Archive for July 2nd, 2006

Destination: Lower Kerrick Canyon Bear Valley Trail Junction
Starting Location: Matterhorn Canyon Trail
Today’s Miles: 17.70
Trip Miles: 981.50
Matterhorn Canyon Trail (962.5, 8510) to Lower Kerrick Canyon Bear Valley Trail Junction (980.2, 7960) ascent (4216) descent (4764) 17.7 miles

And now we wait. Our goal today was to reach the Kerrick Canyon crossing, assess the situation & cross or wait. As I walked down the river 3.5 miles towards the crossing I knew the answer. I am sure I could get across but to try this evening was certainly going to require swimming in some heavy water. Based on what we have seen, the creek should drop substantially overnight. And that is what we need. We have 12 of us here & I am glad for the large group. Everyone is making light of the situation, yet it is clear I am not the only one who is apprehensive. We have 6 good waders, 3 average & 3 who have varying degrees of difficulty. It is the last 3 I worry the most about and yet my respect for them grows exponentially with every crossing they make. They are admittedly scared, know they do not possess strong technical abilities, and yet they do anyway. It is going to be a long night listening to the roaring water. I am not certain but I doubt strongly that any one in this group will turn back. Between us we have enough rope to rig a safety line and maybe a pack retrieval line. We will see in the morning.
Today was one of the most spectacular of the trip. The weather was glorious with deep blue sky. And the granite with water pouring off as the snow melts was like magic. Taking photographs was futile as the scenes were too large to capture. Every time I looked at the LCD screen & compared to what my eyes were seeing I would shut off the camera due to inadequacy.
Heard today that “good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment”. So you have to survive a bunch of stupid stuff before you learn anything. I tried that today. At what ultimately turned out to be a simple crossing at Piute Creek started out with a bit of experience gathering. I started in at an area that I knew was going to be chest deep but it was moving slow, or so I thought. Knowing my hip belt pockets would be submerged I took out my camera & said this is so easy I will just carry it. At about 4’ deep with my hip belt attached (oops) I floated right off the bottom into 6’ of water that was holding some really big trout for this country. Note to self: fish Piute Creek in the future. No big deal I thought as I floated (dry bags in the pack really add a lot of floatation) like a red & white fishing bobber. And then I saw the danger; a log perfectly submerged 2’ under the surface. If your legs go under that with a pack on you are going to be in trouble go-BIG as the current is going to pull you under with a good potential to get hung up. Or you may very well get pinned against the log where freeing yourself will be very tough.
I quickly pulled my legs up to my chest, while holding the camera in one hand & my hiking poles in the other, and just as I was clearing the log I sprang with all my ability towards more shallow water. The log was an aspen and it depressed a long way but when it rebounded it literally catapulted me to where I wanted to go – back where I started. Rolling Thunder got a great photo and said it was an amazing recovery. I was muttering something about stupid, stupid, stupid. Heard from my buddy Mike that he did the same thing with a much wetter & scarier outcome. He first got hung up in the log & when he got freed he was swept down river & given a good dunking before being spit out down stream. I guess I should mention that I was a water safety instructor in the Marine Corps and a Red Cross lifeguard. Obviously, brains were not required for either.
Well we just decided to sleep in until 6 tomorrow as we want the sun on the water for the crossing attempt. This will help prevent hypothermia but more importantly it will let me get a good look at the bottom & help with judging depth. Both of which will help with safety. I like sleeping in and am very excited.
The trail made what appeared to be a crazy ¾ circle today. We followed the trail route which was mostly snow covered. A few others took the shortest distance between two points, straight line approach and they arrived about an hour late for lunch after the cliff sent them back to follow our tracks. “It did not look that steep on the topo map” was the response. We kidded them for a bit & then took mercy & related my Donahue Pass screw up.
I am craving Thai food and Mexican food from a taqueria where the menu on the board is all in Spanish, the orange soda is Fanta and the Coke is always in a glass bottle.


Read Full Post »