We wake up late, but at least it has stopped raining. I don't remember who is first up - I think Gary. I peek out at the sky and see overcast. Hmmm, the rain is not through with us, yet. I wonder if we are going to rouse everyone and head on to Moss Creek or whether we might have a lazy day of it?
It turns out to be the latter. Since it's September, none of us was really expecting much rain. An afternoon shower or two, perhaps, but not a steady rain. This is supposed to be the dry fire season, you know! Of course you never ever know in Yellowstone - I have not yet found much accuracy in any weather report - since the Park is so big, you never know what part of it the report will apply to. There were days in June and July back in NYC when I was worried this trip would have to be scrapped given the bone dry conditions - but then the weather in August turned unusually cool and moist. I suppose I shouldn't complain!
Anyway, we spend much of the day hoping for sun to dry out our boots and tents. Mark and Lori have a more annoying problem; their sleeping bags have gotten a bit moist in spots, due to condensation from their tent. It will take a good hour of sun to get them dry for tonight. The sun DOES finally come out around 10AM, cheering our spirits. We have breakfast and my coffee tastes especially good.
We pump more water too, so that chore is done for the day. We even get a decent breeze, which helps with drying. We make use of all the natural "clothes-lines" around the campsite - branches on the downfallen logs work perfectly. Then we decide to do some more exploring before we get underway.
We go back to Joseph's Coat and walk in Broad Creek again. It's much nicer to walk here when the sun is out, and we have a good time, reliving yesterday's adventure and having the time to notice more thermals than we could see in the dark. Gary notices a thermal cave which utterly fascinates him. I like the many tiny frying pan features. I even find one little spot right along the river's edge. It is tiny but determined - it puts out only one bubble at a time, but it's very steady and regular.
But soon we notice the sky getting darker in the west so we head back to camp. We get a fire going and try to dry some socks but it's slow going. The situation is deteriorating and it becomes clear we are going to get rained on, whether we like it or not. We begin to gather everything, dry or not, and pack it up. We are almost ready to go when down it comes. Lori finds the silver lining by saying, at least we won't overheat as we hike!
I think we leave around 3:30. The rain pours down. We head uphill again, there is seemingly endless uphill on this hike! We pas s the putrid pond/lake and then find a "land bridge" between two large thermal areas. The rain pours down and we have some thunder, too, but no lightning that seems very close. My rain hat manages to shield my face but my coat seems to have lost its ability to shed water. Soon my arms are drenched through three layers. However, my inside layer is silk and despite being soaked, I do not feel cold.
We skirt around a second thermal area that I don't remember from our way in three days ago. Then we start the long climb uphill, clump, clump, clump, doing our best to avoid the deadfall, which is no easy task! Although we use basically the same GPS way-points, we do not travel the exact same route, and when all is said and done, I have to say that this is the best route back that I could have imagined. Once we get up the main hill, there seems to be less deadfall overall, and more flat-ish walking than one would think possible. But the rain continues and makes break-taking less pleasant. We still don't make very good time - I guess we are just slow-pokes. Mark is careful to adjust our direction frequently so we don't get too far off our straight line. He is really good with that thing!
I think Gary is having a tough time, today. He developed new blisters on the way to Fairyland, and seems to be dragging a bit. Of course I never heard him complain.
Well, it is somewhat past 5PM and we are on a fairly flat section with that pretty green ground cover plant that I wish I knew the name of, and I think I start to speed up, anxious to get to camp and taking advantage of the "better" terrain. Next thing I know I am flat on my face with a log to my left and a pain in my elbow. Worse, I can't move right or left. I can't get up. I have pain. Something is wrong. I call out "Help me! Help me!" because I have never been in a situation where I can't physically help myself. Lori is already next to me and that is a comfort. I ask her to remove my pack but she can't because I'm on my stomach and all the clasps are in front. I have no idea what just happened and I am worried that I broke my arm or my leg or something. Now I hear everyone nearby so I calm down a little. (I hope I did!) Somehow something on my pack is losened - thanks to whoever did that!
I hear Mark say "where does it hurt" and I say "my elbow" and then he says ok we're going to turn you over, slowly. And they do. As I turn onto my back I get really weird feeling in my elbow like a really big twinge. Not pain, but weird. I think I say "I'm ok, I'm ok" because I really feel better being able to move and feel no shooting pain like I would expect with a break. Then Mark says we're going to try and stand you up, are you ready? And I say yes. And they help me stand. I feel a WHOLE lot better being on my feet again. They quickly get my pack off and I know right away something is wrong with my left arm. Broken? No - there's no pain. But it could be dislocated. That's what I think. Once my pack is off I feel great and so relieved not to be any worse injured. All my fingers work, My wrist moves. I have no numbness, no tingling, see no blood.
The rain has slowed to a mist but still I am drenched. Lori says we need to take off your coat. I think at this point they still thought I had a broken forearm. They carefully remove my drenched rain jacket and then my drenched nylon shirt. I am wearing a long-sleeved silk undershirt over my sports bra, which is also drenched, whcih makes it see through. They roll up the sleeve to my elboe and now everyone is satisfied there is no blood and probably no break, so I think everyone feels a lot better. Mark feels my arm bones, gently, asking if anything is painful. Nothing. He asks me to squeeze his finger with the fingers of my left hand. I try but can't quite make a fist. He says "squeeze hard" I try again and WHOA! I get that REALLY WEIRD TWINGE in my elbow again.
Ok - I've done something but we don't really know what. I still think I dislocated it and that the twinge might have been it popping back into place. My left arm doesn't move quite right but I can grasp my pole and actually feel fine in every other way. I wonder if my elbow got bent way back when I fell? Mark thinks perhaps that I hyper-extended a tendon. That makes sense to me, too. I swallow some ibuprofen.
I am sorry to have given everyone a scare, but I tell them I feel fine enough to hike, and that I can carry my pack. I ask that someone take my fanny pack, which I have rigged to my front. Mark graciously says he will. I say I think I'll use just one pole since I don't really trust my left arm with any weight but Mark and Gary convince me to keep it as a better insurance policy against falling again. Gary suggests I place mt left pole in front of my steps rather than to the side. This works quite well so I do that. We set off again at a slightly slower pace and I hope hope hope that we will make camp before dark this time.
Luckily for everyone, we have no futher mishaps, and hike the remaining hour and a half with relative ease. As we top a rise, Lori sees some deer dashing away from us, the first wildlife we are SURE we saw. Then not much later we see Orange Rock Springs below us! And what is that odd-looking thing stretched out next to it? Why I think that is called A TRAIL, LOL
We whoop and holler and guess what? The rain stops for a little while, too. I am very, very careful going down the last hill, which seems really short and somehow contains less deadfall than it did going up. How can that be?
Maybe it was our elation at finally reaching the trail, but as we pas s Orange Rock Springs, it looks gorgeous! There are colors here that I never saw before - not sure if I simply missd the angle or if Fall changed the ground cover in the four intervening days since we were here. But it really is pretty and lots of the vegetation is...Orange! Still not rock, mind you, but orange and peach and salmon and purple and yellow and white and even green. It's such a delightful surprise it makes me like the place for once. Gary reminds me that the name "Joseph's Coat" was originally meant for this group of Hot Springs and finally I see why. But the name was applied to the high reddish cliffs above Broad Creek and this was left with with the name ORS. At the moment, this is much more multicolored than JCHS. I see pale green moss on the surface, with patches of ground cover in orange, yellow, pink, purple, rust and gold. Very pretty.
Can I tell you how good it feels to have a hard-packed, clear trail under your feet after having bushwhacked for three and a half days!?! Still, it takes longer than expected to reach Moss Creek camp but we do reach it before sundown. My friends are angels and help me set up my tent. I am able to use my right arm but my left has begun to swell. Once my tent is up I keep my fingers crossed that my clothes and sleeping bag have stayed dry. Huzzah! Success! I take advantage of the break in the rain and hang up my nearly worthless raincoat. I string a line between two trees at the edge of the camp area so we can drape clothes over it. Then I sit inside the privacy of my tent and take off my sodden boots and my sodden pants and my sodden shirts. It is a might tricky getting out of my sodden sports bra with one bum arm. But I do it. Once I towel off I put on dry clothes. And I laugh at the irony of having cursed the weight of some extra clothes I brought, because now I am glad of them!
I have only one pair of dry socks and I MUST save them for tomorrow. (Hiking 8 miles in wet socks is a recipe for blisters and should be avoided if possible). Hmmmm - what to do. Aha! Again my extra clothes come in handy. I turn a pair of fleece mittens into makeshift socks for the night, wearing them with my sandals. Perfect! I pop another ibuprofen and head out of my tent, ready to help with chores. The others now have their tents up. Mark and Gary say the trouble they were having with the water filters at Broad Creek has miraculously disappeared now that we are back at Moss Creek. They are finished pumping and now head out to find firewood. We all want a campfire tonight.
The sun peeks through for an instant and then is swallowed up by the overcast again. Ah well. I join Mark and Gary in the search for firewood but we all have to go a fair distance because this is a well-used site. I find a dead tree and drag it back. The bear pole here is really high and very secure. The fire pit is large, with a neat square of log seats set around it. But it's been raining on and off for 24 hours and everything is soaked. Mark gets a flame going three times only to see it fade back to nothing. He asks if anyone has any paper. I donate the little I have: a map of Fairyland, a sheet of phone numbers, and a list of items to pack (all of which I have copies on my computer at home). Best of all, these three pages have been kept in a plastic folder so they are not even damp. Mark makes excellent use of them and finally gets the fire going for real. Still, he has to blow on it and fan it and nurture it and coax it for nearly a half hour before it can be trusted to stay lit on its own.
Meanwhile, Laurie is quietly preparing more delicious mac & cheese with re-hydrated peas. And she also has more of those spicy little sausages! I mix mine all together and scarf it down. The trees drip on us and then we realize it's raining again. Well, misting. We really don't care any more! We are really unwinding now, flush with success, our minds thinking of "real" food and showers and comfortable beds. Laurie and Gary have brought the fixings for "S'mores" but our fire is still being fitful. We do get a few marshmallows toasted onj sticks, but not enough to melt my chocolate. I don't care. I will eat chocolate any old way.
Laurie and Gary are fighting a losing battle trying to dry their socks by draping them over the fire-ring rocks. This fire is not warm enough to dry the rocks, much less the socks! Laurie and I put the socks on our hands to try to get them closer to the flame, and end up playing sock-puppets for a while, dissolving into childish laughter.
I feel bad for Mark and Lori. They have tried so hard to get a roaring blaze going, but without an axe to split the wood, everything is just too wet. They finally throw in the towel and let it peter out. We clean up and haul stuff over to the bear pole to be hung. I pop another ibuprofen. As I walk back to the tents I look up, hoping to see stars. I do! Even though I feel a misty rain on my face and see it clinging to my fleece jacket, I can see bright, bright stars overhead. Well, thanks, Yellowstone! That is a nice last image.
I crawl inside my tent and blow up my thermarest. It has gotten wet during the hike so I have to cover it in plastic bags and my space blanket so that my sleeping bag won't get soaked. This solution actually works, although the space blanket makes a lot of noise every time I change position. I am snug as a bug as I hear my mates getting into their tents and settling down. Goodnight! Goodnight!
Hey guys! I call softly...We made it to Fairyland!
Today I saw: birds and squirrels, 4 Loons and the spirit of Allison.