Monday, April 8, 2013

Hell's Canyon spring 2013

my annual first weekend of April pilgrimage to Hell's Canyon

to set the stage for my trip report, here is an actual text conversation between me and a friend, as I was driving north to Riggins....

Ron:   On our way to hells canyon

Ken:   Bye-bye boys!  Have fun storming the canyon!

Ron:   It may storm on us tonight  : ) 

Ken:   That's what it's all about, right?!!

Ron:    It may rain all weekend   : ) 

Ken:    Ewww...  Turn back!

Ron:    I would be disappointed with any thing else  : )

Talk about prophetic!

I knew it was forecast to rain "off and on" all weekend.  

the weather did not disappoint.   And it was more "on" than "off" 

you received the SPOT messenger updates.   our camp Friday night was at Kirkwood Ranch.   We finished the last 2 miles in on headlamps, and set up camp by headlamps.  
After our dinner, we turned in for the night.   It rained about half the night.  

Tyler went back Saturday morning, he was there for 1 night only.   I wanted to see how far south from Kirkwood I could get.   Originally, I wanted to go as far as McGaffee Cabin or Granite Creek.  But I was hauling a 30 pound load.   

I walked 9 miles to Sheep Creek Ranch, which was the second SPOT update position.   After 2-3 hours of resting, filtering water, eating, taking pictures, I decided to not push further south.   I retreated 2 miles to the north, to Pine Bar, where Tyler and I camped last year.  This would put me in position to hike 13 miles on Sunday back to the car.  

The rain had been off and on all day Saturday.   Now as I approached Pine Bar in the waning daylight, I could see dark grey storm clouds building to the south.   I had just got my tent set up and the rain started coming.   I hurriedly got everything inside or under the vestibule and zipped it shut.   

It rained all night.  At times it was pouring!   Occasionally, I could hear some big fish flopping around with a big splash out in the river.   Silly silly sturgeons....

on Sunday morning, my first thoughts of getting up were put on pause by another wave of heavy rain.   I slept a while longer and awoke with a little better light.   There was a lull in the rain and I went ahead and packed up.   Just as I was almost finished packing, here it came again.   I got my rain poncho on in the blustery winds, and wrestled it up and over my backpack and got the side snaps fixed.  

Time to hike....

The rain came in waves all day, sometimes with strong cold winds from the north.   One wave brought ice and snow BB's.   The poncho not only helped with the rain, but also served as a wind breaker to keep me warm from the cold winds.  

I carried on straight through to Kirkwood Ranch, where I made a lunch and water filtering stop.  The sun came out for a while, even as drops of rain were falling.   I then made the steep climb out of Kirkwood and hiked the last 6 miles back to the trailhead and the waiting Saturn escape vehicle....

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