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Friday, July 18, 2008

The Wilderness? At Midnight? Part 2

This year we decided that we would be very careful to not be hiking in the wilderness after dark (much). Part of the reason is that we were planning on going into the Absaroka Mountain Range (the same range that Yellowstone is a part of, but we would be south of the park) and the Absaroka's definitely have grizzlies. We were going to take it seriously (because you HAVE to).

Our first night of camping in the wilderness was on Thursday, 7/3. We had planned on camping in the wilderness off of some forest road and then cutting through the wilderness to climb Loaf Mt. As we got a late start that day (you'll learn that this is a common theme) we decided that we'd just hike towards the moutain and scope it out to climb the next day.

Have I mentioned that the Force has really bad eyes? And really bad feet? He has hiking poles (that have compasses built in) that he uses to help keep his balance when hiking. He also carries a pair of binoculars for all of us to use. He has a knife and a water bottle holder for his belt.

The Bighorns really don't have grizzlies. A person still needs to be careful for black bear mamas and their cubs, but it's not quite as dangerous as the Absarokas, so we decided that we didn't need to bring in more than one container of bear spray. We had the Enforcer carry it as he needs the practice of being able to grab it and get the safety latch off.

We left camp at about 3p and got to the tree line about 2 hours later. We were at the foot of an unnamed peak that was between us and Loaf that we would have to go up and down and then back up Loaf. RR, V, and I decided we'd climb to the top of unnamed peak to see what we could see, leaving E on a rock down below. By the way, we do have walkie-talkies that have weather radios, so we can be in contact with anyone we "leave on a rock".

We climbed up and started back down. Realizing that the best route back to camp (that we could now see due to the higher vantage point) would have us coming down unnamed peak more to the east. We got on the walkie talkie and asked the Enforcer to move east, away from the setting sun (it was probably 7p or so now).

As we got closer to the point where we should be able to see E as we descended, we got concerned as he was not where we'd expected. We walkie-talkied him and he told us he was going back to where he'd previously been sitting because he'd forgotten his binoculars. Dam it, Eforce. We had stressed to him, before we left him, BE SURE TO HAVE ALL YOUR GEAR WITH YOU! We waited awhile, called him again. Where was he? He was going back to where he'd been sitting because he'd forgotten his hiking sticks. WHAT?! We told him to stop moving, because at that point we didn't know exactly where he was, and since he is not good with directions, we didn't trust that he wasn't at this point just wandering around in the forest (we'd left him out in the open with the forest behind him and only rocks and peak ahead and to the side.

We had him yell, and we could hear him and knew where to look. We could finally see him and knew where we'd have to go to get back to him.

"Eforce," said RR, "we're making our way back to you now. Stay put. We'll need the bear spray to get us out because it's going to be dark. You have the bear spray, RIGHT?!"


So do you get it? Eforce had forgotten his bear spray at one rock, his hiking sticks at another rock, had gone back to look for his binoculars (which I guess were in his pocket the whole time), and had unknowingly dropped and lost both a pen, his chapstick and a pack of kleenix (the last three items RR found later, all in different locations).

We stayed, scouring the rocks for a good hour, trying to jog the Forcer's memory as to wear he was sitting. Eagle eye RR found the hiking sticks right away, but it finally got too dark to find the bear spray.

So we hiked through the wilderness in the dark again, getting back to camp at midnight. We decided from now on when we hike up peaks we'll leave E in camp serving as "camp guard".

**UPDATE** One week later, 7/10/08, we did succeeded in climbing Loaf Mountain (just under 12000'). The Enforcer, newly outfitted in a fanny pack with securely closing zipper pockets and sporting a new container of bear spray, tagged along to the tree line again to find the old container of bear spray (which he did). He sat on a rock (no moving allowed) for 5 hours as RR, V, and I bouldered up and down and up and down and up and down to Loaf Mt and back.


SteveQ said...

You'd better say something nice about EForce soon! So far, you've made him out to be a blind, bandylegged, messy, clumsy and thoughtless oaf.

Come to think of it, that describes me pretty well. Was I on that trip?

Diane said...

The Enforcer is a great friend, has a good heart, is a very easy going traveling companion, is never moody, and is always willing and open to listen to advice from those he trusts. But man, did that one night go horribly awry!