It wasn’t the easy way out of the predicament, but we chose the more physically painful of the two options and climbed up the steep saddle that led us out of Paradise Park and down into Hell Canyon. As we began setting up our tents and otherwise organizing our campsite at the theoretical end of a long day of backpacking, I did what I should’ve done at least a few days before and read the entry in the guidebook for Rocky Mountain National Park and environs that discussed the area where we were currently setting up camp. There was no ambiguity in what it said, which was simply that “there is no overnight camping allowed anywhere in Paradise Park”. I was sure that I was just reading it wrong the first time I read the words, but they were the same the second time around and I realized the besides violating federal regulations if we stayed, even more importantly, we might just be doing something really negative to the location if we went ahead and camped there.
I could tell the story from the trip about the Swiss barmaid that was hovering around outside my tent late one night asking for my tentmate, Matt. Or the one about Matt and I racing our Swiss guides back down from the top of the Argentine Miroir (a famous rock climb) to a nearby café where our group was waiting. Both occurred in the midst of an adventure trip that the two of us were leading and which included a wide variety of people of varying ages including teenagers, a doctor who was even older than me and my non alpinism-experienced wife. As one of the leaders, I was making every effort to look out for the well-being of the group, but nonetheless, those sorts of “things” kept happening.
I was down in Mexico’s Copper Canyon with a small group of adventure travelers, or “Chavochi’s” (non indigenous Tarahumara/devil people as some of us Gringo’s are fondly known among the Tarahumara), in the early 2000’s and some things happened while we were down there in Batopilas Canyon and the town of Batopilas, itself, which may or may not be related to each other. I think they are.
A treble hook catches an eyelid in the backcountry.
Thankfully, we only got a few miles up the Middle Fork Trail, before we stopped and set-up our first night’s camp. As it turned out, the whole treble hook situation would’ve been way more complicated had we gone further that first day.
The kid walked up while I was down in the creek fiddling around with a big rock, to tell me that he’d lost his last fly. I was the guide and supposedly the person who’d take care of that sort of thing and thus, knew that I needed to act quickly. The most obvious solution would’ve been for me to just give him one. Normally that’d be a simple and straight forward thing to do– but since, in this particular case, I didn’t have any, it wasn’t even an option.
Interesting events late at night during a 24 Hour mountain bike race.
Things got progressively weirder as the mountain bike race/event known as the 24 Hours of Moab continued. At some point in the middle of the night, two tandem bikes with riders dressed as frogs rode in from a direction that I was certain had nothing to do with the race course. During the first lap, I’d been concerned when another racer didn’t correctly yield the trail to me on a long climb, but by the time the frog thing happened, nothing was flustering me. I was just pleased that the creatures had stopped and waited at the side of the trail for me to pass before continuing on. For that moment, as I passed and rode on up toward the crest of the hill, I was consumed by the thought that they very well might just turn onto the same 15 mile long trail that me, and several hundred other riders were in the midst of riding. As I rode on past, I hoped that if so, they’d at least go in the same counterclockwise direction as everyone else.
He was not a big person and since I outweighed him by 60 or so pounds, I was confident that I could hold him, if he were to break through and fall into a crevasse. There was no doubt that those sometimes-bottomless cracks found all over glaciers were running underneath us everywhere, although most were hidden beneath thin layers of the snow and ice of the Ruth Glacier. Probing out the route as we moved was tedious, but imperative—especially during the summer months when things were melting more than freezing. We knew the crevasse field was there, but were hoping to find a relatively safe way through it that could be used as a way to get our whole group up onto the ridge.
Backpackers crossing from Waipio to Waimanu Valleys on the Big Island are treated to some interesting guests.
Our day of backpacking up the Z switchback on the Mulawai Trail as we hiked toward Waimanu had been hot at first, but a breath of fresh and cool air had hit us once we got up on top. The refreshingly pleasant conifer forest up there was a welcomed surprise, since we were on Hawaii’s Big Island, but the sleeping platform/shelter midway along the trail, completely expected. We reached the elevated platform mid afternoon, and since there was plenty of daylight left and we were all physically drained after making the hot, humid climb up out of Waipio, we all found a spot and stretched out on the relatively clean plywood for a quick nap. As I drifted off, I thought contentedly of black sand beaches, Liliko’i, sea cliffs and shade and soon began dreaming. Josh and I were the oldest and the leaders of the group of 8 or so teenage boys, which is a fact that would eventually play a significant role in our adventure. But for the moment, we all just slept.
A group of backpackers attempts to climb Lizard Head and learns the true meaning of climbing.
Lizard Head is a big peak just to the north and east of the well-known, long and breathtakingly majestic line of mountains, ridges and spires in the Wind River Range, known as the Cirque of the Towers. On one particular trip, we backpacked into the area with two separate groups of 7, via different routes that both came in from the east and took us to Bear Lake. The lake sits just on the east side of Lizard Head and would be the location for our backcountry base camp on that trip.
Backpackers learn the importance of avoiding high tide due to the realities of sharks and crocodiles in the area.
Hiking on the beach sounded like fun. I pictured us walking barefoot, with small packs, palapas off to one side and limbo contest after limbo contest happening on the other, a nice gentle sea breeze blowing and keeping the temperature within the perfect zone and waves crashing onto a never-ending white sand beach showering us with perpetual and refreshing breaths of ocean air as we walked into the heart of the Osa Peninsula. But that wasn’t exactly the way it was. Continue reading “The Osa Peninsula”