August 14-15th. Overnight backpacking trip I did with some friends. I think the idea was supposed to be just to try out backpacking and get out for a little while. We looked at the Ventana Wilderness for some possible short destinations and my printed map recommended Pine Valley as a popular trip so we agreed on that.
It was a pleasant enough trip overall. The trailhead was up a well maintained dirt road, and I always love driving on dirt roads in my Amigo, which we managed to get 4 guys and 4 backpacks into.
The trail itself is very exposed. There is a little to no shade the entire way. It follows a ridge which offers spectacular views of the wilderness around you. Most of the trees we passed were damaged by fire and dead. The trail into the campsite is nearly completely downhill and we knew that it was going to be a harder hike out, but I'm not sure we know just how much harder.
The campsite itself had a few people already there and visitors before us definitely didn't follow the "pack it out" philosophy. I guess it can be expected on a "popular destination". We managed to find a decent enough spot to set up camp and with plenty of daylight left we decided to continue down Pine Creek to the falls. They were less than a mile away so it shouldn't be too bad to get to, we thought.
Well the trail to the falls pretty much follows the river and requires a lot of scooting around on your butt or using your hands. It is debatable whether or not it is faster just to rock hop your way down the river. It was certainly more fun, until I tried to scoot down a slick rock, slipped and ended up on a water slide adventure that landed me in what I thought was a very small pool, maybe 2-3 feet in diameter.
I was fully expecting to find more rock a foot under the water I was sliding towards and I braced for impact. My feet went in, followed by my legs, my waist, and I nearly disappeared myself. I'm not quite sure if i ever touched the bottom or not, as I quickly pulled myself out, completely soaked up to my neck. The casualties in my pockets included a few jolly ranchers, a half eaten odwalla bar, and my company cell phone. Luckily the map, gps, and camera in my pockets were all waterproof.
The next morning we hiked out. Slowly. Check the elevation data in the GPS track below and you'll see how much fun we had. Add to that the facts that it was VERY hot, humid, I was pretty miserable from an allergy attack, and I had never ran out of water before in my life, so naturally this was to be the first time.
Despite the hell I went through to get back to the Amigo, I would do it again. This time with allergy medication.
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