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Backpacking with Rakesh (Utah)
I barely had my red backpack, and
Rakesh rented one, so we were set. I read about the trail in a "trails
less traveled" type of hiking book. Friday night we got kind of close
when we camped in a windy campground by a river. In the morning we entered
Utah. It was a Saturday and most of the population was dressed very nicely
-- it reminded me of Europe. Why on a Saturday? As i later found out, these
were the Amish parts.
We started on the trail with big
packs, carrying over 2 gallons of water each. The trail was soon to head through
a canyon, but you just never know about water in the desert. Better to bring
it along. We started in mid-afternoon ... sometimes time flies. We crossed
a stream once, continued along the bank, then continued in the narrowing canyon.
Walls rose high left and right. We tried going on steep uphill on the right
-- just for kicks -- maybe there is something above. It was hard balancing
the 40lb packs and sliding on uneven terrain. Eventually we reached a high
place with no clear line to continue. Just big rocks leading to rock walls.
Once down, we followed what looked like a side-trail -- another canyon. There
was sand ahead, and by instict i avoided it, but after turning around, Rakesh
walked through. Or tried. He started to sink and yell. I couldn't help him
before taking my pack off, or we both would be in there. He took his pack
off during the struggle. He was never more than knee-deep, but he fell forward
at one point too. He got out ok, and we backtracked to the main canyon trail.
We reached a dead end of the canyon, the originating source of the weak stream
-- a lake. Nothing but rock walls, but there was an uphill possibility of
hiking. No trail, but maybe we can get through. Not as steep as our previous
attempt, but again no passage through. On the way down i took off my pack
for getting past a 5ft step. Rakesh was surprisingly very maneauverable, as
if his pack was 10lb lighter. Who knows, we never weighed them -- we each
had 2 gallons of water, he had the 6lb tent and i had stuff like food and
stove and other little things.
We backtracked to the ledge -- a
perfect spot for camping. Even if water suddenly started gushing through,
we were 10ft above it all. When I discovered that the pump in my gasoline
stove was broken, i poured some on some of our wood. A little later Rakesh
wanted to play too, and thought it would be a good idea to pour some gasoline
on the wood too -- except that we already had a fire burning that wood. I
told him what's gonna happen, but stood back to watch. And of course the flames
followed the path of pouring gasoline. They came way up to 5ft height before
Rakesh jumped away surprised.
The walls of the canyon covered us
from the 5am waking sun, and we were comfortable until 9am. Rakesh was in
the tent, i decided to take my chances with the over-estimated crawlers and
biters and slept in my sleeping on the sand. Sometimes you just know that
nothing will bother you at night. Since we couldn't go forward, we headed
back through the canyon. There was an uphill trail we passed the previous
day, and we headed for it now.
It sure was uphill. We met few other
hikers, returning on the rocky trail. Surprisingly Rakesh could no longer
keep his military pace and form of the day before -- I wonder why. I was at
the front now and at the eventual top I had to wait for him. The sun was strong
and I knew it wasn't ideal for pictures. The difference between shadow and
sunlit parts was over 2 f-stops. We have been hiking in the biggest heat,
and while the scenery had potential, not everyone in our party of 2 would
have liked arriving in Phoenix at 2am. I wanted to return there soon, but
it's been 4 years already, and I still haven't.