Sunday, July 4, 2010 – Carson Meadows to Fish Camp to Aqua Fria
6:10 AM – About to leave Carson Meadows. Got up at 5 AM. Beautiful stars in Carson Meadows last night. Wish I had Jackie and a blanket.
Breaking today’s hike into three parts.
It seems strange to me now that we did not need any alarms to wake up in the mornings. We were able to get up, pack up, and get moving pretty quickly. One thing we did to get a fast start was to hold off on breakfast until we hiked a few miles. This gave us more time to enjoy different scenery during breakfast and more time to set up and to explore the next camp.
8:05 AM – Stopping for breakfast near Crags after a terrifying stop at “The Notch.” Boys enjoyed climbing on the rocks, but I couldn’t even watch. Good breakfast this morning.
I’m not exactly sure if I have some form of vertigo or not. What I do know is that I am very uncomfortable in high, open places where there is a dropoff. I do not even like standing on a chair that is in the middle of a room. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had a real difficulty approaching the pass at The Notch. The trail passes through a wide crevice at the top of a crag, and there is no alternate route that would not depend on harnesses and rope (another activity that I am not meant for).
Travis, a fellow dad, shared my concerns. It was difficult for either of us even to watch the boys scramble effortlessly to the top of the rocks. I found that I could handle this better while looking through the viewfinder of my camera, but my knees sill quivered. Both sides of the Notch offered beautiful views. I took my photos and was happy when we moved back to the trail among the trees.
11:00 AM – Made it to Fish Camp at 8,560 feet. Uphills were very difficult, especially when trees are absent. Determined that hiking among the trees is easier (more oxygen?).
My feet have a few hot spots; feels good to be out of boots. First part of morning hike was easy and we made good time, but lots of stops after breakfast. Boys are working together well. Aaron retrieved Patrick’s hiking stick when he dropped it at the Notch.
Morning program at Fish Camp is full (1 PM is next available). Boys are cooking supper for lunch (burritos) since we have two hours before flyfishing. Getting the turkey bags out for the first time. Nashville Troop 1 has just arrived.
The use of plastic turkey bags was a suggestion made by Scouter from another troop who hiked a trek the previous year. The idea is that your meal can be mixed in the oven-proof bags and then submerged in boiling water to cook, making cleanup of the pot much simpler. On the one hand you save time cleaning, but you also have to pack out the dirty bag (and any leftover food). However, leftover food was never an issue with this group.
Boys enjoyed climbing the rocks above Fish Camp. They also tied flies and flyfished in Aqua Fria Creek. Adults soaked their feet in the creek. I particularly enjoyed Waite Phillips’s cabin – lots of personal touches (fire grates and screens, etc.) and all original furnishings. Also decorated with game shot by Phillips (brown bear, mountain sheep, mule deer, white tail deer, and a grizzly killed at another property).
Also learned that Phillips had an identical twin (White Phillips), who died young. Phillips earned his money in oil (Phillips 66).
This was the first of the staff camps we visited that is interpretive: the staff here wears period clothing and claims to be part of the Phillips family. Having a fondness for history, I found Phillips’s personal belongings and furnishings interesting. The cabin had been built so that he could bring guests out into his little wilderness to hunt and fish. Originally Phillips would bring guests in by horseback, but a road was later built to the cabin.
Left Fish Camp around 4:30 PM and made it to Aqua Fria by 5 PM (good time). Since we cooked our supper for lunch back at Fish Camp, we didn’t have to cook tonight. Sun is behind the hills, but it will not be dark for another 30 minutes or so. Hoping to get another good night’s sleep tonight.
Getting chilly. Rinsed my face, arms, and legs in the creek before supper. This campsite looks like it will be the least comfortable so far. Camping at 8,700 feet tonight. 6 ½ miles today. 8 switchbacks.
1. Aaron getting Patrick’s walking stick
2. Hiking at a lower elevation in the trees.