June 18, 2016
(1459 – 1483)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.