|Hiking||18.60 Miles||2 Days 14 Hrs || |
|2,040 ft AEG|| || || |
OK, I am going to tell it like it is. No more of these flowery writeups about the ease of trails from those who run up and down the Matterhorn before breakfast. Without extensive study I was led to believe that the North route into Reavis Ranch was a piece of cake. It is listed as moderate in the book but that is not my definition of moderate! I was also told that there were two areas of elevation gain---yes, I agree, the first 70% and most of the last 30%.
The elevation at the trailhead read 3000 feet on my GPS and at Windy Pass is read 5110 feet. My trig tangent tables tell me that is just about a 4% sustained climb for 6.25 miles. Once you reach Windy Pass you think it might be downhill to the ranch. Think again. some is and there are several climbs. The "meadow" part of this hike is the last mile. The rest is quite rocky in many spots.
Anyway, Trish, Michelle and I motored to the trailhead arriving Saturday morning at about 7:40. I had mis-understood Randy that we would start at 8 AM. Randy arrived at almost 9 AM so we loaded up and started--up--the trail. It became very clear within the first half mile that any thought of a level trail would be a moot point. Randy hung back many times as he was carrying a pack that looked as big as a semi. We waited periodically for him and then both Trish and Michelle went on ahead until they rached a mesquite tree just past the off trail to the falls.
When I arrived there I was feeling it in my legs and it was obvious that there was lots of climbing left. Remember, I am Slowclimber. I can get there but it takes time and I have to keep going. If I stop to rest I will fall asleep and miss the rest of the day! I knew Randy was just a little way behind as he was stopping quite often. The ladies present said they would stay there until he arrived and I had to push on ahead to go around Castle Dome and to Windy Pass.
This was my first ever backpack (weighed 28 pounds) and my first ever overnight. I became worried about the continued climb. Oh sure, 4% is virtually nothing--but for 6.25 miles it does tax one. After I passed castle Dome I mistakenly thought I would be at the top shortly. Au Contraire! Around each bend was another trail slant up to the next bend. After 4 of these I finally reached Windy Pass. The name is very appropriate! It was blowing 20 to 25 mph gusts. I took off my pack and sat down under the big tree there. I said I would rest and wait for the rest since I was through climbing (I thought). I ate and watched the clouds and about 40 minutes later around the bend came Trish, behind her a few yards was Michelle. They said they had met with Randy and he said he would slowly proceed. I became a bit worried about Randy and decided to wait for him at Windy Pass. Trish and Michelle went on ahead. My major worry was darkness. I did not know the trail or where I was going. I waited another hour and felt I had to go on. I had never been out in the dark before and knew I had better go the last 3 miles to Reavis Ranch. I also knew that Randy had been on all these trails many times and my only worry was the pack size he had and his recent stress tests.
So I reluctantly started off after Trish and Michelle. I did not realize that the trail down was so rocky and lots of ups and downs. I had to stop to rest a number of times. I finally made it to the valley floor and saw meadows at dusk. My back pack had shifted and I did not know how to get it balanced. So I began to stagger along until I really had no idea where I was, where Reavis ranch was or where campers were. It began to get dark. So I did the obvious thing. Took off my pack and took out my whistle. I blew SOS a number of times since I had heard some voices nearby (happened to be at the horse camp) and I really was not that scared. I knew I was in the Reavis Valley and there were campers about. I was very tired and the climb had taken its toll. Within about 10 minutes 3 people showed up from the wrangler camp. Kevin and his son took my pack and steadied me and said it was about a quarter mile to Reavis. I had stopped short. I quickly determined that these people had gone to the same school of distance determination as JW as the quarter mile turned into almost a mile. It was dark and these guys really knew the area well. On the trail we heard something drop and I realized it was my GPS unit (not a cheap one) and we looked for it with head lamps, found nothing. I chalked it off to a loss and we continued.
In about 10 minutes we saw headlamps and someone said "Roger" and my guides said yes. It was Tom who had set out to find me. from there on Tom carried my pack to camp set up my tent, bag and pad and everyone there was extremely helpful!!! I can't stress enought how kind people were. The wranglers and Tom plus others I do not know their names. I thank you for your help. I really did have fun.
Surprisingly I was very warm all night and comfortable. I was concered about my GPS but s--- happens so we accept that. in the morning I felt quite a bit better. Some woman named Lil had given me a neck massage and she was excellent!! I told myself "suck it up" and hike out. On the trail back North we found where the wranglers had marked the trail where my GPS had fallen. About 30 feet from there, there it was at the side of the trail!!! Hoo-ray. We reached the wrangler camp and it was felt that maybe I could get a ride out the the wranglers--if they were going out.
They were so very cordial and said certainly. I waited there with coffee, water and snacks until they had loaded up the pack train and assigned me a big black mule. I told them I had never ridden a horse or a mule and did not even know the difference. They all laughed and fixed up the pack saddle. At noon they hoisted me up on the mule and off we went at 4 mph. My upper thighs and rear begain to hurt. The mule brushed by a tree branch and I hit my hand. The blood started to flow and I used my hankerchief to try to stop the flow while we bounced along down the trail.
In less than an hour we arrived at Windy Pass--sure was not much of a climb on the mule!! At Windy Pass were Trish, Michelle and Randy. Randy had plugged on and camped by himself, had a stare down with a mountain lion but seemed to be in good shape. Our pack train stopped several times for short rests ( primarily for me because my butt was really hurting but better than walking at this time for me). They gave me sandwiches and water and lifted me off the mule and back on and once parked me by a rock where one of there two thousand dogs came to comfort me. Well there were only about 6 dogs but they loved the trail and ran in and out of the horses yapping and having fun. We arrived at the trailhead at 4 PM and they went on to the Apache Lake Ranch to unload. I waited until about 5 and here came Trish over the last hill. She stayed at the trailhead while I drove to Apache Lake Ranch to sort out my gear from the pack. I drove back and Michelle and Randy were there.
My major concern was driving Fish Creek hill in the dark but we made it! What a fun experience! All were safe and none of us was in real danger. This was a very strenuous hike for me. It is 10 miles the one way. I could have made it back out walking but it would have been quite dark. Also I am glad to have the mule experience. I was told by the wranglers that much of the very rocky trail surfaces is done by the horses and mules that kick up rocks.
Oh, during the night we did hear some cats scream. The equipment I had was perfect and I do thank those who helped me determine what to buy. Will I go overnight again??? Of Course I will! However I will carefully study the trail ahead of time. I know some of you think that trail is level----well it ain't!!!!!!
|Life is what is happening while you are making other plans.|