This is pitiful how long it took me to put up this last chapter in my backpacking trip. I only wrote in my journal twice that day – when I woke up and when I reached the trailhead. Other than that I was too busy hiking and hoping I would get to work on time… So I’ve to go back and fill in the gaps of what was going on & what I was thinking. 🙂

Third Day: Death Canyon Shelf to Death Canyon Trailhead

6:45AM, Sunday

I had planned to get an early start, but now I must get up and do it. Last night it hailed heavily for several hours – I had to get up once to tighten the rainfly straps, as it was touching my hammock and getting it damp.

It was (is) cold and even though I wore one more jacket than I had the night before, I was restless and slightly chilled.

Packing up now and setting out, breakfast down the road in a while.

9:08, Sunday

Reached the end of the Death Canyon Shelf Camping Zone, and now I am heading down, curving back to the north. The Shelf is rising above me to my left. There are hawks – or falcons? – flying around above a rocky hill to my right. At one point I counted six of them in the air!

10:08AM, Sunday

I am now down in the Death Canyon Camping Zone. It is fairly flat and very lush. Slowly curving around a mountain to my right.

11:42AM, Sunday

Deep in the woods now, I have been passing by/over so many brooks and streams it is crazy! Should be coming to the end of the camping zone soon.

12:28PM, Sunday

I passed by a ranger cabin where a bunch of rangers were busy at work re-roofing the old building. To my left went another trail, towards Static Peak and eventually all the way back to the Alaska Basin. I could have come down that way – it probably would have been faster. I didn’t really look at a map that much before heading out…

Now I am headed down switchback after switchback, and most definitely in the middle of the canyon. Rock rises on both sides of me. As soon as I started heading downhill I could feel the blisters on my feet, and how tired my legs are.  My feet did not hurt before, I think, because I work a job where I stand all day so they blistered early in the season. Normally I enjoy stretching my legs on a faster pace downhill. Right now though I am going no faster down than I would be going up! (Although I am so so glad I am not going up) I am creeping along. It is like my brain has stored all of my body’s complaints for now.

I’m just putting this picture in because it was the only picture I snapped as I headed down the canyon…

2:34PM, Sunday

Oh my body is dying on me. There is one spot where the trail either heads down towards Phelps Lake or heads up to the Phelps Lake Overlook. I had to head up – switchbacks, O joy. Not that many but it took me forever. I am a snail. I am a turtle. I am hurting. I am hot and sweaty. I am a mile from the trailhead!

Crawling my way towards the finish line.

Asked someone to take my photo at the Phelps Lake Overlook

3:05PM, Sunday

I have finally reached the trailhead, where my roommate will come to pick me up. For the last mile my calves and feet ached so that I felt like I was hobbling, and I felt like crying I was so tired. I have not felt that way in a long, long time. Finally the trailhead came.

I have changed into sandals, sanitized my hands (finally!!) and ate an orange, and now I’m sitting in the shade waiting for my roommate. I feel calmer, and much better.

But I still want to take a shower and clean the dirt from under my fingernails and start eating those hot meals from the EDR.

Some of that will have to wait. I work in 2 hours. I only hope I can function and that – even though it’s Labor Day weekend – business is slow, because then I can leave early.

I feel like that trip went by so, so fast but my aching calves right now tell me it was a long trip. And they, for two, are glad to be back now.

3:45PM, Sunday

Driving back with two of my roommates and realizing how wonderful it is to just talk and be around people. Staring out the window at the mountains and I am amazed at how far we humans can travel in a couple hours, a couple days. I hiked all around those mountains, into, behind, and back out of them. Amazing what our bodies can do. I thank God for the loan of this able body.

And I thank Him for showers, food, clean water, beds, sleep, people………. 🙂 Good to have gone, good to be back.

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