September 9th, 2017.
Fauna seen: 8 Marmots, Doe and Fawn, chips/squirrels, Mountain Chickadees, Grey Mockingbirds
The morning damns cool and crisp. I wake up at 5:15am but am feeling pretty beat so I roll over and pass back out, which is not a normal backpacking occurrence for me! I had some very weird dreams and finally was able to drag myself out of my warm sleeping bag around 7am. Grey Gardens is already up and about when I emerged all bleary eyed but feeling better rested. We packed up slowly since today was another no rush day and enjoyed the morning sun warming us up.
Of course we had to immedieatly wade across Tyndall Creek in our bare feet and dang that water was so F-ing COLD! My feet were in there for about 15 seconds and they felt like they were on fire when I got to the other side. Ouchy! It took several minutes to dry them off and rub some feeling back into our toes before we could hike off. The rest of the morning was spent climbing through rocky hills which would occasionally open up onto meadows and beautiful views.
Marmots were hanging out all over the place in the open rocky meadows and basking in the spots of sunshine on the wide granite boulders. We kept climbing up watching them scurry around, it was great to just take our time and soak in everything around us.
I was super obsessed with the Foxtail and Bristle Cone Pine trees in this area, the bright orange of the bark was really striking against the deep blue skies and I took a ton of pictures of them.
Finally we hit Bighorn Plateau and damn it is so AMAZING! Big open vistas, a few random gnarled trees, a little lake/tarn? (I never know the difference), I mean WTF even is this place? It feels like a completely different planet or dimension we slipped into on accident. It was hard to even walk through here since I just wanted to sit there all day and soak in the views. However, a strong cold wind is blowing and when it’s not it’s pretty hot under these big open skies. So we had to keep moving through this magical land to find a more shelter spot to take a morning snack break. One stomach to rule them all.
We lazed around in an area with some large fallen trees to block the wind and ate our snacks for a while. Then when the hangry monster was satiated we started our descent into the next valley. Gorgeous meadows with wild flowers would pop up in between the clumps of trees as we kept cruising down hill on the well graded switchbacks.
We jumped across a handful of rocks at Wright Creek and saw two deer snacking on the lush grass shortly after. Wallace Creek was up next and we chose a nice spot along it for the night. A trail junction from the West crosses through here and we were lucky to find a nice secluded spot in the trees bordered by a meadow on one side. We hung out in the sun on some large boulders by the creek, the air suddenly chilly whenever clouds would pass over us.
We were both feeling ravenous at 1pm and decided to eat our large dinners for lunch. This turned out to be an excellent idea as by 3:30pm the clouds rolled in for real and it started to rain. This weather pattern had been pretty standard for the last few days. We would get some rain in the afternoon and then it would clear by the early evening…. but this felt a little different.
First of all it felt WAY colder out then it had so far. So cold that we both climbed into our sleeping bags to wait out the storm. It was also a lot darker and the thunder more rolling and booming above us. Then all of a sudden the rain sounded different on my tent and when I looked out the bottom of my tent flap there was hail!
At first it was exciting to experience the hail since we were full of food and snuggled in our tents, then it got less fun as it did not stop for the rest of the day. It would take turns pouring rain and hailing, booming thunder, and blowing wind. I was starting to get nervous since water was beginning to flow under my Tyvex ground sheet and I was already feeling cold. Plus it was only 6pm so if this continues all night I may be in trouble of floating away or all my stuff getting wet/frozen. Ruh-Roh.
Luckily a little break came and I was able to get out and dig some small trenches around my tent to help divert water away from it and tighten all my guy lines. The break was very short and soon it was hailing really hard again! I looked out and the ground was covered in hail and it was not melting either.
Hella pretty but also hella chilly. I was glad we had already eaten dinner because I was not going to be coming out of my sleeping bag unless forced to. I did start feeling hungry around 8pm but getting out of my tent and opening my bear can was a definite no. And it is still raining, so I chugged some water to shut my stomach up and hoped I would not have to pee any time soon.
I am wrapped up in my 20 degree down bag with all my clothes on and I am still not very warm. Plus I am worried that my sleeping bag is going to get wet by touching the tent walls or by water sneaking underneath me. I hope this will not be a completely sleepless evening because that would really suck. I finally have a stroke of genius and put my poncho over my sleeping bag to help keep it dry and insulate me more. It helped a lot and I finally feel more warm and comfortable. Fingers crossed I pass out soon and sleep through this thrilling storm.