Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Hiking Trip and A Helicopter Ride

Okay well, I know it has been quite a while since my last post. Things get busy when you're travelling. We have made our rounds from Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, Louisiana, and Alabama again... it seems like we've been all over the continent! I have missed our church and playing piano. I heard they are having a bluegrass concert this month and I will be missing out on it! :(

Well, let me tell you about one of two very  interesting hiking trips we went on. (short version)

The first hike we went on was the four of us children my two brothers and my sister and I. We had a later start then planned and arrived at the trail head around ten o'clock. We were going hiking in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. I signed our group in and took a picture of the map posted on the sign as there were none you could take with you. Also our older brother wrote it on a peice of paper. I called Dad and left a message with him telling the time we got there and detailing the exact route we were taking with all the trail numbers. Then we set off on our twenty mile adventure.

The area was beautiful, the sky perfect blue, not a single cloud. The steep desert mountains rose up before us. We had just made a mile and were at the top of a ridge looking over the parking lot when my older brother remembered he had not locked the car. The three of us sat down and watched him descending. He became smaller and smaller.
         On his way down he met a man that was coming up. "I forgot to lock my car." he said laughing.
      The man answered "Oh shoot, I forgot to lock mine too!"
         The two of them went back together talking about the importance of locking cars the whole way. While we were waiting my younger brother and sister had a competition to see who had better aim hitting the huge Saguaro cacti growing nearby. I sat with my head in my hands, my eyes were bothering me and I considered taking my contacts out. When our brother got back  he told us the car had been locked after all, he had done two extra miles for no reason! After he had rested from his quick accent we continued on. The trail lead us through a huge valley, we traveled on the left side.

This is a view of the valley looking back after we had crossed it. In reality it is much bigger than this, a picture just can't give you the feeling of how much space there is. In the top left hand side the mountain face that goes straight up and down; the parking lot is right below that past the ridge.

Here is another shot of the valley taken from our lunch spot. We sat atop of a medium sized boulder right at the top of a rise. Breathtaking the area was.

Eating our lunch

I don't remember exactly when these places came up but there was lots of water we kept running into along the way. We had a water bottle that filtered as you drank it so every time we came to some water we drank as much as we want and refilled it.

 We kept hiking after our lunch and came to this collection of water in the crevice of rock. Here we refilled our water bottle.

The rock on one side of this water tank made a little bench, I wanted my picture because I was the one in charge of the camera and not in many of the shots.

This is what we came to next. It is HUGE

Here is a picture for comparison. My brother is climbing on the little side. After inspecting every possible angle of these boulders we concluded that it was impossible to safely climb without a ladder or grappling hook. We had rope but no hook. Ah well...

In the shadow of these boulders was a pretty little plant with these peculiar flowers. While here I took my contacts out, they were bothering my eyes... things became a little blurry but I was still able to enjoy the rest of the hike.

After hiking more in these beautiful mountains we came across this bee hive. Earlier at lunch my sister had seen a bee. (and freaked out, she is not so brave around bees) My older brother had said there must be water nearby because bees do not travel far from a water source well we found the water and now we found the bees. The three of us went up close, I wanted a picture and the boys wanted to see. We left our little sister on the trail. My brother was poking around in the opening with his hand, not surprisingly a bee stung him. All three of us jumped the four feet back to the trail in a jiffy. We looked and saw our sister about thirty feet away where the trail makes a bend watching us. She had traveled all that distance in the time it took us to jump four feet and was watching us! Boy if there had been bee hive all along that trail she would have finished it in thirty minutes! Later she told us that she had heard a swarm of angry bees. Imagination I tell you, pure imagination, it was one bee.

We came down from the tops of the mountains into lower country. Here things became very green, notice the grass. I had not seen that much grass the entire time I had been in Arizona. Everybodys yards are pebbles! Here in the "wilderness" I saw a lot of grass.

We came to a spring in the shade of trees. Tall trees, real trees. Trees like I hadn't seen since we left Louisiana.

Tall, tall cotton wood trees grew. Now I knew we were close to a year round source of water. Trees wouldn't grow like that unless they had water.

Oh my! We're in Ireland! Yes look at that grass! It was lush, moist, soft, full, tall. Oh my goodness that grass was so amazing to see! This grass we found when the trail went through a shady tunnel of tress.

And what is all of this greenery leading up to?? A river! A year round constant source of water! A river where moss grew on the rocks. A rive out in the middle of "desert wilderness" that our grandfather had told us there was nothing but a pile of rocks. Wow this was so cool!

Water, water, water. Wow, This was my favorite part.

I wash my knee off from a small scrape I got in my eagerness to get close to the water. We heard the water first then emerging at the top of a ridge we saw it below us. The slope had loose rocks covering it and I foolishly hurried, and ended up scraping myself. But, it did not hurt anyways.

A little water fall. :)

Isn't this beautiful? Isn't it wonderful God puts places like this in the middle of the hot desert? I mean besides where there was water, the desert was a desert like you imagine. All sorts of plants; prickly pear, barrel cactus, yucca, saguaro, jumping cactus, agave. The Apaches used the long poles of the mature agave plants to knock off the fruit of the tall saguaro. Yucca has a fibrous thread like thing that can be used as, well, thread. The top of a barrel cactus can be chopped off and the inside squeezed to get the moisture. Prickly pear fruit can be eaten as well as the spiny pads after the points have been removed. Some of this our older brother told us, some I had all ready known.

While we were at the river we took our shoes and socks off to air them out. Your feet is one of the most important things to take care of. (Although in this picture all shoes are on.

Well it was getting late in the evening by the time we reached the river, 4:15 or there abouts, so we decided to keep going. The river is a little under half way around the big loop we were making. All around us were mountains rising up everywhere. There was only one way to go between two peaks. We figured the trail was headed for that pass and we were right.

Here is a picture when we just start getting into the pass. Those cotton wood trees grew just down river from where we had stopped. The river was now far below us but we were still traveling next to it. Just more above also.

Here I am perched atop of a very high drop off. My younger brother had stuck his hand on a prickly pear cactus. It was while he was removing the quills that he suddenly remembered the special rocks he had been collecting along the way. He had left them behind about a mile back! He went back to retrieve his rocks and while we waited my older brother and I climbed this boulder. Our sister remained at the base. It made a tall rectangle sticking the long way up in the air. It was very easy to climb and didn't look so high from one side, but once you got up there it was a different story. On the opposite side we had ascended was a very, very high drop off. We dropped a rock over the edge and it took four seconds to hit the river at the bottom. Wow that is high. 

And here is my brother.

Well it was sow going getting through that pass, it was very steep. We had been looking at the map and we knew we weren't gong to be able to finish the hike that day, we were only half way at this point. We were going to have to stay the night. Now There was not going to be any suitable camping spot while in the pass. It was too rocky and narrow with steep, steep slopes on one side. We would have to continue through the pass and then look for a camping spot. At this point we tried contacting our parents to tell them what was going on. Text messages or phone calls would not get through.

Once through the pass it was very near to five o'clock and that time of year it starts getting dark around five-thirty. We kept our eye open for a good camping spot. At 5:10 pm we chose our place. It was on flat somewhat sandy ground between two small slopes. Clumps of grass grew and a bush along with the typical desert cacti.

First we sat down, and took off our shoes our bodys very tired. Our older brother told us to put our jackets on ahead of time to start keeping the heat in before the cold came. We finished off our boiled eggs and had some of our canned Vienna sausage. That stuff is really nasty but we were hungry and it tasted good. My sister and I collected rocks for a fire ring then wood from dead cactus and bushes along with some other stuff. Our oldest brother started the fire with his flint and steel. We emptied out our backpacks and laid them on the ground for pillows. We stopped with three gallons of water that night. (We had regular water bottles that we hadn't touched since we had been drinking out of the filter one the whole time.)

I went and cut off some small pads from a nearby prickly pear. Small ones are the least fibrous and that was what I wanted. I removed the quills and peeled it then scooped out the inside and put into an empty Vienna sausage can. Next I added some chicken broth (the sausage is kept in chicken broth) and cut pieces of sausage into it. I place the can among the coals and soon the broth was boiling away. Mmmm that prickly pear soup smelled good. When it was done I carefully pulled the soup out with two sticks. I was so glad I had actually made it that I clapped my hands and laughed... then I spilled it. Oh sadness! :(

Well with the soup gone there was nothing else to stay awake for because it was now dark. I tied my bandanna on my head to keep warm and lay my head on the backpack. The whole time the four of us tossed and turned. We discussed the possibility of our parents sending out the search and rescue. I worried about them being worried. It was  cold. Our older brother told us to take the rocks from the fire and hold against us to keep warm. Ahhh, that helped a lot. But, I still shivered. Now the moon cam up behind us. An owl hooted and another animal answered. Throughout the night these two animals talked back and forth and made their way slowly around our camp fire. The moon was higher now, but man! it was the slowest moving moon I had ever seen! I was tired but couldn't sleep. My siblings drifted in and out of sleep. Airplanes flew over head, there was an airport nearby. Disappointingly you could still not see the stars. I was hoping I would be able to see them but still, way out here, the city lights swallowed them up! The moon finally made it half way to the sky, good the night halfway over. Levi heard a helicopter fly over head. Our fire died down and we all got up to start it again, oohhh That was warm. We sat around talking together. We said we would be so embarrassed if a Mom and Dad sent a helicopter, we weren't lost and we wanted to finish the hike in the morning. My younger brother said he would be mortified. Then he told us of the one he had heard. We continued to sit there. Then, a helicopter came.

First we heard it. It was behind us and to our left. The red lights on the tail blinked steadily and the blades whirred above it. The pilot caught site of our fire and began circling us. Oh boy, this was not good. Go away! 

My younger brother said "Maybe they didn't see us!" Uuh huh.

The chopper continued to circle, now much lower. We put out the fire because we didn't want the blades to blow it around and catch something else on fire. It flew right above us very loud, the wind was cold, cold cold.

"Maybe they didn't see us!" My younger brother insisted.

The air craft slowed down and began to land at the top of one of the slopes we were camped between. It hovered just feet off the ground but then went back into the sky. The ground was too rough. We were camped on the perfect helicopter landing pad. It climbed higher and made circles scouting for another place to land. The pilot could find no such place, instead it hovered close to the ground and dropped a guy off. He was short! He had a light on his helmet and we watched him come up the trail to us.

"Is this ------ and ------? Am I in the right group here?" (He said the two youngest names)

"That's us." Our older brother said, the chosen spokesperson.

"Are you hurt? Do you have food, water?"

Our brother answered accordingly.

"Are you lost?"

Our brother and I both pointed to the trail, "No," we said "trail's right there."

He asked us if we had put our fire out all the way then mushed it with his boot and put the rocks into the middle of the ashes. He explained to us he was going to look for a landing spot and told us to wait there. He found a spot down the trail aways and radioed to the pilot. He cracked a glow stick and directed the air craft in landing then through it on the ground. We had all ready gathered up our things before so when he came back we were ready to go. He told us there was only room for two passengers in there so my sister and I went first. The man helped us in one by one and then in a matter of minutes we flew over all the places we had been before, and we were at the helicopter landing pad. It had taken us all day to go that distance (well we had made several stops to look around)! It was such a disappointment to be "rescued" and not even get through the whole trail.

The man who had talked to us earlier had stayed with the boys so this time the pilot helped us out. He younger then the first and tall. After getting out he asked us our names and repeated the questions we had heard earlier. He showed us to a waiting pick up truck and we were driven to the trail head back to the parking lot. The parking lot was filled with cars, and the Mesa deputy was there with his truck. He asked us the same questions with a few extras. Were we cold? Hungry? When that was over my sister and I sat on the tail gait of a pickup truck. They had just sent out the ground search but they were now returning.

Now Grandpa had told us about the "stupid-law" they have in Arizona. Basically if you do something stupid and they have to rescue you ( cost them money) you are charged with the bill. Helicopters cost a lot of money. I figured I best start talking and make sure they knew we weren't being stupid.

I told the lady about taking a picture of the map before starting. She said that was wise. 
I told her we signed in to the paper. She said that was wise.
I told her I had left a message with our parents telling the time we left and the exact route we were taking. She said that was wise.
I told her we brought a filtering water bottle. She said that was wise.
I told her we had tried to contact our parents when we realised we were going to be staying over night. She said that was wise.
I told her we stopped before dark, no night hiking. She said that was wise.
I told her we had a fire. She said that was wise.
I told her we had supper and about my prickly pear soup. She said that was wise and she was sorry it had spilled.
I told her we heated rocks to keep warm. She said that was wise.

I am pretty sure there is no possibility of the stupid law being applied to us. She told me we were wise up one side and down the other!

I asked her if anyone had contacted our parents yet. She said she didn't know but offered to let me use her phone. (Mine had died during the night) I called and Dad answered. A huge sigh of relief. e said he was never so glad to hear my voice in his entire life. After talking with him the boys came. The deputy questioned them too and then the four of us got into the car and drove home.

Mom and Dad were very, very glad to see us. We told them all about our hike including all the little details you didn't get to read here. Dad said he had been so worried. He worked to keep his mind off things, devoured chocolate, and prayed. They had had sloppy joes for supper and the four of us made hogs of ourselves scarfing it down. (We had really had a scanty supper)

Ironically we had no injury's during our hiking trip (unless you count my little scrape on the knee) but when playing tag outside of a condo the next Sunday I tripped and scrapped my knee and leg terribly. There were thorns all in and two day ago I just got another one out. Yeah there were lots of thorns. My leg burned and I could hardly walk, my knee got infected and nasty. Huh, just from playing tag.

Well, that is the end of the tale for our first hiking trip. Wait till you hear about the second...  What do you think of following cow trails for miles and meeting an ex-CIA agent???

~Sorry there is no picture of our "rescue" I wanted to save the battery so we could look at the map the next day~


  1. Grandpa & Grandma (AZ.)March 28, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Wow, Grandma & I are so proud of all of you. You guys are really smart. When you were here with us we did not know all of the details. Reading this blog is so informative & detailed, we are just amazed
    Love You!!

    1. Oh good, I am glad you were able to find my blog! The hike was a lot of fun. :)


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