So back in July.... Four friends of mine and myself decided to go on a little day hike. Little did we know it would turn into a horrificly grueling and terribly exhausting adventure. We only expected to be gone for 5-6 hours so we only brought enough food and water for the day. I wore a regular pair of shoes (leaving my boots my jacket my gloves and facemask in the car) and we took off to hike the trail. Here's a picture from the drive up. This is the Carbon River near Mt. Rainier.
An amazingly beautiful river that is great to go camping at. We went about our business hiking stopping along the way every now and then to absorb the sights (one of which being Mt. Hood all the way in Oregon. I wish we could have captured a picture)
It was an absolutely gorgeous day. We ended up hiking all the way to the to top. The trail we went on was the Summit Lake trail. It's fantastic. I've done this hike before but this time I wanted to go to the peak (There's a small peak on the western side of the lake.) We had to adventure and find our way up there (going off of the trail and climbing a small rock face to do so.) When we had climbed said rock face we found the trail again and followed it up to the peak. There was so much packed-down ice that only the tops of trees were visible.
Upon reaching the peak we decided to take a little break and make a campfire (it was very windy up there but I am very talented at making fires) The view from the top was beautiful. Mount Rainier looked as though it should be on the side of a Coor's bottle.
There's my friend Jordan (hunched over in a little ball trying to start the fire) Me walking over to help him (Take note I don't have shoes on. This is a key point in the story) Zach sitting on the ground and Jimmy standing on the far right. My friend Cody took the picture. It was his birthday and he was loving this experience.
After roughly 45 minutes of hanging out on the peak an incredibly thick and heavy fog started rolling in. My friends and I thought it would be cool to wait and watch it take the mountains. It was amazing but not the best idea.
After the fog rolled in we decided that we should probably head back. The top of the trail was north of the trailhead. I forgot to mention that my friend Zach (the only minor among us) had an old Samsung cell phone with a pull-out antenna. We managed to get some service on top of the mountain (the closest cell-tower was about 10 miles away I think) and make some calls to some friends. So we went back the way we came (to get to the peak we had to go to the north side of the mountain and loop back.) I had taken off my shoes because the cold ice/snow felt great on my feet. My pack had to horizontal straps on either side with which I had always used to strap my shoes into. Upon descending (I was leading the pack) one of my friends asked me if I had lost a shoe. I took off my pack to check it out and of course one had fallen off along the way. I let my anger get the best of me and I just threw my other shoe (bad idea seeing as it would have come in handy on the upcoming and perilous journey. I also feel bad because I threw something that wasn't biodegradable out into the beautiful wilderness.) We ended up losing our trail and heading down the wrong side of the mountain. After we had gotten out of the snow we realized that we were possibly going the wrong way. After a while of mindless wandering in the wrong direction we found some trail markers. They marked a trail called Rooster Comb which is a straight descent of this mountain. It hadn't been traveled in five or six years and the last person to do so was a police officer who was actually looking for people who had become lost. We followed that trail. It was incredibly dangerous. At one point we had to go down a 15 foot drop by climbing down a thick tree root. And at another point the ground consisted of about 3 feet of nothing but pine needles and other old plant matter. There were also a ton of big loose rocks. We went down one at a time. Cody went first and Jordan second. When Cody was going down he hadn't quite reached a safe area and a giant rock went flying down and luckily flew right passed his head. If it was 2 or three inches to the right it would have brained him and we would have been in even more serious trouble. After that little stretch of danger we found a giant pileup of boulders and a creek. We came to the conclusion that we were completely lost and we should at least set up a camp. The creek split in two at that point and there was a little island that was essentially a big bowl of dried moss. We dug out a little firepit there and I made a campfire. After a while we decided to just camp overnight. It was incredibly cold and we had to cuddle to be warm but that didn't really help much because we had exerted all of the energy in our bodies and couldn't produce any heat. We had completely run out of water and all we had left at the end of that day was a bag of Fritos honey barbeque twists and one regular sized Hershey's chocolate bar. It got dark and we tried to sleep. It didn't feel like I slept at all but it when I chose to open my eyes and get up it was roughly 4 a.m. Turns out everyone was awake. Jordan didn't sleep at all Thursday night before the hike and he didn't get any sleep at our little camp. I felt so bad for the guy. He has terrible insomnia. We waited until about 8 a.m. then split up the chocolate bar and 7 barbeque twists each. A futile meal to say the least. We took off about 30 minutes later.
All of us were in a pretty foul mood but managed to keep our composure. Cody was freaking out however. All of us kept trying to make plans but we just ended up contradicting eachother so we just kept plugging on. My feet were so torn up. They hurt so bad. We just kept adventuring and following that creek we had found until it became too steep for us to follow. We had been going northeast for quite a while and we were on the right side of the creek when we departed from it. We kept going in that direction for quite some time. I was so incredibly pissed off because everyone was going so fast and I couldn't keep up because my feet hurt so bad. The whole time we were climbing over fallen trees and sinking into them. It was so frustrating trying to negotiate this old growth forest that had probably not been seen in at least 100 years by human eyes. We could tell that we were coming to a rather low elevation because there was devil's club (let me tell you... It's not fun to walk on when your feet have been traveling barefoot for two days in the harsh forest.) and salmonberry bushes everywhere. The berries weren't too ripe but we ate and relished them nonetheless. I was the first to drink streamwater. I didn't care about cryptosporidium or disentary. I was too thirsty to care. After a while everyone joined me. We found a really old trail after a while (this also hasn't been traveled in roughly 5 years) and we followed that. After following that trail for 4 or 5 hours we found a dry creekbed and Zack let me wear his boots. Everyone went on without me while I was putting them on and I heard a low growling that kept rising in pitch. At first I couldn't tell what it was but I realized it was a mountain lion. So I picked up a rock just in case and slowly walked away backwards. Once I got a good distance away I screamed as loud as I could 4 or 5 times just to show that I was not to be trifled with. After about another half-hour of traveling we heard the roar of a river. We followed the trail down and found it. It was a great sight. We went down to it (it was mountain lion territory. About 50 feet from our spot there was a ton of mountain lion droppings and it reeked of cat urine.) One of us had the great idea of using Zack's phone. After about ten minutes of trying to get through we managed to get a hold of 911. It took us about 7 calls (the receptionist was not helpful at all) and we finally got patched through to Search & Rescue. They asked us a couple of questions. "Where did you guys go hiking at?" "Summit Lake" "Which direction did you travel after you realized you were lost?" "Northeast" "How wide would you say the river you are at is?" "About 25-30 feet" "Okay we know exactly where you are and we're sending someone to get you." The greatest words that could have been heard. Or so we thought (and you'll understand why.) So I made yet another campfire and we waited. The waiting was the worst. When you accept death as an inevitability everything seems to lose it's relelvance. We had built a little box shelter in case we had to stay another night. It was about 9 p.m. and I was moving our campfire by the opening of the shelter when I heard an air horn go off. The first time I heard it I just dismissed it as my head messing with me. I heard it again and starting screaming at the top of my lungs. Everyone else started screaming but I quickly hushed them to hear a reply. It went off again. About 30 minutes later I saw their flashlights and I started flashing mine to show where we were (my flashlight is extremely powerful. If you get flashed in the eyes with it at full power you can barely see for about half a minute) and eventually they found there way down. That is when we heard the greatest thing to hear. "Are you guys hungry?" I nearly dropped to my knees knowing that I could eat. After about an hour of talking and eating and drinking clean water took down our camp and departed. We had to hike back up the trail we were on. The people who rescued us were a man and a woman named Bruce and Beth. Roughly in their late fifties. They had two monstrous german shepherds name Minnie and Ellie. I kept Zack's boots on and Bruce made footwear for Zack by cutting up his bedroll and forming it around his feet and covering it in a stuffsack then wrapping it in my hemp twine. It had started raining and there was a monumental thunderstorm. It was pitch black other than our lights and the lightning flashes were nearly blinding. We climbed and climbed and climbed. It was roughly 6 miles to the top of the mountain that the trail led up but it took us about 6 and a half hours. It was such a grueling hike but none of us cared. Salvation had come and we were finally going home. We were almost at the top and there was a giant grassy field. I swear a sasquatch lives up there. We kept going and going until we finally got to the cars. I nearly collapsed from exhaustion but managed to stay up. I got into one of the Search & Rescuer's jeeps and we eventually took off. Oh yeah... the cop who had travelled Rooster Trail was there. He was an awesome guy. The road down this mountain was about 20 miles long and it was essentially waves in the form of earth. In the roller coaster cart of a car we bounced up and down but after about ten minutes I was asleep. Also... Our little camp that we got rescued at was roughly 40 miles away from our car. Quite an adventure. At one point during the drive down I was awoken and moved into a new Ford Explorer. I fell asleep instantly. I woke up to hear a bunch of people socializing and having a good ol' time. I looked around and I could see a big building. I had no clue where I was at first but I realized I was in Wilkeson (pretty much the only town out there) I got out of the car which took about 10 minutes. I was in so much pain... There was KFC and Gatorade and candy and all sorts of goodies. We hung out for about half an hour and then Jimmy's parents took Jordan and myself back to my home. My feet. My feet. Just my feet man... They were so demolished. These pictures don't make it look as nearly as bad as it was...
Yeah... I could barely walk for the next couple days. The week after returning was a mental hell. I was so glad to be back but I was incredibly depressed. I guess it was because I basically new I was going to die but my destiny had changed.
A word of advice. If you go hiking. Be prepared for an emergency...