Backpacking (mis) adventures

Posted on July 5, 2011


Unwilling to let the beautiful summer weather creep by without venturing into the great outdoors, and John having a few days off, we decided that this past weekend would be the perfect opportunity to go backpacking. So, we gathered all our gear, coaxed a few friends into joining us and took off for the Selkirk mountains. There are a few aspects to this trip that made it particularly noteworthy.

  • Since Clarissa’s diagnosis, we have been unsure about how much physical activity she can handle. Since she gets so much joy from being outdoors, especially when it means tromping through the woods miles away from civilization, she was particularly concerned that with her new “lot in life” she would have to give up these beloved excursions. This was our “trial run” so to speak, to see if she could handle an easy backpacking trip of only a few days with very little elevation gain.
  • This was also to be our dear friend Becca’s first experience backpacking, and we wanted it to be a positive first experience.

We have taken quite a few trips into the Selkirk Mountains of Northern Idaho, so we thought we knew what we were getting ourselves into; however, we apparently did not take into consideration that very late arrival of Summer and what that might mean for snow at higher elevations. The following pictures chronical the unexpected turn of events from the weekend.

First deviation from the plan: snow.  A mere 1.5 miles from the the trailhead we hit a patch of snow, or rather got stuck in it to be quite specific. This resulted in the the next hour and half trying to dig ourselves out. Eventually we got the car free by using the jack to hoist the car up so we could dig out the snow underneath it. Behold our triumph.

After digging the car out, we still intended to continue our backpacking trip, so we proceeded on foot to the trailhead, only to realize .5 miles in, that really the whole rest of the mountain was covered in snow, and since  Claire had only brought her chacos, we determined that we were not prepared for snow camping. So we admitted defeat. Us-0, Mountian-1. So we trudged back to the car, zipped down the mountain (seeing 2 black bears who refused to be captured by our camera), drove 2 hours to our friends house (The Hochstetlers) where we crashed on their floor.

The next day was round 2. This time the Hochstetlers were joining us with their two young children, which I must admit gets double kudos from us, as doing many things with two little ones can be difficult, and backpacking especially so.

Most everything about the hike in was ideal. Lush green surrounded us as we steadily hiked along a full and rushing stream, with multiple waterfalls. Patches of sun flicked through the forrest canopy and for brief moments you could almost forget that problems exist in the world. As the hike progressed toward our destination (a mountain lake nestled in some mountain peaks) the elevation gain became more pronounced and we huffed our way along, counting on the top of the mountain being at the end of the next switchback. Then, it happened. Snow. Yup, we hit snow, again. In the matter of a few yards it was soon covering the entire trail, which means, that we could no longer see where the trail was (a dangerous position to be in without a GPS).

So, we admitted defeat a second time (Us-0, Mountain-2) and went half way down the mountain to a campsite we had passed on the way up.  While it certainly wasn’t plan A, the campsite ended up being a delightful little spot nestled among towering trees and after a tasty dinner of cous cous with mushrooms, bell peppers and sun dried tomatos cooked in red wine, we fell asleep to the sound of the rushing stream next to us. Really, there was nothing we could actually complain about.

John was perhaps a bit too excited to use his machete to cut up wood for the fire.