August 14, 2017

Miles: 26 (includes some off trail ‘exploring’)

PNT mile 519

Camp: On the banks of Cougar Creek outside of Republic

The 5:30 alarm we had set came too early. It was very cool last night and the morning was even colder, so it was extra hard to get up. I struggled, but inevitably lost the game I affectionately call, “bladder wars.” This is where I stay as still as possible until I can no longer fight the urge to pee. I lose every day eventually. On cold mornings though, once I get up and go, I dive right back into the warmth and coziness of my tent and sleeping quilt. Then I do every possible chore from within my quilt that I can before I get up again. Then it is time to spring into action to get the blood pumping. Cold mornings can be intense.

We were out of camp by 7am despite the lingering caused by the cold. It felt so good to walk in that cool morning air, we were getting 3 mph and it felt good to make progress. I felt as if we could do some real good miles today if we wanted to. 

At around 11am, we collected water from a stream and looked at an alternate. It added 1 mile but said it avoided paved roads, it also said it might be confusing but would be marked by cairns. We decided that anything is better than pavement and there was no mention of anything about bushwacking.

Within 10 minutes we were already confused. There was supposed to be cairns and flags to tell us where to turn…but there was nothing. We continued forward using GPS to guide us towards the route, but never really finding anything that looked like a trail. There was supposedly a series of abandoned roads to follow as well. We less than quickly learned it had been false advertising. We made it almost 2 miles before having to accept defeat and reroute back to the pavement.

It took a good amount of time to do all of that and the progress I had felt earlier took a pretty good ding. But, we moved on as quickly as we could and tried not to worry about it. The kicker though? The other route wasn’t even paved! We could have saved a lot of time and frustration if the maps were properly labeled. Sometimes they just aren’t. 

We did make it to our lunch spot later than we would have liked, though on the flip side, we had made it 15 miles by 2 pm (not counting our detour). Though we would have liked to have made it there sooner, it all worked out in the end.

After lunch, we climbed up to a ridge for a while which was nice. The trail was well graded and the air remained cool. Clouds covered the sun for most of the climb and the rest had a nice breeze. It was a very pleasant day, especially in contrast to the smoke and heat. The air actually smelled fresh today, I could smell the air and no smoke. It seems like good timing…I needed this!

Once we were down from the ridge it was nearing dark. We had to avoid private property and finally hunted down a small spot on national forest land. It is cozy and I can hear an owl. 

All in all it was a great day. We made a lot of progress and are properly tired. We had a great Indian food dinner tonight, potatoes and veggies in a spicy tomato curry. It was awesome. Now I hope sleep is awesome too.