Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Day 35: Goodbye, Republic!

August 19: After a full week of being in Republic, it was finally time to leave. For good. It was kind of weird that I had been in the town every single day for a full week now and only had a single zero day the entire time. I had covered 65 miles of trail between my first arrival and my current departure. Normally when I've progressed that far down the trail, we would move our base of operations to the next trail town, then the next one. The strange loop around Republic, however, meant Republic was always the closest trail town and never more than a half-hour drive away from any of the trailheads we used. It's very unusual to use the same trail town for such a long distance along the trail!

It was a beautiful day! There wasn't a cloud in the sky! Well, okay... there was one! But that was it! And it barely counts as a cloud!
I wanted to get in a lot of miles today but my early-morning start to the day was thwarted by the post office not opening until 8:30am. I needed to mail my laptop ahead and I needed the post office to be open. But time somehow slipped away and we ended up arriving at the post office closer to 9:00am, then it was back to the trail where Amanda dropped me off a half-hour later.

We said our goodbyes--Amanda would be driving home now. I was a little sad to see her go. Now I was alone on the trail again and it seemed unlikely that I'd run into anyone anytime soon. It was going to be very lonely.

The day started with another long road walk. There are a lot of long road walks on this trail, but at least today's road walk was a lightly used gravel road.

The trail generally headed uphill for most of the morning before dropping down to Bonaparte Lake. I took a short break at a drive-in campground along the lake before making the more serious climb up Bonaparte Mountain.

Bonaparte Lake
My map showed two routes I could take, one looping around the south side of Bonaparte (the primary path) while the other shorter route climbs nearly to the top where a fire lookout tower was located. I decided to go for the shorter, steeper route. I wasn't sure if I'd make the short off-trail jaunt to the fire lookout tower, but I didn't have to commit to that until I reached the trail junction later.

The trail climbed through a burn area with thousands of fallen trees--but the trail had been logged out and was generally in good condition. I couldn't imagine the amount of work it must have been to clear the trail of the fallen logs, and I was glad for the assist. It would have been miserable having to climb over, under and around the logs!

At the junction for the lookout tower, I decided to skip the side trip. It was getting late in the day and I needed water which I knew wouldn't be available at the top. At this point, I was in a race to find water and set up camp before it got dark!

From the junction with the summit trail, the trail descended steeply thousands of feet where it met up with the primary route that had gone around the mountain. I passed a couple of small creeks where I filled up with water but was somewhat surprised not to find any viable places to camp nearby. There is almost always a place to camp near water sources. When I look at my maps--which typically don't list individual campsites for backpackers--I still try to guess where there might be campsites. They're often near trail intersections, flat areas, viewpoints, and so on but one of the most reliable indicators of where there's a place to camp: a nearby water source.

So I was surprised when I didn't find a place to camp near the water. It wasn't a big deal, however. I just filled up with a lot of water to last me overnight and once I had plenty of water, I could camp anywhere ahead that suited me.

Which I did, not far from a herd of cattle that were eating grass on the other side of a meadow.

And, as expected.... I didn't pass a single hiker the entire day!

That's really weird.... a tree with a coat?
Bonaparte Lake

This is the view of Bonaparte Lake looking back down after starting the climb up Bonaparte Mountain. The campground I passed by (and where I took the close-up photos of the lake) is at the far right side of the lake on the far shore.
Lots of fallen trees in the burn area, but fortunately the trail had been cleared of them!

An old, abandoned cabin in the woods. It would be the perfect setting for a horror movie!
The sun is getting low... time to find a place to camp!
This will do! =)

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