NOTE: This is part 2 of a mountaintop rescue story. If you missed part 1, read it here.
Let’s see… Where did I leave you in the mountaintop rescue story… Oh, yes. I was tempting karma with all my jerk-wad ways the night before our big hike.
After a night of silly bantering and high-stakes Farkle, Reuben, Kelsey, and I met up at 9 AM to hit this hike.
The plan was to leave from Alpine, hike over what they call the Box Elder Pass, and end at Tibble Fork, a popular reservoir on the other side of the mountains. From there, we were planning to hitchhike to the bottom of American Fork Canyon where we left Reuben’s car.
After talking to a few people who had done it, we thought it was a pretty straight-forward route and we planned on about seven miles of fairly rigorous hiking. None of us had ever done this particular hike, but I knew the first part of it well as it’s the same trailhead for one of my quickie favorites, Horsetail Falls.
Last year, Fabulous Wendy and I had set out to do this hike and after three miles we figured we’d missed the turn-off, so we turned around and came back. A horseback rider on the way down told us we should have turned onto this certain trail near the bottom. We found the turn-off and decided to do it even though we’d already hiked 5 1/2 miles. About two miles into it we were too beat to continue (we had no idea it was so steep), so we called it a day and planned to do it another time.
And so the Sunday before last, knowing exactly where to go this time, we loaded up our gear and drove to the trailhead.
I took more than a gallon of Gatorade with me, figuring I’d need a lot of liquids to finish a hike like this. I also had some emergency essentials, tons of energy snacks, and some of my nicer camera gear in tow. The weather people were predicting a day just shy of a hundred degrees. Nothing I hadn’t hiked in before.
The hike started out fairly rigorous, but nothing too crazy. About a mile up, we stopped at this giant rock for a self-portrait.
Three miles in, the slope was really getting crazy steep, and it wasn’t offering us much of a break at all. We stopped for photos at this humongous tree (that’s Kelsey and me there, teeny tiny people at the bottom of it). You can see the slope of the mountainside that we were basically hiking the entire time.
As soon as Reuben caught up to us, we all snapped a few pics of each other.
I snapped a couple of Kelsey and Reuben. Both were breathing hard but doing fine.
Reuben took this photo of me, and I wish I would have looked at it on the camera, because I would have seen the first signs of trouble.
My body was being cleaned out of its fluids. All the water was being sucked out of my muscles and fat which was deflating my arms (and I’m sure the rest of me). For some reason, the Gatorade wasn’t keeping me hydrated properly.
The next warning sign I had was about five miles up the trail. My quad cramped up. I had two of my six Gatorades left, and I hurried and downed one. I’ve cramped up before and that’s always done the trick. Well, that and a good rest and a nice stretch before continuing on.
But that last mile to the summit was relentless and beyond difficult. My legs started cramping more and more. And this is where I started getting into trouble, though still nothing I thought was too crazy serious.