Tuesday, October 09, 2007

2007 Wonderland Trail Hike

Last night I finished adding photos of my September hike around Mt Rainier to my web site. Short on closeups and no people, but not bad for grab shots on a 90-mile foot trip.

Luckily rain didn't reach me because I got to the dry side of the mountain the first day, and dodged it, although there was lots of fog and cloud on day two, but still nothing like the predicted 12 hours of rain. Or two following days of gradual clearing. No, not bad for the first day, having started after lunch.

Someone going the way opposite to me had three days of fog and cloudy weather, and some real rain, I got off well. The only real problem for me was my own stupidity, which is a constant companion.

I misread the sign that indicated where I was to get off the trail and take to the highway, avoiding the only impassable part of the trail (still not fixed after last fall's ripping rain and flooding).

So a mile on I got to the washed-out part and decided to take a chance on sliding down 60 feet onto rocks rather than backtracking. It wasn't that bad. Been through worse things at St Helens and hiking off-trail around Mt Adams. And really quiet. Almost anything is better than walking six miles along a highway.

It was an hour or so after missing the turnoff when I got to a place where last year's flooding had cut the trail into bits. The stream had diced it over and over again.

I was standing on a fallen tree mulling which way to go, and then I just began tipping over backward. Nothing to grab, I just went back suddenly, falling over, starting from about three feet up, with my feet on this horizontal tree trunk.

As I fell my feet slipped off the tree and hit the ground first, then my behind, then the pack on my back. The pack stood out like a big hump and acted like a lever. It whipped my head around like the tassel at the end of a whip, toward the ground. My accelerated head hit the ground with a loud thump. Yeah, a loud thump. Loud enough to scare me.

I hit soft sand, my head beside a smooth river rock the size of a watermelon, and I wasn't dead. Or paralyzed with a broken neck, to lie there along a closed section of trail and die in cold rain after sunset. OK by me.

I did have a headache for about an hour, but that was about it. A pretty good deal overall.

I got up, collected my things and brushed off, then started hiking again. For a while I wondered what it would be like to have a brain hemorrhage and have my skull fill with blood, but not feeling much worse than usual I just kept going.

Things worked out. That was day one of eight, and the rest were good. High point, about 7500 feet. Coldest night, about 25 degrees. Most memorable feeling, joy. The weather stayed nice until a few days after I got home, but since then it's been raining. Winter came in mid-September and now it seems to be here for the duration, and the word is that we'll have a wet and stormy winter. Oya, life these days.

See photo slideshow.

I still have some St Helens shots from July to work on, but that gives me something to do with the rest of my life. WooHoo!

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