Note: I am not at liberty to disclose the exact location of where the following events took place. All you need to know is that we are in Montana, in and/ or near the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.
Saturday marked my first full day off since we arrived to work at Spotted Bear Ranch on June 5th (or somewhere around there). Up until just a few days ago I have been doing the job of two people…..that’s when one of the guides decided to get married (ok, I’m sure they had been planning for quite a bit longer than that) and bring his new bride up for a few weeks and put her to work. Which has worked out very well for me because not only do I have another female counterpart, but I also finally got a day off. So did Cory.
I wanted a tough hike. You know, a steep leg-burning-I’m-so-tired-when-I’m-done-I-can-barely-make-it-to- my-pillow type of hike…..with maybe a little wading and fishing thrown in there too, for good measure. I guess, in the end, I got exactly what I asked for.
The plan was to go up to (creek #1), a hike we have already done before but know the fishing is good. However, when we got to the trailhead for (creek #1) there was already a car parked there, marking that someone had beat us to it (maybe not our final destination….but close enough). Slightly disappointed, but still undaunted, we turned around, looked at a map, and chose a different trail, deciding to go somewhere we haven’t been instead.
We chose a loop, one that would take us up (mountain name) then down to (creek #2) where we would follow (creek #2) out right back to the car. Shouldn’t take more than 6 or 7 hours. We’d be back in time for dinner.
The hike up the mountain was fairly strenuous (though I have not yet looked to see how much altitude we gained), but once we reached the top the view was absolutely spectacular. You could see the river, the bridge, and (almost) all the way down the reservoir. We took a few pictures, found a few wildflowers, and continued on our way. We got to the river just about two – two and a half hours after we started and ate our lunch of left over BBQ.
Next up was walking down the creek to get back to the car. Now when I say “walking down the creek” what I literally mean is in the creek, wading from bank to bank depending on which side looked the flattest and safest to walk on. The creek was quite canyony (which sometimes made walking/wading difficult, although, luckily, the deepest the water got was just a little below the waist), and since I’m kind of a wuss the water was cold on my feet (I did eventually get use to it). However, it was a very beautiful day, and at the first waterhole we came to I pulled out a nice little (15-16”) fish. The first 4 hours of the wading portion were quite enjoyable; we talked, we joked, we fished, we waded on.
Then it was getting close to dinner time (7:00pm), at this point we should have been getting back to the car in order to be at the ranch so as to not be late. No biggie though, so what if we won’t be eating with everyone else, it’s pizza night, cold pizza is just as good, right? We won’t be that late, the canyon appears to be opening up just after this next bend. We’ve already been walking in the water for over 6 hours now, another half an hour to the car, tops. Unfortunately that was not the case......
Bend after bend after bend appears before us. I slip on multiple rocks trying to hurry through the water. One cuts into my ankle giving leaving a gash just above the anklebone. I don’t pay attention to it and ignore the pain. Another bend in the river. The sun has slipped below the canyon walls. Another bend. And another. I feel panic starting to rising in my chest, all I can think about is that we are going to be the next episode on “I Shouldn’t Be Alive.” I don’t want to be caught in the dark trying to wade through a canyon creek. We didn’t tell anyone where were going, they think we are at (creek #1), Cory tells me “go slow, one step at a time, don’t worry, we’ll make it.”
**Note: Mom, before you start to freak out we were prepared; extra clothes, enough food, a water-filter. We’re not total idiots.**
We tried to find game trails that ran parallel with the creek, sometimes it worked and we cut off a bend, sometimes it didn’t and we’d go right back into the water. Finally after about nine hours of wading we found the trail leading back to the road, and though the sun had dipped below the mountains it wasn’t yet quite dusk yet. 11 hours after we had started our adventure we were at the car. Cut, scraped, tired, bruised, and a little chilled, we were finally on our way back home, with cold pizza waiting for us in the fridge.