have water with them. Are they crazy? I thought. Surely, they must know that you shouldn’t attempt any trail without water. Then I saw a man with a beautiful all white Husky looking dog. They were making fast progress up the mountain, but the dog was heavily panting. As they passed I asked him, if he wanted any water for his dog, “Sure if you have any you can spare.” I quickly removed my Camelbak water bottle and unscrewed the top. As I began to slowly pour a stream of water the dog quickly began to lap up the water. She was very thirsty, and it was only the beginning of the trail. They still had easily a mile and a quarter to go before First Water. The dog quickly drank almost all of the water. She even managed to stick her tongue into the bottle to get even more water. I just smiled and let her have as much as she wanted. When she finished her owner thanked me and I’ll never forget this, but the dog gave me an incredible look. It was as if she was wondering where I was going, and why I wasn’t going with them. I told the owner it was a tough hike, and he said they wouldn’t be going too far. So I pet the dog on the head and I left.

As I exited the trail, I checked my phone for any messages from my friends, and I had a couple but nothing about their whereabouts on the trail. I checked Instagram and sure enough they had already posted some pics. So with that, and feeling a little defeated by the mountain, I decided it was time to head home for a much needed shower, and perhaps a victory, or in this case a defeat beer to enjoy on this beautiful warm spring afternoon. I feel like going back to this mountain soon. There is something about the challenge of it that I like. It’s tough, and demanding and unforgiving. A perfect place to hone yourself for a life of adventure. 20160417_122154

To Bishop! A 248 Mile Detour

We headed out of Short Canyon kicking dust up as we went down the dirt trail. As if we were saying “so long and thanks for everything!” We knew our destination was way out of the way, but sometimes when you are having so much fun on the road, you just don’t care. You go for it, and so we did. As we got back onto the 395 and we headed north. I think we worried for a bit if we made the right choice. I’ll be honest, a little doubt sunk into my mind, and I’m always up for a spontaneous adventure. Yet, the more I thought about it, the better I felt. It’s just an extra four hours, I said to myself. We can do this!20160331_164242_Richtone(HDR)

After driving for a half hour we started to see the basalt flows and the red cinder cone fast approaching in the distance. We instantaneously knew we had to make a quick stop at Fossil Falls. If you are ever traveling through California and on the 395, and you want to stretch your legs and see something cool. Then you must make a stop here. The basalt flows were shaped and changed from rivers and glaciers, making the rock here smooth and polished with large potholes. It’s really cool to see the large holes and the sudden drop in the rock. It looks like a waterfall made up of rock. To the north of the fields you’ll see a large red cone, called a cinder cone. It’s an extinct volcano! How cool is that?! Okay enough geeking out about rocks, onto the adventure!  IMG_20160402_223051

20160331_150416_Richtone(HDR)After leaving Fossil Falls we kept traveling north, anxiously anticipating are arrival at Erick Schat’s. Even though we were pressed for time, we still made random stops off the road. Just so that we could stop and appreciate the glorious Sierra Nevada Mountains. I swear if you ever get the chance to see them in the afternoon light, you will feel in awe and humbled by their presence. There is no other way to describe their glory. It’s something you have to just witness with your own eyes. Only then will you know what truth I am telling you. Only then will you have your breath taken away. 20160331_160415

After we arrived in Bishop, we pulled into Schat’s where we got whatever bread we could and then we were off, back on the road. Enjoying our bounty of bread and the open road, we felt good, joyous even. I think it was this time that really made the trip. Sure we saw some of nature’s grand spectacles and have had a blast up to this point. But now we were having a carpool karaoke session and it was absolutely fantastic! We totally got into the moment and it nearly lasted the whole ride home. I don’t think I have ever had so much fun driving home as I did on that trip. We sang, we danced, we ate, and we took pictures of the setting sun behind the Sierras. It was magical. I almost didn’t want it to end. It was one of those rare beautiful moments that you share with a person. Those rare moments that you will keep forever, wherever you go. Those are my favorite moments. Those are the moments that I hope to always have on all of my adventures.  20160331_185644_Richtone(HDR)

Short Canyon = Short Adventure

As we left the Trona Pinnacles and headed out on the lonely 178 into Ridgecrest. I couldn’t believe how surreal things were. The pinnacles and all their splendor still lingered in my mind even though the thought of seeing more desert wildflowers excited me for the days adventure. The geology surrounding the 178 was a sight to see. The rock formations and canyons were excellent, it made it hard for me to look at the map while my friend drove. I’m not sure if it was because I’ve never been here or maybe it was because I don’t fully trust google maps, but we stopped at the BLM Field Office in order to get better directions to Short Canyon, a place that supposedly had some great wildflowers.20160331_121029

After getting some great information and a map at BLM we were off again and this time with a better sense of direction and plan. Even though I received good directions we still missed our exit off the 14, and had to turn around. We blew our exit by a good seven minutes too, but then we saw a Mobil gas station, and figured we’d stop there to make sure we were on the right track. I must say this was the worst stop we made on our trip, as the bathrooms were filthy and the customer service was not great either, but at least I found out we were right next to the entrance to the Canyon.

As we headed up the dusty dirt road we would soon see what looked to be a big 4X4 in distress. It hung partially off the side of the road and I could see a woman bent down near the front passenger tire. We wondered if they needed help, but before I could get out and ask, another woman was already approaching our vehicle. She informed me that they were stuck on a rock. I could tell they had been there for some time now, as she seemed frustrated and exhausted by the situation. So with out any further delay I was off to help them out as best I could.

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Photo by Miranda H.

When I got closer I could see one woman lying underneath the large truck, she had a metal dog dish in hand and was attempting to dig the rock out. 20160331_142446_Richtone(HDR)Another woman was spotting her and after discussing a plan of attack in order to get the rock from underneath the axle without damaging it we decided that I was going to push the rock down with my legs. It worked slightly as it got the rock away from the axle but the rock was still too high, and could cause some real damage if the truck were to try and move over it. We tried to dig it out and push it some more and after a few failed attempts I decided it was time for a new strategy. I crawled underneath the truck with a long dog leash and wrapped it around the rock. I then began to pull towards me, which was really hard considering I was laying flat on my stomach. Luckily the rock began to move. Soon two of the women began to dig around the rock, one was using the tire iron and it gave me an idea.

I knew we just needed the right kind of leverage to get the rock out, so I asked if I could borrow it for a moment. The woman kindly and enthusiastically abide. I dug one end of the tire iron underneath the bottom of the rock and with one hand pushed on the other side of the iron. It began to lift the rock up and as it did I used my other hand to push the rock forward. “That’s working!” I heard one lady shout and soon three of us were working together to get the rock out. I would pry and lift the rock while two of the women would use the dog leash to pull the rock out. We had the rock out in no time. 20160331_142453_Richtone(HDR)

Soon the truck was free and they were able to get out of the rough part of the trail. I then moved the rock out from the middle of the road with some help from two of the women, as it was a large and heavy rock. The four laddies were really happy and thankful to be out of that predicament. I smiled and told them it wasn’t a problem as I was covered in head to toe of dirt from the road. They then asked for my name and where I was from, I told them and they seemed to know the town that I was from. As they shouted it’s name in disbelief. I told them to have a great day and try not to get stuck again, and as I started to walk back to my friend and her car, I heard one of them say “Wait!” I turned to look and the eldest one was reaching into her wallet to pull out some money.

I didn’t want to accept the money, as I was just happy to be able to solve their problem, but she insisted and it would be rude not to accept the token of gratitude. So I accepted and thanked her for the money. Soon they were driving off back to Ridgecrest and waving at me from their lifted truck. I waved back and smiled and then went back to the car. Where we easily made it up the sandy slope (their truck was too heavy)  and into the canyon. We parked the car and started scrambling up the rocky cliffs. 20160331_140025

It was a beautiful day out in the canyon. The sun was bright but not too hot, the wildflowers covered the canyon floor in a vibrant yellow and we were feeling like we were on top of the world on the large boulders of the cliff face. I think it was that moment that really solidified that we weren’t ready to go home yet. So we both agreed some Eric Schat’s in Bishop would be a good reward to end the day. So once again we were off to jump back on the open road. Seeking adventure and baked goods. 20160331_140504

 

Trona Pinnacles: Discovey Among Giants

I looked at my friend and sighed, it had been a long week and I felt like escaping and I said to her “Do you want to go on an adventure?”

“When?” she asked anxiously.

“Soon…” I said with the a subtle half smile.

A week later and were hitting the road. Traveling up the long and straight 395. We were just outside of the city of Adelanto, when we started to see the desert in its rarest fashion; completely covered in wildflowers. We quickly pulled off to the side of the road and anxiously greeted the wild blooms. The floor was covered in yellow and sprinkled here and there with the occasional purple and orange. The flowers reached out as far as the eye could see, in all directions. It was magical and surreal. It brought out a joy in me that I haven’t felt in a while. I almost wanted to lay in the flowers and make snow angels in them, but I didn’t want to destroy their beauty for a few seconds of pleasure. After a few more moments we were back in the car and out onto the road.20160330_155411_Richtone(HDR)

It was nearly five p.m. when we reached Ridgecrest and we needed to stop for a couple of much needed supplies; such as chips, firewood and beer for the evening. We had the option of continuing further north in hopes of seeing more wildflowers or start heading east to the Trona Pinnacles, and we decided to go to the wildflowers the next day. So we were off to the Pinnacles to set camp and have a much needed and deserved dinner.20160330_180147_Richtone(HDR)

As we pulled up to the Pinnacles the afternoon light was hitting them just right and I swear there was a sense of awe as we bared witness to the spectacle. There were only a couple of cars in the area were we decided to make camp, but it didn’t appear they were going to be staying for the night. It looked like we were going to have the Pinnacles all to ourselves for the night. As we set up camp and began to start cooking, the wind picked up, with a vengeance. It blew out my MSR Pocket Rocket and bent my Eureka tent almost flat. I knew if we didn’t find a way to break the wind we would have to move everything to the other side of the Pinnacles. Which in retrospect might have been a better choice, but instead I just moved the suv to block the bulk of the wind. It worked out pretty well but it still made cooking difficult to accomplish. Still I was able to make some al pastor tacos with rice and get the camp fire roaring. 20160330_185552_Richtone(HDR)

Later the wind died down and we enjoyed the warmth of the fire and the view of the milky way above us. It’s humbling really, to look up and see so many stars. Knowing how big and far away they are. To realize how long it takes that light from the stars to reach our eyes. Nothing else can make you feel so small in such a good way. You feel at peace basking in the dim glow of the night stars, or at least I do. I swear the view of the stars out here, in the middle of nowhere, is worth it’s weight in gas alone. 20160330_184953_Richtone(HDR)

The next morning we enjoyed some omelets for breakfast and broke camp. We then went and hiked and explored among the Pinnacles. At one point I climbed up to the top of one of the pinnacles and sat there enjoying it’s perspective. It is something so opening and humbling, just sitting up somewhere high and enjoying the views. There is just something about being in that moment. The silence, the beauty, the peace, it’s all up there, just waiting for you to discover it. After spending time walking amongst the giants made of tufa. We decided it was time to leave this alien landscape in search of new adventures. 20160331_105033

As we drove out of the dusty bumpy road, I found that we kept looking back. Looking at the pinnacles rising out of the flat desert land. Defying time, and nature. It was inspirational, and I felt much better about things. After all time changes everything, but sometimes what it leaves is something that can be beautiful. Maybe if I can only learn one thing from the tufa, it’s that it’s okay to weather. Just let time and the elements weather the bad stuff, and I might be surprised with the beauty it leaves behind.  20160331_112103

Raven’s Trail

It’s been nearly a week since I’ve arrived in Alaska and it has been a roller-coaster of excitement and adventure already, but the past day and a half, everything has come to a slow halt. It’s mid day and I’m laying in my tent listening to the rain land and bounce off the fly and the nearby gravely ground. It’s calming and soothing to listen to as I read Call of the Wild by Jack London. However, no matter how pleasant and relaxing this is, I’m not content. I can hear the wild lands of Alaska calling me to her trails. Waiting for me to try and test my metal against hers. I contemplate putting on some rain gear and going out. My better judgment convinces me other wise.

Now it’s 16:00 the rain has stopped and I can’t contain myself anymore. There is a trail, nearby that I’ve been itching to try. So I pack my daypack and I’m out to try and conquer the trail. It’s a mile away from my tent, but it goes by quick. The road to the trail head is easy and not very traveled so there is nothing to slow me down. In no time I find myself at the trail head. A wooden sign surrounded by quarried diorite leads to the trail. First I’ll have to follow a service road for a half mile, and then the real trail will begin.

Even though this trail is a stone’s throw away from the airport, you wouldn’t even notice it was there. Only two commercial flights fly out of the airport each day. Any other smaller aircraft traffic is minimal at best. The road stretches out through the muskegs, as spruce saplings rise up from the mud, trying to claim it’s own niche in the world. I’m surprised by how well the trail is marked. A bright blue arrow points it out, as it could have been easily passed if it had not been. I half expected to see a cairn, and while I’m tempted to make one, I know it’s already 17:00 and I need to hit the trail.wpid-20150702_183626.jpg

The trail is a row of boards, or like a really long plank that leads through the muskeg. The boards have fish net on the top, and this helps get a good grip, because I imagine that with all the rain and mud it would be slippery. This kind of trail is alien to me. I’ve never encountered such a trail in all my travels. If you are traveling with a companion you would have to travel single file as there is only room for one on this trail. There isn’t even enough room for trekking poles on the board, it’s that small. Soon I exit the muskegs and enter the forest. It’s a surreal experience, the vibrant greens, and stillness, and the way the light peaks in through the branches. It’s more than what I expected.

Soon I come upon two hikers a man and women, both appear to be in their mid twenties, and both are very friendly. Luckily we came upon each other at a wide part of the boardwalk (the only part on the whole trail). The woman asks where I’m headed, and I tell her I’m going to the cabin at the top. She informs me it’s not at the top, and the man confirms. They tell me once you summit you will follow the path down further and onto another peak and that is where the cabin lays. After exchanging more pleasantries we are both headed on our paths in separate directions. I had no idea this would be the only human contact I would have on the whole trail.

As I enter the thick part of the forest, the boardwalk disappears, and I finally feel like I’m on a real trail. It’s muddy, and rooty and if you don’t keep your wits about you, and mind your footing, it will cost you. I almost catch a face full of Devil’s Club as I was watching my footing. Luckily my spider sense kicked and I ducked and narrowly avoid an unpleasant encounter with the thorny plant. The trail starts to get even harder, I think of all the challengingwpid-20150702_192004_richtonehdr.jpg trails I’ve done: Mt. Wilson, Mt. Baldy, Bright Angel, Angel’s Landing, I think I’m prepared, that I can handle it, that it won’t be that bad. While I was prepared, I underestimated how strenuous and challenging it would be.

Soon I’m gaining a foot of elevation with nearly each step that I take. The trail has round logs that sort of make a steep staircase, and I do mean steep. At times it felt like I was climbing more than stepping. To make matters more difficult the logs and trail are all muddy from the recent rains, making the trail more difficult. After a mile and some change of mostly steep elevation gains the path begins to even out and soon you reach the peak of the trail. Most trails peak to barren rocky tops, but not this little mountain. It’s covered in muskegs. I try not to linger as the standing water attracts the mosquitoes, but I notice the sun is low in the northwestern sky. I decided I’ll press on for another 20 minutes and if I don’t reach the cabin I’ll head back.

I move as fast as I can on the slippery boardwalk through the muskeg and brush, and after 20 minutes, the cabin is no where in sight. I pause for a moment. I check my map, I can’t be too far from it now, but then I realize the light is getting dimmer and I still have some thick muddy forest to traverse. So I head back. I’m really rushing now, as I do not want to get stuck in that forest with no light, because even with a head lamp and flash light I know the trail could be difficult to find. As I enter the forest, my fear comes to realization. It is much darker in here than I anticipated, and like I feared the trail is hard to see even with my headlamp. I try to pick up my speed but soon I slip and nearly fall. That slipped would of cost me dearly had I not been using my trekking poles. I slip again, and again, and finally I let the trail win. This will not be a speedy decent. I will have to take my time and watch my footing.wpid-20150702_211913.jpg

I make sure to make noise and bang my trekking poles together every few steps. After all this is bear country, and I do not want to surprise one on this lonely trail. I nearly go off trail once as I was following mud tracks and broken vegetation but I stopped and looked around and knew this wasn’t a trail. I had to back track several feet and luckily I spotted a blue diamond telling me which way to go. I count my lucky stars as an off trail adventure in this forest in the dark could cost me. I won’t lie and say the thought of getting lost in here didn’t cross my mind, or that I wasn’t afraid. Fear was with me, as I descended, but I used it as a strength. After all fear is a super power. It can make you stronger, run faster, jump higher. Adrenalin is like rocket fuel and it will course through your veins making you think faster, make it seem like time slows. How could you do the impossible without fear?

Once I reached the boardwalk I feel a little relief as I know the worst is over and and soon I’ll be back on the service road. I make haste on the boardwalk, as I still feel uneasy being on this trail in the dark. The good part though, was that there was more light on this part of the trail, due to less dense vegetation. It isn’t long before I’m back into the muskeg and the service road is in sight. Once I take that first step onto the road a big sigh of relief let out. Still I knew I had a half mile of service road through the muskeg to be really in the clear. Once I’m back at the trail head and reach the main road, I feel immediate satisfaction. I made it. I just did an intense trail, got caught in the dark and I still made it.

Looking back on this adventure I will admit that I was foolish for trying to accomplish this trail so late in the day. Or underestimating the trail. I didn’t have enough respect for the trail when I started, but now I’ve learned. Now I’m wiser, and now I realize just how wild my future adventures in this land will be. Also you will pleased to know I ran into the nice couple the next day on my way to the Laundromat. The woman explained how they were worried about me venturing out so late. It was good feeling to have, and we were all happy with the outcome.