South Fork Pt. 1: The Death Ray

We were all warned of the death ray. Not by the outfitter packing in our gear, not by those that had come before us, but by one of our own.

He knew of its powers, and urged us to leave early on our supposed 18 mile journey that morning. We left early, but perhaps not early enough.

18 Miles?

We began in the forest, hidden from the death ray and it’s powers, unsuspecting of what lay in front of us. Soon after the summit of Pyramid Pass we found what would eventually become known as “The Valley of 1000 Souls”. The area was devastated by the Rice Ridge fire last year, and its destruction was awesome in its scope. For over 13 miles we walked through a barren wasteland covered in several inches of ash. If I were planning on going to the moon, this is where I would be training.

The Death Ray Emerges

A Final Look Back

Valley of 1000 Souls

Go America

There were moments of elation in the valley of 1000 souls, for one, the Morel mushrooms were the largest I had ever seen and we did have several water crossings that allowed us to cool our dying bodies.

Morel Mushroom

Rest and Relaxation

So let me lay this out for you. We walked a total of about 23 miles that day, arriving at the pre determined location around 6pm expecting to see our mule train shortly. We had waited several hours at a creek crossing hoping to run into our pack train. We were told not to take any clothes, to leave our sleeping gear and extras with them because “they would pass us on the trail”. So its getting later and later, no mules, and mutiny starts encircling our crew. We had dressed light for the trek, and wisely so. However, as the sun began to set, the reality that they wouldn’t show up was starting to descend upon us all.

An overview of the assets in posession:
1. 2 fishing rods
2. 10 flies
3. 3 handguns
4. Young’s Creek
5. A forest service cabin

We dispatched some of our party to hit magic hour on Young’s Creek and catch some dinner, the rest of us gathered some water and examined the forest service cabin. While the door was locked tight and reinforced to resist entrance by large critters, our federal workers were gracious enough to forget to lock the bear proof window.

Hahn’s Creek Cabin

Entry Point

Send Me the Bill

Welcome Home

Great Success

We cooked the fish and the Morel’s we had picked earlier in the day, hoping the mules would walk up any minute. As the sun set we gathered around the fire, and gradually started filing into the cabin through the window. Some of us held out hope that the packer would arrive at some point during the night, and stood watch until all hope had been lost around 2:30am. Eventually we all shared the bunk beds and the floor to escape the bugs and the biting cold of July in the rockies.

A Final Holdout

We eventually all got some sleep, eager to learn if our packer would ever show up, and what stories he would have to tell us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *