Mile 16 to 31.2 South Texas Creek
We woke up at the usual and we were on the trail by 545. Geronimo was still sleeping as we left. Guess he wasn’t getting up early like he said. The early morning was a bit overcast and gray. We had an immediate climb of almost 2,000 feet to Lake Ann Pass.
We started hiking up and quickly entered the Collegiate Wilderness. The sky cleared up and it was looking like a beautiful morning to climb over a 12,600 foot pass.
Going up was quickly making me need to make a pit stop. I stopped and ran off into the woods to do my thing. I started hiking again and made my way up the wet trail. I got to a spot and was a bit confused on where to go. I pulled out my phone to check where the trail was. There seemed to be 3 options. I saw an arrow pointing right in the dirt but that quickly ended. I saw behind a tree a faint trail. I got on it and started heading towards a creek I could hear just ahead.
I walked up to the creek and saw 5 Star and Songbird. Songbird’s pack was exploded and I could see stuff sacks and her sleeping bag. What the heck? I walked up the creek and crossed on a log. As I walked back down I saw Songbird sitting on 5 Star’s zlite pad with her sleeping bag around her. 5 Star was sitting close with his arm around her.
“Oh shit. Did she fall in the creek?” I thought to myself as I walked up. 5 Star says “She got stung by a bee.” I quietly say “oh shit” to myself. Songbird is allergic to bees. She has to use an EpiPen if she gets stung. I dropped my pack next to this boulder and sat down. Songbird was breathing fast and looked like she was in shock. I was scared and felt useless because I have no idea what to do. I’m just happy 5 Star was there since he is a wilderness EMT for search and rescue in Montana.
I thought she used the EpiPen and I was very worried it wasn’t working. I saw her holding it and asked if she had used it yet and she said not yet. Songbird said she was sitting where I was when it stung her. She grabbed it by the wings and tossed it. She said it was about an inch and was yellow and black. 5 Star and I started looking for it but couldn’t find it. It sounded l like a yellow jacket but she wasn’t sure and not sure if they cause the same reactions as bees.
Eventually, she used the EpiPen. Apparently, it is not a pleasant experience and caused her to shake a lot. Smiles came by and talked to us for a few minutes. She looked to have the same look I probably had. A look of helplessness and relief that 5 Star was there. She got up and left to get over the pass after a few minutes. We stayed there for about 45 minutes until the shaking slowed and she started to look better. We helped her pack up and helped her get her pack on. 5 Star was worried she might get dizzy, fall, and hit her head. She was feeling nauseous from the epinephrine and we tried to get her to drink or eat but she said she felt like she might throw up.
We started to make our way up the pass. Slowly. I led since I have a lot of experience in going up slowly. 5 Star was right behind her just in case she started feeling dizzy. We took frequent breaks and she seemed to be feeling better except for nausea.
The climb up the pass reminded me of the Sierra. The approach seemed a lot like Pinchot Pass. Just less snow. We passed a nice alpine lake that had an island. I joked we could have taken our sleeping pads out and floated over to the island.
We got to a section that had a lot of rocks. Prime location for those adorable Pikas. We saw a few dart between rocks eeeping. We called back to them. Eeep!
We saw Smiles way up on the switch backs and watched her cross the snow. I was getting nervous about the snow. Looked like a long drop and my near death experience on Sonora Pass kept flashing in my mind.
We slowly made our way up taking frequent breathers. I crossed the snow and it was not as bad as I thought. I slowly made my way up through a bunch of loose rocks. The trail went right under a large cornice. We had to scramble up some rocks to where it was a little easier to get over the cornice. Going up the loose rocks was worse than the snow. Although, I was puckering pretty hard while going over the cornice. I was taking it very slow and making sure my footing was secure.
We made it over the cornice and the view on the other side was, of course, spectacular. We sat on top of the pass for awhile. Songbird called her husband and let him know what happened and to try and get another EpiPen sent to Monarch Crest which was only 2.5 days away. She had one coming but after today she wanted 2. I don’t blame her.
She made some calls to her husband and doctor to get one as soon as possible. 5 Star and I stacked rocks on the “shrine” at the top. It was windy and cold. We were up there for about an hour and started to make the long descent down.
The descent was a bit exposed for a couple miles before we dived back into the trees. We were moving pretty good. We kept trying to get Songbird to eat and drink but she is stubborn like a mule.
Downhill was pretty uneventful. It was pretty dry except for a few spots that were muddy.
We also saw this tree. It looks like a man upside down with his legs sticking up.
We came to a couple spots that had a decent view. We eventually dropped onto a multi use road that allows dirt bikes. Which is absolutely crazy. This isn’t a road. It is an 18-inch wide trail. There were ridge walks where it was straight up on one side and straight down on the other. Only 18 inches to walk. We saw 4 dirt bikes go by. It wasn’t even a good trail to ride beside the sheer drop. It was rocky and rooty and just all around didn’t seem fun. I definitely wouldn’t ride my bike here.
We ran into Smiles just getting up from taking a break. In mosquito hell. We sat down and talked to her for awhile before we all hiked together.
The clouds started looking angry and we knew it was only a few minutes before it would start to rain. We took another quick break. We had a creek to ford coming up in a few miles. Definitely not looking forward to wet feet. Right as we stood up the first drops started. Hooray!
Within minutes it was raining hard. I pulled out my umbrella and kept walking. We came to a large tree that had dry ground beneath it. We sat down and waited out the rain. Poor Smiles accidentally left her umbrella at Twin Lakes. She was soaked.
After about 15 minutes the rain let up. We got up and quickly made our way up the trail. The sky still looked mean and we knew the rain would be back.
While hiking down the trail we came to a bird chicken thing with little babies. One of the babies got separated from momma. I was able to get a decent picture. It was pretty cute.
The rain soon came back with a vengeance. It was pouring and thundering. I was getting cold and my left arm was getting soaked. We forded a creek only to find we still had another creek to ford. The trail was in real bad condition. There were blow downs everywhere that we had to crawl over. By this time my left knee was really sore. It was painful every time I lifted my left leg over a tree log. I was getting tired, colder, and wet. I was ready to be done as soon as we crossed this creek.
We came up to the creek and there were about 5 people camped in the trees near the creek. We forded the creek, which came up to our knees. It was cold. I put on my rain jacket and we continue on. We walk about 100 feet before we see a spot to camp. Smiles says she wants to continue on and find a spot more in the trees.
We set up our tents in the pouring rain. I quickly set up and jump inside. I get myself situated and warm up under my quilt. Songbird was cold and couldn’t warm up so 5 Star brought her his quilt. 5 Star sat in her tent to help warm it up. After an hour she was starting to warm up and feel better. She boiled some water and made a Mountain House. She used the mountain house as a warm water bottle and stuck it down by her feet. Mmm… Feet flavored beef stroganoff.
Tomorrow involves a lot of climbing and a lot of time spent over 12,000 feet.