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Sunday, August 19, 2012

I lived to tell the story

Whew, what a weekend.  My friend Pablo and I drove to South Lake Tahoe after work on Friday. After a 2 hour drive, we picked up food for Saturday's hike to Mt. Tallac. I checked into my room and man, what luck. I was next to a group of bikers who partied all night long. I probably only got 1-2 hours sleep.

This is my second attempt to reach the summit at Mt. Tallack. You can read about my first ordeal here. 

The hike to the summit and back is 11 miles.  You need about 8 hours to complete the hike. We started at 7:30 and reached Gilmore lake at 11:00. I ate our lunches. I ate 1/2 of my turkey and cheese sandwich. I do not have a camera and I had to rely on my cell phone.  Gilmore Lake is gorgeous. I want to hike here and camp sometime soon.

I'm excited as we leave Gilmore Lake.  We were making excellent time and even though there's a steady climb, the easy part of the hike was behind me.  Now, after crossing Gilmore's lake, the hard part begins.  

Here I am around 12 noon.  Can you tell I had absolutely no sleep?

My friend Pablo was great. He made sure we had walkie talkies in case we got separated.  It started to rain and well, when we reached the summit, it was really coming down.  I decided not to climb all the way up.  Does this mean I wuused out? Absolutely not. It was raining. The rocks are slippery. I was tired and more importantly, I have a pad knee and knew I could very easily slip. Totally not worth it to me. 
The guy in the blue at the top?  That's my friends brother. He is training for Mt. Rainier and he must have had 40 lbs in his pack.  He was carrying rocks!!!  My buddy Pablo rushed up to get him to come down because he was afraid of lightning.

These pictures are not great because its raining and I'm using the cell phone. I compared these to my first climb and I feel great about how I managed the climb and even reaching this point  It was nowhere as difficult as my first climb.

Here, I stopped to refuel and ate a cliff bar.  It's about 2 p.m. and I think we're going to make it down before 6.

How rediculous do I look in this plastic poncho?  My friend had his camera but I didn't let him take a picture. Except I had to capture it with my cell phone.  To prove to self that I was there...

We headed down and Pablo's brother Mike would catch up with us. Pablo and I headed down and we were so wrapped up in the marmets, chipmonks and grouses that we hiked down the wrong trail. At the Mt. Tallac post, we should have went right and instead, we went left.  I estimate we walked about 1.25 miles towards Cathedral Lake.  The trail looked familiar because I hiked down this part my first time to Mt. Tallac. At this point, we had two options.  Hike down to Floating Island Lake and hitch a ride to Desolation Wilderness where we started or climb back up to the summit and get to the Mt. Tallac ridge and take the trail back down to Gilmore Lake. Just looking up at the rocky ridge was deflating. But it was the best option.

We climb back up. Then around and locate our trail.  It starts to rain again.  We are both running low on water.  We figure Mike is already returned to his car. It's going to be dark soon and we have to cross the lake while there's light. It would be difficult to cross the makeshift crossing of downed trees in the dark.

We arrive by 6 p.m.  We drink the very last of our water. Paul's pack has a little frozen water. I am tired but we know we're going to be walking out in the dark if we don't hurry.

The next 3.5 hours are BRUTAL.  Coming down is definitely hard on the knees.  It felt like rocky path after rocky path.  My knees are giving out on me.  But I have to keep going. There is no time to rest.  Just before dark, Pablo pulls out his one head light and gives it to me.  He's afraid I will trip and fall. He's right.  I have the light and it's pitch black. I gotta walk fast to keep up with him so we can share the light.  We see the Desolation Valley sign and breath relief.  We see a couple walking towards us with lights. They ask if we are Pablo and Pauline. We say yes. They tell us Mike is looking for us and a search party will probably be out.

Damn. Dejavu all over again. Pablo and I feel an urgency to get out. The last mile of the hike was the most grueling. I had been without water for about 3-4 hours.  I questioned why I was out there, when I could be home with my grandbabies,  kids and Daniel.

We finally reach our vehicle. We had snapple and coconut water in an ice chest. It's cold and I'm in heaven. I can barely walk but at least I am not thirsty anymore.

We reach the fire station and were greeted with "we were just about to send a team on foot in search of us."

I call home to tell Daniel I'm okay.  And begin to head back out of the trail. We pass beautiful cabins and finally we reach the Y at South Lake Tahoe. We grab a burrito from Taco Bell, but I'm not hungry. My legs are throbbing.  I am tired.  I feel bad for my friend Pablo. He still has to drive home and I try to stay awake on the 2 hour drive home.  I fall asleep.

Pablo and I were on that trail for 14 hours. THAT'S 14 HOURS.

It was completely our fault for not paying attention. Pablo knows that trail like the back of his hand.  We just got caught up on the beautiful that is nature. I learned my lesson.  You must pay attention at all times.

Will I hike a mountain again?  I swore I wouldn't.  But I'll probably forget how terrible I felt and will  probably be back again... Maybe not Mt. Tallac.   I think it's fair to say that mountain does not like me.

I thanked Jesus the entire time we were walking in the dark. We were so thankful for no rain.

Well, that's my story.... I lived to tell it.

1 comment:

  1. Goodness woman, thats quite a story.. putting aside how brutal the end was, you did it all -- you experienced it and thats gotta be a little invigorating for you now that its all over no? (or maybe im just crazy;) glad your safe and lived to share the story! =)