Friday, August 10, 2018

Day 17: Bear Claw's Origin Story

June 16: Blueberry and I woke up to rain. We expected this, it was in the forecast, but we weren't concerned. First, we were indoors and not even in the rain. And second, weather forecasts predicted it would stop in the early morning and not start up again until late in the afternoon. And I only had a measly 1.7 miles of hiking to do today to get into camp--which I figured would be easy to accomplish during the break in the rain.

So I headed into the lobby of the hotel and filled up with the delicious breakfast, then returned to our room to pack up. The post office was only open from 8:30 to 9:30 in the morning on Saturdays, so I walked across the street and mailed ahead my laptop. I would have preferred hanging onto it until later in the morning, but 9:30 was my cut-off time.

The rain had finally stopped when I left Tofte, but the roads were still wet and the clouds still looked angry!

Check out time for the hotel wasn't until noon and given the rain, Blueberry and I had no desire to start hiking any earlier than necessary and we lounged around the room watching TV and surfing the web on our smartphones to kill time.

It was somewhat disappointing, however, when noon finally rolled around and it was still raining! The weather forecast predicted it should have stopped at least a couple of hours earlier, but that was obviously wrong.

Blueberry hit the trail, or rather, he hit the road to hitch back to the trail at Temperance River State Park where he got off two days earlier. Blueberry had to hike about 6 miles to our campsite so he didn't have as much luxury of time as I did. So he left and started hitching a ride back to the trail.

I hung out in the lobby and used the hotel's computer for the better part of an hour before I decided it was time to get lunch. I figured I could walk to the Coho Cafe and get that pizza that I wanted yesterday and perhaps by then the rain would stop except, when I looked outside, the rain had already stopped! It wasn't raining anymore!

I decided to skip the lunch stop. I had plenty of food in my pack. It still looked like the rain could start up at any moment and I wanted to take full advantage of the lack of rain while I could.

I also made the executive decision to not try hitchhiking to the trailhead even though it was 2 1/2 miles away. I needed those extra miles if I wanted to hit my 10,000-step goal for the day! And anyhow, the road walk--I knew--the road walk was quick, easy and not actually bad. It wouldn't be muddy or boggy. I wouldn't be hoofing it along the shoulder of a busy, noisy road. I could have tried to hitch, but that didn't work out so well when I tried to hitchhike off the trail due to the severe lack of traffic and I had no reason to think that today would be any better.

So, I may as well walk! And that's what I did. I flew up the trail, trying to beat any rainstorm into camp.

Two cars passed me along the way, and I half-heartedly stuck out my thumb for a ride but both of them passed me by. Yep, I was definitely glad I didn't try to hitchhike up to the trailhead!

Less than an hour later, I was back at the trailhead parking lot. I noticed a pair of fresh, expensive-looking boots in the parking lot and wondered if that was someone who decided to quit the trail ("Screw it! I'm never wearing these horrible boots again!") or someone who changed their shoes in the parking lot at the end of a day hike and inadvertently left them behind (who would probably cuss when they realized that they left behind their $200 pair of shoes). I leaned toward the latter theory because the boots were sitting sitting side-by-side next to each other and hadn't been thrown angrily into the woods or parking lot. =)

But, not my problem....

Back at the trailhead from where I left two days earlier.

I continued down the trail which was absolutely dreadful with mud and water. A lot of rain had clearly fallen since Blueberry and I got off the trail two days earlier. The poor trail conditions slowed me down, but I still reached the Springdale Creek Camp by 3:00 in the afternoon. There was nobody else there when I arrived, which didn't surprise me at all. Blueberry, I figured, would probably arrive within an hour. He might have started an hour before me, but he had four extra trail miles to hike and however long it took him to hitch back to the trail where he got off at, which I figured might have taken him 10 to 20 minutes. But I walked up to the trailhead so adjusting for everything, I had assumed that I would probably beat Blueberry into camp (which I did), but not by more than an hour or so.

And given how wretched the weather had been this weekend, I didn't expect many weekend backpackers to show up. So the campsite was empty. It would be a quiet night.

I knew rain was in the forecast overnight, so I scouted for a good place to set up my tarp and proceeded to do just that. It still looked like it could rain at any second and I wanted my tarp up where I could stay dry whenever the clouds did let loose their fury again. The most bothersome part was that none of the ground seemed especially flat, but I finally settled on a location which was on a slight slope and got my tarp up.

I changed into my camp clothes then hung out under my tarp reading my Kindle and killing time. About a half hour later three ladies arrived at the campsite, and I was glad for the company. I had arrived at 3:00 in the afternoon and it wouldn't get dark for about eight hours. It was a lot of time to kill without an Internet connection to entertain me.

The ladies told me that there were a whole lot of people headed to this campsite, and mentioned Blueberry as one of the arrivals, who was hiking with Sasha. "Ah, you saw Blueberry then?" I asked. "How far back is he?" Not far.

The wheels in my head were turning a little slow. Sasha.... OMG! That was Hiking Viking's real name! Hiking Viking has caught up with us again! That was awesome! It had been over a week since we had last seen her, and it was good to know that she was still on the trail and pushing on.


The next couple of hours, people continued piling into the small campsite. It was not going to be a boring, quiet night on the trail.....

Blueberry and Hiking Viking arrived before too long, but Hiking Viking seemed a little disappointed that I had already learned about her upcoming arrival. She liked the idea of walking into camp and surprising me. She also told me that Krista and Houston (and their dog) were also heading into the same campsite. I hadn't met them yet, but it was Krista who had lost her sunglasses that Blueberry found later and picked up.

After a couple of days of carrying the sunglasses, Blueberry decided that he didn't like them so he gave them to me and I had been using them ever since, for about a week now. I liked them better than the sunglasses I had been wearing which were old, scratched up and a little annoying to look through. These sunglasses were clean, unscratched and fresh! But... Krista was still hoping to get her sunglasses back. My run with the sunglasses was coming to an end....

Oh, well... At least I still carried my old ones so I'd just have to go back to those.

When I saw a couple with their dog approaching the campsite, I figured that must be them and I put on Krista's sunglasses even though it was still cloudy and dark out, to see if she recognized them. =)

She came up to me and asked.... "Did you find those sunglasses?"

"Actually, no, Blueberry did. But I hear they're yours."

So Krista got her sunglasses back, for which she seemed very happy. Houston said that she was really sad about losing them, and she said that they were $50 sunglasses. "I was depressed for a few days."

I've heard of gear catching up to a lost owner (trail mail), but this was perhaps the longest distance I've seen of a piece of gear being reunited with an owner well over a hundred miles and a week past where it was lost.

The trail was very wet and muddy today!
Blueberry came into camp carrying the pair of abandoned boots I had seen earlier in the parking lot. I was surprised given how large and heavy the boots were (especially considering they were waterlogged, as he pointed out). "But they're really nice boots!" he exclaimed, "And they fit me!"

More people continued to arrive into camp and I couldn't keep up with all their names. None of them except Blueberry and Hiking Viking I knew, and Krista and Houston I had heard about, but everyone else was a complete stranger.

In all, nine people would cram into a campsite with 4 tent pads, and five other people set up camp nearby because the official tent pads were so packed. And four other people showed up who, when they saw the crowded conditions here, decided to continue on to the next campsite instead of staying.

I asked Blueberry, "Where the heck did all these people come from?" He seemed as bewildered as me. We saw more people at this campsite than we had in all other campsites we'd been to... combined!

I learned something new about the weather forecast from the new arrivals--they said it predicted that 3 to 5 inches of rain were expected to fall overnight. I had looked at the weather forecast, but mostly just to check if there would be rain. I don't typically pay attention to how much rain falls. The difference between a quarter-inch and a half-inch doesn't really matter to me, but 3 to 5 inches?! Holy cow! That's a flood of biblical proportions!

Blueberry quickly set up his tarp, which I didn't pay much attention to until Hiking Viking pointed out that the stakes holding up the ridgeline of his tarp were already pulling out of the soft, wet ground. And she was right--his tarp was already falling down. Blueberry discounted it saying it would be fine, but Hiking Viking and I knew better. It was staying up for now... but only because it wasn't actively raining. As soon as it started raining, that tarp was going to fall. And given the biblical floods that were expected overnight, I had a pretty good hunch that Blueberry was going to have a miserable night.

Blueberry built a grand campfire, and remarkably, the sun even came out for a few hours. The nine of us in the main part of the campsite gathered around the campfire for stories and laughing and a lot of fun. We invited the five others who had camped nearby but outside of the official campsite to join us at the fire, but they chose not to so I never got to learn much about them.

Blueberry set his new (but waterlogged) boots by the fire to dry and wound up burning them a little bit. It wasn't the only fatality at the campfire. Another pair of boots got slightly burned as well as one of Hiking Viking's socks that got too close to the fire. It was a carnivorous fire!

My tarp was up and I had prepared myself for the biblical floods expected during the night.

At one point, someone noticed a dead, hanging branch snagged in a tree, and I tried throwing up a rope to pull it out for two reasons. First, it would be a safety hazard to anyone standing or camping below it, and two, firewood! It didn't feel safe to climb up to get it, though, so I tried throwing a rope I carried to hook it and pull it down, but wasn't having much luck. The branch was positioned in such a way that it didn't really leave much of anything for me to snag it with.

Then Krista decided to get more hands on and started climbing the tree to pull out the branch with her bare hands, and I pulled out my camera to film the stunt. It was a little scary to watch--if she fell, she could have hurt herself pretty badly, but it all worked out in the end and the branch came down.

In the background of the video, you can hear Blueberry suggesting that her trailname could be Arborist or Bear Claw. He seems to drop the Arborist idea pretty quickly (for obvious reasons), but after a short discussion about "Bear Claw," everyone agrees that's a great trail name and Blueberry shouts out, "You can do it, Bear Claw!"

So, as it happened, I captured Bear Claw's "origin story" on film! Not many hikers have the origin of their trailnames on film--not just the event that led to the name, but the actual naming as well! =)

After sunset, we all started heading back to our tarps, tents and hammocks. It was time to call it a night.

She went up the tree with the name Krista. She came down the tree with the name Bear Claw.
Bear Claw's origin story.

1 comment:

Karolina Śmiech said...

That’s such an awsome tree-climb action!!