Last week while exploring the mountains I got lost. Like, I actually got lost…no trail…no familiar sights…just….lost. In the midst of my life flashing before my eyes, I realized how under-prepared I was. It was on this hike I discovered the importance of the ten essentials.
Washington hasn’t been playing nice for my last couple hikes, and the fog/cloud covers have been intense. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but when a trail is new to you limited visibility isn’t ideal.
For the first bit of this hike (on Granite Mountain) things were smooth. Visibility was limited, but the trail was easy enough to follow. It was when the snow hit things started to get sketchy.
Thanks to avalanche warnings (yeah, real talk) we took the rocks. Thank God I’ve been doing more yoga because I used my arms to climb like a sea turtle crawling back into the ocean. A LOT of arms.
On the way down is when shit got real.
Mistake number one: Venturing away from the snow line. There was a rock wall that hugged the snow path, but we veered too much to the right. Lack of visibility made this even worse.
After a short while we were no longer in the right area. The drops got steep, and the path was non existent. Somehow we ventured so far to the right we were on a completely different mountain. A mountain with no paths. I about lost my marbles.
Two hours of wandering, panicking, and contemplating whether I wanted my vegan ways to end due to eating my hiking partners leg.
Mistake number two: Not enough food/water. Of all things for ME, a FOOD LOVER to fail at…not having enough food. I ate everything I brought by the time I hit the top. Never again…
I literally had to grab onto deep rooted bushed to avoid falling down the vertical drop. My legs got cut up, and my mind began to wander.
Mistake number 3,4,5,6,7…: No navigation/sunscreen/fire starters/insulation/illuminations…nothing! Just me myself and my empty pack. The goat poop I saw indicated someone was probably freshly hungry after emptying their breakfast, and I was on the menu.
FINALLY, after somehow catching a connection via Google Earth on a cell phone, we figured out which way to go. GPS is SO necessary in a time like this. Ironically this is when the clouds started to break.
Not that it helped, with no visuals to base our ascent on, the decent was just as foreign even with visibility.
Here’s what I learned: NEVER hike under prepared. No matter HOW easy you think the climb will be. 7.5 hours and over 9 miles later we made it to the car, and I nearly cried. I was legit scared.
I will be making another trip to REI (my fourth in less than two weeks) to grab some basic essentials to add to my pack. Looking back I can now laugh, & I also appreciate these photos – I think they are great.
Q: Have you ever been lost in the mountains before? Suddenly I am reconsidering my desire to thru-hike the PCT. Just kidding, this will happen..but I will be much more prepared, and maybe have a small army with me just to be safe.