Monday, October 18, 2010

A Day Without Snow

I take a self-portrait in the
early-morning sun.
July 20: I woke up, ate my Subway sandwich for breakfast, and hit the trail. I wasn't in a big rush, though. The post office in Belden would close at 1:00 tomorrow meaning I either had to hike very quickly to get there in time (blah!) or cut my day short four or five miles do a "mere" 25 miles today. I decided to take my time.

Temperatures were cooling from the 90+ degrees, but slowly. It was still usually hot.

It didn't take long before I started hitting tree fall. Trees fall all over the place and this certainly wasn't the first tree fall I'd run into, but this section had a lot of fallen trees. Most were small and easily stepped over, but a large minority of them were annoyingly difficult to get around on the steep slopes. After getting around the first 50 or so fallen trees, I grew annoyed. After getting around a hundred of them, I turned increasingly angry. NO MORE! This, clearly, must be the section of trail those southbound hikers had been warning us about.  The branches from the tree falls ripped at my clothes and pack. Sometimes it was easier to walk around the tree where the off-trail brush would get a chance to scratch and poke at me. And, at one place where I was bushwacking around a tree, I was startled by a rattling sound. After jumping back and whacking the bushes with my trekking pole a few times, I watched a rattlesnake slowly drift away down the slope. First rattlesnake I'd seen in over a month now. I'm definitely not in the High Sierras anymore.

I cussed the trail maintainers under my breath, which was fortunate I kept it under my breath because I went around a bend in the trail and found two trail maintainers next to a tree they had just finished cutting out with a chainsaw.

This little fellow appeared to be injured. It seemed to
struggle just to turn around to look at me.
It's a sad thing to see on the trail.
"Thank God, you're here!" I told them. "The tree fall.... it's horrible! Horrible, I tell you!"

They seemed to find my reaction amusing, and told me that there were no more trees across the trail--absolutely none at all--for the next 30 miles or so all the way into Belden. Awesome!

They asked me if I had seen a few of their comrades back on the trail. Three of them, wearing the same shirts they were. Two guys and a girl. One of the guys was "hefty," while the girl was drop-dead gorgeous.

"No, I think I would have remembered that...." I told them. "At least I would have remembered the drop-dead gorgeous girl!" They had split apart to attack the tree fall from both ends, but none of them were sure about the road that would have gotten to the trailhead at the other end or if it was open and passable. They were going to make a try at it, though, and the two guys here wanted to find out if they had made it.

"Not by the time I went through," I told them. "Sorry."

I continued hiking, and 20 minutes later I met three people hiking southbound. They wore the same shirts as the two trail crew guys I passed earlier, and one of the guys was a bit on the 'hefty' side, and one of them was a girl that any straight guy with a heartbeat would have considered gorgeous. One of them carried a chainsaw.

"Hey!" I said, "Aren't you guys supposed to be hiking in from the other direction?"

The trail crosses the Feather River at this bridge.
They told of a miserable story about getting lost and unable to find the trailhead in the other direction and finally gave up. Bummer. I told them that their companions weren't too much farther ahead. I did not tell them that their companions described them as "hefty" or "drop-dead gorgeous," however.

We continued hiking in our respective directions and I wished them luck in attacking those horrible trees on the trail.

The trail mostly stayed in the trees all day, but late in the day, near Lookout Rock, it came out to a viewpoint, and I decided to take an extended break and read a couple of Time magazines that I carried.

The trail dropped steeply down to a road near Buck's Lake, where I camped for the night. A trail angel left a sign on the trail saying they'd pick us up for the night and feed us, but I'd only camped one night on the trail since leaving Quincy. I didn't need to get sucked into a trail angel for the night, so I camped on the trail near the road. At the end of the day, I was thrilled to have done a full day of hiking and never once had to cross snow on the trail. Not a speck, not a patch--absolutely no snow at all.

I get a little nervous hiking when I see
these pinecones on the trail. They're
called widow-makers. Can you imagine
what they'd do to your head if one
hit you?!
I was even able to keep my feet dry for the entire day--except for when I slipped crossing a tiny stream and stepped into the water. Whoops! The stream was so small, though, I wouldn't have expected anyone to build a bridge across it. Just my stupid carelessness that I slipped when I did. I can't really blame the trail for that.
The tree fall was terrible!

All-in-all, it was a dull day of hiking, but a good day of hiking. =)

More tree fall. In this case, I decided
it was easiest going around it.
A freshly cut tree--a wonderful sight to see!
The view from Lookout Rock.


Okie Dog said...

You know I enjoy your comments on your pictures, but I also miss not being able to enlarge the really beautiful visions of the country side, as your last on this post..guess its one or the other, huh?

Ryan said...

I don't really know why some picture enlarge and others don't. I always upload the larger version of the photo and let Blogger figure out how to handle it, but sometimes it turns them into links for the large version of the photo and sometimes they don't. I have no idea why. *shrug*

-- Ryan

Christie said...

Hooray! I'm finally caught up with reading about the hiking adventures. I hope to stay on track for the rest of the series.

My dad, The Vanishing West, hiked the John Muir Trail when I was in 3rd grade (missed my birthday because he was on the trail). It's been fun to see and read about some of the same places he was oh so many years ago.

SJ Honey Bunny

Eidolon said...

umm, you seem to have neglected to include pictures of the drop-dead gorgeous girl...

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow...the size of those trees across the trail is impressive! It's easy to see why rattlesnakes would feel comfy snuggling underneath of them. Lucky you didn't get tagged by one.
But maybe that poor squirrel did. Sad little thing.

And that pine cone looks bigger than that squirrel! Yipes!

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers