Saturday, February 12, 2011

In Which I Depart San Antonio and Encounter Hazardous Weather

February 1
Departed San Antonio later than I had hoped, around 3:30. Made decent time on the interstate, but nearly decided to pull into a rest stop and spend the night there. Instead, I pulled through and made it to Big Bend by 11:30pm. Tried to set up my tent but the wind was too strong and the ground was very rocky and hard, unsuitable for stakes. I abandoned that idea and figure I’ll try to set it up tomorrow if the wind dies down. I can’t afford another broken tent... Tonight, I’ll sleep in my car.

It’s absolutely frigid out there. My guess is that it’s close to 0 degrees before you factor in wind chill. I’m SO thankful for the cold-weather gear that I bought.

It took me close to 20 minutes just to light the Whisperlite stove, but once it got going it was great. I made some soup and boiled some water, but had to be quick about eating it because even boiling water won’t stay hot for more than a few minutes out there. Anything that has water in or on it will begin to freeze in minutes.

Time for bed now. I hope I can sleep tonight - it’s pretty cold in the car too
That is the first entry in the journal I kept on my recent journey from San Antonio to Washington; it was written almost entirely as things happened, or as a recap at the end of the day, hence the bad grammar and incomplete sentences. Writing a cohesive entry can be rather difficult when you're out in the wilderness huddled in your car, trying at all costs to stay warm.

I had been planning this adventure for months and everything was coming together beautifully. Jonathan would be flying down to Phoenix to join me on Saturday (February 5), and from there we planned to head up to Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park to do some hiking, photography, and camping.

My departure date from San Antonio was Tuesday, February 1. I planned to spend 1 1/2 days in Big Bend National Park up in Western Texas, and then travel up through El Paso and Tucson to arrive in Phoenix by Friday night. I had a terrible time trying to pack all my things in my little 99 Honda Accord - most of it wouldn't fit - so I hit the road later than expected on Tuesday (Feb. 1). The journal entry above describes that evening simply, but well. An extreme cold front hit the southern states that day and made my life a lot more interesting...

As I was driving along Hwy 385 S. toward the park I began to see faint flurries of ice particles and snow. It wasn't until I stopped and got out of the car that I realized how cold it was. They weren't kidding about that cold front! Being the more adventurous type, I was rather pleased since the inclement weather added an unexpectedly hazardous edge to my trip. Call me crazy, but it's true.

As the journal entry notes, I was unable to set up my tent that night. The wind was blowing hard and, despite my efforts to anchor it with rocks while I worked to hammer in the stakes, it was a lost cause from the start. So I resolved to sleep in my car that night - never a welcome prospect, but in this case it was my only option.

I managed to light the MSR Whisperlite stove I had borrowed from my Dad, and warmed up some Chunky's soup for supper (at midnight). I think I also made some tea - black, and therefore caffeinated, but that didn't matter; everything centered on staying warm and believe me, it was hard to do!

I "went to bed" cold, but thankful for the Lord's blessing on my journey so far, and hopeful that I would be able to catch a few winks of sleep that night even though my situation was devoid of most earthly comforts.

There are no photos for this entry since I didn't take any that day. I was too preoccupied with keeping my toes warm. Upcoming entries will contain photos.

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