THE DETAILS

Sweeney Creek,
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area, MT

Friday, September 2, 1994

Took a half day off of work to meet the Hampers in Missoula. I went with Marvo, Terbo, Rando, Jolly and Redwood. Hit the trail in the late afternoon and arrived at a spring alongside the trail at sundown. Nice to see these guys again. Slept outside and only got a few sprinkles.

 

Saturday, September 3, 1994

Awoke early and begain cooking breakfast over the stoves. The campfire ban is still in effect because of the dry summer. From the looks of the sky on this side of the divide, the ban is needed. Although the sky directly above is blue, all along the vistas it's a medium grey from smoke.

We were anxious to get to Peterson Lake, so we broke camp early. So far, the hike is a manageable uphill. From the spring (the only straight-from-the-ground drinking hole), the hike goes up a little and then descends sharply to the lake for quite a ways. Nice views along the trail and some neat forested areas.

We started getting bad weather along the trail and when we reached Peterson we decided to camp at its inlet. Fished the lake for a while and caught a few trout. Small cutthroats and rainbows, some up to 12 inches and all underfed. Lots of easy catches. Dave Jolly had fishing fever.

We spent most of the time under a dense stand of trees as the rain would not let up for very long. Ate, talked, messed around.

I decided to sleep under this stand of trees because Rando wouldn't let Redwood into the tent. I was pretty sure Redwood would be fine, but the weather didn't seem too bad. Bad decision #1. Even with my orange poncho over me, I began to get wet when the rain got heavier. Soon, the rain came through the canopy and soaked me. I got cold, I got confused. The next morning, Terbo and Marvo would sing "Hypothermia" to me.

Once I realized my bag was soaked, I put on the poncho and sat on a log for a while. I tried to sleep sitting up. What's wrong with me sometimes? For a while I imagined myself sitting in Vietnam.

I finally crawled into Rando's tent. He gave me some dry clothes to warm up. Because I slept directly on the cold ground, it didn't help much. Didn't sleep at all.

 

Sunday, September 4, 1994

I wouldn't say I awoke, but I did sit up finally. I began moving my arms and legs around to warm up. It helped a lot.

Everything, except the clothes I was wearing was soaked. That includes Redwood. I guess he wasn't cold, but he sure was uncomfortable.

The rain finally eased at 10:00 and I began drying my stuff. My bag was the priority and I would keep it out in the sun as much as possible by coving it with my trusty poncho when the rain would return. Is there any irony in that? When I was certain it would dry before nightfall, I felt a lot better.

While I was ice-cold in Rando's tent, I was completely convinced I would be heading back to my car asap. Even into the afternoon, I still wanted to leave. But it was obvious no one else did. I'm glad the weather turned nice so fast because I really didn't want to leave.

We (except the fishing fanatic) took a day hike to Duffy, Holloway and Mills lakes. The views from these lakes, down to the Bitteroot Valley were incredible. Unfortunately, my camera batteries were dead. (Bad decision #2: no spare batteries.)

It was good to get up and move around a bit. Certainly is easier without the packs it's a steep climb to the upper lakes. After the rain, all the smoke cleared. As the sun set behind us, we sat on the lip of Mills Lake. It was a moment.

Later, we ate fish that Jolly caught, tasted good. Slept great. A bit cold - I tied off the wet foot of my sleeping bag and had a 3/4 bag.

While sleeping, Rando got really sick suddenly. Several times, he threw up and had diarrhea. Most likely, it was food poisoning from the fish. Although that's a bit strange since all of us ate the fish and no one else got sick.

 

Monday, September 7, 1994

Rando didn't feel much better in the morning. We all spent most of the morning drying out our stuff in the sun. The mist off the lake was really thick before the sun burned it off.

Had a good breakfast (skipped the fish) and was ready to leave by 10:30. Ended up waiting until 3:30 although I made my intensions to leave early clear. In retrospect, I was glad I spent as much time out there in the sun that I could.

We got back to the trucks around 7:30. We stopped at an overlook for quite a while for a great view up and down the valley. Had dinner at Hardee's and back to Great Falls at 12:30. Redwood really had a good time on the trip. I'll have to get him a pack to carry his own food.

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