Day 3 of 3 - August 8, 2011
The morning of Day 3 started out cold. We had frost on our tent in the morning and unfortunately had camped on a west facing slope so the sun did not reach us for some time.
The little pond we had come down to was beautiful, in spite of the dead forest around. However we had to start the day hiking straight up a steep slope. We knocked it out quickly though and were back on the trail. We were feeling pretty good as we only needed to cover 10 miles instead of the 15 miles each of the previous days.
However not long down the trail my knee began to hurt. The more ups and downs we did the worse it got. After just a couple of miles down the trail I couldn't use it any more. It was fine as long as I didn't bend it, but I couldn't finish 50 more miles of trail without bending my knee. I had to make the call to bail out.
The problem with the Weminuche though is there are no easy ways out. Providentially, we were next to one of the possible exits I had mapped out in advance. However, it was still an 11 mile trip down to the closest pick-up point. Jason was able to make a phone call out and let our wives know what had happened and was able to call our cousin to tell her where to come get us.
Our progress out actually went pretty well for a couple of reasons. One was the trail out had been recently redone so the trail was clear of all deadfall and easy to follow. Another reason was it was downhill the entire way. I could keep my leg straight for the most part as long as the slope down wasn't too steep. Also, Jason took about 10 pounds out of my pack which helped immensely.
We exited through Palisade Meadows on the Indian Creek trail. It was a beautiful trail, unfortunately it was hard to enjoy as it meant we would not be completing the Weminuche Trail this year.
As we descended the trail we begain following Indian Creek which meant we didn't have to carry as much water. We had access any time we needed. One of the things I love about backpacking is how much you learn to appreciate simple things like access to water.
I was thrilled when we reached the Williams Creek Trail intersection. My right leg was tired of doing all the work and my left knee just wanted to be done hiking. From here it was only a couple more miles to get out.
The last couple of miles were just a blur. I tried not to pay attention to them and just hiked. I didn't want to know how much farther I had to go, I just wanted to go until I could stop.
Finally relief came. We reached the trailhead and a very helpful Forest Service Ranger was able to help get the message to our cousin that we were waiting for pick-up at the Williams Creek Trailhead. Jason and I found a picnic table and played cribbage until she arrived.
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