Sunday, May 31, 2009

MIA#5 - Backpacking Trip

The final Monday in May is Memorial Day, a public holiday in the USA. Wanting to take full advantage of our time in CA and the day off, we went on a hiking trip with Dad and Matt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains – in Kings Canyon National Park.

After hiking in about 4½ miles (2 of which were up a set of switchbacks), we were looking forward to a bit of Canadian Club in a plastic bottle we’d picked up on the way up to the mountains. Andrew watched as Matt secured the bottle with 3 Boy Scout knots and then floated it in the rapid Bubb’s Creek (which looked far more like a river than a creek due to the snow melt). Sadly, the nylon rope loosened in the water and the current pulled all 3 knots free. When Matt returned to the river to collect the bottle, all he found was the untied rope floating on the surface of water. We quickly began searching the river just down stream of our campsite, working our way back toward the site, hoping the bottle had become caught in an eddy or fallen tree. As Matt carefully searched the shoreline of our actual campsite, he nearly stepped on one of the site's residents: a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake!

Dad, and Matt quickly jumped into action, grabbing sticks to pin the 2ft snake down. As Matt went for his hatchet, Dad's stick broke and the snake got free. Andrew was quick to jump in with two more sticks. He and dad held down snake as it writhed and bit at the branches holding it in place. Matt hacked off most of the head with his hatchet, finishing the last bit of the skin with his pocket knife and throwing the head in the river. Matt taught Andrew to skin and clean the snake and then we barbecued it, saving the rattle as a memento.

The next two days were less dramatic but great fun, as we hiked about 6 miles round trip with 2500 elevation gain up to a spectacular set of waterfalls. On the way out, we took a 4-mile detour to Mist Falls for a final lunch in the Sierras. The weather was perfect, the stars were abundant, and the food was great (including the snake)!

[View the full-screen slideshow]
all-photos taken by Matt's cell phone

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