Nika woke up the next morning exclaiming how great she felt while I noticed ash on the top of the tent and a smoke smell in the air. My biggest fear now was not that Nika would want to turn around, but that there was a fire and we would have to… and climb all those rocks all over again!
Luckily as we packed up we ran into a ranger who was giving updates to all the hiker that the PCT was still open but most side trails were closed.
As we hiked a series of switchbacks surrounded by burned trees and fresh wildflowers we were talking about common core and my struggles with helping my daughter when we crossed paths with a father and son who was totally having a “Maddie Cry.” They overheard us and made jokes about their struggles with homework, laughed about the food they didn’t like last night, and commiserated with how dang hard this was. We left after giving tips on how to make good ramen to avoid future bad meals and off we went with a renewed vigor.
As soon as we got to where it flattened out and entered a more forest environment we ran into a SOBO who warned us in an exciting way that he had just seen a bear running away from him. Now there were several animals we were excited to see on the trip, but bears and snakes were not on backpacking BINGO. We picked up our pace on high alert and I was less than thrilled when Nika wanted to stop and have a snack. I couldn’t help but constantly scanning the trees and jumping at every little sound for the next 2 hours.
We came across another much older SOBO show had just fallen while crossing Lemah Creek and taken 9 days already coming from Stevens. He was mildly overweight and apparently missing most of his toes. He was very concerned about us as we were in black hats and convinced we were going to get sunburned while mentioning he was running out of food but refused to take any of our excess. The rest of the trip we were convinced we would get off the trail and hear about a guy missing most of his toes that never made it off the trail.
We came to our first big waterway with no bridge and felt an overwhelming amount of fear, despite it not being very deep or strong. There was a wimpy piece of paracord that had been put up to assist that was beginning to fray and sag with the slightest tug. We made it successfully and feeling for the first time like we were actual hikers shared the remaining portion of taco rice and tortillas at the campsite just pass the crossing.
At a trail junction, we ran into a through hiker we had met the day before who had some kind of medical emergency and was taking the junction that we hoped continued to be open to a campsite where he would try and hitch to town. This entire section is slim pickings if you want to get off the trail and none are easy. He said that if he could quit he would and was just trying to make it to Canada to meet his wife to take the train back to North Dakota.
The rest of the day continued to be difficult with long switchbacks where Nika finally had her first mini break down. (So much for feeling great!) This was also in part due to the fact that we had found an area that would have been good enough, but I kept going and found an area with easier water access and flatter campsite, begging her to pick her pack up and relocate.
Our bear bag hanging was so pitiful as there was only one real tree in the area and the weight dragged the branch a whole 2 inches off the ground. We decided it wasn’t worth it and ended up putting the food bags in the tent by our feet. Neither of us slept well and we imaged endless critters coming to get us.
The water at this pond attracted some crazy large dragonflies that continued to scare the crap of us by getting into the rain fly and then attaching to my clothes while I was trying to use the restrooms. There are many times where you are glad that only your sibling is there to see you scream at the top of your lungs and panic over a bug that isn’t even in the same room as you.
|12.5 Miles||Campsite before Pond||Campsite at Pond|
|LUNCH||Taco Rice & Tortillas|
|DINNER||• Tuna & Garlic Shells
• Beefy Mac & Cheese
|SNACKS||• CLIF BAR – Berry Pomegranate Chia
• Trail Mix