What a memorable first climb with my wife's little sister and her fiance. Memorable in this case is interpreted not as my longest hike ever, but my latest arrival back to the truck. Or should I say my latest second return to the truck. Church and Donaldson are the third and eighth highest in Idaho and you can't really go all that way with out climbing them both.
Where's the trail?
It started out well even though there wasn't much of a trail. We crossed the creek a few times, fumbling our way up the bottom of the drainage. There was a fair amount of water coming down that made the creek crossings slow. We were making good time so I thought, but the higher we climbed, the more time clicked off the clock and I started to worry. I tried to crack the whip, mildly at least, to end our lunch break at the saddle before we headed across to the bowling alley or the stair case. We passed the lake, climbed the steep scree beside the snow field and started scrambling up the proverbial "solid" rock. Charlie was a climber and Heidi had done a lot of hiking. She had even felt good on Hyndman Peak last year but the loose rock was rattling her nerves and draining her energy reserves.
Still several hundred feet below Donaldson Peak, we decided it was time for Heidi to camp out on an awesome perch and Charlie and I would dash for the summits. After tagging both, we returned about 2 hours later to find Heidi well rested and ready to descend. Here is where the clock sped up and our pace slowed down. Charlie and I both had experience skiing down scree but Heidi was terrified. We finally made it but our daylight was burning out fast and I soon learned that I was the only one with a headlamp.
Descending from the saddle, Heidi's legs and back started giving out. She had to concentrate on every small step. We barely made it down to the creek before the sun went down. When darkness fully enveloped us, I was trying to scout our path then turning around to light the way for my partners in crime. After three agonizing hours, and hardly any distance to show for it, my patience was gone with nothing in my reserve tank. Charlie was surprised to know I had a lighter in my pack. We found a comfy spot for Heidi to sleep and built a fire while I hiked back to the truck for more flashlights. I made it in record time - 25 minutes! Not wasting time (I had to work in the morning, oh yea, it is morning) I started up the drainage again. I had given Charlie the responsibility of keeping the fire going. I didn't want to miss them on my way back up the canyon. About 30 minutes later, I saw the glow - rescued at last! It only took another hour and a half to get back to the truck the second time. We made it!
Driving home from Church
Thank goodness, we survived the drive home. I drove to around Mackay and pulled over to sleep but when I turned the truck off, Charlie woke up and drove til Blackfoot. I was then able to get us home from there. I slept in the tub for an hour and then went to work. I think Heidi will be ready for the next one and I bet Charlie brings a headlamp. I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of Heidi lying in the dirt next to the fire.
Idaho has been quite mild this winter. Should make for an easier spring climb in the Lost River Range though. I bet Arizona is much warmer. I just saw on the news that Jackson, WY (just a few hours from here) is expected to be -5F tonight. I'm sure Heidi will be ready for the next one. It's amazing how much easier it gets after you get the first climb on that rotten rock that rattles your nerves. Take care Larry.