Patricia Lake, perhaps just a mile west of the resort, has been a goal of ours for some time. We can see the ring of rock that surrounds it from our house, and we’ve heard it was quite pretty. It’s a popular rock climbing spot, and I spoke to some climbers who had just been up there, to learn about the route to take to reach it. It seemed pretty straightforward, and not too far away, so we set out for it last week.
From below, we mapped out a route that seemed to be the shortest, and also less rocky than other choices. We wanted to avoid the loose scree in one area, and instead stick to the boulder field that looked easier to navigate. I’ve never climbed a route that is nothing but huge boulders, and I quickly realized that it’s not my thing. My hiking pole was useless, just something to get hung up while I tried to use both hands on the rocks. And while we were never in danger of falling far, I had to concentrate very closely to place myself just right, so as not to tumble down between the rocks. It’s also a good idea to test smaller rocks before you step down on them, to ensure that they won’t come loose with your weight on them and start a little avalanche. I don’t mind trails that are incredibly steep, but this type of terrain just took up too much of my brain power, and made me feel tired.
We considered turning back, but I felt like I should get to the top after going to so much effort, and I’m glad we went all the way. The lake was clear, secluded, and absolutely devoid of people. We enjoyed the sun and the views, and made a plan to go down what seemed to be an easier way. We skirted the boulder field, and came across several little ponds. Just about the time we were congratulating ourselves on a better route, we realized that the only way around the boulder field was through it. Except, the part we had come to was even steeper and with more precariously balanced rocks than the route up. When we were about 100 feet away from the bottom, I just sat down and had a little temper tantrum. My hands hurt so much from the rough rock, and I was just finished with the whole endeavor. JJ coaxed me down (I believe there was a promise of ice cream) and we finally hit level ground.
So, you can imagine our dismay and concern when a climber came running into the resort the other day, panicked and looking for a phone. He was with a group of friends, climbing at Patricia Lake, when one of them fell a long way, and was badly injured. What a terrible place to need a rescue! We saw a rescue helicopter come through shortly after that, but it just buzzed the area and left again. After it came through a second time and left right away, a couple of my co-workers headed up to the area to see it they could help.
The first flight had been to drop off a wilderness responder to assess the situation. He saw my co-workers, and asked them to stand by in case he needed to move the climber to another, more accessible location. The wind was causing problems, as it eddied around the cliffs, making it unsafe for the chopper to get too close, hence the back and forth. Finally, the conditions improved, the climber was sent up on a litter, and the helicopter sped off. There hasn’t been anything about the incident in the news, so we hope that means the guy is OK.
That situation made me think about the dangers of this place. While I will go out on a small hike by myself, I just don’t feel right going on long trips by myself. It’s so easy to get hurt, and civilization is often so very far away. It’s great to have a buddy that likes to get out in the wilderness with me, and who can go for help if needed!
We’re going to miss our co-workers who are leaving today, Kris and Casey. Kris has celiac, and must eat gluten free, so we got along pretty well with him in the dietary department. Plus, his wife, Casey, was always making homemade gluten-free treats that he could enjoy, and we always reaped the benefits! We especially enjoyed the plate of deliciousness that we found in the crew kitchen the other morning. We’re going to have to start making our own gluten-free treats once they leave!