August 10, 2017
PNT mile 572
Camp: Along the Thirteenmile Trail
The nights lately have been pretty warm and humid. My skin sticks to my sleeping bag from a thin film of sweat and I can’t really get comfortable. Sleep has been fleeting on some of these nights, especially last night. I woke up extra tired and we had a big day ahead.
We had to choose between a 3 mile bushwack and a 5.3 mile roadwalk today. From the vague description we were able to find, the bushwack seemed like a reasonable course. We figured we could make it in the same amount of time as the roadwalk, so we were going to go for it.
In looking for a connecting trail we were off course for a couple of miles which was a setback. Plus, most water sources were coming up dry lately. We had water but it turned out it wouldn’t be until the end of the bushwack that we would find more. We would have to be conservative with what we had and going off trail (again) didn’t help.
After finding our way back up a very steep trail we had to hunt for yet another trail which required a pre-bushwack bushwack. It was easy enough though and gave us confidence for the real deal coming up.
We started the bushwack at 2:15 and started by following small game trails. We did pretty good finding a route, but the going was a little slow. We had to stop and map check frequently, always keeping in mind that there were cliffs we had to avoid ending up on. What we didn’t realize was that we would end up having to climb up some cliffs as well.
Back to those bouldering skills again! Pink had taken a wide approach to the cliff, but I went head on as that was where our route led us. I could see the steep path up and I could see it would require hands and feet to climb. I dug in and had to find a new route a couple of times as I felt unsafe with the maneuvers it would require to get up. They are moves I could make without a pack, but it does limit the range of motion and I didn’t have ropes on. When I finally committed to a route there was one last tricky move at the top. I had only one handhold and had to get myself onto a sloped, mossy ledge. I found no security in the move but would be in more danger if I headed back down. So, I dug my fingers into the dirt as deep as I could and made the move onto the ledge. One slip and I’d be on my back and hopefully that would be the worst of it.
Lucky for me, the ground held my weight as I came up and over. Adrenaline coarse through me and my hands were shaking when I stood up. It was a bit scary, but it was over…well, the climbing anyway. We still had to find our way back to the next trail.
The route was hard to follow and we got beat up by the brush and blowdowns. It was slow going, it was very hot and there was no water. We were feeling a bit worn out by the time we made it to the ponds at the end of the bushwack.
The ponds were swampy and hard to approach, but water was necessary so I made the journey in the name of hydration. I managed to collect 2 liters with dry feet but took a wrong step on my way out and submerged my right foot in the mud. It was cold, wet and heavy, but we were way behind on miles and had to keep moving.
We finally made it to the short dirt road that would take us to the next trail section. It felt good to be on road after a bushwack like that. It had taken us 3.5 hours, where the road would have taken 2 max. We decided that next time, we will take the road (that decision is coming up tomorrow already).
We hiked until after dark to find more water. We wanted to stop but had gotten down to less than half a liter each. It would have been a long night if we hadn’t found the stream we did. I almost cried tears of relief when we found it and we both sat in the dark chugging nice cold stream water.
We still had to find a flat place to camp though. So, we marched into the night with our headlamps until we found one. It was almost 10pm when we did.
We still had to make dinner as well so it was a late night. Thank goodness we will make it to town tomorrow. It has been a rougher section than expected the last couple of days…and the smoke isn’t helping.
I think it is time to start raindancing if we want to see any views on this trail.