Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 7 Onto Duck Creek and into the hail

Today starts of so differently than it ends.  It is still so smoky that some hikers decide to stop hiking.  It's too hard for them to breath and you cannot see much at all beyond a certain distance.  I pack up, hike up to the cafe and store and buy my few additional supplies.  They all fit into the bear canister with some room to spare and I am proud that I am getting more of a hang of this.  Everybody is packing, stuffing food into their canister, using their full body weight.  Ziplocks are all over, trash bags, recipies are being exchanged, food is passing hands, I trade and rummage through the hikers box as well as leave some behind.  Hiker's boxes and buckets are wonderful - you leave what you don't need and see if you need anything that has been left behind. I also give some clothes I now know I won't need to a hiker to be mailed home for me.

After a breakfast of eggs and hash browns - I thought I could fit pancakes in but apparently my stomach is done but can easily deal with 2 hot chocolates - I head off up and up with no water for 5 miles.  I have treated 3 liters and it is really adding to the weight.  I am always amazed how quickly I gain elevation on these switchbacks.  I see the mountainrange on the other side of the valley emerge, the trees recede below me and mist swirl up from the valley. It's becoming less smoky and a lot more cloudy.  At least the rain will wash away the smoke and debris and quelch the fire.  It's a hard hike, I stop often and enjoy the quiet and solitude and how much stronger I feel.  I leap frog with the young woman who decided to continue on solo after her friend left to see a dentist.  The landscape gets nicer as the evidence of the past storms is left behind me.  I realize that I liked Reds but didn't love being back in civilization.  I decide that rather than stop at the next possible resupply place which is calle Vermillion Resort, I will continue to hike on and have more time by myself in nature. I have enough food to do that.  I am surprised how clear and strongly I feel about that.  I don't miss showers or the meals or the company, I don't want to forgoe a single night out here.

It's starting to get darker and starts to drizzle.  I am feeling so strong that I continue to hike beyond my 5 mile goal for the day and go 11 miles to Duck Creek.  It is getting colder and I put on everything I have.  Still, my hands are getting really cold.  Its really raining now with some hail mixed in.  Not pleasant and the thought of putting up a tent in the rain is not nice, a real nuisance.  Then the young woman hails me from the side of the trail.  I was so in my own world, I hadn't realized that I am actually at the creek and it was time to look for a camp site.  There are a few trees with some flat spots and she is setting up her tent there.  A group of 3 is already there and there are no flat areas anywhere to be seen.  They make room for us and the young woman and I decide to share a tent - it's faster and the space is better used that way.  I put up my fly sheet to keep our packs dry and am so exhausted and cold, I eat 2 granola bars, get into the tent and sleeping bag and am done for the night.  The rain and hail continues throughout the night.  It is warm in the tent and I am glad for this night to be near other people.  They are troopers, cook and stay in the rain for a while.  I sleep long and soundly.

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