Day 42: Park Lands and Home for Summer

Yeti had a terrible night sleep. She has had problems with her inflatable mattress going down over night. It happened two nights ago, then skipped a night and then last night she had to blow it up four times during the night. Our bodies are not young and flexible anymore and a good three inches of air suspension is an essential luxury for a good nights sleep. This problem was urgent. We needed a pond to test where the leak was.

We were short of water last night and had set off this morning without our usually instant breakfast and so water was needed for two purposes and as soon as Yeti saw the first pond we had to stop.

It was a cold morning and the water was a stock dam. It was a muddy pool full of  brown slime that passes for water. Given how easily Yeti gets cold I took the job of finding the hole in the mattress and Yeti started filtering water for breakfast.

I blew up her pad, put on my flip-flops and wadded into the dam. First mistake. My flip-flops buried themselves in the mud and I had to go fishing to get them back. So I then went bare foot and moved deeper into the dam. I slowly pushed the pad under water, section by section, looking for the hole. No luck but I did notice these 1″ long black things starting to stick to the pad. Leeches!! Luckily I am not squeamish. You would have heard Yeti scream an expletive from several miles away. I started to pick the leaches off hoping their sucking does not put another hole in her pad.

After 10 minutes of looking and a lot of leaches I still could not find the hole. This was not acceptable and I know Yeti will not give up until it is found or, more to the point, she won’t want me to give up.

I take the pad out of the water and as it is now covered with a layer of water I am hoping I can find the leak by seeing bubbles form. I fold the pad over and kneel on it. Sure enough as the valve comes near my ear I hear an air leak. It is in the corner of the valve attachment and the same place our previous two pads failed. I should have checked here first but like our previous pads it only leaks when the pad is under pressure.

I Yell to Yeti on the other side of the dam that I have found the leak and I instantly see the relief in her face. Later when the pad is dry Yeti applies the patch and it is good to go.

After my early morning mud and slime bath we spend the rest of the morning walking across open parks with groves of Aspens and views that have to be seen to be appreciated. These massive vistas are what Yeti and I hike for and you can’t help but feel very lucky on days like today.

In the middle of one of these parks we see a little cabin nestled among the Aspens. We again start dreaming of spending the summer in pastures like this looking after cattle. Yeti would go out on her horse every day, roaming over the hills to check the cows and calves and at night we would enjoy a nice fire in the cabin.

With views like this it is hard to imagine a better life. However the trail soon pulls us back to the here and now. A massive storm has rolled in around the mountain. The storm is not on us yet but we are near the top of the hill and don’t want to be here if the storm arrives. It starts to rain so we don our rain gear for the first time this trip and hoof it down the trail and down the hill.

These high mountain storms are very very loud with long streaks of lightning followed by giant blasts of thunder that make it impossible to talk. Yeti has had too many experiences being caught in these storms during her outfitting days to ever want to be near these again.

Again it seems our luck is holding and after a few minutes of rain drops the storm moves away to the other side of the mountain and ceases its complaining.

By late afternoon we are climbing towards the next peak. We come to an area that is covered in dead fall and in one spot have to crawl under a log that is down over the trail. The area looks like it has had a bomb dropped on it. The trail weaves its way through this mess and the ground is very soft and muddy. Once again we think this is not a horse trail.

Our camp tonight is on a little knoll next to a couple of small ponds and a pile of snow. It is the first time we have camped with snow next to our tent, albeit a very small pile.

It was another great day on the trail with several first events.