Mile 2391 to 2412
Last night we avoided the tiny dirt spots by the trailhead lower parking lot and pitched our tents in the upper horse trailer lot, thinking there would be less traffic. I am not sure how much traffic there was in the lower lot, but the upper had plenty. We heard the diesel engines roar and had massive headlights blasting our tents from fire trucks, paramedics and equipment trucks. I could see a variety of straps, ropes and gear being spread all over the ground, while two-way radios chirped seemingly serious conversations. I went out to ask if there was anything we needed to know and a voice behind one of the 6 flashlights shining in my face said “No.”
When daylight finally arrives we hike down to the lower lot trailhead where a Search and Rescue command center vehicle is now parked. Since we were told last night this has nothing to do with us we assume we are not lost and proceed to hike into the light rain.
During our climb from 3,000 feet to 6,000 feet jackets are put on and taken off many times. Within a few miles we encounter a Search and Rescue operation in progress. A horse way below the trail is being used to winch up a basket with something or someone in it. The effort seems well coordinated and managed, but the lack of urgency or anyone speaking to what is in the basket fills me with dread. Whatever the situation, our presence is not necessary and we move on.
Today’s route seems wacky. To get around Chikamin Peak and over Chikamin Ridge we actually hike south for a while. It reminds me of the dreaded flip-flop all over again. At a break we enjoy leftover pizza and zucchini bread from the day before. Ixnay declares Peg’s bread fantastic.
I am pretty sure today is Joint Custody Day. There are an unbelievable number of dads backpacking with their kids. Some of these kids are carrying full loads, but in a couple of cases Dad is clearly the pack animal. Kevin mentions these little kids anytime someone complains about the weather – “I wonder what that little girl is saying right now?”
During the million switchbacks down and past Spectacle Lake Kevin’s Brooks Cascadia 10 trail runners have run their expected course. They are falling apart. The shoes should come with a warning label: “Not recommended for hiking, running, walking, or putting your feet in. In fact, return these immediately as they are completely useless once removed from the box.”
The campsite we are heading for is described in Guthook’s application as “Creek & Tentsite(3).” It is amazing how little we know about where we are going each night, but there are 3 of us and we hope to find this site. It would be like driving 500 miles to get to a hotel described as “Highway & Mattress(2).” It is starting to rain as we approach “Creek & Tentsite(3).” We want to pitch before the heavens really open. We find a creek but no Tentsite(3), or (2), or even (1). We are scrambling to find anything. We hike on to a trail split and manage to squeeze 2 tents in. Ixnay pitches his tent on the actual trail.
We are glad to have our gear relatively dry and protected by our tents. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for 100% chance of rain, which doesn’t really leave much margin of error.