Sunday Morning Shorts: Week 11

Short stories told by our ambassadors. Each week a different prompt! 
Grab some coffee - Grab a seat

When was a time that your gear really came in handy?

When was a time that your gear really came in handy? Last summer I Thru hiked the Appalachian trail heading southbound. You would assume that the farther south you get the warmer it would be, but this is not always the case. On one particular night, my trail family and I decided to sleep about a mile from Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the AT located in Tennessee. The weather was a beautiful 80 degrees during the day with amazing views, but once the sun went down and the clouds rolled into the Smokey mountains the temps dropped drastically. I got into my hammock  and bundled up in my Enlightened equipment quilt hoping I wasn't going to freeze. Once morning came, I woke up to a chilling 25 degrees with frost on my eye lashes and the condensation from my breathing left a thin layer of ice on my tarp above me. If it hadn't been for that top quilt, I would been a human popsicle! -Erick

My group and I were backpacking in the Wind River Range in Wyoming during an especially high snow year. It was June and we were only two to three days into the trip when we encountered our first river crossing. The river normally would have only been high enough to go over the top of your boots, but we were looking at a river whose deepest point was well above my waist. We scouted for the day, trying to find another place to cross the fast water until we came across a set of "creeks" and "drainages" that fed the river itself. These waterways, according to the map, were supposed to be nothing more than trickling and peaceful. Something you could hop over. On this day, however, they were raging whitewater and there were twice as many as there were supposed to be. Great. Now what? So we put our packs down and decided that we would follow one of the drainages up the incline until we got the source, a beautiful alpine lake. The question was which drainage do we follow? Luckily, we had several compasses with us that we brought to navigate off trail. We triangulated our exact location, and based on the angles of the waterways we was able to identify which drainage to follow that would bring us to the glorious lake. After around two days of hard hiking off trail following this creek higher and higher into the alpine, we found it! Never was I so happy to have brought a compass. -Dani

Trekking poles in the Narrows. Both trekking poles. My girlfriend and I were hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park earlier this summer. On day hikes, it's a 50/50 chance whether or not we bring trekking poles with us, but having spent some time crossing rivers during multi-day trips in the past, I knew the value of the stability they provide. It was about a mile walk along a well paved path before the fun started in the river, and by early afternoon there were already scores of people cooling off in the water. My girlfriend and I were eager to bypass the crowd and trek up the river. There are plenty of loose rocks in a river that regularly experiences flash floods, so as you can imagine, foot placement was a bit of an issue. Our trekking poles provided us with the extra two points of contact needed to make a safe trip up the river. We thankfully avoided many opportunities for sprained ankles and unexpected dunks in the water. Trekking poles were a handy piece of gear on this trip. -Pierce