Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 94-Muggy Day Around My Neck

Mile 1577.7 to Paynes' Lake at mile 1600.6

Last night's campsite was another one for the list of worst campsite. I spent most of the night trying not to roll out of my tent. I did not wake up feeling all that rested. I couldn't wait to get out of the tent, but when I did, I found I still had a stiff feeling right leg.

Oddly enough, once hiking I didn't feel that tired. The first few miles were very pleasant. The forest was thick enough to go without hat and sunglasses for awhile. It was cool in the forest-the sun hadn't heated it up yet. Two antlered deer stepped out of the trees and crossed our path. By moving slowly we were able to get very close to them. They were very sweet looking. But finally they ran down the hill.

Not too long after seeing the deer we stopped at a stream for water and a snack break. It felt like it was going to be a good day for making the miles we had planned. We wanted to get to the 1600 mile mark for camping leaving us a short day into town.

Water was plentiful for most of the morning. The streams and springs here are charming. They are always in lush little pockets. The usually have tiny tired waterfalls and sound larger than they are. Seeing them always makes me want a drink-they look as good as a sweating glass of ice water on a hot and humid day. Around 11:20 we came to one such stream, and this one happened to be the last one for five miles. I filled up enough to cook lunch, have cold brew ice tea, and to drink for the dry miles. My pack felt heavier with just over two liters of water, but I was really looking forward to that tea.

We didn't hike for too long after getting water-which I was thankful for because the trail looked like it just kept going up. We stopped at a dirt road in the shade of two pines. I pulled out my tea and took a big drink and discovered too late that the tea bag was broken. It was passable to drink. I also brunt my fingers a little bit on the handle of my cook-pot--first (and hopefully last) time I make that mistake.

Leaving the shade after lunch was difficult. The shade felt so much nicer. The trail continued to climb after lunch. The five miles to the water source were mostly uphill and the last chunk was in a field with cows wearing bells. I was unenthusiastic about drinking the water from a cow field, but it actually seemed like a nice little spring, and the cows didn't seem to go that far up the ridge. The next water after that was three miles away, so I didn't have much choice.

Those three miles went by slowly-the heat and the uphill were slowing me down.  I didn't drink much of my cow spring water by the time I got there. By that time it was five p.m. and I couldn't get my afternoon snack out (a peach protein shake) fast enough. What a delicious 720 calories. I was hoping it would get me the last six miles to camp, but it seemed unlikely.

The trail entered the Russian Wilderness which was not nearly as snowy as I expected Russia would be. It was rugged though. The trail followed a narrow cliff along the ridge with views of bare rock cliffs across the valley.The trail seemed to go up and up along the exposed rock ledge.  At one small cold creek I dunked my bandana in the water and tied it around my neck.  Within ten minutes it was no longer cool, but hot and damp.  It was like the hot, muggy, still day had settled itself around my neck.  It was a clear sign that I wasn't in the dry desert anymore. 

The trail crested the ridge and went through the pass between the mountains and into the shade.  It was glorious after sweltering in the sun for most of the day.  The forest was thick and so much cooler than the ridge before it.  Only a few miles into the shade there was the last water source for the day so I filled up with three liters of water--which didn't feel too heavy with a nearly empty food bag.  After filling up I scarfed down a quick snack--the shake had worn off--and I hoped those meager calories would be enough to get me to camp (while knowing they would not, but it was all I had for that day).

I wonder how long it took to catch and pluck the Blue Jay?
A few miles later we were back in the sun on an exposed ridge going up.  There were only a couple of miles to the 1600 mile marker and where we hoped to camp.  It was clear right away that there would be no camping at the 1600 mile marker.  The trail was on a side hill with not a signal flat place around.  The miler marker was charming:  moss and Blue Jay feathers.  We didn't linger long, just a few photos and it was time to go (my stomach wanted dinner badly).

Not long after the 1600 mile mark the trail loss a little elevation as it dropped to a lake outlet.  I had read the guidebook wrong and thought there was a trail junction with a trail leading to the lake, but when I double checked the guidebook said nothing about a junction.  Once there, there was a junction with a path leading to the lake.  There was lakeside camping and a nearly half full moon reflecting in the still waters.  There were hardly any bugs to spoil it.  After last night's dismal camping place the lake was perfect.


  1. Thought you'd like to know it was Heart and Gone Fishing who created this marker. Here is what Heart had to say, "We . . . reached our 1600th milestone. We had been collecting feathers along the trail since we left Mt Shasta and put them on a bed of moss. Then Gone Fishing gathered a unique black moss to underline it."

  2. A 720 calorie peach protein shake?! If you're replying: what is this wonderful mix? I would love to have some along for the long hikes I'm doing now. =]

  3. I miss wrote. They only have 420 calories, but they do taste really good. http://www.packitgourmet.com/JumpStart-Fruit-Smoothies.html

    1. ... just drink two!

      Thanks for the reply. =]