March 31, 2018
Shannon’s parents dropped us off at the trail near Scissors Crossing well before the sun came up and we made the climb up the mountain in good time. We covered about 9 miles before the heat really set in, and boy was it a heavy heat. The sun baked the hard-packed earth and radiated back up at us. It was pretty rough going even with our sun umbrellas, but we had such a good time chatting and taking the trail at a fairly easy pace that it made the heat far more tolerable, and I was having such a good time I completely forgot to take any pictures! I really liked hiking with Shannon and suspected her brothers would only add to the fun once they joined us, but I never found out.
We planned to camp at the Third Gate water cache, and we were only a few miles away when Shannon decided to take a break. I was almost out of water and decided to push on. As I made my way up the trail close to the top of the ridge, I suddenly heard what sounded like a semi-truck careening toward me over the rise at breakneck speed! On pure instinct I dropped to the ground, heedless of my wounded knee, my pack, or my trekking poles, and covered my head with my hands. The thunderous noise rushed passed me and I looked up in time to see a US military jet speeding away into the valley below. The jet had passed so close to the ridgeline and right above where the trail was that for a moment I could actually see the pilot in the cockpit.
“REALLY!?!” I yelled, as though the he or she could hear me.
I had new, bleeding scratches on my hands, the wounds on my leg had been ripped open and were already bleeding through my pants, and my water bottle had popped it’s lid in the fall, spilling what little water I’d had left. I was pissed. I hauled myself up, brushed myself off, and continued on, hoping I’d been far enough away that Shannon hadn’t heard my little tantrum.
When I got to the Third Gate tentsites I immediately hiked down the short distance to the water cache to refill my bottles, then I came back up, claimbed a tentsite, and threw down my gear, happy to be done for the day. Shannon and I had arranged to be up and hiking out by 5am, well before the sun came out. There were a lot of hikers camped throughout the area and Shannon had to pitch her tent a little ways from mine, so I didn’t know that anything was amiss with her until I was all packed and ready to go the next morning.