The rain came down in torrents, each drop stinging my already cold skin.
“I can’t cross it without getting wet,” I shouted, trying to be heard over the thunderous rush of water streaming in front of me. “I have to change shoes.”
What would have been a milky stream on a normal summer day had turned into a treacherous tirade pouring down from glaciers above. Across the raging whitewater, I saw where the trail carried on, nearly 200 feet from where I was standing on the boulder-strewn bank.
I set my pack down and it squished into the mud under its own weight as I changed into my Chaco sandals. My waterlogged toes looked like a child’s wrinkled fingers after a long bath, and the duct tape protecting the blisters on each of my toes had begun to curl as it peeled away from my skin.
Once I had reassembled my pack and hoisted it to where it had formed into the curvature of my back, I assessed the situation. Most of the pools were too deep for me to wade through and one misstep would overthrow my top-heavy load and I would easily be rushed downstream, head held under water.
The only solution was to climb higher to find a shallower pool to enter the unrelenting barrage of liquid. I led the way, climbing on all fours up jagged mounds of rock. I hit a roadblock when I reached a boulder whose flat face I couldn’t ascend.
“Phil, I’m going to need you to push the back of my pack while I climb up,” I said.
He nodded in agreement. I stepped as high on the rock as I could.
“On three. One… two… three!”
I pushed through my toes and Phil shoved me from behind. Suddenly, I knew it was going to end badly. I felt my foot slide out from beneath me and the combined weight of my pack and my body slammed against the rock with all of the impact taken in by my right shin.
The river drowned out my screams.
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