Friday, March 3, 2017

Day 22: It's all fun and games until....

Karolina and I woke up to beautiful, clear skies! But everything was still wet from rain the evening before and condensation during the night had been terrible.

The first part of our day started with a 2,000 foot climb up to Pinchot Pass. The trail wasn't particularly steep or difficult--just a steady, uphill hike. We stopped for a break at Marjorie Lake, a scenic wonderland of cold water. Shortly after stopping, Kirsten--who we met briefly in camp the evening before--caught up with us and stopped as well, so we chatted for a bit.

Several times, Karolina and I have been asked how we met. It's a bit unusual to see an American hiking with a Pole, and it's not like we live very close. Of course, long-time readers of this blog know that I met Karolina during my hike of the Camino de Santiago, but during the hike, Karolina and I had developed a joke answer to the question, laced with a tinge of truth.

"Well, it's like this," I'd say. "I was hiking the Camino de Santiago and looking for a hiking stick, but wound up finding a hiking Pole instead." Oh, gosh, we're so funny.... =)

I also liked the idea of joking that we were half-siblings. "Yeah, our dad got around a lot.... so I have a half-sister in Poland, and a half-brother in Brazil named Pablo, but he's a real jerk and we don't really like him." We never got into telling that lie, but it was a thought we had. =)

Normally at lakes and streams, Karolina wades into the water but this time she decided to go for a dip and jump all in. I'd record the jump with my camera for  possible use in the music video we were creating. The jump went well, and she screamed loudly upon hitting the water and quickly scrambled out. Much to my surprise, she decided to take a second jump and went in again--this time without the scream.

A few minutes later, Karolina realized that her fourth toe on the left foot was bleeding. Presumably, it happened during her jump into the water, but her foot was so numb that she didn't feel any pain until her foot started thawing out in the sun afterwards. It looked like the entire nail had been ripped off, although it might have just been hidden under all the blood. It was hard to tell.

After taking a few photos of it and a video, I pulled out my miniature first aid kit and gave her a couple of band-aids and joked about getting "plenty of rest."

It was fun chatting with Kirsten, but she was hiking a lot faster than us and it would be the last time we saw her. We did take a group selfie before she left.

At the top of Pinchot Pass, Karolina reached a new all-time high at 12,130 feet above sea level--a full 30 feet higher than Mather Pass the day before. The views were spectacular and we stopped for another break. It was quite breezy at the top, but that didn't stop Karolina from pulling out her tent to dry in the sun and wind.

When we first arrived, there were several other people at the top admiring the views but they soon left and we had the summit to ourselves, and it occurred to me that we should stage a fake fight for the video. We wouldn't have spectators in the background to ruin the shot. So I set up my camera on a tripod and we proceeded to pretend to punch, kick and hit each other. I could see a couple coming up the trail behind us and wondered how much of our antics they could see, or if they were concerned about what exactly was going on up here. It's not like we were moving especially fast--we didn't want to really hurt each other and I could always speed up the video later if it looked too slow.

Despite our slow-motion fight, however, Karolina still managed to hit me in the nose by "accident." Or so she claims.... ;o)

"Oh! I'm so sorry!" Then she'd giggle.

To be fair, it wasn't that hard of a punch, but it did hurt a little.

Karolina had set her pack down on a ledge when we first arrived, but now that it was time to go, it was nowhere in sight. Looking over the ledge, we found it, maybe 10 or 15 feet down the small cliff. Her pack had committed suicide! At least that's what I said. She claimed that her pack was just anxious and was getting a head start without her. (It had fallen onto the trail which switchbacked under the ledge.) Her socks, which were pinned on the outside to dry, had fallen off and she lost a safety pin that we never did find. But other than that, no damage done.

After picking up the scattered remains of her pack, I set up my camera to record Karolina walking down Pinchot Pass. As she was walking down, the couple who was coming up arrived at the top and when I finished taking the video, I chatted with them for a couple of minutes before heading down the pass myself. They had, in fact, seen our mock fight and wondered what was going on, so I told them about the music video we were creating. They didn't think we were in a real fight, but seemed glad to have their suspicions confirmed. =)

Late in the day, we finally set up camp along Woods Creek, just after a waterfall with no name listed on our maps. People we passed in the other direction warned us that huge numbers of people camped at the bottom of the canyon the night before and suggested we try to avoid it, which we were happy to do since we hadn't planned on going that far anyhow.

Our site along Woods Creek was quite pleasant, though, and there was absolutely nobody camped nearby although there was certainly plenty of room for others. While looking around the area for the best campsite, I hit my head hard on a low-hanging branch. Looking down at the ground, I had completely overlooked the low-hanging branch and felt like a baseball bat had whacked me across the forehead. It stunned me for a few minutes, as I stood there rubbing my head in pain. Karolina asked if I was okay, but there wasn't really anything she could do about it. "I will be," I said.

It still hurts to think about.

So we set up camp. If being punched in the nose and hit by a baseball bat in the head weren't enough, I also lost a razor in the creek. I was shaving and just wanted to rinse off the razor. I don't carry the handle--unnecessary weight! So I carried only the disposable part of the razor, holding it by the tiny little nub at the end when it slipped away and washed away downstream. Argh! I felt bad about that. I hate littering in general, but it's always worse in a wilderness area--even if it were inadvertent. I never had a chance of locating the tiny razor in those fast-moving waters once it slipped through my fingers.

Karolina's injured toe was still hurting as well since walking on it just aggravated it. "People might start thinking we're real hikers," I joked to her about our injuries. =)

Just before going to sleep, I saw a few mice running around camp searching for food. That wasn't a good sign.... it wasn't even late and there were already mice running around. With no threat of rain, both Karolina and I decided to cowboy camp, which Karolina later regretted when two of the mice ran across Karolina's face. She all but jumped out of her sleeping bag with a scream.

It might be an interesting night.....

Marjorie Lake

Karolina jumps into Marjorie Lake... TWICE!

Those manicured toenails Karolina started with aren't looking as pretty at this point in the hike!
Karolina, Kirsten and I take a group selfie. =)

I'm not sure what Karolina was doing when I took this photo. Stretching exercises?
View while nearing the top of Pinchot Pass.
Karolina dries out her tent at the pass, but the wind was giving her trouble!
The trail down from Pinchot Pass.

Our maps didn't show a name for this waterfall, so it's still up for grabs! Karolina and I never bothered to name it either. =)

I lost a razor in this creek. =(

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