I got lost in a parking garage.
I got lost in a parking garage after a client meeting and all I could think was…’Wait, you found your friends on top of a mountain with no trail and minimal directions by following foot prints in the snow….WHY ARE YOU LOST IN A STUPID PARKING GARAGE!?’
I realized City Dweller side of me takes over occasionally and argues with the Adventurist side.
City Dweller-self: “Ummmm…that way looks the same as the other way…wait…what!? AM I LOST!?”
Adventurist-self: “Noooooo, even when you’re lost, you have direction, you just need to orient yourself…”
CD: “NO! You’re wrong! EVERYTHING IS GREY AND YOU’RE UNDER A MILLION TONS OF CONCRETE AND YOU’RE TOTALY GOING TO GET JUMPED BY SOME WEIRD GUY IN A BUNNY SUIT.”
CD: “Okay you’re right, I’m an idiot, just back track….find the bread crumbs….or cigarette butts and old gum….and just get back to the elevator, start over.”
CD: “….annnnnd…..don’t panic, orient yourself and find the West garage. Yes, yes, I know, reason, logic, etc. etc….no men in bunny suits. Got it.”
So I digress….this rather ridiculous incident couldn’t help but remind me of a time where I had to pat myself and my boyfriend on the back. About a month or so ago, I was intensely desperate for some camping or backpacking of some sort. My friends Ben, Alyssa and Isaac were headed up to the Teanaway area Friday night to backpack in to the Bean Creek Basin area Saturday, camp overnight to hike back out Sunday with a sunset summit thrown in there. The trick was that Jared and I couldn’t leave till Saturday morning so we’d have to meet them out there. (Side note: None of us had been to this area before, it was new to everyone so no one knew what really to expect aside from what the recent trip reports had said.)
Ben sent me a video of where they were planning on heading to try and camp, as well as a map that showed the area they were going to try and camp. I saved a copy of the video and the photo of the map, plus screen shots of the directions to the trail head. We left Saturday morning around 10:30am and got to the trailhead around 1pm. It was HOT, like close to low 80’s and the whole trail is a steady uphill. The first part of the trail was super dry, dusty and clear up Bean Creek drainage into the basin. The going was good, maybe a bit slow for the both of us being it was the heat of the day. Ben had told us it was about 5 miles round trip to the basin area, so we figured we’d have plenty of time to meet up with them before sundown.
Seems easy enough
The trail head – Beverly Turnpike Trail spurs off to Bean Peak
Hot n’ dry (thats what she said)
We get about half way when we start to see some peaks come into view, one of them being Earl Peak. We knew from the map the Bean Peak was at the end of the basin while Earl started to show up just before the beginning. So we knew we were going the right way. The weird part was….there was NO ONE on the trail. We saw two dudes come out of the trail just as we started and that was it. Not one single soul did we come across. Which quite honestly, was a little creepy and it made us start to doubt ourselves more and more as we continued to hike.
We started to come upon some patches of snow that would intermittently cross the trail, but it was always easy to find again so we pressed on. Then we came upon a point in the trail where the snow overtook the dry ground and there was a fork in the path. One way seemed to go across a creek, the other I saw some faint foot prints that went up to the left side of the creek. This is where I made a wrong decision. I had explored the creek and I swear I could not see where the trail picked up again on the other side. What I didn’t do was LOOK UP. If I would have picked my head up and just looked straight across the creek, I would have seen the tiny brown sign that would have pointed us in the right direction. But instead, I kept looking at my feet and the 10 feet in front of them, and we decided to head left.
The wrong way…. trail to the left.
Before we knew it, we had realized that the foot prints we were following were old, like so old that they were raised from the melting and re-freezing. This should have been obvious, but I was so intent on ‘finding’ the trail….I found the wrong one. And eventually, even the wrong foot prints faded out.
Just asking nature for a little help.
Even though we weren’t on the trail, we knew we just needed to follow the creek to get into the basin. The trouble was, the snow was a couple feet deep in places and starting to get soft from the heat and we kept punching through the crust near the creek. We ended up criss-crossing the creek a couple times before finally heading way over to the right. Eventually, lo-and-behold we found actual footprints, fresh this time…and puppy prints too! We knew our friends had at least two of their dogs with them so we knew it had to be them. Hurrah! We do know what we’re doing…I think….?
After finding clear sets of foot prints through the snow fields in the basin, we realized that they were headed up and over the basin foothill. I had happened to check my phone and a text had come through from Alyssa that they were indeed headed out to the South-East ridge of bean to try and find a camp spot (the Basin was totally squishy and snow/waterlogged). We took a little break, looked up the foothill and saw a faint switch back…BOOM. Trail. Found it! I like this! WE GO THERE!
You can see Bean Peak here right above Moose and the ridge we were headed for is just to the right of the lone skinny tree in the middle of the photo.
So, from here there are not many pictures of what transpired for the next hour. There are a few reasons for this:
1. It was really steep and the switch backed trail that once again faded into following foot prints in the snow. And I quickly realized that we were indeed going straight up to the ridge on the South East side….STRAIGHT UP. Like I should have used my ice axe type of straight up (which I didn’t because I was too tired and stubborn and just wanted to get to the top. So I resorted to climb-crawling up the snow and sluffy sharp rock) Lesson #1 learned, always bring poles when backpacking, and if you have an ice axe, USE it.
2. Half way up to the ridge, trying not to fall over, I reach for my phone and it was gone. G-O-N-E, GONE. The pit in my stomach hit immediately. Like ‘oh-shit, I-just-bought-this-brand-new-iPhone-and-got-an-Otterbox-case-for-it-to-prevent-things-like-this-from-happening-and-now-its-down-the-mountain-somewhere-getting-eaten-by-a-squirrel’ type of pit.
Angie: (yelling down to Jared who is about 50 ft from me) “Uhhh…Jer? I don’t have my phone anymore…”
Jared: “What do you mean you don’t have your phone?”
A: “like…It’s-not-in-the-pocket-I-last-put-it-in I don’t have it anymore”
J: “…..” “….Are you *expletive* serious!?”
(this was not the first time I’ve dropped, lost or had a squirrel eat my phone.)
J: “Well…..what do you want to do?”
A: “I think I just want to get to the top of the ridge and then maybe go back down to find it once we see where they’re at. (our friends)”
(silent, frustrated hiking ensues)
3. I’m the first to get to the top of the ridge and there is NO campsite in site. No gear, no sign of our friends and it was sooooo windy. Jared joins me and we start to holler for them….and get nothing back in response. The northern side of the mountain is COVERED in snow, so we know there is no way they would head down that way, plus it was shear drop down that side of the ridge. I drop my pack and decide to do a quick recon over to the right toward Earl Peak. I found some rocks in the shape of an arrow and then some foot prints, and realize both are old and not left by our friends. I head back to where Jared is and we tried to figure out what to do. We decided to split up as by now it’s around 3:45 and we’re starting to have a moment of panic that they are just not anywhere to be found. All I could start to think was “When do Cody Lundin and Matt Graham say to make shelter? How many calories did I just waste? Are there some palm fronds around here I can make a tee pee with?”
We decide that Jared will head off to the left around Bean Peak where he saw some foot prints in the distance in the snow, while I head back down, quick as a bunny to try and find my phone. We’d each take 20min and meet back. I snagged my ice axe and headed back down the mountain. Heading down went insanely quick as I was able to half ski, half run down the mountain, sluffing snow and rock everywhere. I followed my tracks for about 100 yards after hitting the snow again and laying there perfectly on the ground under a tree was my phone.
Thank you mother nature, for having mercy on my overly expensive electronic device that has no business being in your presence. I am not worthy. Lesson #2 learned: Always put your phone in a zippered pocket.
I start to head back up and realize that I am extremely tired, a little dehydrated and my adrenaline rush from heading down the mountain so fast was quickly fading. By the time I got back to the top of the ridge, I was exhausted. We had been so caught up in trying to find any sign of our friends that I don’t think I realized how far we had hiked and how much elevation we had gained (and in my case, twice). But I did have energy to snap a few selfies!
Moose is clearly unimpressed.
Jared had been continuously shouting as he traversed across the base of Bean Peak and I decided to follow him, albeit slowly, for fear something would happen to him or Moose or we’d get separated somehow. After a bit of traversing more snow and scrambling up rocks, I lost both sight and sound of Jared as he dipped over the far ridge. I kept following along, still not seeing or hearing anything for another 5-10min. Eventually, he popped back over saying he found their bags and packs. And as soon as he yelled to me, we heard Ben from off in the distance hollering at us. Thank Mother Nature again.
Come to find out, they had gone around the opposite side of the Peak to climb the Volcanic Neck and had gotten themselves in a dicey situation where they couldn’t respond to our calls for fear of losing concentration and footing. Everyone was totally fine, and we were elated to find them. The only downside is we had to hike all the way back over to our packs, and then traverse back over to their camp. But it was so worth it once we saw the spot they had found to camp. It may have been the only dry and somewhat soft spot on that whole ridge line. There was no wind and it was warm. We met up with them, had a beer and a rest, set up camp and celebrated that we had all found each other in the middle of nowhere on the side of a mountain.
Even Frank was tired, but he knew how to find the best dog bed.
Alyssa getting tricky with camp set up
So not mad at this view
And the best reward for our conquests? The mountain sunset that evening. The sky was still turning red with the wildfires that were happening in Russia so it made for the most brilliant ball of fire. Now, here are a million mountain sunset pictures for you to enjoy:
Photo by Alyssa Gray
We live for this.
Photo by Alyssa Gray
We had a fire, made some instant mashed potatoes (my favorite when camping) and had a few swigs of boxed merlot. That evening was windless and warm, a rarity in itself.
The next morning we decided to take turns watching the dogs and then heading up to actually summit Bean Peak. The scramble itself only took 10min form where we were, but boy the view was awesome. We could see Rainier, (when its clear out that way, which this time, it was the only mountain not visible. She’s a fickle betch of a mountain, that one.) the backside of the Enchantments and Mt. Stuart amongst many others. We snapped a pic of where our camp was at too….itty bitty.
The boys at the top of Bean Peak
Hugs not drugs. Oh, and my shirt is on inside out. Awesome.
Alyssa with her mountains *insert heart eyed smiley emoji here*
We headed back down to camp, packed up while the pups rested, played and then rested some more. We bid adieu to Bean Peak, threw on the micro spikes and took the ‘short way’ down the mountain (plowing down the snow field).
Not dead, I promise. Sun bathing.
Well, sometimes I wonder….
The way down was great, till I started punch through snow again, while wearing shorts. By the end of the hike I was a cut up mess. Lesson #3 learned: wear pants in snow. But all in all it was a tiring and epic trip.
The ‘short way’ down
Alyssa is always stoked. I love it.
The view back down into the basin
The best part about the whole experience was something I never even saw. My friends had gone and laid out signs in the snow for me, I’m just thankful they took a picture for proof of how awesome they are.
Photo by Alyssa Gray
This is why getting lost in a packing garage made me think about how I found these mountains. But hey, each situation is different and I’ll just have to take what skills I learned from this trip, as well as from others, and keep applying them to everyday life…..like concrete mazes. Because as my adventurist-self made clear, even when you’re lost, you have direction….you just need to orient yourself.