Saturday, May 16, 2009

"No Country for These Old Men:" It Starts!

Rosie Hits the Trail

Well, we are back! We returned yesterday after hiking 30 plus miles and sleeping five nights on the ground. I don't mind the hiking, but sleeping under the stars gets a bit old. I don't have Dangerous' appreciation for the constellations, and after too many deep river crossings, I am ready to rest up napping on the front lawn and sleeping at night on my dog bed.

If you think hiking is tough on me, follow the pictures and narrative that I plan to share with you the next few days. You will easily see and understand why I have called this hike "No Country for These Old Men!" Cormack McCarthy's book and movie title elegantly captures what these old duffers experienced this past week. For the first time, I heard Dangerous talk about taking shorter, easier hikes, but I am not convinced that will happen just yet. "These Old Men" have already scheduled an August forced march in the Sierras. Fortunately for me, they are hiking in Yosemite, so I get to stay home.

The Crew

To start, I thought you might be interested in the preparations and logistics involved in one of our adventures. Planning a May hike starts early in the year. Invitations are usually sent in February which gives everyone time to check their schedules and find excuses not to go. All those sitting at the table in Grover were invited, but only four marched down the Gulch the next morning. There were others who received invitations but chose not to even show up to eat bacon cheeseburgers the night before. I suspect they are the smart ones. The promise of dinner and lunch didn't tempt them to help spot trucks and hikers.

Weighing In

Before each hike, we start with our traditional weighing in ritual. Everyone wants to know who is carrying the heaviest pack. Dangerous gets out his horse packing scales, and everyone gets a chance to check the weight they are carrying. As always, Denver Dan had the heaviest pack, starting the hike with 53 lbs. He brings everything you can think of including his XM radio to listen to Denver Nugget games at night. Utah Jack had the next largest load at 48 lbs. He insists on comfort, so he chooses to carry an extra large sleeping pad and bag. Nature Dan's pack weighed 44 lbs. stocked with an ample supply of scotch, bourbon, and pipe tobacco. Dangerous had the lightest pack at 36 lbs. He can get away with the least amount of weight because he pushes part of his load on to me. My pack always includes dog food which I never eat, and extra water for Dangerous to drink. I am expected to drink directly from the stream.

Spotting the Truck

Hiking through requires spotting the truck. Without Larry and Judy's help, Dangerous and I would have to try hitch hiking back to where we put in. To get a ride, Dangerous would have to depend on me. Just about any tourist or passerby would give me a ride, but after a week sleeping on the ground, Dangerous really looks dangerous. This year we had extra help. Brian, Denver Dan's friend, helped us spot the truck and transport hikers. Brian had planned to go with us, but luckily found a good medical excuse to avoid our forced march. Larry, Judy, and Brian were rewarded with another cheeseburger this time at the Boulder Mesa Cafe for helping us spot Dangerous' truck.

Off We Go!

After all these preparations, the five of us headed down the Gulch. What follows is a brief picture gallery of stops along the way. To reach the Escalante River, we marched 12.5 miles through what the BLM and guide books call moderately strenuous hiking. I beg to differ with their classification which after following us for a week I think you will understand. Love to hear from you!


Anonymous said...

Good timing on your trek, storming like crazy today in our neck of the woods. Super photos, can't wait to see and hear more!

Bluester said...

If you need a shuttle, all you gotta do is ask. Didn't know you needed one. Best, Fremont