Within 20 minutes or so of arriving at 4B1 a little rain begins to fall. First it is a drop here and there and then it slowly begins to build. Laurie and I scramble to get our things repacked and make sure that what must remain dry gets into our big, Glad garbage sacks-an ultralight solution to keeping dry. I put on my last pair of dry socks-a fateful decision.
The rain begins in earnest and we all put on our rain gear. Without much ado we begin to head up the hill towards the thermally lake. We will take a different route out of Joseph's Coat. There is a "land bridge", so to speak, that will allow us to avoid crossing thermal areas. So we head around the thermal lake-Mark, Lori, Laurie and Dianne stay to the trees, I prefer the solid ground and easy walking on the shores of the lake. We then cut through the trees and towards a very large fumarole.
"This is the fumarole," I say to Dianne, "that Jake wanted to show you in 2001."
The fumarole consumes the better part of the hill in which it resides, rather like the collection of springs and geysers lodged in the hill below the museum at Norris Basin's Porcelain Basin. The fumarole hisses and roars and we take a moment to enjoy it before going on. In the cool of the morning it produces prodigious amounts of steam.
I remember Dianne stopping and looking hard at the fumarole. I think her exact words were "wow." Indeed.
Once past the fumarole we encounter a steeper portion of the hill that leads into Joseph's Coat. We pick a spot on the ridge and head towards it. It is selected for its lack of deadfall and the relative ease of ascent. When we get to the top, Mark takes some more bearings and we head in the direction of Orange Rock Springs. Next we encounter a small thermally stream running through exposed rhyolite. Dianne says that she doesn't remember this when we came in. That is because we came in a few yards north of here. But I know that following the stream southward will lead you into yet another thermal area of Joseph's Coat. This is an area that Wayne and I found in 2004. It is an area of small frying pans and fumaroles and is not nearly as active as the main area of Joseph's Coat.
We still have drainages to cross and the way is still steeply uphill, but the worst of the climbing is behind us. Mark and I seem to stay somewhat behind the girls. We talk casually and plan our next trip to Joseph's Coat. We like the route so much that Mark stops occasionally and marks a waypoint. Up ahead, the girls have all stopped. Lori turns around first.
"There's a bear up here and he won't move," she says in her best I'm-not-afraid-of-bears voice.
Mark and I jog up to the girls. When I get there I am the only one who has his bear spray out. We look at the bear.
"It's a log," says Mark. And so it is. But I learned my lesson about not having the bear spray out in 2005. On our way out of Joseph's Coat, in the Hayden thermal area, we came across a bear 30 or so yards off trail. The bear ran out of the area when we made ourselves known, but only Mark was getting his bear spray out. I promised myself then that I would have my bear spray out first and answer questions about logs later.
And so we head on, Mark waving the girls left or right as need be and adjusting course. The way is pleasant here, even though the rain has picked up. Because of the ground cover, my boots and socks are soaked. There is just nothing to be done about it.
Mark and I have drifted maybe 20 yards behind the girls and we are talking among ourselves. Suddenly we hear a cry from ahead of us. Dianne has fallen and she is yelling in pain. Mark and I jog to catch up to her.
"I can't get up," she says. "I can't get up!"
Dianne is laying face first on the ground. She seems to have stumbled on a branch near a log.
"Where does it hurt?" says Mark.
"My elbow. I can't get up."
For the first time I wonder if we are going to need to use Mark's PLB.
We determine that it is Dianne's left elbow and so we roll her onto her right side and sit her up. Mark has paramedic training from the military and he and Dianne start examining her left arm. The good news is that nothing is radically out of place and nothing is sticking out. Dianne says that she felt something in her elbow pop when she fell. Mark asks Dianne to squeeze his finger and although it starts well, Dianne winces in pain. Then something pops for her again. Mark thinks it might be a sprain or tendon damage. I reach under Dianne's backpack and loosen her straps. Lori and Dianne get her right arm out first and I slip the strap and her pack off her left arm. Then we get her fanny pack off. Mark has Dianne do some range of motion testing and Dianne discovers what hurts and what doesn't.
At this point, we decide to take a little break and get some water. I don't know if Dianne had some Advil at this point, but she should have. In a demonstration of anger, frustration and sympathy, Lori kicks the branch that Dianne tripped on. "Stupid branch!" she says. It is just about as angry as I have ever seen Lori. The branch responds by sailing a few inches in the air.
Dianne takes a few steps around and determines that she can walk. She tries her poles and discovers that it is difficult to use her left pole. I suggest a technique where she keeps her poles in front of her instead of to the side. This involves more wrist action and less arm movement. Dianne says that works pretty well.
Mark volunteers to take Dianne's fanny pack and discovers the ingenuity of her strange carabineer system of counter balance. I hoist Dianne's backpack onto her and we leave the scene of the accident. Dianne slows down a little bit. We are only about a half mile away from the trail.
As we recover from the scare the subject of a return to Fairyland comes up as it always seems to. Lori explains that if I want to end their marriage, then I should definitely keep talking. I tell Dianne that I will help her write her trip report.
"Hear me now. I will go to Fairyland no more forever." Dianne repeats it once as if memorizing it.
When we get walking again Laurie says, "Who are you kidding. You know perfectly well that if Allie (our niece, Allison) asks you to take her to Fairyland that you will go." True enough, there is no denying that.
After some time, Mark shows me his GPS. It says, "Approaching Orange Rock Springs."
"Hey guys," I say. "I have some bad news. We have to go through another thermal area."
Somebody says, "What?!" But no one asks what I am talking about. Then I announce, "I can see thermals." And we are coming down the hill to Orange Rock Springs. Dead on. Picture perfect.
We are positively giddy to finally reach a trail. From now on the way will be easy and we will make good time. The last half mile to 4M2 breezes by and the rain has let up some. It is a good, good feeling to get into camp.