The art of getting
closer to Nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower and flush toilet.
Dave and I just got back from a camping experience I haven't yet decided how to classify.
Insane - because or plan was to take a short, 2 mile hike up to a beautiful Alpine Lake and we chose instead to go on a trek up and over and way down huge cliffs and ravines without really researching what we were about to do all because there was a suspension bridge to go see.
Painful - because we were carrying 30-40 pound packs up and down mountains for a total elevation of 11,000 feet for a grand total of 17 miles in two days with blisters all over our feet after years of serious inactivity.
Glorious -because we got to leave our kids behind and enjoy each others company as we walked through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen with hardly any other stranger to interrupt of peaceful views of grandiose mountains, whispering streams, powerful water falls, colorful sunsets, fragrant meadows in full bloom and ancient glaciers groaning with weight.
Memorable -because all of the above is true and as the blisters heal and my legs have recovered enough to walk with out feeling like I am going to pass out from the pain and I have slowly weaned myself off my Advil dependency...all that is left is a soft sigh of pleasure and I would so totally do it again.
Maybe my willingness to forget the hard parts of our journey to Spray Park and beyond has something to do with the fact that we camped in the most beautiful meadow I have ever seen. We set up our tent in a small patch of grasses in between two large snow drifts. We we in the shadow of Mt. Rainer, in the middle of a lushly flowering Alpine meadow set in the midst of saw tooth edged cliffs admiring their reflections in little pools of water that dotted the meadow. And there was nobody else. Not a sound except groaning glaciers, falling rocks and the occasional song of a bird. It was spectacular. I did miss having a campfire, but other than that backpacking won hands down over tailgate camping just because of the beautiful solitude one can achieve.The next day after our first night in our little paradise we decided to start off on our quest for the suspension bridge. Little did we know then what the day had in store for us. We crossed several glaciers with horribly foreboding red patches. It didn't help that we saw a huge bear prints either. I was absolutely convinced that we were going to be eaten up in the night by the hungriest bear in the whole world. As we walked trough the snow and ice and saw gruesome red patches every where we turned we decided to name the area Death Valley. (later we learned that even though the red was very bright, saturating and totally looked like blood soaked snow it is really just an algae). It didn't help me sleep any better though. I still had seen that bear print and ever noise that night made me wish for morning to come sooner. This is about the point in our trip when we really started to understand the mess we were getting ourselves into. Here we are at the top of a ridge and we knew we were in for much more down hill. Of course that meant a whole ton of uphill later on in the day when we would be already tired from the hours of downhill. Dave and I are a little bit nuts and like to bite off more than we should chew and so we went for it. Dave decided that wherever we were at 1:00 we would turn back and head back to camp. That would give us 8 hours of light to hike back up what ever we had managed to come down. We hiked like a couple possessed lemmings down those cliffs. At last at 12:30 we made it the Carbon river and suspension bridge. All I wanted to do was lie down and soak my sore blistered feet in the ice cold water. It felt so good. But then the horrible ascent began. It took us twice as long to hike back up even though we were really pushing ourselves. There we times when I asked Dave what would become of us if we just couldn't make it any further.
That night our dehydrated food never tasted so good. And nothing sounded better in the whole world than sleep. The next morning as we hiked back to the car and stopped to see beautiful waterfalls we had passed along the way up, all I could think about was how we had achieved something really great. And oh yeah...how horrible it must have been to be a pioneer walking across the plains and over mountains in their efforts to reach Utah.