Saturday, June 24, 2006

Conquering Fears in the Wilderness

I usually have the confidence to handle whatever comes my way while backpacking in the canyons until this last trip. My smaller backpack contained all my essentials (food, water, party favors, etc) and I realized I forgot my Phels Naptha soap to rid poison ivy oils off my skin and dog, Rocquette. A steep trail laden with poison ivy lead to our creek-canyon. No one else have had any reactions to poison ivy and there was no more petting Roc because she ran right through the offending plants. I donned my pants and long sleeve shirt in the blazing heat while the sweat dripped off my face. It's now been over 36 hours and no blisters have erupted on my skin. I think I've dodged this bullet.
I stripped down to my quick-drying shorts and cotton tee shirt and slowly waded out in a deep pool to rock-trough, a narrow tube of fast moving of spring water. I assumed it was spring fresh water. I gulped down the cool soothing water. No? We needed to filter this creek water? How long is the gestation period for giardia? I think I have 2-3 weeks until I have symptoms. Keep in touch.
Quicksand was my next fear as the slimy fine sand that sucked my Crocs off my feet under the waist-high water. I wanted to keep my Croc shoes. Barefoot was the way to handle the deep silt, even though the mud stayed slathered on my feet as I slurped and suctioned through the mud. One short section I had the choice to plow through "Poison Ivy," my husband had declared or wade the bottomless sludge pool. I'd given up my backpack to forge the deep pool. What happens if it is quicksand and I get sucked under? "Oops, there's no poison ivy," my husband, Ricki, yelled before I could take the plunge. I chose to slash through the high foliage wondering why I didn't I just swim?
I'm ready to call it quits after 8 hours of negotiate the slick wet rocks with a 35 pound pack on. I don't normally question my endurance but it's time to camp. I'll sleep anywhere. The sand near the creek looked good. Just one more push up a tower of boulders to an ancient granary site and bugless steep streaked U-shaped wall which gave some shade. I was a captive on an exclusive ancient bench, no way to get down without assistance. Morning turned into a traumatic, "no, I can't go down there," event. A rounded boulder dropped off and the higher boulder jutted out to make me swerve the 12 feet down to my freedom. I opted to slither down on my belly, held onto a crack and scraped my thighs raw until I found my footing, a flat rock.
We waited in the heat of the day under Broken Bow Arch before pushing up and out. It was still hot. There wasn't anymore water to filter for the trudge up a sandy, relentless hill to the truck and I couldn't drink enough to quench my thirst anyway. I got over my fear of failure when I reached the truck. I did it!

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