Hermit's Rapids to Hermit's Rest - The Return
Trip Start May 15, 2009
13Trip End May 23, 2009
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Once packed, we began our trip up the creek back to the main trails. All was going well until I stepped down about a 12" hole. My ankle twisted a bit and my knee went a funny direction. Michelle saw this and thought we were done, but I felt all right shortly after and wanted to continue. It was already extremely hot, and the humidity was nearly unbearable. After about an hour and half hike we exited the creek and put our boots back on. The flat area near the bottom seemed as hot as it was yesterday, even though the sun had not made it above the canyon walls yet. I was struggling to get going, and had to stop every 50 feet or so just to give my muscles a break
The next stage was relatively flat as we traversed the side of the hills, looking for landmarks that we recognized from the trip down. Each familiar landmark was a boost in confidence that we were that much closer to our destination. We scrambled back over the rock slides and eventually arrived at the Santa Maria Springs rest area. We were very worried that we would run out of water before making it to this oasis, but we rationed well and had water to spare upon our arrival. We took about 30minutes here in the shade, refilled our water supply, and soaked our head and neck bandanas in the cool water for the final 2 miles. This leg of the journey is very exposed to the sun, so we were thrilled when a series of clouds rolled in to provide us with overcast conditions for the remainder of the trek.
With 1 mile to go, we reached the bottom of the switchbacks that would lead us out of the canyon. We checked our elevation and realized that we would have to gain about 1000 feet of elevation in that last mile. The switchbacks were long and steep and there were more than I could count. We were taking it one step at a time. We could not think of the top, because it was just too far. Each step was a goal. These switchbacks were riddled with day hikers returning to the top, as well, so we were constantly being passed by ambitious day hikers who would soon tire. Then we would pass them. This went on for about two hours until we saw the top and the trailhead sign. We passed the finish line 8 ½ hours and 9 miles after we began that morning to a hail of applause from a group that had huddled around the top waiting on friends and family who were on their way up from the day hikes. Noticing our large packs, they were amazed to hear where we started and how long we had been on the trail. We didn't need their amazement to know that we had truly accomplished something special, but we appreciated them none the less.