We have taken an annual backpacking trip for several years and this year was Kelton's first time. Our gang also included precious friends, Derek and Luke, and beloved sisters, Krista and Kristin. Much to our chagrin, Dad was not able to accompany us, as my mom had gotten terribly sick just prior to our departure and she needed as much assistance as she could get.
We managed to overlap with monsoons, so our trip was extraordinarily challenging, but so full of the glorious. Upon our arrival it was pouring down rain and proceeded to rain until we reached our first campsite. Then, the sun came out, we built a fire, set up camp and proceeded to eat dinner, dry our wet clothing (mostly) and bed down for the night. I think we all slept poorly, for various reasons. My sleeping pad opted to not hold any air, so for the remainder of the trip I slept on the ground with no padding, but that proved not to be too much of a hindrance; for me, a certain degree of exhaustion does wonders for overcoming almost any distraction to good sleep. :-)
I'm not sure anyone's rain gear was operating correctly at this point. Certainly all our boots were wet-ish.
She looks adorable, even soaking wet and freezing. :-)
Adjusting a pack on the Slinky (Declan) is ever the challenge!
I mean seating options were slim pickin' so...
Day 2. The heavens looked ominous, but we said a prayer (or four) and managed to evade any rain all day! It was the hardest day of hiking in terms of sheer elevation gain and distance. Everyone did fabulously.
Set up camp and Kristin started feeling awful. We thought initially it was just altitude sickness. We were wrong...
Found a spring to filter our water.
After dinner, Krista and I hiked to an overlook and soaked in the setting of the sun. The mountains looked like they were moving with the shifting colors and storms rolling in and out.
Day 3. Another gorgeous day. We decided to explore from camp.
Kristin was still struggling. Very weak. Feverish. But, she accompanied us part of the way and then we found a place for her to set up her hammock until we returned from one trail adventure. She was such a trooper. Her view wasn't bad, though!
We found a magical valley with springs, creeks, wildflowers, snow pockets...
After dinner, several of us followed our noses to the highest meadow of our plateau, about 300 ft in elevation above our camp. The meadow is expansive and breathtakingly beautiful. Even Aberdeen and Bumpy seemed mesmerized.
Luke found a message in a bottle and he added our names/date to the list of happy adventurers who have tasted of this otherworldly place.
A man in his element.
The peace of this place doesn't leave anyone untouched.
Day 4. Headed back down. It was arduous. Kristin was even sicker and though she insisted on carrying her pack on wobbly legs, it was obvious that she was not going to make it back down if we let her do that. So, we divvied up her things and pack and were all able to get to the car in one exhausted pile (I weighed everything that evening, and my pack was 69 lbs and the extra bag I was carrying weighed 18 lbs.). I do NOT know how Kristin made it out of there, except that she had trained incredibly well beforehand and that strength (and the mercy of the Lord) carried her through.
They were happy, tired girls...
At the Airbnb that night, we tested Kristin and she had COVID! Her exhaustion was immeasurable. Truly. But, she was in remarkable spirits and lived to tell the tale. I'm sure it will be a bit before she feels really human again, but she certainly has some bragging rights on this one.
After we all parted ways, Kris and Lochlan joined me for some camping.
I successfully cooked a few meals on the firepit with my trusty cast iron pot. Yay!
We found a perfect spot next to a creek, with dry firewood, and a trail to hike.
One afternoon I hiked to the saddle of two peaks and even discovered a waterfall.
A little Sangria and wildflowers can go a long way. Just sayin'...
We're back home and trying to get back into a routine. That's always the hard part. We all miss the magic of that special place.