Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 17 : Winds Wreak Havoc in Deep Creek

22 miles today
2353 miles to go

Sunrise and I'm still in my tent. Braveheart has already left. I'm enjoying the dregs of one of the best sleeps of my life. I am now moving in slow motion. I enjoy a leisurely breakfast of granola, instant breakfast, Starbucks vanilla latte, dehydrated apricots, and banana chips. The air is slightly on the cool side of just right. I pack my gear slowly, stopping every few minutes to enjoy the view. After a few minutes in the sun I decide it's time to hike. One of the things I forgot to do yesterday was apply sunscreen I do that now, face, neck, ears, and hands, everything else is covered.

I set off at a brisk pace, a pace I couldn't even imagine last night. A good night’s sleep is a great therapy for exhaustion. I look for Braveheart’s tracks but they are obliterated by all of the other people who have passed by while I was dilly-dallying. Today's hike is down. Down from here into first the Holcomb creek drainage then into the deep creek drainage. My feet feel better than they have felt for a long time. Down, down into the valley. Off in the distance is Silverwood Lake, we should be there tomorrow. Today I'll pass the three hundred mile mark. I drop into the Holcomb Creek ecosystem and I am amazed at the beauty of it. My expectations where that it would be similar to deserty creeks I've already seen. No, this drainage is green and verdant. There are big green trees with many water loving plants in their shade. The creek is happily singing its way down the way. Bouncing from rock to rock happily as it splashes and gurgles through and around the rocks. The trail takes my across then across again, crossing on logs above the clear cool water. 

I happen upon a hiker I had met before. He’s sitting on a log. He’s sitting leisurely strumming his guitar. He got his name when he broke the G string on it and had to play without it, his fellow hikers named him G-String. Everyone seems happy today. As I meet hikers they are all smily and fun to talk with. I pass a guy about my age with a couple of boots on his pack. He's hiking in his camp shoes. I say, “I've done that before.” He chuckles and says, “they are too hot.” I pass another guy with the same type of hat as the one I'm wearing. “Nice hat!” I exclaim. He laughs like its the funniest joke he’s ever heard. Like I said, everybody seems to be in a good mood today. I approach another hiker standing on the side of the trail looking at her maps. “Good morning!” I say so as to not startle her. She startles anyway, looks up and slips at the same time falling back on her pack. She laughs uproariously. Her name is Square Pants, after a cartoon about a sponge. It happens to be her favorite show. 

I am moving quickly all morning. I seem to have a rhythm to my step. I find myself humming random songs to the beat. I come around a corner and some shouts, “No Skip!” Which has become my official trail name as it fits me and the hike that I am on. I figure if I get to someplace where I have to skip or shuttle, I might as well go home. It's Braveheart. She's just finishing getting water for the next leg. Two liters of cool clean water from Pipe Spring. It's a pipe coming horizontally out of the side of the hill with a little trickle of water coming out of the end. As I begin to replenish my water she heads off down the trail. It takes me about twenty minutes to get two liters of water. During that that I'm passed by Forty Two and Duck Man. I have no idea how they got their names and I spend the rest of the time waiting for my water imagining the stories that gave them their names. In the end I came up blank.

Deep Creek is different. First of all its in a deep canyons with steep sides. There is no getting close to it unless you choose to descend the steep side trails that show up every so often. It's here that I check my mileage and find I am almost to PCT milestone three hundred. I begin to watch the mileage count down on my phone. Whenever I do this I walk slower and the distance seems to grow longer and longer. I walk what seems like a lot longer but probably isn't. Finally I arrive, I dance a little jig, click my heels three times, and take a picture. Well actually, all I do I take a picture.

Lunch time arrives when I catch up with Braveheart as she is finishing her lunch. We side in the shade and chat while I make a tuna wrap with cheese. The water resources ahead seem plentiful but many of them we aren't really interested in because they're dry or have got questionable quality. We talk about our plans moving forward. I am getting off trail in a few days to visit my daughter and son-in-law and my two grandkids. Here I am writing this blog for there future enjoyment and they end up being in the story. How cool is that? Anyway, Braveheart and I make plans to communicate our positions and hope to be able to meet up at Kennedy Meadows. 

We reach our planned stopping point about when we'd planned. It's a prime beach on Deep Creek. It's way down stream of the clothing-optional hot springs and the crazy shenanigans that seemed to be going on there as we hiked past. The beach is in the full sun and the water looks cool clear and inviting. The sand goes right down into the water. It's coarse sand. The kind that is easy to brush off when it's dry. I take off my shoes and wade into the water until it's up to my calves. I use my pack towel to ‘wash’ my hair. Then I take off my shirt and rinse that. Then I rinse my socks, gaiters, zip-off pants legs, finally I rinse off my shoes too. I'm feeling pretty clean. I lay my stuff out to dry and grab my umbrella. Back at the water's edge I sit with my feet in the water and the umbrella blocking the sun from my upper body. It's so relaxing laying on the warm sand in the shade with a cool breeze blowing. I almost fall asleep.

Later I get up and go sit next to Braveheart leaning against a rock this is a perfect lounger. She says she'd like to journal more. This inspires me to get my phone and glasses so I can write some. Instead I ask her if she'd like to here yesterday's entry. She says, “tell me a story.” So I start reading it . We both laughed. I was laughing so hard I was tearing up. I'm not sure why it seemed as funny as it was. Maybe it was because it was about us and how the difficulties we some times face become things that we laugh about later. 

Two other hikers come down and join us on our beach. Proton and Mountain Man. Their arrival spurs us into action and we begin to set up our tents. Three of us have tents setup and Mountain Man decides he is going to cowboy camp, which is when you lay out under the stars without a tent. The sand is so soft the my tent stakes are easily buried. I think about how hard it would be to find them if my guy lines were to become detached. But what could happen to cause that? 

I sit in my tent to cook my dinner. I notice that a little light rains falling for a passing cloud. Huh, that's funny, poor Mountain Man’s sleeping bag is going to get wet. I wonder what he's going to do. I look over at him. He's nonchalantly eating a pot of food. Well it really not raining that hard. Suddenly a big gust of wind blows up stream, blowing hard! Harder and harder it blows. My tent is collapsing on me! I have my feet sticking out. Bare feet in the sand. Between my feet is my pot of water / bag of navy bean soup fortified with top ramen noodles. My alcohol stove burning merrily beneath the pot. I can't turn it off. It ‘turns off’ by itself when it runs out of fuel.. Uuuhmm, okay, I'll hold the tent up. The wind suddenly shifts and blows the opposite direction. This is crazy. Even cool Mountain Man is up trying to doing something to protect his stuff from the rain. There we stand a pathetic foursome of bedraggled thru-hikers standing in the rain hanging on to our tents. You can't let go without risking your tent being blown way. The wind has pulled most of my tent stakes right out of the ground, flinging them hither, thither and yon. I can't find one of them. I remember that I brought extra guy lines. I pull them out and begin to right my tent using my spare guy lines attached to giant rocks to keep my tent up. At some point in the process the wind and rain stopped. As suddenly as it began the squall was over. I finish fixing my tent, I remove all the tent stakes and only use rocks and my spare guy lines. I now only have seven stakes. I dig around where I think it might be. No stake. Rats! I hate losing stuff. I get my pot of food and eat it while I walk around my tent looking for my missing stake. No stake.  My tent is now solidly pitched. Oh well, it's just a stake..

I am getting ready for bed. We are in the twilight. It'll be dark soon. I always pee one last time in the hope that I'll not have to get up in the middle of the night. I walk over to where the cliff is, about thirty feet from my tent. There on the ground is my missing stake. The wind whipped my guy line hard enough to fling it here. Yay! Losing something really hurts, but finding it again makes me doubly happy. 

Now that our tents are all bomb-proofed the wind utterly dies out. The moon rises in the east over the canyon walls. All I hear is the sound of rushing water. The most soothing sound in the world. One of the ten major reasons why I love Thru-hiking, camping within earshot of rushing water. Occasionally a bullfrog croaks his big deep throated croak. A splash, nothing more. I drift off quickly and how comfortable it is to sleep on sand.


  1. What a redeeming day after yesterday's exhaustion. Great post!

  2. I continue to enjoy reading your elaborate daily updates. Please keep them coming.


  3. I'm enjoying your writings immensely!