Monday, July 23, 2018

Day 9: Fording Rivers and Other Adventures

June 8: Today, Blueberry and I got our earliest start yet--on the trail and hiking by 9:00am. It was a lovely day, too! Clear, sunny, warm (but not hot!) and the bugs weren't too bad. Even the mud, where there was mud, was somewhat dry and not that really wet stuff that would suck a shoe off if given the chance.

And views! Several times throughout the day there were commanding views in every direction. This is what hiking is suppose to be about!

At the first viewpoint of the day, I found an abandoned hat on a log and I was pretty certain that it belonged to Tidy, who was hiking ahead of me. He probably sat down for a rest and to admire the view, set the hat down--not needed in the shade--then forgot about it when he continued down the trail. I picked up the hat expecting to catch up with him later in the day since he was heading to the same campsite as Blueberry and I were shooting for.

At one trailhead, a rope had been set up across the trail with signs hanging from it which worried me for a moment. Was the trail closed? What happened?! The last time I came across something like this, there were wildfires on the trail and the trail was closed. It seemed ludicrous to think an out-of-control wildfire was burning, though. I'd seen no smoke in the air, didn't smell any smoke in the air, and everything was so wet and green.

OMG! Is the trail closed?!

But coming closer to the signs, I read finally read the small print that warned there was no bridge across the Encampment River three miles ahead and during the spring run-off or after heavy rains, the river might not be safe to cross and provided a suggested re-route around it. I already knew about the lack of a bridge, though, so none of that was new information. My guidebook mentioned it, and hikers heading southbound who passed it already told us that it wasn't particularly deep or worrisome. Knee-deep at worst.

So I ducked under the rope and continued on. I'm not sure why they needed the rope to block the trail--they could have put up the signs on a nearby tree. The rope made it looked like the trail was closed! But it wasn't.... just a heads-up about the lack of a bridge ahead.

I found a sock laying on the ground under the rope and assumed it fell out of someone's pack when they ducked under the rope. It looked new and had a pink trim giving it a feminine look, and I thought that maybe it belonged to Hiking Viking since she too was hiking ahead of me at the time. I picked up the sock and continued walking. Blueberry had picked up sunglasses from the trail a couple of days earlier--it seemed like you could start the trail hiking naked and be fully outfitted by the time you reached the end of it at the rate we going! =)

Although Blueberry did have a lead on who the sunglasses belonged to. Hiking Viking told us that a couple with a dog had lost their sunglasses, so we were keeping our eyes open for them.

I soon caught up with Hiking Viking and asked her if she had lost a sock, but it turned out not to be hers.

So I continued carrying it and passed by Hiking Viking, eventually reaching the Encampment River. The lack of the bridge wasn't even the most interesting thing about the river, but rather there had been a very recent landslide, freshly fallen into the river. It wasn't particularly large as far as landslides go, but one section hadn't failed completely and looked like it was held together with nothing more than the roots underground. A crack had formed on the trail, maybe a couple of feet across, and the roots in the ground in the crack were stretched out tightly. It almost looked like a giant being was trying to stitch the crack back together. It was fascinating, and not something I'd ever seen before. I had little doubt that the roots would fail eventually, however, and the lower slope of the crack would collapse into the river. I couldn't predict when it might happen, but it was bound to happen eventually.

I jumped over the crack to the river without a bridge where I spotted Blueberry taking a break on the other side of the river and Tidy scouting out how he might cross. When Tidy saw me, he asked if I had seen a hat left behind on the trail.

"As a matter of fact...." I said, "checked the mesh pocket on my pack." I turned around so he could see it on my pack, and he was thrilled to get his hat back. Happy trail mail!

I tromped across the creek to the other side, not even taking my shoes off but letting them and my feet get wet. The water level came up a little past my ankle, but not so high as my knee, and the water wasn't moving particularly fast so it wasn't noteworthy. On the other side, I took off my shoes and joined Blueberry for a break.

Blueberry, I found out, had crossed the creek without even getting his feet wet, rock-hopping his way over the river. I didn't feel comfortable doing that with my much bigger and heavier pack, and neither did Tidy who decided to cross the river by taking off his shoes and socks and walking across it barefoot. I quickly pulled out my camera and took a couple of photos of him crossing the river. An action shot! Yes!

Tidy crosses the Encampment River.

The three of us laid around on the bank, chatting and relaxing when Hiking Viking arrived maybe ten minutes later. She looked a bit flustered at the lack of a bridge, unsure of what to do. Blueberry suggested rock-hopping across, but she didn't feel comfortable with that idea and eventually decided to replace her shoes and socks with her flip-flop camp shoes. I pulled out my camera and decided to video tape her crossing. "Just in case you fall in," I told her, "you'll want it on video. It won't be funny when it happens, but you'll laugh over and over again in the future!" I assured her. =)

Hiking Viking fords her first river....

She made it across fine, though, and the video wasn't nearly as funny or interesting as it could have been. =) She didn't believe that Blueberry was able to cross without getting his feet wet at all, so Blueberry jumped up and proceeded to cross the cross by rock hopping to the other side--and succeeded. Then, since he was now on the wrong side of the river, proceeded to do it again back to our side of the river.

I asked Blueberry if he needed a woman's sock, and Blueberry got all excited about it saying that absolutely, he could definitely find a use for it. This surprised me, even though it really shouldn't have. After all, that's why I asked if he wanted a single, woman's sock--I figured there was actually a chance that he would want it! But I still found it surprising when he got all excited over the find. =)

Blueberry relaxes on the banks of the Encampment River.

We continued onward. I was among the last to leave the river, although not by much and I soon passed everyone else and was the first to arrive at the wonderful views at Wolf Rock where I decided to stop for another break.

The others caught up maybe 15 or so minutes later and they joined me at the viewpoint, as well as a few day hikers who passed by that came up from a nearby trailhead. And two other faces I recognized--Brian and Bob from the Star Tribune working on their stories. They hadn't met Hiking Viking yet so they took her aside and interviewed her on the trail, but Tidy--who had met them the day before--wanted nothing to do with them. He didn't want to be interviewed yesterday, and he still didn't want to be interviewed today.

After the interview and our break, we continued onward. I fell into the rear of the pack when I decided to take a half-mile detour on a side trail to another viewpoint, which was nice but not anymore spectacular than the view from Wolf Rock. Not even as good as Wolf Rock, for that matter, but it was a nice view.

Despite my detour, I caught up with and passed Hiking Viking, then followed alongside the Gooseberry River for a mile or two. There are four official SHT campsites situated along the Gooseberry River, all in quick succession to each other, and our goal was the last one. I passed the first one, then used it as a marker to judge how long I'd reach the next campsite 0.9 miles away. From that second campsite, the third one was a mere 0.1 miles away, and I reached it in a minute. Then it was 0.4 miles further to the last campsite. I figured I'd be there in less than 10 minutes.

Nearly 20 minutes later, I was wondering if I had somehow missed the last campsite. I studied my maps and guidebook for clues. I even pulled out my smartphone with the GPS to get a fix on my exact location, but it was only on Google Maps that I had downloaded to my phone early and it didn't provide much detail of the terrain in the backcountry so I couldn't confirm or deny if I had passed the campsite or not with that. My guidebook mentioned a day-use shelter alongside the trail past the campsite, but I hadn't passed that, so if I had passed the campsite, it couldn't have been by much. I pushed on a little further, knowing that if I reached the shelter I definitely passed the campsite.

And other five minutes later, I arrived at the campsite. I walked in, a bit angry and proclaimed, "There was no way in hell that was 0.4 miles!"

Blueberry, Tidy and a third guy I didn't recognize all laughed and said that that's what everyone who walked into camp has been saying. Yeah, sure....

The third guy I didn't recognize introduced himself as Chris, and he was out section hiking the trail. He had started this afternoon.

I went and found a place to set up my tarp--rain was in the weather forecast for the night so setting up my tarp was essential. While setting up my tarp, Hiking Viking came into camp and I heard her proclaim, "There's no way in hell that was 0.4 miles!"

Everyone laughed--myself included this time. I guess everyone really is saying that upon reaching this campsite! =)

And that was that for the night. We sat around the campfire telling stories and laughing and having a good time until it got dark and everyone headed off to sleep.

Blueberry was getting hot and taking off a layer of clothes, but it also turned into an impromptu tick-check when I noticed a small, dark spot on his back that turned out to be a tick which I had to get off of him. Blueberry had three ticks on him today, and I wound up finding two of them!

The view from Wolf Rock was awesome!
Hiking Viking is not happy to be making her way through all this mud!

Did you want to know what the latrines at the campsites are like? They look like this. It's a small hole in the ground with a seat on top. No walls or anything for privacy, but there's a nice breeze and the views are good. =)
Gooseberry River
Beaver evidence! But I still hadn't seen an actual beaver on the trail yet!
Beaver dam on the Gooseberry River.
Gooseberry River
Blueberry and I pose for a rare group photo at Wolf Rock!
Hiking Viking gets interviewed for the Star Tribune! You'll see her for about ONE SECOND in this video they posted to Facebook! =)
I had to pose for my own photo from Wolf Rock without Blueberry stealing the show. =)
Blueberry and Hiking Viking have an animated discussion!
Tidy and Blueberry enjoy the campfire in the evening.


Mike said...

Were you and Blueberry the hikers in the drone footage at the beginning of the Star Tribune video?

Ryan said...

I'm not sure which video you're referring to, but I haven't noticed us in any of the videos I've seen so far. Maybe it's out there somewhere, but if you've found it, share the link! =)

Mike said...

I was referring to the video linked in Hiking Viking's picture.

Ryan said...

No, that wasn't us. I think that's Snowshoe and her husband.