Where Are My Pants?

April 19, 2010

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  Bill and I went camping at Pinnacles National Monument.  It’s our second visit to this park, and it was a tad bit more pleasant in April than in August.  Being twenty-five degrees cooler can make life more comfortable. Also, the park was in bloom and lush from all the winter and early spring rain.  And there were frogs!  Lots of ribbiting going on.

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This was definitely the best camping trip that Bill and I have taken.  It was my ideal version of how camping should be.  Lots of noise, but good noise. People having fun and laughing, children playing, frogs ribbiting, occasional yells of excitement or trying to get someone’s attention, the subtle hum of miscellaneous conversations, fires crackling, birds chirping, guitars being strummed. And most importantly, no radios.  I can tolerate almost any other noise in the outdoors except for a radio, even if it’s my kind of music.

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We bought a new tent for this trip. We call it the Taj. It is huge. In fact, we can fit our old tent inside the new tent with lots of room to spare.  Actually, our air mattress doesn’t even fit inside our old tent. Well, it might but you’d have to put it in the tent uninflated  and then once it was inflated, you’d be about a foot from the top of the tent. The photo above is my favorite from the weekend, and it shows how dorky we are. That’s us in our old tent on top of our air mattress inside the new tent.

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It was a relatively quiet and relaxing weekend.  We set up camp on Friday, made dinner, and went to bed. Boy did I sleep well, especially with a decent air mattress. The temperature did drop at night and at one point I woke up and my face was freezing!  So I flipped my sleeping back around so that my hood covered my face.  Problem solved.  It also made it very dark and I slept soundly until 8am.

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Saturday, we hiked.  We almost didn’t hike as I started to pull out my clothes and realized that I never packed my pants.  I had the pants I wore the day before and my jeans.  Ack!  There are definitely worse things I could have forgotten, and it wasn’t a big deal, just about five seconds of panic.  After breakfast, we started on our  relaxing 8.9 mile jaunt, with a 1200 foot elevation gain in the first three miles.  It kicked my butt, but it was fun.  The view was beautiful and it was nice to see a lot of green and to admire the different wildflowers.  We took our time, tried to have fun and ignore the profuse amounts of sweat, heavy breathing, burning legs and unrelenting sun.  We had a nice break for lunch around the five mile mark and gave our legs a much needed rest. Then we continued on to the caves where the “excitement” began.

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We’ve done the caves before, but it was more treacherous in the spring.  There’s water running in all the springs, and there’s a spring that runs through the caves.  Water tends to make rocks slippery.  Very slippery.  I took those sections on my butt and it still required a lot of concentration.  We were almost out of the caves when we heard this horrible crashing noise.  At the time, we didn’t realize what it was, until we saw the man sliding down the rocks.  He was able to stop himself so that Bill didn’t have to break his fall, but the man was in a lot of pain.  I’ve always wondered how I would react under pressure, and I’m pleased to report that both Bill and I were calm and efficient.  I have carried around first aid supplies for the three years I’ve been hiking and until now, I have never needed them.  We were able to give him a cold compress, clean his wounds, apply antiseptic, give him some ibuprofen, keep him company, and help him out of the cave.  It wasn’t the best first aid as there were a lot of things I didn’t do that I probably should have done, but he was ambulatory and most of his wounds appeared to be superficial. Our other “issue” was that there was no cell service, we were at least 1.5 miles from the ranger station, and his car and friends were in the opposite direction of our car.  I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him to walk back by himself, but I wasn’t sure that we could add an extra three miles to our hike.  At the trailhead where we would have parted ways, we tried to find some people that were heading back in his direction so they could keep an eye on him, but no such luck.  I was concerned about him going into shock or getting disoriented, even though the man thought he would be okay, but he was in pain.  We decided that I would wait at the trailhead with our packs, and Bill would start back with the wounded hiker and hopefully, we could find someone to take over for Bill.  If not, Bill felt confident that without his pack, he could make it all the way to the ranger station and back and still be able to make it back to our car.  My first thought  was “Damn, why did I leave my book in the tent.” As it turns out, Bill was back in twenty minutes after they had been overtaken by another couple who agreed to help. I’m sure there are plenty of things we could have or should have done differently, but I think we provided that man with some comfort in a scary situation.

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I wish I could say the rest of the trip was uneventful.  The remainder of our hike was, except for the five itty bitty snakes we saw.  The rest of the excitement came the following morning when we went to start the car and the battery was dead.  We should have realized the potential for a problem when Bill had trouble starting the car after our hike, but we were too tired to notice.  With all the opening and closing and in and out of the car that evening, that was all it took. We had been planning on another hike before heading home, but those plans changed. Thankfully, a family across from us had jumper cables and was able to help us out.  How quickly the tables can turn, from helping to needing help.

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While more “exciting” than we expected, it was a beautiful weekend.


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A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

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