November 3, 2013

The Hike Down Part 4 of 5

We walked for about an hour before coming to the ranger station. We were relieved to see our friend Diana there. She told us that she was in the rocky bowl region when the storm hit and that she got lost several times and almost walked off a cliff. She was glad to have made it to the ranger station and was really worried about us.

She told us that she tried to call some friends, so they could call Search and Rescue but she was not able to dial out. Somehow, one of the people she tried to call managed to call her. She told our other friend (Kirty) that we were on Timp when the storm hit and she didn't know where we were, for all she knew we were dead. Kirty called another friend of ours who does a lot of hiking named Pat and Pat called Search and Rescue.

Another friend of ours, Tony let everyone in our ward at church know that we were lost on the mountain and asked everyone to pray for us. He also asked if anyone knew how to get in contact with our families, thanks to our families were notified.

When we reached the ranger station, there were about twenty other people there. As we walked in the door the first group of people (about 10 in number) headed on down the mountain.

There was a mother and daughter in the ranger station and the mother told us that her daughter couldn't walk and asked us to let Search and Rescue know. She also gave us her husbands phone number and asked us to call him as soon as we had service so we could let him know that they were okay-- their entire family had been hiking and ended up separated. The mother and daughter told us they recorded a video of the storm, we will have to try and get a copy of it as the other videos on don't quite do the storm justice.

There were also two men in the ranger station who had set a tent up over near the lake, they said they planned to stay the night in their tent. Andy suggested they move there tent into the ranger station so that they wouldn't freeze. I imagine their tent was already soaked completely through.

We looked at our group (Me, Andy, Diana, and the 3 BYU students) and tried to decide what to do. We were all wet and really cold. We had a fire place and matches but nothing to burn. We were almost out of water and had a little food left to eat. We decided that it would be best to continue on down the mountain so we didn't freeze that night.

I decided to put pants back on only to discover that the rain and hail had soaked through my backpack and my pants were completely drenched. So much for warm clothes.

Once again, we grabbed our gear and headed out. At this point in our journey we were still 3-4 hours from the trail head. It was still raining outside and the trail was flooded, it was like walking through a creek. As we looked around we could see waterfalls cascading off of the cliff faces that were all around us. On the way up the mountain earlier that morning these waterfalls had not existed.

Part of the trail had been washed out and other sections were covered in rocks and mud (there were a lot of rock slides and mud slides). Each step we took down the mountain was incredibly painful as our joints were stiff from the cold.

Once my phone had service, I called my sister and told her we were okay. I also called that woman's husband and told him where his wife and daughter were and told him about their condition. I think he was relieved that they were alive.

When we were about an hour away from the bottom we ran into Search and Rescue. They took our names and notified base camp. They told us that a second storm was on its way and was supposed to hit in about 45 minutes and instructed us to keep moving.

At this point in our journey, it stated to get dark. Luckily Diana had brought two flash lights so we could see where we were going. We left our headlamps in the car thinking we would be out, well before dark.

Our journey that started before sunrise (6:45 am) came to an end after dark (around 9:00 pm). We were so happy to reach the trail head (aka base camp and the parking lot). We were greeted by the local sheriff and other members of the Search and Rescue Team. They asked us what had happened and took a report. Several members of the Search and Rescue Team told us that they wished they could have seen and experienced what we did--crazy I know. Nobody wants to go through what we did, trust me.

The sheriff asked us if we had seen various individuals on the mountain and we told him no. At this point three individuals were still unaccounted for. When we got in our car to leave two people were still missing.