Miles: 400 to 426.9
It all started off so well. We got up and started hiking before 7 a.m. The night had been dry, so the tent and sleeping bags were in fine shape. My feet felt great.
And then the winds started.
The terrain was varied, without big climbs to take it all out of me. We were carrying enough water – but not too much – to get us to the two sources that day at miles 11 and 18.
After the first water source we slowly started to climb out on an exposed ridge. The wind was fierce. It was cloudy and cold. We were in the thick of the poodle dog bush area so we had to fight the wind to keep from being pushed into it or it into us.
As we descended the ridge, I hoped the wind would chill out. It did not. Getting water at mile 18 was frustrating. We had planned on stopping there to make dinner and avoid carrying the extra water needed for cooking. It was so windy we couldn’t stay still or risk getting too cold. The water source was Mill Creek Ranger Station. They house forest firefighters while waiting for the next blaze. One ranger came out to warn us that the rain predicted would probably be snow up where we were headed.
Figures, I thought.
We decided to hike to the next wind breaks and eat. We didn’t find that spot. We ended up hiking nonstop for the next three hours, first looking for a place to cook, then a place to tent.
The Guthook app said there was a trail camp near mile 424. We were sad to learn that that camp no longer exists. I assume it was lost to the most recent fire.
We opted not to take the poodle dog bush detour. It’s optional and it would have taken us along the windward side of the ridge. Plus, MOST of the trail had been brushed for poodle dog. A huge thanks to whichever trail crew handled that mess!
By 6:30 p.m., we just needed a place to crash. We found a semi-exposed spot near where the detour road and the trail almost meet.
We got set up just as the sleet started. Rather than cook, we ate candy bars and other snacks. Richard fell asleep early.
Not long after dark I felt something land on me. It wasn’t heavy or hard. I looked down at my sleeping bag. It was the tent. The stake on Richard’s side had popped out and let the pole collapse.
Richard very reluctantly woke up and was nice enough to go deal with it. After that, we spent the rest of the night taking turns pushing the accumulated snow off the tent walls.
Needless to say, our stuff was wet the next morning.