Thursday, June 18, 2009

Near Macomb Ridge Pass

By the end of the day I had been not through the wringer but through the washing machine.

First we had to cross Piute Creek, which is not on the PCT yet. It was not a creek but a river. The water was over my head. It was placid and there were some precarious, thin logs partially submerged. Upstream the river was whitewater rapids. Downstream we had seen a large tangle of logs over some very scary whitwater rapids and falls.

First I tried walking across the logs over the placid water. I became terrified and returned to shore. Chuck and I then attempted to scoot across on our butts. I found this very difficult to do without any leverage from my legs. Then Chuck fell into the water. His hiking poles floated away.

I quickly returned to shore and ran downstream to catch the poles. I caught one with my hiking pole and reeled it in. Just as the other was going by I caught it, too. We decided not to cross by the logs after all.

I stood there looking at the water. It was not swift. It almost looked like I could wade, maybe. I said to Chuck, I think I can wade. He thought it was too deep. I started wading and about 5 feet out I started floating away and got scared so I returned to shore once more. Chuck said he was going for it. He plunged in and before I knew it.

Scared of being left alone on the other side, I started across, too. Immediately I started floating across. I could see Chuck safely on the other side. I felt so jealous. I was strapped in to my pack, which actually turned out to be a good thing. I rolled myself over on to my back and flailed with my arms and legs as vigorously as I could, trying to paddle to the other bank. I could see a large log sticking in to the water and I was headed right for it so I relaxed a little. Oh no! The log was cut off and I was going to miss it if I didn't do something. So I lunged with all my might and barely caught the tip of the log. Just then my matches started floating away and I grabbed them. Chuck was on the bank trying to help me to shore. I handed him the matches and then struggled to get a firmer grip on the log.

Soon I had a good purchase on the log and was able to lower my feet. I touched the ground. I walked ashore and started laughing hysterically. That must have looked ridiculous even though it had scared me to death to have been so much at the mercy of the water.

Chuck and I both unpacked all our things on the bank of the river in what little wet, cold sun there was. Miraculously most of our things were dry or mostly dry. I keep all my things in dry bags or garbage bags. My guide books and journals were soaked, however.

We hung our things up to dry and tried to stand in the sun to dry ourselves. Just then, Lenny arrived. He looked at us and asked how on Earth we had gotten over there. We swam, we said. He did not want to get his feet wet so he decided to try the logs over the rapids downstream. He returned 20 minutes later completely dry. I joked we should call him Jesus for the way he always manages to walk on water.

After we packed our things up again we set in for a long climb. There were two climbs wtih two snowy descents. Lenny was a huge help with his good map and all his experience over the last few weeks making his way in snow.

Finally we reached the PCT in Kerrick Canyon. We had to cross another swollen stream, but there was a good log. It was a little short of the other side, but I managed to make it with a little help from Chuck.

We had to climb againand then descend again through snow. Along the way down there was an unnamed side creek that was very difficult and wet to cross.

At the bottom of Stubblefield Canyon was another huge river. I searched and searched for a way across. Lenny of course walked a frightening log as if it was a steel bridge. I was afraid of the log. The river was split into multiple branches. It was really the confluence of three or four different creeks. I crossed them all one at a time. The last crossing was another deep one that had me floating away down the stream. I grabbed Chuck's backpack just as I floated by and managed to swing myself around the back of him while jamming my trekking pole into the bottom. With that leverage I was able to get my feet on solid ground and climb out of the river. This time my things were much wetter, especially my guide books and journal. They were completely soaked.

I was really angry. They can put a bridge over a tiny little creek but not over this monster?

By now it was about 4pm and we were afraid of getting cold so we hiked on hoping to rise out of this canyon into the sun and dry off with our efforts. We climbed 1000 feet or so and found a sunny meadow to camp in.

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