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Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

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Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by TNFrontier on Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:24 am

So, somehow I managed to convince my wife that we should go camping/hiking for our 10th wedding anniversary. I say "convince" because she had NEVER been camping in her life. So we set out for Richland Creek Wilderness, where I had been with the guys a couple of times before. We were planning on 3 days and 2 nights in the backcountry. It was late March and the weather was nice. We park the car at the campground, get our gear on our backs and head out for the 3 mile hike to the campsite (towards Twin Falls and Richland Falls.) If you've been to Richland Creek, you know that when you hike from the campground to Twin Falls, you WILL get wet crossing the creek twice. The first crossing is immediatley after you start out from the campground. So we roll up the pants, and cross slowly with the help of our hiking poles... the water is freezing but only up to my upper leg at the deepest point. We make it to the other side, dry off and continue on. We finally arrive at the spot where Richland Creek and Long Devils fork meet and set up the tent just before nightfall. We quickly make a ramen noodle dinner as it was beginning to sprinkle rain. When we parked the car and on the hike in, we did not see another soul, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Now, you'll find out in a moment exactly why we did not see another soul. So after dinner it begins to rain, so we are stuck in the tent and decide to just get some sleep for the night and hopefully the weather would clear up soon... well, that did not happen (the sleep or the clearing up). About 10 pm as we try to sleep, The thunder storms roll in. It rained and rained and rained ALL NIGHT... the thunder and lightning was ridiculous! We would have a period of 20 minutes of thunder and lightning and rain right on top of us... then it would go away only to start all over again in 15 minutes. This cycle repeated itself at least 4 or 5 times and lasted most of the night... very unnerving in a flimsy tent 3 miles from your car with no cell phone access, but there was nothing we could do, so we just tried to ignore it as much as possible. Finally, it was morning and we emerged from the tent to a sunny day. We spent the day hiking and exploring. Our plan was to make the second crossing after the first night and hike the remaining 1/2 mile to Twin Falls. Well, after the rain, the water was HIGH and raging.... as we stood on the bank trying to figure out the best place to swim (yes SWIM) across, a group of about 10 Kyakers came floating by. One of them told us that more storms and rain were predicted for that night. So, we look at each other and agree that we did not want to go through a night like that again. By now it's 3 pm and we scramble to pack up and start the hike back to the car. By my calculations, we should make it back with about and hour of daylight left. The hike back goes well, in spite of losing the trail and backtracking for about 20 minutes. So here's where it gets interesting: We get all the way back and with the car in sight just across the creek, we realize that the thigh-high creek we had crossed on the way in was now a raging river that in no way resembled what we saw just yesterday. So here we are with 25 pounds of gear each on our backs, not another soul in the area, no cell phone and we have maybe an hour of daylight left... oh and my wife is only 5'2" tall and we can't see the bottom of the creek anymore. So we walk up and down the creek looking for somewhere to cross with our gear... nothing! At one point I decide to cross to the middle where there is a big rock exposed. There is a narrow tree that I cling too as I inch across through the icy cold water fighting with all the upper body strength that I have not to be swept under the log by the deep, rushing water. I am barely able to pull myself out of the water and on to the rock with my backpack full of gear. I stand up on the rock and realize there is no way my wife could make it to the rock, and even if she did, we would still only be 1/3 the way to the other side. So now I am stuck on the rock while she is on the bank. There is no way I am going to continue without her, so I must go back. There is also NO WAY I am getting in that water again as I am tired and shivering and night is coming. So I decide to try and walk across the log to get back. Now this log is small, only approximately 4 inches wide and probably 18 or 20 feet long. I have never concentrated on something so hard in my life. Every step was carefully and slowly planned and execcuted (remember I have a 25 pound backpack on too) It was surreal... looking at the log and my feet, blocking out all noise and distractions... it took me probably a good 5 minutes to cross 20 feet of log. We were both shocked that I made it across, I was prepared to fall in and had planned what I would do if that happened. Back on the bank and with just 15 minutes of light left we had to decide if we needed to camp for the night or not. After much fretting and discussion we agreed that if we spend another night here, the situation might even be worse in the morning if the predictions of more rain were true. Also, we were expected back by my parents the next day to pick up our kids and we have no way of calling them... cell phones are just paper weights out here + the odds of seeing someone the next day did not look good. At that point I said "WE ARE GOING TO CROSS THAT RIVER!" I decided we would air up (by mouth) up our very thin and expensive brand new sleeping pads and attempt to swim across while floating our backpacks across in front of us. (these pads do not hold much air and will not even support the packs fully, but they will help). We decide that I will plunge in first with her right behind me.... We go in and it is immediately chaos... freezing rushing water and we can't touch the bottom except for the occasional jagged rock. It is such a fight as we make our way across while at the same time drift down stream. At about the deepest point I glance over my shoulder and my wife is not keeping up and is drifting too far down stream! I am forced to let go of my pad. So with one hand on my backpack I reach back and grab her hand and we struggle and I do mean struggle to the other side where we can stand up on the rocks in the shallow area that was bone dry just yesterday. My new $90 sleeping pad swept away, we slosh out of the water, drop our packs and hold each other for a good five minutes glad to be alive. My "water proof" back pack wasn't so water proof and we drive home (5 hours away) at dusk... me in a shirt and underwear... no shoes or pants because they are soaked. The reason we think we never saw anyone other than the kyakers? Unlike us, the locals check the weather before they venture into the backcountry. In spite of it all, my wife had a great time and we will go back... just not anytime soon. This was a hard, but valuable lesson.
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TNFrontier
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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by Jay on Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:49 pm

Great story! And as you said, it's a great lesson. (How NOT to do it!)

Welcome to the site TN! Perfect introduction! Very Happy
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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by TNFrontier on Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:59 pm

Thanks, I like this site... that's the first time I had told that story in writing. I didn't expect it to be sooo long, but I just kept remembering details. I am planning another Ozark adventure in October, but have not decided where to go.
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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by Owl on Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:22 pm

Great story!

What happened to y'all is just a result of nature at work and a testament to man's ingenuity and perserverence. You and your wife will remember it always wheras a "good" trip would likely be soon forgotten.
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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by commandokanak on Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:21 pm

Glad to hear everything turned out alright...except for the loss of the sleeping pad.

I've got a bear encounter story that seems like it takes forever to type up and read.

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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by Jay on Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:33 pm

Owl wrote:Great story!

You and your wife will remember it always wheras a "good" trip would likely be soon forgotten.

Boy ain't that the truth.
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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by ouachita hiker on Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:27 pm

TN great story and welcome aboard. I have a simular story from 2004. Was in the Hurricane creek wilderness. Weather caught the wife and 7 year old grandson. but we got across before the heavy rain of that night. Check out my webshots link for the trip, section 6 of th OHT. A trip I will NEVER forget. But we didn't have to ford the stream.
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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by lazydragonslayer on Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:29 pm

Hey TN, weren't we just there? Very Happy
To bad I didn't catch any fish.
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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by TNFrontier on Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:34 pm

we did indeed, it was a great trip. I was hoping for some fish too... to eat!
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Re: Scary 10 year Anniversary trip...

Post by Clif on Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:56 am

Well TN, I have heard this story before. More than once and in other spots. So don't feel like the only this has happened to.

Only difference, from the boater's perspective. Good chance I knew at least one or two of the yakers that passed. They often tell stories of this happening. Even using their boats to ferry folks, and packs, across. Still wet, but a bit less scary. falling water can pop up to too high to wade real quick and even if the rain was over the hill upstream, You may have never felt or only a sprinkle and returned to find a muddy, raging, no way to cross situation.

Boating has taught me to always have a change of clothes in the car for those unexpecteds. Good story and thankful all ended well...-$90.
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