Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 104: Etna to Shackleford Creek Saddle

Pop, pop, pop, hissssssssssssssssss! Pat a pat a pat a pat ! I sat bolt upright as the sprinklers crackled in and began showering our tent with a heavy spray.  A corner of the tarp extended outside the tent wall and began collecting water.  I knew it was only a matter of time before the tarp began funneling the water inside. 

Gathering loose items of clothing, I stuffed them into our packs, then shoved the packs outside.  I felt the cool dampness as the sprinkler drenched my feet and pantlegs.  Soon Sierra woke and began shoving the remaining gear outside.  Then she made a mad dash, joining me on the dry asphalt next to a pile of sodden gear.  I glanced down at my watch.  1:30 a.m.

My parents appeared in the door of their camper, wakened by the commotion.  My father pulled a dry tarp out of the back of the truck and we spread it on the asphalt between his truck and the camper.  My mother tossed out a dry pillow (pillow fight!) and, giggling, we set up a cowgirl camp on the pavement.

A few short hours later, we woke again.  Groggily, we began packing out gear, some of which was still wet.  My father drove us back to the trailhead.  As we pulled our gear out of the truck, two hikers walked up looking for a ride into town.  They piled in and drove off as we hiked away.

50 yards down the trail, I reached for my iPhone to take a picture ... the pocket was empty!  With a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I realized that in my sleepy stupor I had left my iPhone in the front seat of my father's truck.  I ran back down the trail, but the truck was gone.

From the trailhead we climbed onto the gentle ridge, then continued following the rocky, hot, exposed ridge as it rose to meet a higher one.  We stopped for lunch under the shade of a cool tree, next to an open patch of ground where we could dry out our tarp and tent.  We were soon joined by our friends Northstar and Shutterbug.  While Sierra dutifully worked on her schoolwork, the three of us tried to recall long forgotten cursive capital letters to help her. 

Tent and tarp dry, we pushed on, traversing both hillsides and ridgetops beneath rugged, rocky peaks.  Dropping down to traverse a steep hillside, we passed several springs and creeklets.  Fields of tall grass sprinkled with hundreds of tiger lilies and other wildflowers thrived on the damp hillside.

Climbing back up to the high, rocky  ridgetop, we passed a large snowfield.  Sierra dashed over and exploded a large snowball on my back.  I kept hiking, water dripping as I went.

On the other side of the steep ridge, we traversed below rocky cliffs and across a talus field.  Then we climbed back onto the ridge, stopping for the night at a tree covered saddle.

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