This is part three of a three-part post. Here you will find part one and part two.
So, after wallowing in depression for a few seconds, we quickly located the trail leading off the peak. It was getting fairly dark now. It must have been around 9:30 or 10:00. It was time to break out the headlamps. We started the trek down. The backside of Gothics was a lot easier, though it was pretty long.
We made our way towards Armstrong. I grabbed a bit of granola bar. I knew that my food wouldn’t last until the end, so I was trying to ration myself as much as possible. Armstrong was the highest peak left, and it was a very long hike up. When we got to the peak of Armstrong I was completely out of food. I did have one energy shot that I had for emergencies. I decided to save it for later.
We went up and over Armstrong and headed to Upper Wolfjaw. Our pace was suffering severely by now. We were both out of energy and we had no food to replenish it. I took my energy shot, but it never did much that I noticed. At this point in the hike we were running on will power, and we needed a lot of it.
When we got to the low point between Upper and Lower Wolfjaw I took my last sip of water. We both had camel backs, and had been getting stream water and purifying it. Well, we were so tired we forgot to check our water supplies along the way and we both ran out. We kept our eyes open for a water source. We started up Lower Wolfjaw. There wasn’t a lot we could do besides put one foot in front of the other. I was getting pretty dehydrated by the time we reached the top. I was actually trying to lick any water possible off of wet rocks and things we came across (more on my mental state later). The hike down Lower Wolfjaw was ever so slightly uplifting, knowing that we only had Hedgehog mountain left. We had already decided not to peak Rooster Comb. It is not a high peak, and adds an extra mile to the hike.
After about two or three hours without water, I started hallucinating, and after that I became delirious. The hallucinations were mostly shadows, and I was able to tell they weren’t real, although I did at times see trail signs we were waiting for, only to find out after looking back that the sign wasn’t really there. After this I was delirious for a period and I don’t remember very much from it. I just know that we kept hiking. There was no sense in stopping, because I wasn’t going to get better until I got some water. I do remember finding water finally. That was a wonderful feeling. Theoretically I needed to wait thirty minutes after getting water for the drops to completely sanitize it, but I’m pretty sure that when we found a stream I just stuck my face in it and started drinking. It also woke me up a little bit which was nice. I gave myself a stomach ache from drinking too much, but I was happy to be hydrated.
I was in much better mental shape after getting hydrated, but physically we both just wanted to fall asleep. In fact, the urge to sleep was so strong that if we stopped for any period of time we would nod off. After this point we decided taking breaks was no longer an option. Falling asleep in the woods was the last thing we wanted to do (we did have a space blanket for emergencies). We decided to hike this all in one shot and that’s what we were going to do.
We hiked up and over Hedgehog. We would have loved to pick up the pace, but we just weren’t able to do it. I literally have no idea where my energy was coming from. It was about two a.m. and we hadn’t had food for at least three hours. We still had some uphill. It wasn’t until the last one and a half miles that we were free of major elevation change. The hike out was basically flat but it just seemed to take forever. When we finally got to the small lake it was light enough to turn off our headlamps. We knew we were close to the parking lot. We reached the parking lot at 4:51 a.m. We hiked for 24 hours and 21 minutes straight. We were pretty relieved to see our girlfriends, who were waiting for us in the parking lot. Needless to say they did not sleep well, but they were happy to see us.
My girlfriend Stacey had fresh clothes for me, some food, and water and towels to wash with. I had been hiking on some really bad chafing for at least twelve hours, and I eventually went numb, but washing up and then sitting in the car definitely reminded me what I just put my body through. Needless to say, I was in no shape to drive. Stacey took me home, and I passed out in the car.
When I got home, Stacey woke me up and I just moved from the car to the couch, and slept for about seven hours. I woke up around 3 p.m. and went to bed (on the couch) around 8 p.m. I slept for about fourteen hours that night. I didn’t take a flight of stairs for about three days. It was a great experience and not a lot of people can say they have hiked the McIntyre Range and the Great Range all in one day, but I think I’ll train a little better next year.
You can see a map of the whole hike here. This file is large (about 700KB).