Whoever‘s gone tent camping before knows how crucial it is to plan the optimal times to go to the bathroom before entering the tent for the evening. In addition to timing, managing how much liquid you consume in the hours prior to calling it a night is equally important. Both of these tips I had executed poorly our second night in Tonquin Valley, which lead to the desperate urgency to emerge from my sleeping bag and tent to relieve myself. First off it was freezing, and secondly when I opened the inside flap of the tent the ground was still soaked. Not wanting to put on my cold, wet, and muddy boots, I decided to just cover my socks with the zip lock bags I had used before to keep my feet dry. After I adequately covered my feet I unzipped the outside flap. Almost in slow motion, a waft of snow slid off the tent to the ground as I opened the flap to reveal 4 inches of snow blanketing everything! On top of the rain and snow from the previous day we now had to endure the dense, fresh drop Mother Nature over enthusiastically presented us.
Once I regained my composure from the shock of the snow, I proceeded to step outside in an attempt to complete my original mission. Yet another twist to my morning arose. As my zip-lock-covered foot compressed onto the snowy surface the undercover slight decline sent me into a wildly abstract interpretive dance routine! Flailing, and sliding around I nearly fell backwards onto the tent but I contorted my body forward into a nearby pine tree. All at once nature attempted to destroy me but then saved me in my most desperate second! I may be making this a little dramatic but the hilarity that I experienced in the early morning minutes brought an unparalleled joy. The realization of my humanity, being surrounded by nature and vulnerable to the elements is a feeling that I unknowingly long for. Our modern comforts do a pretty dandy job of allowing us to escape our humanity but permitting it to rise to the surface of our existence is so liberating.
After relieving myself and packing up our gear we decided to call the trip to an end two days early. The hike ahead of us was 26km and we had to trudge through the fresh snow; to say the least we had quite the day ahead of us. Not too far into the hike we stopped to take off some layers and have a snack. Isaiah went up the path to drain some liquids and quickly retreated to get my attention. Moments later a massive moose crossed the path that we had walked down 5 minutes earlier! The moose was majestic but I was thankful that we hadn’t startled it when hiking by. As the earth rotated the snow started to melt and the trail turned into a muddy mine field that often led our feet to sink down up to mid shin. There were multiple moments that I wanted to fall over and give up on the return trip. The additional water weight retained in our backpacks, treacherous trail conditions and exhaustion were grueling but thanks to Isaiah and Josh’s perseverance we slowly implanted one foot in front of the other.
There’s a lot more I could share about the trip back but the images below summarize it fairly well. After getting over Maccarib pass the snow nearly disappeared entirely and the decline was ecstatically embraced! We finally arrived at the trailhead with an unforgettable trip behind us and exhaustion fully integrated into our being. I’m so thankful for Isaiah and Josh allowing me to share this experience with them and create a memory that will be a long term favorite of mine. Also thank you for reading and waiting two additional weeks for the final part but I went to Yellowstone and then had to catch up on life once I returned. Your continued support is extremely appreciated and next I’ll be sharing about Yellowstone!