I am relieved to be posting this picture from the safety of my house, desk, and chair.
The trip was certainly adventurous- as planned and desired, but it started to drift over into that "this might have been a bad idea..." realm.
It came together as a last minute idea Saturday night, with a late text to Aaron asking if he wanted to head back here the next morning. He said yes, and Valorie asked what we were planning. I explained and she wanted in.
We met in the morning and made it to a wet, rainy, and cold trailhead around 10am. 3 people in wetsuits and backpacks are an odd sight, all the more on a hiking trail. It didn't take long to make it to the entry point on the creek where we head in, and 20 minutes later we were suited, booted, gloved and ready to go. Climbing over some deadfall trees, we stood on the shore line looking out across our first crossing.
This is my third time swimming up this part of the creek this year, all at high rain times- but this time, it was moving and churning like I haven't ever seen it. The first crossing is the deepest and most challenging, but it's only 30 yds across. If that. But, this 30 yds had a NASTY center current that was damn strong and ran a bright green/white for most of it's length.
To save more of the story for future posts, we made it across. It wasn't as bad as it looked, but the log jam debris piles immediately downstream did not go away and posed a real threat, and in the back of our minds, was a growing dread of "oh man, we have to do it again to get out..."
At one of our creek crossings we were thigh deep, fighting to stay
upright against the current, all three of us facing forward,
sidestepping, using trekking poles to keep our balance- and Valorie
says, "OH, there's a log coming.."
And sure enough, 50 yards upstream a large log was slowly coming right at us. No one had to dive out of the way, but it had that creepy slow motion scary feeling like when you're a kid in your room at night and you think you hear footsteps slowly approaching down the dark hallway. As the instigator of this trip, I had the thought of, "Oh my God, what did I drag these guys into..." We all crossed in plenty of time to be out of the logs path, but it was a reminder to be wary and alert.
We made it to the Weeping Walls and as always- it was beautiful :-) Here, what is normally dry ground was all underwater- buried beneath a strong, relentless flow of current.
We stayed for a good while to take pictures and enjoy the scene. I had a tent packed into my bag, just for the idea of getting a picture of this place as a campsite. I know it's a bit of BS, but it's fun to make pictures that represent imagination and "what if's" thoughts.
After an hour or more (I have no concept of how much time passes in a
place like that) our group was getting cold and it was time to get
back before dark and face that final crossing we were trying not to
think about. But- first- let me give some serious credit to Aaron
Ellingsen. This guy is tough. I was wearing a 5/4 wetsuit. The numbers
are thickness in millimeters, with the center/core of the suit being
5mil and the legs and arms being 4mil. I was warm and toasty the whole
time. This suit is made for cold, cold stuff. Valorie had on a 4/3 and
she did great also. She was cold when standing still, but we both had
hoods so that made a big difference to handle the cold.
Aaron on the other hand, he had a 3/2 suit. with no hood and no neoprene gloves- and he didn't gripe once about being too cold and ready to call it quits. I think once or twice he gently mentioned he was getting, "a little chilly." A 3/2 is made for summer, mid temp water. This was winter with snow melt temps.
Man, if that was me, I would have been shaking like a little girl, teeth chattering, balled up onshore with the backpacks wrapped around me asking "how much longer" about 20 times!
So, big props to him. The dude has some serious grit. And he's a clear, calm thinker when things start to get hairy.
Let me also say how frikkin awesome my girlfriend is too!
1, she's a photographer and we get to share that passion together. I feel so lucky to be able to experience this with her.
2, she was excited about this trip, wanted to join, and she handled it all. Even after almost getting swept into a rocky wall.
3, she's hot and drives a bad ass Jeep.
DAMN this girl is a catch!
Alright. I'm done yakking. That's my tale for this posting.
More pics and videos another time.