|When you're hiking 6,000 feet down a trail that's no longer a trail, you want this guy in front. Meet our guide Rick. The machete master |
for hacking through poison ivy and fending off bears with one swipe.
The story: I look down at my right, big toe. The nail is the color of a perfectly ripe, purple plum. Sort of pretty in a gross way. And my kids keep asking me: WHAT HAPPENED? Shocked at the brutal discoloration of my digit.
Ahh. I tell them. Remember Day Three of Hell Hike And Raft?
You’re not an athlete. You’re not an adventurer. You’re not a push yourself to the extreme explorer of the unknown – until you have a wound, a badge of kick-ass honor, a gash, a limp, a massive bruised toe from excessive pounding and grinding into your hiking boot from miles and miles of a Black Diamond sloped downhill trail with an extra heavy pack on your back to show off your gnarly-ness.
THAT was Day Three of Hell Hike and Raft.
Hiking over 6,000 feet down, down, down from the heights of Dry Diggins epic vistas with me nearly diving off the edge of the world…. to the bottom of the Earth to touch the waters of the great Snake River, carving its way through the land and eating up boats and kayaks and paddles along its way. This is our trail.
Bear scat the size of small children.
|Mounds and mounds of bear scat the size of small children.|
Machete required for the lush, man-eating poison ivy. (See Rick above.)
Pole vaulting skills necessary to maneuver downed trees.
|Val forging another fallen tree.|
And seven extra pounds on my back this day is a backpacker’s challenge and nightmare. Seven extra pounds is like adding the kitchen sink to your backpack. And possibly your neighbor’s kitchen sink, too. And my Teton pack and body are up for it, but my toe ultimately pays the price, pedicures be damned.
And in a giant hoot! to my fellow crew, the saving grace this day, aside from the stunning topography, is the incredible amount of laughter that burbles up, even as we pound the last few miles through stream after stream, our packs seemingly doubling in weight.
|Marching towards the Snake.|
Moments of me literally gasping for air in giddiness as Tara and I cope with a giant, white, unknown scat on the trail and as Jes, Shannon and I teeter on precarious goat paths, make this a march of awesome rather than a march of wrecked soldiers. Camaraderie to mask the pain... What toe? Humor to break the ache... What feet?
THIS is one of my favorite days on the trail.
Because when it gets hard, your teammates, your crew, are there to help get you through with a handful of gorp and a few dirty jokes. And THAT’S what it’s all about.
|Tara and me giddly meeting the Snake at the end of our huge day.|
At the end of the day, when we arrive at our Granite Creek campground and finally get to touch the Snake River and meet up with our outfitter hosts Becky & Parker, I am complete. I’ve touched the top of the world, the bottom of the Earth, and deep inside me is full and really, really ready for my sleeping bag and my cold PBR. Oh yes.
Come back for more next time, good people, as we meet the fearless Becky & Parker from America’s Rafting Company and their adventure dog Scout. And as the crew takes on the raft eating Snake…
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