August 7, 2017
Miles: 20 (though were off trail)
PNT mile 418.3
Camp: Outside what appears to be an abandoned auto shop on Rock Cut Rd, outside of Orient, WA (we have permission)
The day started a little later than the 3 of us had planned, but we must have all needed the sleep. We were on trail at a late 8 am but progress was pretty smooth. Though it was more road walking, there wasn’t really any elevation change so the miles seemed to go by fast.
The problem was when I thought we should have reached a way point on the map. I pulled out my GPS to check our location (these forest roads all look the same after a while) and we were almost 2 miles in the wrong direction. We didn’t remember a turn on the road, but we had to correct our mistake. I was immediately heartbroken because I thought we had been making awesome progress until that point.
We checked the maps and found ourselves a route that made it so we didn’t have to backtrack, but it didn’t award us with any miles gained. It essentially took us 2 hours to go half a mile. We could have been halfway through our day by then, but instead we had to bushwack and lose time. I was frustrated with myself for not being more diligent with map checking and had to go to great lengths to turn my mood around about it. I felt better when we caught Analeise and decided to do lunch.
We walked along the road looking for shade on our side of the barbed wire that spanned the roadside at property lines. Just when the day was growing hottest and our tummies were protesting our delay in lunchtime we saw a nice patch of shade in the grass at the he head of a driveway. As we stood staring at the perfect lunch place, a man working on the fence across the road said hello. We chatted briefly and asked if he thought it would be okay if we had lunch there. He insisted it was fine so we excitedly got the task of eating lunch. He came by and chatted with us about the trail and the owners of the driveway were passing by, so they stopped to chat as well. They were all very kind and they even have us each a quart sized bag of frozen organic raspberries from their yard. The cold berries on the hot roadwalk were more than delightful. It was like having a smoothie and the berries were so perfectly sweet and sour.
After the berries we came upon the Kettle River. We sat collecting water and washing our sticky berry fingers when the thunder started rolling. We had read that there would be rain today, but we didn’t know when or exactly where. It seemed to be directly on our route just when we had to make a decision on which route to go. We wanted to take the high route (ie trail) through a burn area vs. a 29 mile roadwalk. The problem is the burn was only 2 years ago and burned 30 miles of trail. If it rained up there, we would be in miserable conditions. Think of a wet, sooty forest and putting up (and taking down) your tent there, of walking through wet ash or collecting water that is essentially runoff from the burn…all during a thunderstorm.
We decided, sadly, to take the road walk. We certainly wanted to walk the trail, but the trail decided for us. As the storm bore down on us, we found ourselves camped next to an abandoned auto shop. A man came by and said we were ok here and that the building has water if we need it. Everyone here is super kind! I love it here!
The lightning is super cool to watch, but scary during fire season. We got a small amount of rain where we are, but our chosen route seems to just sit outside of the path of the storm. The storm went straight through our other route, so we chose well. It is probably pretty gross up there…but, sigh, we are going to roadwalk now. I guess getting lost put us in the right place at the right time, otherwise we would have been up there when the storm started. This is better.