Sunday, April 22, 2012

going below

The people who live in Imnaha, a few thousand feet below us, call where we live "up top." As in, "I have to go up top today." And it does feel sometimes as if we are perched on a high shelf, subject to the winds that rake across the crest of the Wallowas. The Nez Perce wouldn't have ever lived up top in winter. They knew better. In mid-summer the canyon bakes, the creeks slow to a trickle, but this time of year is the time to go, to drop all the things you should be doing. It's fifty miles to the trailhead but you gain at least a month in time. This is a restless place, ruled by snowmelt and Idaho Power, and the beach I camped on last year was nearly gone. I camped instead on a sweet bench above the river.
How can I describe the wonderfulness of sitting in the sand, a warm breeze blowing, a book to read, and the endless shadows and folds of the canyon to watch?
I also took the opportunity to test some of the gear I will be taking on the JMT. First, I just need to say that a bear canister is a huge pain in the butt. Vertical, horizontal, in the sleeping bag compartment or out, it just sits there like a big room taker upper. However, it is kind of nice not to do the bear bag hanging dance. And it does make a nifty stool. The tent is somewhat coffin-like but that is what you get with a UL one person. I think it will work out fine. What will not work out fine is pack weight. I took heavier gear this time but less stuff and my pack was 25 pounds. I must keep JMT weight under 35, so now I am in full ounce obsession mode. There's a fine line between Go Light, Freeze at Night and being overloaded. Sadly, I have a job to pay for all this gear, so I had to go back up top. But the peacefulness of the canyon still lingers. I hope it lasts for awhile this time.

1 comment:

  1. I have a love-hate relationship with my bear barrel too.


Hello out there. If you liked this post, please leave a comment so I keep writing!