The next day was Bastille Day. I awoke the crew by singing what I remembered of The Marseillaise. When some of our crew took exception, I replied by saying that France was our oldest ally, so we had to say nice things about the French once a year. Marchon!
We got on the trail by 7:30 and made good time, despite my throwing up my morning coffee. Don’t know why – maybe a touch of altitude or dehydration. I was fine the rest of the day. We had a very long day ahead of us: over eleven miles, first down to Phillips Junction to get more supplies, then up to Crooked Creek for program, finally ending the day at Wild Horse, a trail (unstaffed) camp a thousand feet higher in elevation than when we started.
We reached PJ at eleven a.m., and left by noon. We cooked dinner for lunch at Porcupine camp, then scooted on up to Crooked Creek, a homesteading camp, where we encountered rain. We toured the cabin – a typical homesteaders’ place of the early post-Civil War era. The youth petted the baby chickens. It was very lovely, but we still had a ways to go. We left about quarter to five and slogged our way uphill to Wild Horse. At times, the trail was as steep as a staircase, and we finally found the need to caterpillar our way up it.
Caterpillaring is a group hiking technique for tackling steep trails. The group halts along the trail, each person standing about ten feet from the other. The rearmost person starts up the trail and as he or she passes the second person before one, calls out something or other to let the person behind know that it is his or her turn to start up the trail. Many of the things we called out had to do with food, since by this time we were very tired of freeze-dried dinners and dry everything else. Once the one ascending reaches the head of the line, he or she stops and rests until it is his or her turn again. In this way, the group as a whole rolls itself up the trail at a steady pace, while each individual rests as much as one climbs.
We finally reached Wild Horse after twelve and a half hours on the trail from Apache Springs. Dusk was gathering. Kaleb and I went to find the spring at the other end of the camp. I used my water filter to get a couple of liters of pure water immediately, while Kaleb filled several bottles with spring water to be purified with Micro-Pure tablets when we got back to camp. Meanwhile, other crew members got tents up and bear bags hung. We ate our lunch for dinner.
As we shared our Thorns and Roses that night, I told the crew that I have seen other, very experienced crews break down under the stress of a day like the one we’d just had: but not this one! I was very proud of them.
|The road goes ever on and on
Leaving Apache Springs
The Homesteader from Crooked Creek leads Abe the burro up the hill from Phillips Junction
|Come up and set a spell
Crooked Creek porch talk