Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Day 41: Into the Pasayten Wilderness!

August 25: I had a restless night. At one point, I heard a large, lumbering beast approaching my campsite. I couldn't see what it was in the darkness but I assumed it was a cow--they were everywhere! I yelled out, "Leave me alone!" and whatever it was ran off. It clearly had no idea I had set up camp there until I yelled out.

Then I heard what sounded like a dog bark in the distance which I didn't think much of at first until several more dog barks echoed in reply and they were completely surrounding me. Was there a pack of wild dogs about to attack me? Are there even packs of wild dogs roaming the mountains? I know there are wolves--do wolves bark? I thought they howled. In any case, I found the situation a little unnerving. I've never been surrounded by a pack of barking dogs before! They weren't nearby, though--the barking was distant like they were trying to find each other. But it was still unsettling enough that I made a point of moving my bear spray into easy reach and taking it out of its holster.

And as if that wasn't enough to disturb me during the night, a mouse dropped by for a visit as well. I scared him off, and he didn't return. This wasn't a heavily-used campsite and I think the mouse was curious about me, but I was unusual enough that he decided it was a bad idea to mess with me.

The morning was quite chilly which made it hard for me to get out of my sleeping bag but eventually I did and was on the trail hiking by 7:00am.

The weather today was overcast and ugly the whole day. Dark clouds would drift by with a slight sprinkle, then it would clear for a half hour, then more dark clouds and another light sprinkle. I was really missing my umbrella. I would try to hide under pine trees whenever it started to sprinkle which seemed to work for the most part and I never become thoroughly soaked.

I finally reached the end of the road walk out of Oroville when I arrived at the Cold Springs trailhead. I went the wrong way a couple of times at intersections but never went more than about 5 minutes in the wrong direction before I realized my mistake and turned back.

Cold Spring trailhead

A few hours later, I was heading up a mountain following the trail, but I had a lot of trouble at one particular area because of all the cow paths crisscrossing the trail. Would the real PNT please stand up?! They were all covered with fresh cow crap and I eventually found the herd that generated them. I tried to go around them to follow the trail on the other side, and the cattle ran away from me off the trail which I was happy about. Until, a minute or two later, I realized the actual PNT was the direction the cattle had run. I had inadvertently chased the cattle onto the trail! *(#$@!

I continued making slow progress mostly because of the trouble I had following the trail--not because the trail itself was difficult--but eventually reached a point where I lost the trail completely. I had no idea where it had went and I was standing on a hillside in a field of grass. At least there wasn't cow crap all over the place anymore. Looking at my topo map, I could tell that the trail was supposed to head to the top of the hill I was on and just went cross-country. Another bushwhack--and this one wasn't even on my map! As far as bushwhacks go, it was easy. I was largely above treeline so there were no fallen trees to navigate and it was mostly a grassy area so no thick vegetation to push through.

Eventually I picked up the trail again at the top of the ridge and continued into the Pasayten Wilderness--the longest, most remote region of the entire trail. If something goes wrong on the trail, this was not the place for it to happen.

The fallen down marker marks the boundary of the Pasayten Wilderness--the longest, most remote section of the entire Pacific Northwest Trail. This is not the place where you want something to go horribly wrong!

The wilderness boundary seemed to finally get me away from the cattle for which I was thankful. I didn't much care for cattle on the trail! And the views started to improve dramatically over the comparatively boring section since leaving Oroville.

Near the end of the day, I passed two women hiking in the opposite direction which I stopped to chat with for a few minutes. They were the first and only hikers I had seen since leaving Oroville. In particular, I asked about the trail conditions ahead. I knew the trail would be going through several burn areas and was concerned about endless blowdowns blocking the trail. They reported the occasional blowdown, but nothing bad. The trail, they declared, was in good shape. That was information I could get excited about!

We continued on our separate ways and I was a little disappointed that our campsites wouldn't overlap for the night. I would have liked the company.

I finally stopped to set up camp at 5:00pm in the afternoon--a relatively early stop to the day. It was a lovely site under pine trees that left a soft cushion of needles to sleep on. Normally I would have hiked longer and further, but I was now on a schedule due to the permit I needed for the North Cascades and I didn't want to get too far ahead of schedule. Nor too far behind schedule.

This gave me plenty of time to cook dinner, though. Then I watched The Office for about an hour but I cut myself off after that. I wouldn't be able to recharge my phone except from the sun for about two weeks and didn't want to run the battery down too quickly. The rest of the evening I spent catching up on the adventures of Dirk Pitt who managed to save the world with mere seconds to spare. A good man, he is. *nodding*

I set up my tarp given the inclement weather, and I was glad I did since one last rain cloud blew through during the evening, but that seemed to be it for the rain. For now, at least....

It's like a Christmas tree... decorated with trash! I was strangely hypnotized and horrified--at the same time!--by the sight.
Yep, totally decorated with trash.

There were piles of barbed-wire (and fence posts--which you can see some a little behind the baby trees on the left) along the trail. I sense some trail work coming in the near future! Probably to help keep cattle out of the Pasayten Wilderness!

It had been quite a while since I saw a nice display of wildflowers. Now that I'm getting back up in the high mountains where its cooler, I started seeing them again.

My home for the night!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The "dogs" were likely coyotes.