Saturday, July 26, 2014

Adventures in Wonderland: Day 8, The Journey Ends, But it's Not Over

Mowich Lake (final destination)


I'm not sure if, in speaking the above quote, Mr. Gardner meant the "wilderness" of soul where one feels small and insignificant and completely helpless when left to his own devices, or if he meant the literal wilderness, such as that in which Emily and I woke up the morning that we would begin the final leg of our journey. Either way, I'm not sure I've have ever prayed so much in my life as I did on that mountain. When we hiked in silence, I hiked with my Lord and our Mother, Mary. I prayed us over a snowy mountain pass, up miles of tedious ascents to sub alpine meadows, through dark, low lying forests, over log bridges that crossed raging and angry waters of fresh glacial melt, over a high hanging suspension bridge, on unsteady ground with views of river valleys far below, and most of the way around this beautiful thing I like to call, "My Mountain". I felt I had been given inspirations, consolations and a greater appreciation for many things I used to take for granted, because of this, I am certain Mr. Gardner had to have meant the literal wilderness that we have been blessed with in our National Parks.

Shortly before dawn I awoke to the most unusual sound. It was loud and not like any noise I had ever heard before. Then I heard it again, and again. Each time it got farther and farther away. Emily lie there listening too. We guessed an owl? No, we have heard owls before and this certainly wasn't an owl. Other than that, however, we hadn't a clue. As we lie there we heard people from another camp site guessing at what the unknown animal could have been. They didn't seem to know either (now, however, after looking up animal sounds online I think it was most likely a fox).

As the sun came up (yes, we think that bright yellow light which we hadn't seen much of in two days came from the sun) we remained inactive as we tried to figure out where to begin. Everything we had was damp- from our clothes to our sleeping bags to our backpacks. I ended up wearing what I wore to sleep simply because it was somewhat warm. We found our driest socks and wrapped our feet in plastic bags before we stuck them in our wet boots. All the blisters on my feet had been renewed by the wet hike the previous day, so I knew it was going to be another painful day of hiking. Then I put on my wet fleece jacket and damp gators over my pants. Before packing all our wet gear I grabbed a bite of soft pita bread spread with almond butter.

Golden Lake near where we camped.
Leaving camp, we checked out the great views that we had read about in the guide book. We were able to take one last semi-blocked view of Rainier's summit and we could see Golden Lakes from campsite #4. We were above 5000' elevation and looking down it was obvious that we would soon be moving into the clouds as we descended into the Mowich River Valley. Today's hike began much like yesterday's ended; in wet, soggy blueberry bushes and wild bleeding hearts that hung over the narrow path that was the Wonderland Trail. Again, the blueberries were delicious and with the sun shining, the wetness wasn't such a bother. Soon, though, we descended into the forest, dark and damp, it reminded me of the The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy was afraid of the lions, tigers, and bears (resist the urge to say "Oh my", please).

Looking down at the fog over the Mowich Valley.



The forest was silent and ghostly in the fog.
We had about 5 miles of downhill switchbacks. To bide the time we counted 36 in all!! We played a silly game to keep track of what number we were on. For the eighth switchback we challenged ourselves to name the eight Beatitudes. For the 17th we named seventeen Presidents. We ended up naming twenty-one things we were grateful for, sixteen different types of trees, ten Commandments and many, many more. It made the miles go relatively quickly and our minds got a workout as well as our legs.

At the bottom we reached the Mowich Rivers. John H. Williams wrote that the Mowich Rivers were given their names by Native Americans after seeing the figure of a deer (or "mowich" in the Chinook language) in the rock and ice on Rainier's northwest flank. Now, over one hundred years later the deer head can still be seen today. We were unfortunate that the weather was foggy and didn't get to see the deer head that Mr. Williams wrote about. 

We crossed over the river twice. After the second crossing we ate lunch. I had been feeling an uneasy squishiness in my boots for awhile so I sat down on a rock and took off my boots. Even with the plastic bags on each foot I could wring out a steady stream of water from my socks. It felt good to sit and relax on the warm rocks, however, Emily was anxious to get going and, all too soon, we hefted our heavier than usual wet packs back in place. As usual every great downhill ascent was followed by an equally great uphill climb. The way up and away from the river valley was steep and the forest was dark and damp. We climbed into the clouds but our exertion kept us warm.

I loved observing all the different mushrooms and tree fungi and looking at the fallen giants. I imagined what it was like the moment some of those large trees toppled over. Emily and I hiked at different paces and alone, each lost in our own thoughts. I was somewhat sad that I wouldn't be completing the whole 93 miles in one trip but my discomfort trumped that disappointment and I began to look forward to a long hot shower. We didn't pass many people but I felt keenly aware of my stench when we happened upon other hikers.

We had three miles of uphill trekking and it was a tough go! I would take uphill climbing over downhill any day, but this day seemed to last forever! By the time we arrived at Mowich Lake it was raining pretty hard and there was no real shelter to stay dry. The original plan was to set up our tent and stay the night, but at this point we would be going home. We waited for our friend, Aaron, to pick us up. When he finally got there he may as well have been Santa Claus. He brought some freshly made Subway sandwiches that we devoured as though we hadn't eaten in days. We weren't exactly starving, but we were seriously craving fresh food!

The final paragraph in my journal, which I wrote while waiting to get picked up at Mowich Lake Campground, goes as follows:
"We did see some beautiful waterfalls before we reached the end of our journey at Mowich Lake. It is cold and rainy and we still have over an hour before we planned on meeting Aaron with our next food supply. He still doesn't know he will be picking us up to go home. And so we wait. At least the rain has stopped....for now."
It feels incomplete to me, and it is. The final chapter waits to be written, but it can't be written until it is experienced. Getting away from the busyness of life and realizing what I was truly capable of, as well as what I was truly vulnerable to gave me a whole new perspective on everyday life. I am independent but I am not invincible. I value the freedom I have to explore and enjoy the population sparse back country, however, I value even more the people in my life who give me purpose.

Pictures from Our Final Day:

I love how this looks like a photo from the logging days of this region.

Morning faces after eight days in the wild.

Chrystal clear Mowich Lake.

Drying my feet before the last crossing of the Mowich Rivers


Did these trees make a noise when they fell with nobody around?



Aaron was captivated by the "Camp Robbers" that ate out of his hands.

 


Happy to be heading home.
The are some real "fun guys"!








 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Adventures in Wonderland: Day 7, A Change of Mind, but No Change of Clothes

 “What a psalm the storm was singing, and how fresh the smell of the washed earth and leaves, and how sweet the still small voices of the storm!” - John Muir
(Though I usually love John Muir quotes, upon the remembrance of this day his above quote made me want to throw him over a cliff)

Reading my journal entry for day seven brought back every emotion and frustration I felt on that day. Our guide book talked about fantastic views of the mountain reflecting in Aurora Lake and even of sunsets reflecting off the far away Puget Sound waters, we however, had to reach into the deepest reserves of our imaginations to picture those images through the thick whiteness that was all around.

The night before was quite a challenge. The bugs fought us for a dry place to stay and we fought them to keep the tent to ourselves. I wore my maroon woolen hat to bed and remember specifically being in that sweet zone of almost asleep when a drip of water fell directly into my ear. In a fit that was mixed with surprise and irritation I ended up slapping myself on the head pretty hard and after that sleep was quite evasive. I spent most of the night dodging drips that fell, once they condensed largely enough, from the tent ceiling. The rest of the night I spent mentally writing a customer review to the company that manufactured my tent (that night, I was only going to give it half a star of satisfaction, and that half star was only because I would have felt ungrateful for the previous nights when it worked just fine).

The morning couldn't come fast enough. When it did however, it was just as cold as the night had been. The one thing I did not splurge on to prepare for this trip was rain gear. Good rain gear is ridiculously expensive and I thought myself pretty thrifty to purchase a $6 poncho that, when folded, was no bigger than a deck of cards. That was my single biggest regret of this journey. I may as well been wearing a plastic birthday party table cloth covered with My Little Ponies....that is how ridiculous I felt.
'What Not to Wear' Mountain version.

 Luckily, Emily had some decent, if not ideal rain gear, but there I sat in my extra-large poncho and shivered as I ate my warm oatmeal (I think residents of Western Washington should get a discount on rain gear).  We were anxious to get on the trail just so we weren't sitting in the wet camp anymore. Our only reservation was having to pack up the wet tent. Yuck!!  We grinned and bore with the circumstances, however, and soon we were ready to leave.

Right outside of camp we encountered a very narrow trail with high brush on both sides. This brush had been bathed in the previous nights rain and the air that morning was misty so hiking  for the most part of the day was like walking through a car wash. The highlight of the day were the blueberry bushes we hiked through. The taste of those berries beat any I've ever eaten before! I'm not sure if it was because they were nurtured by the purity of the high alpine climate or if it was just that fresh foods had been lacking in our diet, but boy, were they delicious!   We ended the nearly 8-mile day at Golden Lakes. But instead of finding a campground with breathtaking views (with the fog, we couldn't see a lake if it were five feet in front of us) we found the one closest to the toilet. The bugs began attacking us and we were in the tent by 2 pm.

Our waterproof boots were soaked (another customer review was formulating in my mind at this point) and my feet looked like they did when I was kid and would take a bath that lasted until I got tired of playing only to get out and find that my toes looked like little white raisins. We changed into the driest clothes we could find and climbed into our sleeping bags to get warm. I snuggled up and fell asleep listening to the sound of light rain tapping on the outside of the tent. I don't know how long I had been sleeping before the single-most mind changing event took place; I was rudely awoken by some very cold water from my Platypus reservoir leaking out underneath me in between my sleeping bag and my sleeping pad, and therefore soaking both the bag, the pad, and myself!  That did it, I would be heading off the mountain the next day with Emily. At this point, I had no more dry clothes or shoes, not even a dry sleeping bag.

Freezing cold, my teeth chattered and I shivered in a desperate attempt to keep warm. A very true fear of hypothermia set in and I could do nothing but lie on my pad with the only dry part of my bag on top of me. Tears rolled down my face as I struggled with emotions of fear and frustration. Darkness fell upon us and as it grew colder we both worried all the more. Emily and I lie as closely as possible but my body still shivered..not a good sign. I credit my safety that night to Emily's quick thinking and her selfless acts of caring.

Boiling her own water on her portable stove she filled her Nalgene bottle with the hot water and gave it to me to hold closely, she filled another bottle for me to put down by my feet. This did the job of keeping me warm despite the fact that I was sleeping on a wet pad and had only portions of a dry sleeping bag. At some point we just had to surrender the night to God and let Him take care of us, and He did.

Brrr! Nothing like oatmeal on a cold, wet morning.

So thankful to have this girl with me up there!

There is beauty in every situation, sometimes in the most unlikely of all places.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Adventures in Wonderland: Day 6, Five Silent Miles

Mirror image at St. Andrew's Lake

Guide books warned of small rodents eating through your backpacks to get to whatever they might find enticing. Because of this, we kept our packs in the tent with us. This led to cramped quarters as the tent was of the two person ultra-light variety. The cramped quarters was one of the factors that led to a sleepless night. The other factor was numerous itchy, red, mosquito induced bumps all over my arms and legs. Several times throughout the night I woke up already scratching myself and couldn't get back to sleep as I tried many positions to get comfortable. Finally I maneuvered my body around so my feet weren't touching my pack. Once I did that, and after fifteen minutes or so of scratching, I finally fell back to sleep. By the time I woke up around 8 am, Emily was already packed up and eating breakfast.

Today was to be a short hiking day, just shy of five miles, so I planned on taking my time. Lying there with my eyes open, I reflected on our trip so far and speculated on what was to come. Finally, my belly urged me out of the tent to boil some water for oatmeal and coffee. As soon as I sat down on a log and got my stove out Emily gave me the news that she would be leaving on day 8 when we reached Mowich Lake. The disappointing news struck me as a painful rejection. A good friend was planning on meeting us at Mowich Lake to bring us our second food cache and now Emily planned on going home with him. This was quite a blow to my mental state and a dark cloud hovered over me.

I tried to convince her to stick it out for two more days, but she admitted to not feeling well and was insistent on going home. I was outwardly upset and inwardly angry and frustrated. I felt like it didn't matter to her that she would be leaving me out in the wilderness alone for two days. Still, I tried to put myself in her shoes. To be away from the comforts of home when you aren't feeling well is no fun at all. Nonetheless, I ate in silence trying to imagine spending the night out here by myself. I convinced myself that I would do it. My lack of humility could not allow someone else to determine my success in completing this hike.

I took my time eating and enjoyed a hot cup of mocha. In every day life I need my morning coffee, but I have never enjoyed it as much as I did on those chilly mornings up on the mountain. Finally, I packed up and we headed out....in silence. 

The first 3.5 miles were a non-stop ascent. It was strenuous but methodical. One foot in front of the other...once I got in a rhythm it was difficult to stop even with sweat dripping down my face. One of the most useful things I packed for this trip was a highly absorbent sports towel. It clipped to my pack and hung there always ready to wipe the perspiration that stung my eyes. The best feeling was when we soaked the towels in an icy creek and draped it around our necks to cool down.

Thankfully the bugs weren't bad as we hiked higher and higher. Before long we reached a plateau where we met two elderly women; Janice and Shirley. They reclined on a group of large rocks and with a twinkle in their eyes they informed us that the big one was named "Lunch Rock", hinting that we should have a seat and rest. We took off our packs and chatted with them for quite awhile. I felt like I was conversing with the person I wanted to be when I am in my seventies.  Fascinating and humorous, they told us of their many prior backpacking trips together and their planned one for three weeks from then to the Appalachian Trail. I was intrigued as I listened to what lie ahead for us (they were traveling counter-clockwise). It turns out they were heading home early because they believed that they had contracted food poisoning.  I felt I needed to hear it from them in order to feel more empathy for Emily, so it was good that our paths had crossed.

We ate our lunch as they told us how to deal with bears; by clicking our trekking poles together, especially around blind corners. So, you know it, the rest of our hike was punctuated by the sound of Emily's clicking trekking poles. I was reminded of the old movie, Parent Trap, with Haley Mills. The twins in the movie tell the unwanted fiance of their father that hitting sticks together will ward off the attacks of cougars. It was all an attempt to make her look like a fool.... Foolish or not, to my disappointment we saw no more mammals, of any kind, for the remainder of our trip, save a chipmunk or two. 

Before Shirley and Janice parted ways, they supplied me with some blister care items for my battered feet. They were such pleasant people I could have chatted with them all day. I was sad to see them go, but I believe I was somehow a better person after having just met them, a mark we should all strive to leave on those whose lives we touch, no matter how briefly. 
So far in this day we had been seeing more people than in the previous days, and with the tension between Emily and myself, that was a good thing. I struggled with my thoughts toward her and even prayed for the grace to cheerfully accept her choice to leave.

The clouds rolled in the higher we climbed. The hiking got easier and the terrain was definitely of the sub alpine type; flowery meadows, fir and hemlock that had been gnarled and twisted by winter snow. Soon we reached the crystal clear St. Andrew's Lake. Large boulders made for a good resting place, but I was happy with a patch of soft grass. We sat for quite awhile at the lake's edge knowing we were pretty close to camp and it was still so early in the day, about 12:30 pm.

There we snacked and watched a foggy cloud encroach upon us. Our views of the still, mirror-like lake began to become obscured. A thicker cloud rolled down off the mountain and settled right on the lake in front of us. Had we gotten there any later we would never have been able to see the majestic and silent lake that was flanked by snowy patches. A chill filled the air and we decided to continue on to camp. 

Nearing camp, we approached a large group of hikers who were wishing they were almost done hiking for the day. We chatted with them at Aurora Lake for a short time. The lake was teeming with pollywogs and mama frogs watching over their young. We observed the amphibians for awhile and after saying goodbye to the hikers we reached our camp in just 200 ft. A slight mist began to fall and we wanted to set up the tent before it became too wet. The sites were very nice and had it not been raining we would have had a great lakeside view. But all around us was foggy because we were, quite literally, in a cloud.

Emily hung our food and I crawled into our tent hoping to find warmth. The day was still young, but I settled in for a nap and set the alarm on my phone for dinner time. Despite the unsettling news of Emily's desire for an early departure, it was a good day full of friendly people and beautiful lakes.

Pictures from Day 6:

The sky might have been dull, but the meadows were a lit in a rainbow of wildflowers.


So. Puyallup River

The weather changes so fast on the mountain, here the clouds began to roll in.

St. Andrew's Lake moments before the clouds blanketed its beauty.

St. Andrew's Lake



Aurora Lake, just before our camp at Klapatchee Park was teeming with frog children and off to the edge of the lake sat the mamas. This made me think of my kids.


Camp was set up quickly to stay warm.

Biding our time inside the tent.



Thursday, May 8, 2014

Adventures in Wonderland: Day 5, 8.5 miles



Looking back on this day, it was one of my favorite days of the hike, but probably the day that changed Emily's mind about the outcome of our journey. It was certainly a pivotal day for me in that I realized my feet, with a little tender loving care, could, in fact carry me the rest of the way.

The sun rose early but we didn't stir for quite awhile. The very idea of getting up and hiking kept us in our tent longer than usual. I moved my toes around in the bottom of my sleeping bag. To my surprise, they felt so much better than the previous night. When we finally emerged from our tent I was relieved that walking was not as painful as it had been.

With nothing more than a Lemon Zest Luna Bar for breakfast, we headed out of camp. Before getting too far we filled up our water bottles at the silty Pyramid Creek. The water was cloudy and a bit gritty but we purified it and it tasted fine.

The trail started out uphill and we didn't stop hiking uphill for three and a half hours. The bugs nipped at us every chance they could even through our clothing and I was helpless without bug spray. (Although, I'm convinced that the mosquitoes and flies around Rainier are immune to the stuff) I was thankful for my head net. In fact, I don't think I would have enjoyed much of anything without it. Earlier on during our trek we saw a woman in full body mosquito gear, a net covering her whole body. I am ashamed to admit that I snickered under my breath at the excessiveness of it all, by this time, however, I wanted one of my own!

The scenery was monotonous as it didn't change from the shadowy forest setting for the first half of the day, but after awhile the trees opened up to flower-filled meadows and high alpine shrubbery. In the sunlight the variety of flying insects were highlighted as they busily flitted this way and that. The bees bounced from wildflower to wildflower fulfilling their God-given purpose, while the flies and mosquitoes flew aimlessly looking for their next meal, and the butterflies adorned the path with their array of color and gracefulness.

As we approached Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, we saw a sight that I had been hoping to see from day one; a young black bear leisurely meandering along the edge of a pond that separated him from us. We stopped in our tracks and pulled out our cameras. He wasn't very near but near enough to enjoy the sight of him without fear. This filled me with joy as I had been a little disappointed in the lack of wildlife thus far. I must add here that earlier that day Emily told me that she had been praying that we wouldn't see a bear, which prompted me to silently pray a Rosary in hopes to see one. There was a brief moment where the bear looked up and our eyes met before he jaunted off into the woods in the opposite direction.

Not a very good picture, but proof of our bear sighting!
 The low hum of insects became our background music and now that we were out of the shade of the forest and into meadows and sunlight we were constantly attacked by bugs. Flailing arms and trekking poles would have been a hiking hazard to anyone passing by too closely. Nearly the entire day, however, other than each other, we saw no one. A few hundred feet before reaching Indian Henry's, amidst the hypnotizing hum of bees and the quiet rhythm of our footsteps, I was jolted to full awareness by Emily wailing the alarm of one under attack. I turned around, my heart racing, fearing the worst.
"Something just bit me!!" she shrieked.
Her hat and head net already lying on the ground at her feet, I figured the 'something'  must have just bit her on the head. Sure enough, a fat bee flew out from her head net unscathed. It had stung her on the forehead. Frustrated at the unprovoked attack of semi-venomous creatures, Emily seemed to me to be unable to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the day.

 At Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, (or should I be politically correct and call it 'Native American' Henry's Hunting Ground?) a big open meadow gave way to an amazing view of Mt. Rainier's summit. At one end of the meadow sat an old patrol cabin - the oldest in the Park that is still in use, since 1915. This day, however, there were no rangers on duty. We sat on the benches on it's front porch and ate our lunch. As I sat there I imagined seeing the meadow in it's heyday.

According to Hiking the Wonderland Trail, by Tami Asars, this area is rich in history. To the west was Mt. Ararat, named by Ben Longmire who wrote,
"I named it because I found there some long slabs of wood that had turned to stone and I thought they might have been part of old Noah's boat. I also found a stump with a ring around it as if his rope might have been tied there. It was all stone." (quoted in Dee Molenaar's The Challenge of Rainier)
Indian Henry's Hunting Ground itself comes with its own stories. Two pioneer explorers are said to have first encountered a friendly Native American man in 1862 near Mt. Rainier. When they asked his name he said what sounded like, "Sotolick." As legend has it, since that name was too difficult to pronounce the pioneers decided to rename him Indian Henry. History has it that Indian Henry had recently had contact with Jesuit missionaries and might have been trying to say 'Catholic', but the truth belongs to Indian Henry himself.

The patrol cabin at Indian Henry's Hunting Ground
What is known is that Indian Henry had three wives, a successful farm and a log home. He spoke broken English and three different Native American dialects. This area of Mt. Rainier, where we sat at that point in time, was once actually used by Indian Henry for hunting, grazing his horses and cattle, and picking berries. Among the Native Americans and pioneers alike, he was deemed quite wealthy.

Meadow view from the patrol cabin's front porch.
It was easy for me to get lost in imagining this place bustling with the activities of so many years ago, but the bugs found us and just sitting there we became easy targets. The trail ahead was flat and meandering and soon began to descend back into the forest. We were glad to be in the shade once more where the incessant biting wound down. The path was smooth and easy going but the downhill angle caused misery to my feet! In the distance we could hear the rushing sound of a very fast river and off and on we could see views of the swiftly flowing, muddy brown river; Tahoma Creek.

At last, we came to a place that was on my summer bucket list last year: Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge. I never got around to checking it off my list last summer, but now was my opportunity to do so. Approximately 150 feet long and more than 200 feet high, this massive bridge spans the angry Tahoma Creek far below. I have a passion in my soul for suspension bridges. There is just something about being suspended in the air by a swaying and bouncing bridge that thrills me to the core. A cool breeze flowed off the Tahoma Glacier and down the path of the river. It blew my hair and rosied my cheeks. I could hear nothing but the rumbling of the river far beneath my feet. We took our time and many pictures. This was yet another 'favorite' moment on the Wonderland Trail.


Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge

The thrills of our fifth day were far from over. After the bridge, we climbed a relentless 3.2 miles up, up and up! The scenery moved from forest to volcanic and sub alpine terrain. We were among the few fortunate people that day to take in the view of Success Divide, on the flank of Rainier and the rocky and barren moraine of Success Cleaver above the divide. Just slightly to the northeast was the rocky Glacier Island, tucked between the Tahoma and the South Tahoma glaciers looking like a large, stone, crumbling tower.

Tahoma Glacier


As we approached Emerald Ridge we discovered the reason for it's name; a green grassy meadow provided the perfect spot to stop and take in the surrounding views. The odd view of the mountain from this angle made Rainier seem decrepit, ancient and fragile. The summit seemed only an arm's reach away. Coming around the corner of Emerald Ridge we were greeted with another breathtaking view of the glacier carved landscape. A bright orange rocky 'scar' was left behind from the retreating glacier over so many years ago and it surrounded the muddy South Puyallup River. Mountains were visible from every angle. Being there provided one of those moments when you feel the overpowering sense of insignificance. Not in a negative, but a comforting way. The feeling of being so small that all the problems in our lives that we perceive to be huge seemed to lose their importance. This was God's country and right then, to me, it felt as though He held us lovingly in His hands.

Rainier from Emerald Ridge

Rocky and  barren moraine of Success Cleaver

Walking the narrow, crumbly path near Emerald Ridge.


Beginning the descent to South Puyallup River Camp
From there we began the excruciating decline to the South Puyallup River Camp where we would stay the night. The ground was rocky and unstable, the worst stuff for blistered feet and mine were beginning to tell me they wanted to be done walking for the day. We moved at a snail's pace making sure each step was stable before moving the other foot. Eventually, not far from camp, we reached a clear running creek and filled up our water supply.

At camp, we took the first available site, #4. The most difficult hike of every day is when you reach camp and then have to hike the little trail to your site. When we first began hiking the Wonderland Trail we were picky, but this day we would have been happy to set up our tent in the middle of the trail and call it good.

We unloaded our gear and with great anticipation I began to make our long awaited 'half-way to the end' celebration dessert of cardboard soup "banana cream pie". It sounded so good but tasted so bad! My appetite throughout the hike had been unusually low but this destroyed it altogether. While cleaning our dishes we could hear the distant sound of thunder. This made Emily very uneasy.

I usually like a good thunderstorm but I'll admit it was a little creepy, especially as the storm drew closer and closer. Each clap echoed off the rocky walls of the mountain making it all the more intense.  Emily's anxiety grew and soon she was talking about going home....now!! The wind began to blow and we both crawled into the tent. Between the wind, the thunder and Emily worrying about the trees falling on us, I thought I'd never get to sleep. We laid there listening as the storm came closer. I began to grow uneasy and asked Emily if she wanted to say the Rosary with me. She did.

I wasn't surprised, as I have full confidence in the power of God and the help of His Blessed Mother, but I was amazed that as we spoke the final prayers of the Rosary, the thunderstorm had passed and the wind died down completely. On top of that the sun shone for the last hour of daylight.

I thanked the Good Lord for this day and fell asleep scratching the numerous bug bites that covered my arms and legs.


Emily snapped the first picture just as a mosquito found its dinner, my smile in the second picture hides my incredible urge to itch!



Disappointment dessert

Creek near camp where we purified and filled our water supply.


Glacier Island