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Gravel Pit (7/11 - 7/12)

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  • Gravel Pit (7/11 - 7/12)

    Pokey Moonshine was achieving hiking zen. She had the heavy pack on and was in cruise control. We arrived at the Opalescent and took a short break. It was our first since stopping at the Mount Adams fire observer cabin. The first mile with heavy packs is always the worst. After that, you get used to it... and the scenery en route to Allen Mountain is by no means anything to complain about.

    Sitting on the Western bank of the Opalescent, Pokey switched from her trail runners into her crocs.

    She led the way across. I followed closely. It's been raining like crazy the past two weeks. What looked to be shallow areas came up to Pokey's upper thighs (just below her waist). Upon making the crossing, we agreed that it was a lot of fun and did a nice job of cooling us down.

    "If the trail is anything like the last few miles, you could probably just keep your crocs on," I said.

    "Yeah?" Pokey replied.

    "You got it. If you need to switch back to the trail runners, then stop us and do that."

    "OK!" Pokey shouted.

    We'd covered a number of miles at this point. They were easy miles and I can't underemphasize how scenic they were. There was a number of stretches that navigating mud and standing water took some time. Once Pokey switched to crocs, those situations became laughable. I'd be balancing on a log while she was plowing through calf deep standing water.

    We were having a lot of fun. We ran into a group of guys on their way out. The eldest was wearing a touristy looking shirt that said "Couchsachraga" in baseball style font with an alpine graphic and a subheading: The Dismal Wilderness.

    "That is amazing," I said.

    "The dismal wilderness baby!" he shouted.

    I seriously laughed at that shirt for the next five minutes.

    "I need one."

    "I do too."

    "You know what's the best thing about Couch?"

    "What?"

    "That shirt."

    "Facts."

    A little further up the trail, we arrived at the gravel pit.

    "How do your feet feel?"

    "Great!"

    Thanks to @Fly_Fishing_and_Beer and my friend Sam, I knew that this was the place to look for legal stealth camping opportunities. It took no time to find a suitable spot and set up the tent.
    Once our campsite was in place, we walked "down the road" to the brook and had dinner and filtered water. We went back to our site and grabbed our foam pads and brought them to the gravel pit. We relaxed and were feeling good. We were sharing jokes and stories. Pokey was clearly ready for the following day's climb.

    "Can I go wash my feet before we go back to the tent?"

    "Yeah, go for it," I said and then watched her walk "down the road."

    When she got back, we got in the tent and got everything we needed into our "little packs."

    She noted, "You haven't used that one in a long time for a High Peak."

    "Yeah," I replied, "I think the last time was Porter & Cascade."

    Once our packs were ready for the following morning's hike, we broke out the deck and played a number of serious games of Blackjack.

    Playing cards at the end of a day of hiking has become one of our backpacking traditions over the past year. There's so many games that you can play. Name a better backcountry form of entertainment. Deal in a "ghost man" and come up with a cartoony voice and you have an extra player to add randomly to your games.

    As we took turns dealing cards, we noticed that it had started to drizzle. None of the raindrops were hitting the tent but we could hear them hitting the leaves above. It was around 9:30, that it was apparent Pokey was tired. We played a last hand of Blackjack. She won.

    She went to sleep. I stepped outside the tent, hung out and played some solitaire for the next hour and change.

    "Wow, today was awesome," I thought, "We've got this one in the bag."

    I went to bed.

    Around Midnight, it began downpouring.

    It woke me up, "It'll pass."

    Narrator: The downfall never let up.

    Neither of us got a good night of sleep. Waves could come and go at random and drop buckets without notice. The tent held up.

    6 AM: We have gotten trash for sleep. We are awake and ready to go. It is still downpouring like nobodies business.

    7 AM: It is still downpouring.

    8 AM It stopped raining for about five minutes. I step out to take a leak and by the end of that... It is downpouring.

    8 Something AM: I unzip the tent window and curse out the rain.

    9 AM: Still downpouring.

    9:30 AM: We've been sitting here for hours... We're tired... Can it please stop downpouring?

    10:15 AM: The storm finally passes.

    Some time between 10:30-11 AM: Decision was made. We had already lost close to five hours of hiking time. There was no reason to hike towards the point furthest away from civilization, back to camp, break camp, carry heavy packs and then arrive at a potentially questionable water crossing at the Opalescent. No one wants to be stranded on the wrong side of the river. Also, with no cell coverage, I had no way of telling if another rain storm was coming.

    Toughest decision that we've ever made.

    We knew we had this.

    Pokey tried to muster up some positivity,

    "At least we had a neat camping trip."

    It was.

    Sunday was seriously the most fun that we've had carrying our heavy packs to a basecamp. But, we both knew... This stinks.

    We arrived at the Opalescent

    Pokey put her crocs back on. She was adamant that she kept her trail runners on until this very point.

    She swapped footwear and we crossed the river. How crazy would this river be after all that rain if we arrived as it was getting dark?

    We made it across without incident. Then, the student taught the teacher.

    She determined that our second break point would be the Adam's Observer Cabin. Not a small task for a kid.

    Pokey blasted through every small pond of standing water, skipped over the slippery mud and easily discarded of the sticky mud.

    "How do your feet feel?"

    "Fine."

    We sat down near the cabin. We felt good physically. Mentally, we were shot. We didn't run into a single person the entire way out.
    The approach to Allen was so nice, that I don't mind having to repeat those steps... I'm gonna get a pair of crocs... But, can we please have just one campout without rain?

    We made the smart and safe decision.

    It still stings.

  • #2
    Nice trip report as always.

    Too bad you didn't reach the objective but spending that quality time with your daughter makes it a worthwhile trip no matter the outcome.

    Couchie T-Shirts available here... https://represent.com/store/highpeaksapparel

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    • #3
      That is a great shirt... :-)

      Life is a short, warm moment
      And death is a long cold rest.
      You get your chance to try in the twinkling of an eye:
      Eighty years, with luck, or even less.
      -Pink Floyd

      Comment


      • #4
        That's a bummer but at least you made the best of it.

        Crocs are a hugely underrated piece of gear. They're comfortable, you can beat the devil out of them as Bob Ross would say, and them just hose them off when you're done, and they float.

        Edit: Those shirts are definitely very cool. Jonathan Z has great sense of humor and is very knowledgeable. Here's his YouTube channel and artist/apparel website:

        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5e...QAABjYXDWDK7SA

        https://www.jonathanzphotography.com/
        My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

        Comment


        • #5
          ...We made the smart and safe decision....

          You sure did ! That is as important as getting a peak.
          115/115 Yippeeee!

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