We thought we published this but…oops! Enjoy round three of our adventures.
After two wonderful days in Ewells Park and enjoying the meadow’s beauty it was time to head over to Upper Greenwood in the Valle Vidal. Going into the Valle Vidal was unchartered waters for our merry little band. We decided to break camp early so we could take part in the programs at French Henry. It was an extremely good thing the first 1 hour of hike was relatively easy after the long haul to the peak of Baldy.
It is not very often a group of people become excited to see porta potties. When we walked down the hill into French Henry the questions were flying, “Can we use those? Are those for us? Are those only for staff?” It doesn’t take a lot when you’re on day six without plumbing. Does a porta potty even count as plumbing?
We were greeted by a very enthusiastic Paul the geologist and a hearty welcome to hot water to make oatmeal a cup of joe or hot chocolate. The mountain stream offered refreshing and first the first time in days COLD water for drinking. We all attempted a little gold panning. No success stories, we will not be retiring anytime soon. The question was asked and yes, every day someone finds gold in the streams at French Henry. It was not our lucky gold panning day but luckily for Ashley her camera was restored by the talents of Jerry! She lives for pictures.
While at French Henry Ross and Tanner became smithy apprentices and showed their talents and trained their muscles. Unfortunately, their tool did not live to leave the forge. Oh well, the rest of us had a good time watching their efforts. We loaded up and began the arduous climb out of French Henry to stop at the Aztec Ponil 2 mine up on the bluff. The climb was exhausting but the mine was fascinating and the stories told were equally spooky for some. Randy led us out of the mine without use of flash flights. Who knew 300 feet could take so long when avoiding rock and low ceilings.
After roughly 28 switchbacks we made it out of Copper Canyon to only be met by the rain on the north side of Baldy on our way to Upper Greenwood. Upper Greenwood is really quite decieving when coming from Ewells Park. You go up 28 switchbacks which takes an eternity and then spend three hours going DOWN! We got caught in quite the rain storm and were hit by our second round of hail. The hail was intense. We had to take shelter in the Ponderosa Pines and even then the sting of the hail was enough to leave red welts on bare legs. Shoes were soaked, rain jackets did not do the trick and we still had hours of hiking remaining. By the time we made it to Upper Greenwood everyone was ready to call it a night.
But when living in the back country there is no rest until camp is set up, bear bags are hung, dining fly is strung, water is purified, sleeping bags are hung out to dry and food is prepared. We were all moving a little slow but some how we managed. We had quite the water purification system. Ashley opened the empties, tossed to Ross across the stream, Ross tossed back to Ashley and Ashley handed off to Randy who tossed to Jared and Trevor for the Micropur. Randy challenged Ashley and Ross to timed throwing of water bottles. They rocked it; impeccable timing! Trevor traded out spots with Trevor and the line of purified water continued to grow. Everyone slept well and woke to semi-dry apparel. The bushes were lined with drying socks, boots, rain jackets, sleeping bags and tent flies.
Dusting our feet of Upper Greenwood we started the never ending march to Iris Park. Despite our gear being soaked through and through the sun was shining and the meadows were drying. We enjoyed a lazy stroll through Greenwood Canyon. We buckled and unbuckled our packs as we crisscrossed the stream running through the meadow. If it were not for the sun it would have made for one soggy 10 mile day. Just when Ashley thought her feet would be dry for the rest of the day, she slipped off a rock. Oh well, there was still 6 miles to go and plenty of drying opportunity.
We played an age old hiking game, “My Father Owns a Grocery Store.” If you’ve never played, the whole point is for your group to guess an item in a grocery store by just knowing the first letter of the item and then playing twenty questions. Try it sometime and when you correctly guess Wrigley or barcode or tomatillo you know you’re a professional.