Day 23: Deer Creek Spring to The Octopus

June 18, 2016

24 Miles

(1459 – 1483)

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The night was long as I would continuously wake up with the heavier waves of rain that seemed to be on a regular schedule with no signs of letting up. The last time I woke up from the rain was around 3am. When I woke up around 5:30 the rain had stopped but the drops from the trees above continued to pounce down.

I stayed warm and extended my morning. DSC05324

Breakfast in bed.

It’s not raining, but I am nice and cozy. The top of my bag was damp from the moisture transfer overnight. The tent floor has surprisingly dried out, but my gear remains wet.

The sky was still filled with low clouds, but I had hope that the rain was going to stop. My hope is to make it to the Ash Creek Campground on the McCloud River for lunch where I can lay out my gear to dry.

I slip back into my wet clothes to insure a set of dry clothes if this wet weather does continue. It is never fun putting on cold damp clothes. The temperature had warmed a bit to 48 degrees and I knew I would warm up once I get rolling.

The 10 miles down into the canyon were beautiful. The sun started peeking through and the forest was lush and old. Some of the biggest fir trees I have seen on this trail.

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It’s a nice change to see some old growth after all the clear cuts I passed through yesterday.

Just before noon, I walk into a crowded campground where the sun was shining bright and warm – approaching 80. A man wearing a PCT cap walks up to me and asks me if I would like a soda or a frappicino…Oh, Thank God for Trail Magic!

Magic Mike had just dropped off his daughter who is section hiking into Castella. I thanked him for the Coke and he graciously offered to take my garbage. I proceeded to borrow the side of an occupied campsite where I pulled every item out of my pack and spread it out in the sun. It was if my backpack exploded…rather, it looked like it vomited everything out. I set up my tent, spread out my bag on a ceanothus bush, charged my solar battery, and dried my clothes.

The campsite resident walked by and asked me a few questions about my hike, then offered me a beer from his cooler if I wanted one.  Trail Magic again within the half hour…glorious! I made myself some lunch and moved myself into their camp and had a great conversation with the 3 college buddies that came up to do some fly fishing on the McCloud.  Before I had finished my first beer they handed me a second. When I finished that one they tried to hand me another…I had to abstain. I needed to make more miles today, but the temptation of just lounging here was great.

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By 2pm I was back on trail, now it was getting hot and a little muggy from all the rain. What a difference a day makes. My goal was to make it another 16 miles as the trail climbs its way out of this canyon. However, I also did not want to spend more than an hour ad that campground…I spent a little over 2.

The trail is well maintained and wide for the first few miles as it follows above the river between ash camp and Ah-di-na campground. After Ah-Di-Na, the trail starts climbing and is less maintained. The poison oak was very present and in many places a dance to sneak through was required. Then you always come to one of those situations where it is simply unavoidable. You do your best, but you are required to just push through the knee high toxic green. Then once you do that you look up and there is a usually a branch hanging at head height. Damn Poison Oak!

After a few hours of climbing, I knew I was getting much closer to the elevation that I was planning on camping at. Then the trail drops into another water shed…argghh. I didn’t look at map that closely…the trail drops 500 feet to a creek only to go over a ridge and drop to another creek and then actually start the climb over the bigger ridge. I stopped briefly at a water stop where 4 hikers from Taiwan were taking a break. They too were SOBO’ing from Ashland. I warned them of the amount of poison oak that were about to encounter and they were surprised and thankful. A few hundred yards up the trail another few groves sprung up in the trail…They might be in for a bigger surprise in a couple days if they didn’t know what poison oak looked like.

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I crossed the bridge at Squaw Valley Creek and scurried down the bank for the last big water gathering for the night. There is no easy access to the creek and was certainly not the best spot, but it is the last water for a while and I will be dry camping for the night. I took a little break and scoped out the area. I found a memorial cross above the bridge which was a little creepy. Makes one wonder what happened here, when and who died. My best guess was a drowning.

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Fully loaded with 4 liters of water, the next campsite was a mile uphill. Just before getting to the road crossings I saw a red cooler next to the trail and log book. It was Magic Mike’s cooler filled with more Coke. I grabbed one more for breakfast and signed into his log book. A small wooden sign on a tree named this place… ‘The Octopus’.

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I set up camp as it was getting dark, made some Korean ramen for dinner…spicier than $%#&…heard a loud crash in the woods a hundred yards away (after they got a good whiff of how this spicy ramen was) and then I crashed hard around 10pm.

 

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Popularity contest…

This is a busy trail… 

I get the question ‘are you going alone?’ All the time… My response is your are never alone on this trail…these days. I guess you need to thank a book/movie and REI For promoting the idea that you can just walk into the woods and find yourself still ill equipped to face what nature does best…

My pack is heavier than yours, I still put in more miles, and I sleep sound knowing I have years of experience…

Don’t shun the section hiker just because your ‘bubble’ has group knowledge…

Best of luck to all thru hikers on your quest to Canada.

Day 22: A Marathon with George Castanza…a Ridge Camp to a Damp Creekside Camp…

June 17, 2016

27 Miles

(1432 – 1459)

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I woke up a few times throughout the night as heavier waves of rain would pass over every couple hours. When I woke up at 6 it was still raining. I made breakfast in my tent and stared out at the cloud encased landscape. By 6:30 the rain had tapered to very light, I packed up and hit the trail at 6:45.

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Donned in my inexpensive lightweight Frog Togg rain gear, I started my morning of hiking in the rain – my shoes were soaked by the transferred moisture from the plants hanging into the trail within the first half mile. By around 2 miles, the rain had picked up again and my rain pants developed a split in the crotch; all water that drained of my coat seemed to find the breach… This is going to be a long wet morning.

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His section of trail follows a ridge and offers views back to Lassen, off to Shasta, Castle Crags and probably other places…All it offered me was the few hundred yards around me before everything was obscured by clouds. The rain did not let up. Its mid-June and the NWS forecast was for a 30% chance of rain.

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I stopped for a lunch and water stop where the rain had died back to light and I was able to put on my second set of dry socks – that became instantly wet in my shoes. By this time my rain coat was stating to leak and as for my pants…they were completely soaked and ‘Significant Shrinkage’ was in full effect. I felt short changed with this cheap rain gear…(Do women know about Shrinkage?… What do you mean, like laundry?)

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I had passed the two NOBO hikers that passed me yesterday earl in the morning and then 6 SOBO hikers by lunch. It seems like a fair amount of people are jumping ahead to Ashland this year and hiking back to Kennedy Meadows South to let some of the Sierra snow melt. By around 4pm I started passing tents where hikers were setting up early to stay dry. I passed 5 more groups in the next few miles which didn’t offer me good pickings on a decent campsite. I figured I was already wet, staying warm as I kept moving and wanted to make so miles today. It was not like I had any good views to distract me, so I carried on.

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I had set a goal to reach Deer Creek Spring for the night and by 9pm I was set up. The rain had really picked up again that past hour of hiking and seemed to be getting heavier as I jumped into my tent.

Unfortunately, I had to pack my tent wet this morning and now the whole thing was damp. I stripped off my clothes and slipped into my dry sleep clothes and my dry sleeping back; the only 4 items that remained dry: Long underwear bottom and top, a pair of socks and my sleeping bag. Everything in my pack was damp. I forgot my liner and cursed myself for that, but thankfully I carry my clothes and bag in dry sacks.

I made dinner in my dark wet tent and listened to the heavy raindrops splatter on my tent. Every time a drop would hit it would create a light mist on the inside. The temperature was 44 degrees and the rain was not slowing down It took me about an hour to get my body warmed u, especially my feet. The floor of my tent was wet and now the top of my bag was getting damp from the mist. This is probably the closest I have come to a hypothermic situation, I counted my blessings that my dry sacks didn’t fail.