I love a good adventure. I love when things happen unexpectedly and you have to improvise your way out of a situation. Keeps you on your toes and you never know whats going to happen.
Here is the story of our latest adventure.
Late Saturday afternoon my wife says, “we should go camping tomorrow”. That was all I needed.
I grew up in the woods in Washington and love the outdoors. I could go camping for months and would love every minute of. My wife grew up in southern California and despite the awesome natural resources out here, she did not grow up camping as I did.
So when she mentioned camping, I already had the plans and was putting them into action. I got up early on Sunday and went out shopping for our food. We were only going to go out for one night, so we didn’t need much, but I got some trail mix, beef jerky, cup-0-noodle type of dish for dinner and then I got really fancy and grabbed some brie, summer sausage and some good crackers. I also grabbed a small pack of Famous Amos cookies as they are her favorite and they will be a nice desert up at the top.
Side note: Camping makes everything taste better. Backpacking and camping makes it taste 10 times better. So if you bring crappy food it will taste great. If you bring great food, it will taste amazing!
I get our packs all ready to go. Her’s only has her sleeping bag, her clothes, water and some food. Its pretty light, but that’s good because the hike we are going to do is a fairly difficult one. Its not super long, but threequarters of it is all uphill switchbacks. We are backpacking up at Taquitz near Suicide rock and we are going to hike up the Devils Slide if those names help you get any description of our hike. My pack is a bit heavier as I’m carrying the tent, water purifier etc, but that’s OK.
We drive out there and start the the hike around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. It was hot out, but hopefully it would only get cooler as the sun was setting. We had a great hike up and stopped as needed on the steep switchbacks. We actually made really good time and reached the saddle junction area where the trail then splits off in many directions. We continued on to skunk cabbage meadow area where we were to camp. We passed a stream were we were going to get some water, but we decided to setup camp first and then come back and get water.
We hiked for a bit more and passed another trail junction and we kept going on our trail. Then things weren’t looking like I had remembered them. We missed a turn somewhere and we had gone too far. Luckily I caught this fairly soon, so we headed back and saw the cutoff which is not well marked. We decided to get water now and then setup camp so we hiked back up to the stream, got our water and then found the not well marked cutoff again and found our way to a nice spot to camp. It was flat, but had some nice trees and a big log to lean against.
We got unpacked and first things first, put on our flip flops. Our feet were happy, and we started to setup camp. I setup the tent and got the sleeping bags out and setup in the tent while my wife started to put on her layers of clothes as she said she was cold. It was not cold out. I continue making up the camp and break out the camping stove to start boiling water for our dinners. I get the water started and then break out the brie, meat and crackers. I only brought a Gerber camping knife and its VERY sharp, so I proceed to cut myself oh so slightly on my finger as I’m cutting the meat and cheese. I didn’t think it was bleeding, but apparently it was so I then proceed to get blood all over one side of the cheese. Very classy.
But we are camping so I bandage up my finger with some climbing tape and cut the bloody part off the cheese and its all good. Actually it tastes AMAZING and I am a genius for thinking to bring it. So we are now resting and snacking and all is well.
We also brought “juice boxes” from Target which are an amazing invention and are great to take everywhere for those that love wine.
So my wife is happy drinking her “juice boxes” while sitting in her camping chair and eating her crackers and cheese. She pauses occasionally to put on more clothes as the sun sets. It is still not cold at this point either.
I finish boiling water for my dinner and sit down to eat my noodles. As I begin to eat, my wife starts the “Did you hear that noise?” game. This is not a fun game for anyone to play so I ignore this and keep eating as I’m very hungry from our hike. We continue eating and snacking and are having an all around great time. My wife even says to me “Why don’t we do this more often?” Those are words of joy to my ears. I could do this all the time, and we should.
Then it all goes bad. Really really bad.
Its dark at this point and we have our lights on as I’m finishing my dinner and are probably going to get ready to go to bed early. And then she sees it.
Well she doesn’t see it per se, but she see’s its eyes reflecting from her headlamp. ”Somethings out there!” she yells. ”Its watching us” she proclaims as she jumps to her feet. I desperately want to ignore this too and keep eating my soup, but I stand up to look around and see this beast. I see the eyes, and thats about it. Its VERY dark. It walks around and back out of site.
My wife is convinced that the creature knows that we can see its eyes with our lights so now its just looking away to better sneak up on us. The wife is on full patrol lookout now and we see its eyes again pop upon the other side of our campsite and its pretty close. This time I can see its eyes and make out the general shape of a dog.
“Looks cute” I think. The wife disagrees.
It watches us for a few seconds and then disappears off into the darkness again and I continue to finish my soup. My wife has other plans.
“Thats it, we’re leaving!” she exclaims and like a good husband I simply say OK. I quickly new that she was not going to get any sleep that night, which would translate into me not getting any sleep that night. I could tell she was freaked out and and that we would both be miserable, so we packed up.
Well first I was going to finish my soup as I was pretty sure it was just a coyote and it was smelling our food but had little interest in bothering us. My wife remained on full patrol scanning the entire campsite with her headlamp and yelling at me to stop eating and start packing. This went on for several more bites as I tried to finish my dinner. We then began to pack up to hike home…in the dark.
I packed up the sleeping bags and tent as she continued her vigilant lookout all the while her reminding me that I should be moving faster. With the bags and tent backed up I’ve never seen my wife get ready so fast. She had her stuff in her backpack and it up on her shoulders in less than a minute as I continued to get the rest of the campsite packed up. I packed everything up and was still snacking on trail mix and such as I went along. This did not please my wife. ”Why are you still eating!?” she would ask as she would remind me to hurry up before we were eaten by the “wolf” I really just wanted to eat the Famous Amos cookies I brought up, but she politely told me, ” you can eat them in the car, lets go!”
Sidenote: We also just watched the very stupid new Red Riding Hood moving on Netflix the night before. Avoid this film. Its very bad.
So all my wife could think about was that stupid wolf from that stupid movie coming to devour us, and all I could think about was that it wasn’t a wolf and that we were fine. But then I thought, It would be really stupid to get attacked by a wolf while the last thought in my head was, “its probably not a wolf”. So we got everything packed up and headed out on the trail.
Now the main trail was very well marked right up until the point where we get off the trail to camp. That cutoff has some rocks and pine cones to mark the turnoff, but from then through the meadow, its not the best marked trail. So my wife drunk and freaked out and me drunk and leading the way head out into the darkness with only our headlamps which are sufficient, but you can only see 2 feet in front of you and not exactly where the trail is leading. I think we’ll be OK if we can make it back to the main trail so we march forward. Its very hard to tell at this point if we are on a trail or just walking through the woods in some random direction. I of course don’t say any of this, but with great confidence keep saying, “yeah its just right up here”.
With my great tracking skills we make it to the cutoff point and I feel much better. This trail is better marked and we continue on. I’m very impressed with my outdoors-man skills at this point, while my wife is convinced we are being followed and hunted by the wolf. We keep up a VERY brisk pace as we head down the trail. There are a couple points at which we have to cross a stream or the trail looks like it goes off in either direction, but I quickly find the right route and keep us going. There are still two more trail junctions we have to get through to get on our main trail down the mountain.
We quickly pass the first without too many problems. The second one seems a bit further away than I remembered it being, but we found it nonetheless. I’m continually trying to calm my wife down reassuring her that nothing is following us and that we are on the right trail heading in the right direction. I’m doing a lot of guessing on the latter part.
We find the main trail downhill and the switchbacks. Its at this point that I want to stop and rest and grab some ibuprofen from my bag as my legs were looking forward to a night off sleeping vs hiking this whole thing again. My wife then espouses such nuggets of wisdom such as “you can stop all you want when we reach the bottom”. I love her.
We then proceed down the switchbacks and head back to our car. We still have A LONG way to go at this point, but we are heading downhill and I can see the lights of Hemet off in the distant. Hemet is a beautiful town, from far away and in the dark. Close up and in the day, its a horrible ugly town, but at night and from far away, beautiful.
There are a couple more points at which the trail looks unfamiliar, but we keep moving and I’m just happy looking at the stars and keep walking. My wife is convinced we will never see the car again, but she figures either way we are either camping in the woods but she will just walk all night. After one final missed turn we re-found the trail and then found our car.
We had quite the adventure and the “wolf” did not eat us. We drove home and slept in our own beds and woke up today very tired and sore and I’m ready to do again tomorrow. Not sure if I can talk the wife into it.
p.s. I never did get those Famous Amos cookies.