Day 7: Fourth Day Out. Thursday, June 22, 2006

I awoke today to a forecast of more wind and rain. Since it was our last day here at McNeil, we were all hoping for a prediction which would include fair skies. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. As we gathered at the cook shack for our daily breakfast and gear gathering, I noticed a quiet heaviness in the air. Maybe we were all equally disappointed in the weather, or perhaps tired, or both. The torrential rain showed no signs of ceasing, so by 9:00 AM, the rangers showed up to ask us what we wanted to do. We all decided to wait an hour before heading out to the flats. With the weather as it was, the likelihood of getting a good shot in this light was poor. Therefore, I packed lightly today.

Cold and Wet

As expected, we didn’t see many bears today. I guess they’re smarter than we, and have bedded down somewhere dry and warm. The group walked in the rain for several hours with no bears within range of a good shot. The wind and drenching rain have made it most unpleasant for everyone in our group. Cold and wet, half of us decided to head back to camp. Although I love being here, my cold, wet body needed some hot chocolate to warm me, plus, the sauna was calling like a siren. One of the two rangers took half the group back to camp while those remaining decided to hike to the falls to see if the salmon were running.

The Sauna

Back at camp, we removed our wet gear and dried out our camera equipment in the warmth of the cook shack. Some of the campers carried some wood down to the sauna to get the fire started. After a quick snack, I headed to the sauna to soak up the warmth of the stove. One of the only luxury items at McNeil, the sauna has again restored me to feeling like a warm blooded being. With renewed energy, I updated my journal and began packing some of my equipment to make room for the next campers.