Darling River to Pachena Trailhead to Darling River (28km)
George earned the nickname Penny Candy, during our treat-crave-fueled theme for nicknames on this trip. He was continuously telling stories that could have been, and at times were, preceded by “back in the good ol’ days.” We figured that in those same days candy could be procured in individual samplings for the price of one hundreth of one American dollar, hence he was Penny Candy.
As you might expect, before falling asleep the first night discussions were taking place about the goings on the first day. One of the main topics was what George was going to do in the morning. That first day he had fallen behind and needed assistance at several point on the trail. All this starting from the north end of the trail, the section that everyone agrees is “the easy section.” Everyone knew that he was not going to make it but we also felt that he would have real troubles getting back to the trailhead with his equipment if we did not help. George knew most of all I think and was at a point where he was willing to accept the help offered by others. So in the morning a party of three – Matt, Josh, and I – split up George’s pack weight and escorted him back to the trailhead. He was in pretty good spirits, singing his show tunes all the way back to Pachena, but it was sad to see him defeated and leaving.
The return party ate lunch at the trailhead and started the breakneck journey back to camp. Now we had two packs between the three of us and enjoying that same good weather that had chaperoned us just one afternoon earlier. We did in just over three hours what had earlier taken us over five. Our compardes back at Darling River had spent the day licking their wounds (aches, perhaps) and gotten the site in proper order, including secure spots in the food locker for our things. Duke (I assume it was Duke) even made us a small, modestly decortated dining area where we sat and were waited on for dinner. This evening’s offering was one of the planned meals that Duke and Graham had researched and tested back in Seattle: real smoked salmon and dehydrated peas added to rehydranted pasta primivera with spices from the traveling ‘pantry.’ This is a bag that Duke prepared that included spices and things like butter buds to add to each night’s meal and made it just a little but more than a readymade meal in a bag. I highly recommend putting one together before any big trip. We went to sleep fed, relaxed and one man down but looking forward to moving after a day of rest.