D14: Scouting a Mountain Pass

Trip Start Jul 07, 2012
Trip End Sep 27, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A 6:30 alarm is never fun, but the prospect of getting to cook a breakfast of cheesy biscuits made me hop-to with delight. As with the Lentil Rice Cakes a couple days prior, I had picked this particular recipe out of the cookbook because it looked like a scrumptious and filling item to try.

It was a considerably cold morning, and my hands were already on their way to frozen the second the tent zipper went up to let in the outside air. So it was quite the joyous experience when it came time to knead the biscuit dough with my hands. It was cold and wet, a perfect mix for getting your hands nice and frozen on a cold morning. Though, the consistency of the dough was very good, and I was delighted to think about what a cheesy biscuit might taste like. Before I could so indulge myself, they of course had to be cooked. And here I sat with 2 hands full of goopy dough and an unlit stove. For the next 5 minutes, I engaged in a no-doubt hilarious attempt to light the stove without getting dough over everything. I failed, but the damage could have been much more extensive. We had caked dough on the pot lid for the rest of the ration :). Soon after getting the stove ready to go, I was putting a big block of cheese into my first piece of dough and setting it on the frybake. This method ensures that part of the biscuit will contain bites so filled with delicious cheesy goodness that you might just faint from the delectability. Thankfully no one did. But if it happened, I was ready. I couldn't wait to make these upon getting back home.

The hike for the day was easy: A 3 mile jaunt that took roughly 2:30. The reason for this was because we were going to go through a mountain pass the next day. Our X had us in the middle of a valley surrounded on all 3 sides by mountains. Therefore, we decided to set ourselves up by getting as close as possible without going over, otherwise known as a very effective strategy in Showcase Showdown on Price is Right. Is anyone else pissed off about how Drew Carey hosts Price is Right? Bring back Bob Barker. But seriously, Drew...have a little spunk, have a little life up there! The ladies kissed Bob when they got on stage because he was a man's man, don't you want that?! Anyway, clearly I digress...

Upon getting to camp, we heard that the first group had seen a grizzly bear less than a couple hundred feet from them! They yelled at it to try and get it to go away, but it seemed unaffected and sauntered away when it damn well felt like it. This meant that we had to travel in fours for the rest of our time at this campsite. So if you had to walk between tents or go Number 2, you had to bring three other people along for the ride.

We had another class in first aid where we learned about the SAMPLE assessment, where one does a full check-up on a person to figure out what might be wrong with him or her. This class didn't include fixing a person when you find out what is most likely wrong, the idea was merely to give us the skills to make an educated guess on what might be wrong with someone. As soon as the class finished, Annemarie asked if one person would volunteer to go scout the mountain crossing with the ITeam, as they couldn't go in a group of 3 due to the bear sighting. My hand shot up without before I even realized it. I was down for a little adventure and something different. And off we went to look for a way up and around the mountain.

Scouting with the ITeam was a blast. We bushwhacked our way through dense forest, over huge downed trees, through rivers, and up a very steep drainage. It felt great to more or less "go off and explore" without a planned route, looking for a way in which the entire group could cross the mountain on the next day. At one point Annemarie and Nan continued on their own as the going got fairly steep. This left me and Jamie to marvel at the sight of the valley we had just walked through over the past 2 days. It was extremely neat to see the valley end abruptly at a forest (we were camping right before the forest), and have the ground rise up with ever greater slope to meet us at small flat spot before an 8 foot vertical rock wall. The majesty of it was almost incomprehensible, seeing these miles and miles containing untold amounts of wonder. These kind of things make you really happy that wilderness exists.

We stood chatting and observing for about 30 minutes until we heard Annemarie and Nan come down saying that they were able to find a way to a game trail that wound its way around the mountain. They still weren't sure if it would work completely, but it was a very good start. On our hike back down, we built rock cairns, which are obvious man-made rock piles used to mark a path. I thought it was extremely neat to be trailblazing like that, knowing that these cairns would lead our group all the way back to a path up a mountain.

Two hours after leaving to scout, we made it back to camp, and boy was I hungry. Thankfully, Chef Eric had already made dinner, a stir fry, and it was waiting for me in my bowl. Epic. Win. Quite tasty too. Because of the 4 person rule, I then offered to go with a couple people to the tents, only to come back a half hour later to find that Eric had made Indian Boil Cookies too. I was beginning to like this whole idea of food "just being there" whenever I showed up :).

But the night did not end there, one final funny anecdote had yet to occur. Asante and I were getting our stuff ready at the tents. I bent down to pick something out of my bag right as Asante was facing the other way and heard something akin to the loud croak of a frog not 4 inches from the left side of my face. Only it wasn't a frog croak. We laughed so heartily that we no doubt woke up anyone who was sleeping, including the surrounding animals, wherever they might be. When you've been in the wilderness together for 14 days, those kind of things aren't gross, they're just extremely, extremely funny.
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