Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Day 15: Lunch at Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort

September 8: The rain eventually stopped during the night and by morning, the sky was clear and sunny. My tarp was largely dry, and I took it down for a bit more headroom while eating breakfast and getting ready.

About 6:15 in the morning, while eating breakfast, I noticed a vehicle pulling into the parking lot--an early-morning hiker, I assumed--and I watched it circle around the parking lot before stopping in front of the restroom. It seemed like an unusual place to stop, though, because there weren't actually parking spaces in front of the bathrooms. The car idled at that location for a few minutes, not actually shutting down. I couldn't really see it very well, though, with all of the trees and bushes blocking much of the view, and it suddenly occurred to me that maybe the powers-that-be were doing a maintenance visit and restocking the restrooms with toilet paper! Or maybe it was just someone who really needed to go and happened to know about this outhouse as they were driving by the trailhead. (You can't see it from the main road, so if that was the case, it had to be someone familiar enough with the area to know it was located here.)

But that seemed less likely to me. Why would someone be driving around out here unless they were planning for an early-morning hike? But whoever it was clearly wasn't planning to stay here or they'd have parked the car properly. In any case, a few minutes later, the car drove away and it was just me and a couple of squirrels once again.

I continued eating breakfast, brushed my teeth, changed into my hiking clothes for the day and packed up camp. I left my stash of toilet paper at the top of my pack--just in case those restrooms hadn't been restocked, I was prepared!

I wandered over to do my thing, yanked the door handle--and nothing happened. It was locked! I was floored. It wasn't locked the evening before when I had taken a look, and it wasn't locked when that car arrived and spent a few minutes idling here and I suddenly realized that they hadn't restocked the toilet paper in the restrooms--they had closed it for the season!

"You f***kers!" I shouted into the air. Couldn't they have waited just one extra hour to do my thing? I was pissed! (No pun intended.) To be denied my rightful throne! I didn't want to squat like a commoner.

"I'm in here!" someone shouted in an alarmed voice from inside. "Do you mind?"

Ooops..... I guess the bathrooms weren't locked for the season after all. I was a bit embarrassed about my anger. I didn't mean to hurl curses at an innocent person sitting on a toilet.

"Sorry about that!" I replied. "I thought they had locked the restrooms up for the season!"

There still weren't any cars in the parking lot so I have no idea where this person came from. He must have been hiker like me, perhaps hiking in from the other direction. I noticed the large, loud car when it drove through the parking lot, but I didn't notice a small, quiet hiker heading into the restrooms.

With the sudden realization that the restroom was locked only because someone was in it, I figured the women's side was probably unoccupied and available. It's not like there was a line of women waiting to use it. Anyhow, there was no real reason to distinguish between the men's and women's rooms. They were identical in every way.

So I did my thing in the women's room and was finally ready to start the day's hike. I never saw or officially met the hiker that had been using the men's room, and we were both probably happy about that. =)

The morning's hike was largely uneventful with a slow and steady 1,000-ft climb up then a slow and steady 2,000-ft drop. The last few miles of the morning were on roads. First a gravel road which wasn't so bad, but it turned to asphalt by Frontier Ranch and became a relatively busy road as I walked the last mile into Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort--a narrow, curvy road with no shoulders to walk on. Not cool!

I was excited about the resort, though. Civilization! I didn't plan on spending the night there, but I could still enjoy a real lunch at a real restaurant with real chairs and a table. There was also a general store I could check out. Maybe get an ice cream or something.

I first stopped at the restaurant where I was seated at an outdoor patio. I had doubts if this was a good idea or not. By now, ominous clouds had started rolling in and it looked like it might rain. But at the same time, being trapped indoors with my hiker smell didn't seem like a great idea either. Hopefully the rain would hold off--at least until I finished lunch.

I ordered a burger with fries--and while waiting, I tried to get on my phone to give updates about my progress to everyone, but I couldn't get a signal strong enough to work. In civilization, and my phone didn't work! But then I checked if wi-fi was available, and it was.

I got on the Internet and checked email, sent out messages, and made a couple of calls using Skype. Life was good! Until I checked the weather forecast and saw that it was supposed to rain for much of the afternoon. Not really a surprise, but still disappointing.

Lunch was served and it was most excellent, and afterwards I spent another hour catching up on messages and emails online. I heard thunder cracking in the distance and a few spits of rain that scared a couple of tables to get up and go inside, but I waited it out not planning to leave my location unless it really started raining. Which it didn't!

Lunch, fit for a king! =)

Eventually, though, I had to go. I had miles to do! I paid the bill, used the restroom (flush toilets this time!) and decided that there was nothing in the general store I needed and skipped it. Lunch had been filling enough.

The trail left the resort on a relatively busy highway before following some smaller dirt roads again before heading into the woods.

About an hour later, a light, steady drizzle began, and--for the first time on this hike--I pulled out my umbrella. I had covered a decent distance and decided that I'd fill up with water at the first available spot then set up camp at the next location where I could camp. My topo maps showed a seasonal water source ahead that I had ever expectation would be available--all of the other seasonal water sources I had passed so far on the trail had been running well. Maybe I could fill up with water there and camp nearby.

Except, of course, the one time I really wanted to actually use a seasonal water source, it was dry as a desert. Actually, that's not true. It was a muddy mess, but there was absolutely no water to be had. Which was even more annoying since it was actually raining at the time. I trudged onward in search of water.

The next reliable water source was several miles away, but I hoped I might pass a small creek or stream that didn't show up on my map. It's happened often enough that it's not an unreasonable expectation.

So much trail, so little water....

But mile after mile passed with no sign of water and I started thinking about setting up camp without water. I could harvest water off my tarp. Except--for the moment, at least--it was just a light drizzle. It would take all night to get enough water at this rate. I really needed it to rain harder if I wanted to harvest rainwater. Which it might do, but if it didn't, I'd be severely short of water until the next day.

I trudged ever onward. I wound up hiking for about two hours in the rain before reaching the reliable water source listed on my maps (Brown Creek) and the nearby campsite. It had been a long day--I covered a whopping 23 miles (which is even more surprising given the two-hour break I took at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort). I arrived at about 7:00, just as darkness started to creep into the forest.

I quickly set up my tarp for the night and dived under it and changed into my dry camp clothes. Nothing feels more wonderful than dry clothes at the end of a long, wet day!

Of course, almost the minute I got under the tarp, the rain stopped. I left the tarp up thinking it might start raining again at any time, but it never rained a drop after I dived under my tarp. It's as if nature hates me, and nature wanted to make sure I knew it.

Cottonwood Creek

The long road walk into Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort begins! It begins on a gravel road, which wasn't so bad.
The trail passes through Frontier Ranch. =)
With the cutest building ever to fit a porta-potty into. =)

After Frontier Ranch, however, the road walk became asphalt.
Then it became a (relatively) busy road with no shoulders to walk on. It felt a little dangerous walking along this section!
Although, admittedly, the views looking down towards Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort were fabulous! =)
It might have been nice to spend a night here! But I had a feeling that a room here would likely have been out of my budget.... Still, lunch was great! =)
The trail followed this road out from the resort.
Loved this mailbox! =)
Chalk Cliffs
Chalk Creek
The trail goes over this bridge over Chalk Creek
I liked the idea of camping in a place called "Bootleg Campsite," but it was off trail and hadn't started raining yet and I was still hoping to get more miles in. So I skipped it and stayed on the trail.

You know it's raining when you see my umbrella in photos! I usually framed photos so the umbrella wasn't in it, but sometimes I'd take the photo with the umbrella in it intentionally to remind me later that it was raining when I hiked an area.
Campsite for the night!


Unknown said...

Just mustard on a burger?
Really? I don't think I know anyone who does that.

Ryan said...

There's a little mayo under the mustard too. It didn't come with ketchup, but it didn't really need any either! =)

-- Ryan