Monday, June 6, 2011

Needles Lost Canyon and Peekaboo Trails

The poor man working the back country pass office had no idea what he was getting himself into when he volunteered to help us.  I wanted to do the exact same route we had done in 2009, or at least to hit the same high points.  Dave wanted to check out the east side of the park, which we hadn't ever explored.  The guy behind the counter knew not to intervene.  Dave was right, we should do something new.  We decided on Lost Canyon 1 (LC1 on the map below). We'd start at Squaw Flat and hike directly to our site, drop our packs, and continue on to Peekaboo to see an arch before the day ended (it was 1:00 or 2:00 when we signed in).  I mentioned to both of the people helping us that I have a fear of heights and they both didn't seem to think it would be a problem, but pointed out two places that I might have issues, one on each leg of the yellow highlights below.  Anxiety kicks in. 
Red indicates 2009 trails we hiked.  Yellow was this year. 

 We finished up packing our packs for one night in the back country (a few miles from our car), including our tent, sleeping bags and pads, stove, food, and water for two days in the desert for drinking and cooking. Then we wandered off towards Lost Canyon.  The hike starts off over a mild rock formation, then through a very dry, very sun-exposed, very sandy length until we reached the next rock formation that we had to hike over.
I think this is the view from the top of the rock formation we crossed.

We now had to get down into that valley.
So we follow the cairns through a few switch backs down this thing that leads us to a ladder to get us off one of the mushroom tops.  I was not too happy about the ladder and this is one of the fear of heights things that the ranger warned me about.  I had a very heavy, very large pack on my back.  Okay, Dave's was heavier, but still, we each had 2 water bottles and a 3 Liter Camelbak of water weighing us down.  My sleeping bag was strapped under my pack, so even when I tried to sit down, I'd feel like I was going to fall forward.  (I remedied this anxiety on my way out put putting the sleeping bag in the pack so I could always sit down if needed, which is very necessary when fear of heights freak outs occur.)  I was not ready to climb down this ladder with my pack on.  I unstrapped and handed the pack down to Dave.  The thing was that the ladder lead to a ledge with maybe three feet before a 30 foot drop to the bottom of the canyon, so Dave was a little nervous that I'd just let my pack pound down into him, knocking him off.  I handed it to him slowly.  Looking down was not a good idea, but how could I get down the ladder without looking down?  I did it.  I stood near the short ledge and strapped my pack back on, the tears now starting to come, and continued along the edge of this ledge, trying to hug the wall and duck under a mushroom top, but my pack kept hitting the top and throwing me off balance.  I made it, obviously.  I was pretty upset, but happy to be on solid ground in Lost Canyon. 

Sucking back snot and holding back tears after a major freak out.
 We made it to our camp, which was located in this oddly green portion of the desert in an oak tree stand.  And guess what greeted us?  Horse flies and black bumble bees the size of small birds.  Oh joy.  We dropped our packs and took a smaller pack to do a hike to an arch at the Peekaboo camp up the way.
Dave generously carried my water in his day pack and I was free to hike with nothing but my favorite rag and my trekking poles (which double as ski poles and reduce down to an 18 inch pole for packing), a birthday present from Dave. 
This hike looks like a straight line on the map from the ranger, but upon closer investigation, the hike weaves in and out of these large rock formations above the valleys.  (Note to remember to borrow topo map from friend next time.)

 After a mile+ where every little hill seemed like a cliff, my nerves, still frayed from the ladder incident, got the best of me and I broke down again.  I was done with this hike.  I wasn't going to make it to Peekaboo.  It was a repeat of last year's Island in the Sky Lathrop Trail where I freaked out half way and we had to turn around.  Dave explored ahead and even though I had quit prematurely, he was very sure that I wouldn't make it past a portion just ahead anyways.  He explored the area while I relaxed and collected myself for the hike back and enjoyed this epic view.

Snot rag comes in handy post freak-out.
Me--"I'm done with this hike."  Dave--"Check out the formation behind you!"

One of the many "cliffs" I don't care to tumble down.

Starting to feel better.  Sitting is good. 
Through the sun glasses.
Conveniently optimistic, despite me.

 We made it safely back to camp.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Wow, the views are amazing!!! Hope it wasn't too traumatic...