Fang Mountain - Adventuring with The Adventure Bus
Fang Mountain - Part 2
Fang Mountain is the hike I compare all others against (so far). It is challenging and amazing; my favourite hike. When The Adventure Bus posted that they were doing an overnight adventure, I was all in.
The plan was for Kirstin and I to do it together, before she got sick. That of course changed when she became ill and couldn't exert the energy required to tackle Fang Mountain, especially with an overnight pack. This opened the door for my sister (Kandus) to come with me instead and while I love adventuring with Kirstin, I was really excited that my sister was taking her place.
We met The Adventure Bus (AB from here out) in the morning and then headed out for the long drive to the base. My sister and I took my truck because as I learned when we snowshoed in the McGregor backcountry last year, I can't do long trips in the AB Van without getting car sick. We drove, talking about what were were going to experience, what she was nervous about, and how amazing it was going to be. It was her first guided trip and her first overnight trip. The excitement grew the closer we got to the mountain and we talked about how I am a strong, independent women who doesn't need help...I sheepishly had to ask her to open my water bottle only seconds later as I couldn't get it open while I drove.
We met up with everyone, grabbed our packs, and started the hike. First up....the creek crossing. Last year when I did it with Fernando the water was too high to take the first crossing so we had to cross at the sketchy log crossing. This year the water was substantially lower and people had repaired the first crossing. Yes! We crossed, waited for the group, and then carried on. We climbed, slowly at first and then up, up, up. There are downhill sections on the way up, and some flats, but they're short lived. Kandus quickly learned she had nothing to be worried about. Meg led the way, pointing out everything you could possibly need to watch out for. Loose ground, slippery sections, roots. She also kept our pace reasonable so no one felt like they were over exerting themselves. Just before we got to the boulder fields Meg told me I was like a good dog. I laughed as she explained that she meant it in a positive way. "You never run out of energy, you just go back and forth checking on everyone and you're always happy". As we waited for the last of the group to catch up she and Kandus debated what kind of dog I would be. They settled on a terrier or a collie in case you're wondering.
Next up, the boulder fields. These are super fun. There is a mix of rocks of all sizes, some secure and some not so secure. The AB guided us across, telling us where to step and where to avoid. I'd done it the year before and you could, of course, do this hike without a guide, but it is kind of nice just focusing on enjoying the view rather than the pace and the hazards of the trail. Across the boulder field we started up the steep section that I was dreading. It is not only steep, but made of shale and mud. It is slippery, steep, and narrow; a great combination.
One step at a time and plenty of AB mandated water breaks and rest periods later, we made it to the guide ropes. I don't know how long the ropes have been there but I am incredibly thankful for whoever put them in. I think I'd be too much of a chicken to cross this section without them. Meg led the way across the ropes, again telling us where to put our feet for the best stability. She encouraged us to grunt as we stepped up the huge step at the end of the rope. It has to be a three foot high step (probably 2 but I'm short so it feels huge).
Watching those coming up behind us I really got a kick out of watching James help one of the people by lightening their load. He carried not only his pack across the ropes, but hers too! It was her first backpacking trip ever as well as Kandus'. Once they were safely across she donned her pack and we continued. Up, up, up....stopping at the creek for water and a rest. Then onwards with a little less upwards as we reached the campsite. We set up camp as it rained on and off. I think Fang has it out for me. It's rained both times I've done it, in different months and years. Actually it rains on most my adventures....
With camp set up we went for a walk to the summit. I had never been to the summit. When Fernando and I went in 2020 it was so cloudy and rainy that there was no point. This year though the rain was minimal and we could do it, so we did!
We crossed the meadows and climbed the last incline to the saddle between the two peaks. A few of us went up a little further to check out what was probably a goat trail. It looked intimidating at first but once on it it was safe feeling and it felt like we could see everything! After some sightseeing we returned to camp, ate dinner together, and then hid in our tents to avoid the rain. A few of us stayed out for a while but it wasn't a late night. Between the rain and fatigue I think we were all happy to get to bed.
The rain continued all night. It woke me up multiple times as it waned and then poured, the wind whipping through the tent fabric. Sleeping in did not happen. I think most of us were awake early from the rain. After listening to the rain against the tent, packing up the inside, and putting off breakfast as long as I could so I didn't have to go in the rain, I eventually decided it was time to get out of the tent.
One of the hikers with us, Rob, had a teepee tent with no floor, designed to be able to accommodate a wood stove for hunting or late season hikes. He generously offered us the cover of his tent to make breakfast in AND offered us instant coffee. I don't really drink coffee so I hadn't packed any. I'm sure Kandus was ecstatic for the coffee and I greatly appreciated the dry space to make breakfast.
The descent is always intimidating. I much prefer uphill to downhill. Uphill is hard, but downhill is where I feel the least secure in myself. Kandus and I had been talking about it as we were laying in the tent the night before. There is one section of the descent that is particularly worrisome when it is really wet and you're carrying a pack. I understood why she was nervous but having done it before I knew we could do it with no problem.
Once we were all ready to go we started the descent. It was hard; the fatigue from the day before combined with the poor sleep made for tired muscles. We spaced out at the guidance of the AB so that if we fell we didn't create a domino effect and take the rest of us out. I'd love to tell you that I made it all the way down without falling but that would be a lie. I fell a couple times, unsurprisingly. I had fallen coming down last year too so I expected it. Down, down, down we went. Down the shale goat trail, down the boulder fields, and down through the forest. We crossed the creek with the little bridge we had crossed only 24 hours before, and we were done. It seemed like both a long trip and a short trip all in one. A trip that will last a lifetime in my memories, but that took only a day and a half of my life.