So, if you aren't interested in hiking, or stories about hiking, or my adventures in general...skip this post.
If you do, however, lurk about my hiking posts....you may find this sojourn experience to be quite different then any other I've documented.
It all began yesterday, Friday after a lunch at Nap's Grill, two hours after ingesting the largest, greasiest meal known to man. Unfortunate.
Within two hours Boyd and I were headed up the mountain with our day packs ready to the Canyon Creek Trailhead, which is listed by the forest service as 5 miles up and back. Fortunate.
As we parked our car under sunny blue skies, the forest around us was full of thousands of butterflies. All kinds of butterflies. Just as we were getting ready to take off, I checked my watch for the time and a butterfly landed on my wrist. Fortunate.
Note the time....2:00 pm. Still full from lunch and headed up on a long hike so late in the afternoon. Unfortunate.
We reach the first trailhead sign right away. 5 miles to the summit....verified. Should be fortunate.
A mile or so into the hike, we reach the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness. Fortunate.
Grilled onions on my 6 oz burger are creating chaos in my stomach. Nausea abounds. Unfortunate.
The hike is inclined the entire way. At the 5th mile we reach a steep area....there's no lake. We can see the summit in the distance and keep on the trail. For another 1.8 miles, climbing 1,000 ft vertically in that span of time. Forest servicer's are liars. 5 miles to the lake....AS THE CROW FLYS...not hiking. Hike ends up being 6.8 miles. Budgeting for time has been ruined. Unfortunate.
Meanwhile black clouds are building. Unfortunate.
We reach the summit at 2,500 feet higher than when we left the trailhead, and arrive at the most pristine beautiful lake I've ever seen. With crystal clear, down to the very bottom, water. Glaciers surround in the mountains above. Fortunate.
Luckily, before we left we had managed to stop at a local grocer and found Off bug repellant with 90% Deet. No lie. I'm almost positive the stuff is illegal in most states....like Agent Orange. Bought us a can of it and brought it with us. Fortunate.
Once at the top next to the lake we are swarmed with hungry, flesh eating mosquitos. We were fresh meat. Unfortunate.
We whipped out our Deet poison and gave ourselves a quick spray. The bugs literally swarmed around us but didn't dare touch us. We looked like the character Pig Pen from Peanuts, walking around with a cloud of bugs surrounding us. Thank goodness for Deet poison. Fortunate.
Thunder starts clapping...lightening starts flashing and hail begins to fall. Unfortunate.
We figure we can practically run down this mountain and be home in a couple of hours, so we take off in the now-pouring-rain and lightening and head back. Within 1/2 mile....we lose the trail. Gone. Unfortunate.
Temperature drops 20 or more degrees into the high 40's. Unfortunate.
We know we're not lost but now it's very dark from the storm and instead of backtracking and finding the trail, we decide to push on and hope to intersect with the trail at some point. Unfortunate.
We hit sheer granite cliffs and rock slides. We still find no trail. We want off of those rock faces immediately to avoid being struck by lightening. No lie. The rock has become slippery as snake snot (as my Mom would say) and so we begin stumbling and slipping over boulders the size of Volkswagon Beetles and sheer granite faces (think...Last of the Mohicans) as fast as we can to get into a tree line. Unfortunate.
In our haste to avoid lightening, I forget to put on my rain poncho until I'm already soaked. Unfortunate.
After falling a couple of times, not finding the trail and shaking from the adrenaline caused by crashing lightening around us....I'm mad...and I think Boyd is actually worried. He says a prayer. Fortunate.
We decide to head straight down the mountain to the creek far below and hike out along the creek until we meet up with the trail again. We plow through neck high foliage and over rocks for another hour, falling, scraping our hands and knees, through the still-pouring-rain....finally reaching the creek. Fortunate.
Once we reached the creek, we were able to rejoin the trail. Fortunate.
We were soaked to the bone, walking in squishy shoes and still a bit shaken from our literal hair-raising experience. But we were still very adrenalized and decide to make up for lost time by getting down as fast as possible. Which was a great plan until the pain starting setting in. Unfortunate.
The trail is mud and slick rock. When you mix those elements with urgency to get down...you are guaranteed falling....which I did several more times. Unfortunate.
I had on new hiking shoes which felt perfect going up. Fortunate.
On the way down my fingers were too numb to tighten my shoes and so my toes were rammed up against the front of the shoe the entire way down. Unfortunate.
Between the falls and the toes....I was spent. Boyd was exhausted and sore. We had warned our kids that if it got dark and we hadn't returned home, they were to call someone to come and find us. We were driven to get out of that canyon and make a phone call home before they called search and rescue...so we pushed on, through pouring rain and dark skies. Unfortunate.
Before we thought we would....we reached the parking lot and to our car, where we immediately called home and told them not to call search and rescue. That was at 8:51 pm. Fortunate.
We discovered that we shaved off almost 1 1/2 miles of trail by stumbling down the mountain....not something I'd recommend, but became the silver lining in our dark cloud of the hike. Fortunate.
Hiking time total was: 6 hours 5 minutes...not including the 20 minutes we spent at the lake. Fortunate.
And when we walked out of the canyon to the car, the clouds lifted and disappeared to completely clear blue skies. Unfortunate.
Supposed forest service hike: 10 miles total.
Actual hike total: 13.6 total
Our hike with mountain mishap: 11.9 miles.
A fortunate experience with lasting unfortunate consequences today. I will be lucky to keep my two big toe nails. Couldn't sleep at all last night due to flash backs of falling and sore toes. I have holes in my pants, scraps all over my body, and sore muscles but I've also lived to tell about it. And that's fortunate.
After this series of unfortunate/fortunate events, I can honestly say...I'd do it again. But not until after I've had a series of ONLY fortunate events on a hike for awhile.
Unfortunate: Eating Naps, staring a long hike late in the day, incorrect mileage posted, mosquitoes, summer mountain thunderstorms, losing the trail, slippery granite, skinned knees and arms, soaked clothing, numb fingers, losing toe nails.
Fortunate: butterflies, Deet poison, preparedness, exquisite scenery, prayer on a mountain, gps tracker, cell phone technology, physical capability, warm and dry clothes, Advil.
Unfortunate + Fortunate = worth it.