Mile 1626 to 1645
After a quick breakfast we filter and load up on water. The last 3 seasonal streams coming into this camp were bone dry and we are not sure what to expect today. What we do know is that after a camel-ish double hump climb we have a long, long drop down toward Seiad Valley.
Although we have no cloud cover the first part of the day is quite pleasant. As we transition to level and down, Kevin declares he could hike like this all day, which is great news because hiking all day is pretty much the plan for every day. The only bummer is that this entire area has been devastated by fire.
The trail finally follows Grider Creek, but is high above it. We can hear the water and occasionally see it, but we are never getting any closer. The creek is descending as fast as we are. I am sure this water is flowing from Mount Shasta and we are now trapped in a crazy water orbit. When we finally break through and dip down to the water we throw off our shoes, soak our feet and rinse our shirts. It is heaven.
While still cooling our jets, Mountain Goat arrives. He soaks his feet and tells us that Klutz is off the trail with her family in Bend. She was picked up by her sister in Etna. He is not sure if she will be rejoining. I am sad to hear it. Mountain Goat will be joining her for a few days in Bend later in the trip, but he plans to finish in Canada.
Kevin and I push on down the trail, which has a fairly steep side slope with little wiggle room. We encounter a doe and the cutest little fawn you have ever seen. The fawn is determined that the only logical escape from us is to bolt in little spurts down the trail. The fact that we keep coming has no impact on his strategy. The doe begrudgingly follows after each dart, but is clearly getting annoyed. She tries multiple times to nudge the little rascal off the trail, but he is very confident in his plan. The cuteness wears off and this is becoming annoying to us as well. The doe eventually leaves the trail, sure the fawn will follow, but he continues down the trail. Now we are at a stand off. If Kevin and I keep walking we will be increasing the gap between mother and fawn. But it is hot and we need to keep moving. I try to reason out loud with the doe, who stares back at me with a look that says “Dude, I get it, but you know how kids are.” The fawn finally leaves the trail and we continue our long down to camp.
The camp is along Grider Creek. Because of the fire the creek is full of silt. I try to convince myself it is the chocolate river in Willy Wonka’s factory, but it is really just mud and not at all fun to filter and drink. To make the water even more pleasant a father/son hunting team arrive with their dogs, which they shampoo and wash in the creek. They eventually win us over with their enthusiasm, smiles and crazy stories. Our favorite involves dad getting lost in the woods with his tracking dogs. It starts to rain. The dogs are anxious. He builds a small fire and covers the dogs with his own body to protect them from the rain. He wakes up a few hours later with his hat on fire and hair burning.
Face and Crunch arrive in our camp after hiking 34 miles. They debate pushing on the 6.6 miles to Seiad Valley, but eventually find flat ground, build a fire and settle in. We retire to our tents to hide from mosquitoes.