Wednesday 13th July. By Jodie.
We’re in our tent, snug, safe and cosy, situated just below the approach to Atlas Pass. We’re camped on an alpine meadow, next to a stream, with views of snow capped mountains. It’s 10 pm and the sun is still shining. This is the 3rd site from which we plan to go over the pass. Hopefully tomorrow morning will be 3rd time lucky.
Yesterday we set up camp beside Chert Creek in a narrow and steep sided section of the creek valley. We were tired from repeatedly crossing the creek each time it ran up too close to the rock walls of the canyon. We’ve been doing “boots off” crossings to keep our feet dry, and this costs us a lot of time.
At 4:30 this morning we woke to the sound of light rain, looked outside and saw were immersed in fog. We decided to get moving in case the rains picked up, potentially flooding our narrow creek or causing the loose scree walls to collapse. For a couple of hours we crossed the creek back and forth. Sometimes we were forced to scramble or climb high up the sides of the canyon to avoid the deep sections of water. It was still foggy and rainy when we found a new, safer campsite and set up our tent again, crawling gratefully back to bed for a much appreciated few more hours sleep until the fog started to clear around lunchtime.
The weather looked much better and we thought we would make it over the pass this afternoon, but after more crossings and scrambling up and down scree slopes it was getting late by the time we arrived here and clouds were forming over the pass so we decided to camp again and start fresh in the morning.
Actually today has given us a much needed rest after nearly a week of challenging hiking. We are still very worried about this pass, after our experience on Hoge Pass, and we don’t think our Spot tracker is working.
Postscript: Weather closed in again overnight and didn’t clear until Friday. The streams beside our tent tripled in size. We crossed the pass on Friday afternoon and with 25kms to hike out, missed our rendezvous by nearly 24 hours, having to change our route to avoid crossing the now very swollen Duke river. We kept our boots on for the remainder of the hike, including heroic crossings of Black Valley and Granite Creeks. On the last day I had no choice but to keep my boots on. After the soles peeled off, Paul duct taped them to my feet!