Getting Grubby

Rain pounding on Brave Horatio’s roof at four am signaled a wet morning.  Good thing we travel with the batwing–too bad we didn’t deploy it yesterday.

After the first points are attached you can work mostly in the dry and it wasn’t raining hard. We were soon drinking coffee and breakfasting on eggs, bacon and polenta while the rest of the camp slept.

Brane Horatio and the batwing (after my adventure in the creek)

We drank after-breakfast cocoa and read in our new camp rockers while the rest of the camp woke. I’m loving our rockers!

Bill joined a group doing some infrastructure work and I headed off to find the creek. Down the newly cut trail, past the treehouse/zen tea room (deer blind) and into DNR forest. There was a scrambly bit to a lower trail. I could see I should have kept going to the switchback. Reminder for return leg.

The trail got a little narrower and a little more scrambly. Pretty clearly marked though and definitely heading downward toward the creek.

I like a good scramble.

My phone had a dead battery so I left it charging at camp. So sad. I wanted to take pictures of the rock cairns I built (one in the middle of a log that spanned the creek).

Looking upstream, the devil’s club was beautiful with the sun behind it. There were also a couple steep banks covered in maidenhair fern. So lovely.

That devil’s club…I was careful. I used two sticks to move those spiky stems so I could climb under and over logs and make my way up the creek. I came out mostly unscathed. Sure felt the couple that got me though.

I wandered up the creek a bit–walking through the water, picking up stones, trying to outsmart the devil’s club, and generally having a relaxing, enjoyable time.

Finally the devil’s club looked to be turning into a thicket and I started to think about heading back. I could have retraced my steps, but a maple and an alder had both fallen down the bank about a foot apart. I thought I could walk up assisting myself with my hands–maybe one leg on each trunk.

Um. No.

Did I mention that the creek was in a ravine? Not particularly deep, but pretty damn steep. At a guess it was a 60-70 degree slope from the creek to the trail. But there were those tree trunks and I like a scramble.

The alder had little broken off limbs on it’s underside every couple of feet. I started out with both feet on one side and my arms around it hauling on those little stubs. The bank was nearly vertical. I ended up astride the trunk on my belly, which worked great until the stubs stopped.

I was more than half-way up. It looked even steeper from here. A dirty slide back to the creek or an impossible-looking inching to the top. I’d stopped right over a pretty vigourous seep. Neat moss and other tiny, tiny plants. Good reason to rest and take them in.

I decided on up.

There were lots of ferns and the base of sword ferns are pretty solidly adhered. I planted my feet, hugged that trunk and inched upward.

It’s an interesting viewpoint and one I don’t think I’d experienced before. Looking down seemed far steeper than it had from the bottom. I looked up into the underside of a large artist conk. Bright white and glowing in the sun. It looked like the path was just the other side of the stump that was hosting it.

A few more thoughtful rests. A few more slow foot placements and slower pressing upward. A final foot on a final friendly sword fern and I was up!

I backtracked along the little trail, passing the point where I’d scrambled down heading for that switchback. The trail just kind of ended so I bushwacked.

I couldn’t get lost. Not a chance. The camp was up. Just up. And the slope was wimpy now that I was over the lip of the ravine.

The trail and I converged and I waltzed back to camp. Wet, thoroughly grubby, and triumphant.

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