Saturday, September 23, 2023

2023 Mt. Goddard 5b: King River to Post Corral Creek

 As we put our backpacks on and headed out into what would be the last leg of the hike for Day 5, our guides let us know what the plan was.  We would all start out together but the guides would move to the front and head on, once to stand a stream crossing (and make sure we got across), the second to get to the camp site and begin getting dinner ready.  With the rain increasing in volume, we headed into the forest.

The forest was thick - thick enough that what was a fairly intense rainstorm became a light series of drops, except where the tree cover cleared out.  Within half a mile I found myself hiking by myself, due not to any kind of illness or ill-feeling but rather simply the speed of my hiking: too slow to keep up with the fast hikers (and those with long legs), and quicker than those that were sauntering.

As I continue on, I ran into the stream with The Commissioner waiting.  After looking at the options and risk for crossing without getting my feet wet, I simply walked through the stream.  I was done (and, it seems, am done) with excessively going out of my way to avoid getting my feet wet.  Feet and boots dry.  Risking taking your backpack in as well seems like a poor gamble.

The Commissioner smiled.  Good choice, he said.  It is what most hikers do.

With that, I continued on.

The rain continued.  The Commissioner eventually caught up to me and passed me by.   And once again, I was alone.

And then, I began to freak myself out I was lost.

The pictures here do not do justice to how I remember that part of the hike.  It seems far lighter than I recall it being, and does not account for the continuing rain and the fact that the trail did not seem as clear cut as it does looking at the pictures now, from the safety of a warm house in the daylight.  But as I continued to march on in the silence of the trees and dripping of the rain, I sincerely began to fear that I was off trail.

I was concerned enough that I actually started taking an inventory of what I had on me in terms of food, water, and shelter (which was pretty good on all counts).  How long would it be before someone realized I was lost?  When would they come?  At what point in the gathering gloom would it be good to conclude I was lost stop to make myself easy to find.

I know. It seems a bit ridiculous now.  I can only attribute it to a combination of being tired, just coming off being relatively sick, being alone, and being assailed by a lack of confidence - in my confidence of finding my way, in my confidence of my ability to choose.  This had not been quite the confidence building trip I was thinking it would be.

And this is the point where some actual self growth happened.  Rather than take counsel of my fears, I decided I needed to do something.

Long-time readers may be familiar with FOTB (Friend Of The Blog) Eaton Rapids Joe.  He has one of the finest analytical minds I have ever met - he reads widely and analyzes things thoroughly.

What, I wondered, would ERJ do.

ERJ would think logically about the situation.

My thinking then ran like this:  The rain had started just as we were entering this last stretch.  The trees above prevented a lot of rain from getting down but were allowing some, so the trail would be wet - but not too wet.  Therefore, if I found places where the trail was damp but had been stirred up, it should mean that people had been hiking on it recently.  As I had encountered no-one yet, it seemed probably that the only people disturbing the trail would be my hiking team.  Keep looking for the disturbed trail and I would find my way to them.

Turns out it was a pretty solid choice (although to be fair, a bracelet with "WWERJD?" [What Would Eaton Rapids Joe Do?] is probably a limited market and thus not the great sales idea that popped into my head right after this experience).

I would be lying to say that chain of logic alone resolved my fears.  I was still tentative in my treading, and still in the back of my mind the "You are Doomed!" leitmotif was playing - conveniently with a soundtrack in a minor key, indicating danger around the corner.  But I kept on, until I found the hiking stick left to indicate the turn.  One last slog through Post Corral Creek and I was back the campsite we had left four days earlier, but really seemed like a lifetime ago.

To celebrate, the rain fell even harder as I made camp and we went through the spectacle of starting a fire (again, The Brit and his fire making skills came through) and even into dinner.  Although that turned out to be okay; our spirits were high on our last night in camp as we had completed the loop.

Tomorrow, we were for home.


  1. Logic beats emotion every time! That is a panicky feeling to not have a clear cut path in strange woods. But it makes the homecoming all the sweeter.

    1. Leigh, I was a bit surprised at my level of panic. I panicked because I felt alone and somehow unequipped, even though I had a full pack. I am pondering what to get to avoid this feeling next time - even an app like All Trails would have been of use.

  2. Nylon126:44 AM

    This hike sure provided a few surprises, getting sick and perhaps a crisis in confidence moving alone through the wilderness. Course being cloudy and having wet feet can influence thoughts.

    1. Nylon12, this was not at all the hike I anticipated I was going to have. Which is fine, of course: I probably learned more about myself in this hike than any of the others.

      Agreed that wet feet, clouds, and being tired can all conspire against us.

  3. My wife and I were chatting while hiking in the Delaware River Water Gap area and we notice the trail was getting narrower and had lessening signs of use. Yep, we had missed the turn and when we turned around we found our way,
    You should absolutely be concerned about getting off trail and aware of what is going on.
    Good work on reasoning it out.
    We have not ever spent an entire day hiking in the rain, nor have we chosen to cross running water. Yet.
    The lack of desire to cross running water might be a slight case of vampire-ism. But probably not.

    1. John, we had a similar thing happen last year returning from the ascent of Mt. Whitney where we took the wrong fork on a clearly marked trail. We only lost about half a mile as we met up with people from our party who had also made the same mistake and followed it all the way out to a dead-end. It can really happen almost anywhere.

      Water crossings are not quite the terror-inducing event they used to be for me; now they are more of an inconvenience. I say that; I have not one above my shins (yet).

  4. Sir: You made me blush.

    All good comes from God. If you found any value in what I scribbled it is because God put it there.

    I am glad I was able to play a part, however small, in your hike.


    1. Blush away sir; I was helped by your clear minded view of things.

      (Although sadly, I fear my "WWERJD" bracelet idea is not the hot commodity I thought it might be...)

  5. Once in the Grand Canyon, I was on a day hike up a side canyon and after about the 10th time of removing my hiking boots and socks, wading a small stream, drying my feet and putting everything back on, I made the choice to just get my boots wet. I was certainly happy with my choice even if I ended up soaking my feet in a cool stream upon my return to camp to cool them off from the near blisters hiking in wet boots had caused.

    1. Ed, we had at least one member that had a separate set of shoes for crossing streams. I'm not sure that the weight and extra time would be worth it, at least for me. I am rethinking taking light hiking boots like I did this time in exchange for hiking shoes so that they can dry more quickly.

      I had two blisters, both on my littlest toes. I think it largely derives from how I go downhill and lean into the shoe.

  6. Never foolish to be concerned you might be lost, as John in Philly said.
    It is great that a good blog, and God, helped you through the situation.
    Nothing wrong with wet feet, though drying in the rain seems a little problematic. As long as you didn't have "Alaska in the winter" temps, not too worrisome.
    Loved the pictures, TB.
    You all be safe and God bless.

    1. Linda, there is not - although I do have the tendency to worry about everything.

      I too, am grateful that God brought ERJ to mind. It does demonstrate (yet again) how powerful this medium can be in the most unlikely of circumstances.

      My biggest issue with wet feet is that if I keep my feet in the wet socks/shoes for too long, my feet start getting fungi. Fortunately I have learned to bring a dry pair of post-hiking socks and "camp shoes" (literally plastic sandals) to get into as soon as we are done for the day.

  7. That was a great description of feeling lost, TB. Had me worried a bit. So glad you had a "come to ERJ" moment and kept your cool.

    1. Becki, I do not ever remember feeling that lost in my life before. I am glad the writing was able to portray that.

      I, too, am glad for me "Come to ERJ" moment.


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