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Friday, June 19, 2009

The hike gone horribly wrong

Last Saturday we decided we were going to do a nice little hike. Peter and I and our friend Ben drove about 30 minutes out of the city up into the mountains to do what the internet and a guide book said was a 4.5 mile/ 2-3 hour hike.

Things started out lovely. It was overcast and we knew showers were predicted for later in the day but we thought we would be done by then. A little ways into the hike the sun actually came out and made the scenery even more beautiful. So we were all enjoying our trek up to an alpine lake.

Our first set back came when we met some people on their way down. We asked how much further to the lake. We were sure we were close because we’d been hiking for probably two hours by then. The woman replied that it would take about an hour. It wasn’t that far but the whole way was covered with snow.

Huh. They have snow here? At this point it must have been obvious that we were transplanted Southerners. Perhaps from as far south as Jamaica. We were wearing shorts, t shirts, tennis shoes and we didn’t have any jackets. It had not occurred to us that there would be significant snow left on the mountain for us to cross. But the group we met said that we could probably get to the lake. Our feet would be wet but they had left a lot of good tracks in the snow that would make it easier for us. So we decided to trek on.

Ben, our hiking companion and trail photographer

So we hiked on across the snow. We made it up to the alpine lake which turned out to be much less breathtaking than we had anticipated. It was frozen and snow covered and after hiking through snow for that long I just wasn’t impressed…more snow. It was fun to hike up to the lake but the snow made it difficult and added a lot of time. Except for Peter. He has a lot of experience climbing in snow. He flits across the ice like a freaking snow elf.

Note that Peter is running across the snow field here.

Note that Leslie is sliding down the snow here.

Anyways, the concerning part was that some ominous clouds started to roll in and the temperature started dropping. As we headed back down the clouds set in so low and thick that we couldn’t even see the mountains around us. Finally it started to sprinkle, then rain. By this time we were freezing. I could not move my fingers. We soon became soaked to the bone. It started thundering and lightening. We started running. Our path had turned into a small river. And then, as if God was trying to make sure we would not forget this lesson, the hail commenced. Little pea-sized pieces of ice searing our skin over and over again.

Finally (finally!) we made it back to the car. The hike took us nearly 5 hours. We realized that it must have been 4.5 miles one way. I have never been so cold. We got in into Ben’s car and headed back to the city. It took probably 15 minutes in the heated car before we could move our hands. It was only 50 degrees in the city. So, I imagine it was in the 40’s at least on the mountain.

Lessons learned: If rain is forecasted, don’t go hiking. If you choose to go hiking, bring a rain jacket. And remember, just because you could have a heat stroke in Texas this time of year doesn’t mean you can’t die of hypothermia in the mountains of Utah.

3 comments:

Jim and Jill said...

Jim and I are going to be your biggest blog fans, I think. I love reading your writing, Leslie. Your words are great. The end of this post was priceless about Texas versus Utah. And oh, how I wish I could see Peter flit like a "freaking snow elf!!" We love you!~~Jill

Anonymous said...

Hey guys!! I am going to write this again so I can see if I can get it to you as anonymous. I love both of your writing abilities and love the photos too. Please be careful on those hikes, etc. You are in foreign territory there and we do want you back in Texas one day alive and well. Terry

leslie said...

that's a great story! glad you made it back safe