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Towab Trail

From the Journal of Robin “Killer Bee” Hutsko

As planned, everyone was packed up and ready to leave Agawa Bay Campground shortly after 8:00am. After dropping bags at the trailhead, parking the cars at Frater Rd. and being shuttled back by Duke’s Bitch, the team was finally ready to hit the Towab trail around 9:30am. Team Duke (consisting of Duke’s Bitch and Re-route) headed back to Frater to await the train, scheduled to transport them to basecamp with their gear, climbing gear, coolers, and some of Killer Bee’s food and gear to help lighten her pack.

The Towab Trail . . . an adventure for sure.

Team Towab (consisting of all other members) began the long journey at a leisurely pace along easy to moderate wooded terrain for the first few miles. The first break was taken at Burnt Rock Pool, a glistening pool of water surrounded by white rocks and mountains. The view was spectacular and an excellent option for a breakpoint. The team rested and refueled for about ten minutes before donning packs again. As they were leaving, however, Pathfinder’s water bottle escaped his grasp and rolled into the water and had to be fished out. Everyone had a laugh and commented how fairly easy the hike had been thus far as they continued on their way.

It was not far past Burnt Rock Pool that the team began to experience an increase in the difficulty of the trail. The hills became steeper and rockier. Due to previous rains, the trail was also muddy in areas and slippery when moving around rocks. Along the way, Stiletto discovered a smooth, slightly cured log that was hence referred to as her clubbing stick. The clubbing stick was to become the subject of much entertainment for the duration of the trip.

Pathfinder gave a spectacular theatrical performance along the way of a collection of memorized plays, songs, and even poetry. One could only speculate if the performance was for the team’s amusement, his own amusement, or to keep the bears and other animals at bay. Spirits continued to be high.

Then the team heard it; the radio call from Team Duke that would change everything. A washout on the tracks was preventing the train from reaching the team waiting at Frater Rd. Team Towab was unable to respond back to Team Duke due to poor radio reception for quite some time. When communication occurred again, Team Towab learned that Team Duke was planning to backpack in via the power lines to reach the train tracks. They would then travel the train tracks to reach basecamp. Unfortunately, the rope gear, coolers containing Duke’s Bitch and Reaper’s food, and most of Killer Bee’s food would not be making the journey and would be left behind.

The alternate route taken by Team Duke. The Agawa Canyon is in the distance.

Team Towab finally made it to a rest stop just short of the base of Agawa Falls. The falls even observed from this distance were a thundering mass of water and a spectacular view. Pathfinder, concerned for Team Duke and the lack of reception for communication, opted to head straight up to the train tracks in hopes of a better signal. Pathfinder would mark the trail where the team was to begin the accent up to the tracks. The rest of Team Towab rested, restocked water supplies, bandaged a few blisters, and ate lunch while admiring the magnificent falls.  Although the plan was to rest for an hour or two, shortly after lunch, Team Towab was re-energized and ready to hit the trail again.

From this point on, the terrain became extremely steep and difficult in sections. At one point, the trail required the team to cross over the top of a small water fall that descended hundreds of feet below. Not long after, the trail led to an area marked “danger, cliff area” where they were required to climb some questionable areas. After a rock was accidently knocked loose, AR and Killer Bee chose to wait to ascend a cliff area until the other had passed. Killer Bee, attempting to face her fear of heights, noticed the steep drop off as she was awaiting her turn to climb. Fearful of a fall, and only a slippery log to hang on to, she pushed herself quickly to the top of the ledge.

Break time along the trail.

At the top of the ledge, Reaper and Pathfinder were communicating via radio about the trail markings Pathfinder was to leave behind. The trail markings had been placed on the opposite side of the small waterfall. Team Towab had missed the marker. AR and Killer Bee looked at one another and immediately dismissed backtracking as an option. Safety was a top priority and the Team could not safely traverse back down the cliffs without the security of ropes. The only option would be to push on and bushwhack as best as possible up to the train tracks.

View of Agawa Falls from the Towab Trail.

With AR’s top-notch orienteering skills, she safely guided Team Towab around any further cliff areas, although the final push through wooded area was a difficult and steep climb. Pathfinder was waiting at the top of the train tracks to for everyone to reach the top safely, guiding all in his direction with his harmonica. All members collapsed on the train tracks, welcoming the flat ground.

Basecamp along the river.

The train tracks were flat, but rocky. Pathfinder spotted a bear off the side of the tracks and scared it back into the woods. Finally, the team spotted the area marked for basecamp. After a ten hour, fifteen mile hike along extremely difficult terrain, the team could finally relax for the evening and congratulate themselves on the tremendous job and accomplishment. No prior team had ever made it safely to basecamp in one day.  Exhausted, the team called it an early night around 11pm.