On a late July morning, my dad and my brothers, Ryan and Alan, and I, made our way to the Mogollon Mountains, intending to hike to Hummingbird Saddle. This would be the first time all four of us had been backpacking together. On the drive in though, plans changed to Redstone Park. Arriving at the trailhead in almost overwhelming humidity, we soon set off on the Redstone Trail, with a few gathering clouds above. The pace was leisurely, and we stopped at the saddle at 0.5 miles to enjoy lunch with a view of Whitewater Canyon. Heading into the canyon, Alan lagged behind, silently suffering under his pack, this being his first "real" backpacking trip. A few pack adjustments were made, and he carried on. Two miles in, the thunderstorms had gathered, and down came a steady rain. Whitewater Canyon grew dark, lightning crashed on nearby peaks, and thunder echoed loudly in the canyon. I gave back to the hiking community by doing preemptive trail maintenance: pushing over dead trees along the trail, to my brothers' amusement.
After a long, soggy walk in continuous rain, we arrived at Redstone Park in the early evening, anxious for anything dry. Redstone Park itself didn't offer much shelter, so I ran up the Whitewater Canyon Trail to scout. I soon found a great creek side spot, and we set up our tents there, taking turns holding a tarp over the person who was setting up their tent, while getting eaten alive by no-see-ums. The big perk of this site was a cave-like shelter, about 8 feet by 15 feet, created by two huge boulders leaning against each other. Alan and I committed ourselves to starting a fire in the little fire ring in the "cave". With the only dry wood being little sticks and a rotten stump, I broke out the drier lint. No luck. Okay, hairspray. Nope. I inverted my little can of bug repellent and sprayed that over the match. A cool fireball, but no ignition of the wood. In desperation, I turned my butane stove on high, and held it up against the wood. It stubbornly ignited. Hooray! That's how wet it was down there! A Nalgene full of gasoline would have been helpful. For dinner we enjoyed quesadillas and Mountain House. Alan confided in me that with all of the rain, he was ready to go home. I figured that, I said. At some point, the rain stopped. Being the last one going to bed, I took it upon myself to hang our bear bags. Conifer branches do not work well for that, and my dad thought that some sort of beast was smashing through the forest. No, that was just Prestonfoot.
The next morning, we aborted plans for our second night at Hummingbird Saddle, and began the hike back out. We took our time, enjoying Whitewater Creek and the Gila Wilderness. Another break at the saddle involved me picking up a dead tree and hurling it into the forest, while shouting "Sasquatch MAD!", again to my brothers' amusement. We arrived back at the trailhead late in the afternoon, under a beautiful clear sky. D'oh!
Had we stayed for a second night, there would have been torrential rain! The rest of the guys dried their tents in the sun, and I got tore up on Diet Pepsi and Gatorade. On the drive home, of course, we had to have dinner at the Blue Front Café in Glenwood. Good burgers as always.