Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Meadow Creek Cabin Hike Saga of Never-ending and Sometimes Even Mythic Proportions

Here's a link to the place, supposedly, on Google Maps.
You can reserve the cabin here.
And read more about it here.
If you need more info, click on all these links I'm including.

But I'm going to tell you all you need to know: IT'S FIFTEEN MILES. On foot.
(That's one way. We had to do that coming out, too.)

And well-groomed it is not. The recent rain and wind storms we've had caused many many trees to fall and slides completely took out the trail in at least 2 spots.

This is the last pile we have to circumnavigate to get to the cabin:

The trail is underneath those trees.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We camped Wednesday night at Selway Falls Campground (across the bridge past the falls). We wanted to stay at Slim's Camp, but it was full. Got up early Thursday a.m. and we were on the trail by 7 a.m.

A few days before we had made a bet on how long it would take. Keith took "under six hours" and I took "over six."

The first 3 miles were pretty nice. Followed the creek, cool morning, not too steep. But we'd been told there was a slide that took out the trail around Mile 6. Unable to read the trail sign (a log with flags on it marking the go-around trail, "Huh, what's that?") we went over the top of the slide. Sketchy, yes. But it was pretty big, so we weren't too worried about it continuing to slide. Also it had dried up considerably.

The trail had long patches of clear and pretty good, but there were many times we had to climb over down trees/logs/slides and one time we had to take off our packs to go under a tree...

The terrain is like this, almost exactly. I mean, that's where we were.

We had eaten breakfast, brought 4 PB&Js, and Power Bars to eat on the trail. The pic above is at a PB&J break. There was a nice breeze on the hill.

This was the view from there looking back toward where we started.

Quick time-out for an unofficial product placement. Our water filter saved our lives. My sister had given us this water filter before we went to Mexico and we never needed it, but we broke it in on this trip and it served us very well. Luckily there were numerous streams and waterfalls where we could filter more water along the way. We recommend this product wholeheartedly.

So, obstacles, more obstacles, unreliable and sometimes unreadable mile markers, at around 4 p.m. we're still not there yet?! Nine hours on the trail and we're not there...oy.

Hey, look! A bridge.
Let's take a nap.

45-minutes later we were able to continue on the trail.

We both had episodes of (probably low blood sugar) despair where we entertained thoughts of animal attacks, accidental death, spending the night on the trail...

Until at just before 7:30 p.m. (over TWELVE HOURS since we started), we saw the Holy Grail.


We were punchy and giddy and we de-packed and boiled some water for our freeze-dried meals (which were the best things we'd EVER eaten) and then went to sleep.

Our time at the cabin was great. It's a neat place, five buildings with a corral right off the creek. Tons of roses, huckleberries, and wildflowers everywhere. Plenty of shade, propane stove and fridge (and lights), sediment-filtered water, and enough food to keep us happy thanks to the people who had left stuff before us.

We brought what we thought was enough food for us for the weekend, but we appreciated having extra oatmeal and instant mashed potatoes and Keith even found a beer in the back of the fridge. Friday and Saturday we did as little as possible: ate, read, slept, played cribbage, and Keith went fishing at the creek.

The fish were jumping clear out of the water and biting at every fly he tied on, but they were tiny little things.

But Keith had fun and we didn't have to fight any bears for fish or anything, so: good times.

Basically, we were doing anything we could to keep our minds off the hike out!

Saturday night we got packed and Sunday morning we finished cleaning up and we started out early. It only took us just over NINE hours to walk out Sunday. Admittedly the first few miles flew by and miles 12-7 went pretty quickly, too.

But something happened at Mile 3.

My feet (in running shoes, possibly The. Worst. Ever. Decision. Ever.) were absolutely killing me. I tried meditating (as much as you can while precariously walking down a trail with a drop off on your left and 35+ lbs. on your back), ignoring the pain, embracing the pain, nothing was working.

I was recalling my A&P studies about pain receptors and brain circuits, but that wasn't working, either, stupid. I decided constant excruciating pain was better than shooting excruciating pain, so I just went into hyperoverdrive.

I went faster. And wouldn't stop. Not even for Keith. I yelled over my shoulder, "Can't stop! Are you okay?" and off I went. For about 2 miles. Downhill. In running shoes.

I felt the blisters building, but what was I supposed to do at that point? But, after 2 miles, I broke down. I got angry with Keith, told him to go in front of me, and when we was out of earshot I started crying. I was barely moving at that point, feeling like I was walking on raw nerves. Real. Bad. Pain.

Keith figured out what was up and ran back to me and hugged me and took my pack and carried it on top of his head like a sherpa. Seriously, that made me feel even worse. I cried more.

About 3/4 of a mile later, Keith (carrying both our packs) stopped at a stream for a rest and to filter water. We joked we were probably 100' feet from the trailhead. I decided I wanted to carry my pack the rest of the way (like walking off the field under your own power) and I convinced Keith I could. We went about 50 yards and stepped into the road at the trailhead.

It was definitely the most challenging thing I've ever physically done. I am happy, and proud, that my body was able to carry me in and back out without any major injuries. (Blisters?! That's nothing compared to a compound fracture.)

But mostly I am happy to have a friend with me on this adventure.

We agreed we won't be going on any more hikes over 5 miles.


Chris said...

Sounds like quite an adventure! Glad everyone -- and their marriages! -- survived.

knitty_kat said...

You guys have the best adventures! I'm it went well!

Connie said...

Wow, sorry about your blisters!
I really like the shot looking in the cabin window.
No photos of the roses and wildflowers? (Some of my favorite photography subjects.) :-)

wolf21m said...

Well, that does indeed sound much more painful than my trip. It does sound like an awesome place, although quite challenging to get to. The good news is that you have a great story to tell. Great job on retaining enough humor to tell it!

Matt said...

I just found this while researching photos of the cabin on flickr. That's quite an amazing story, and quite an ambitious trek for your first backpacking trip. 15 miles in a day is no small feat, but I hope it hasn't put you off of long trips into the wilderness. It's nicer when you can do 8-10 miles at a time.