Friday, September 25, 2020

Day 50: Ross Lake Arrival

July 24: I slept well and hit the trail running at 7:00am. Well, maybe not running--my feet were still in agony and hadn't improved during the night. They also didn't get worse, but each step was painful.

Fortunately, the first several miles of the day, I'd be heading downhill toward Ross Lake, then the rest of the day I'd largely travel along flat ground following along the shoreline of the lake. There was very little uphill for the entire day--a fact I was enormously thankful for since the uphills rubbed the back of my ankles most and therefore hurt the most.

Jack Mountain

So I headed downhill toward Ross Lake. There weren't many views, mostly tucked in among the trees, but numerous blowdowns slowed my progress. The scrambling up and over the blowdowns or up and around the banks of the trail caused my feet lots of grief.

Much of the time I spent wondering if there was actually a word that describes the back of a person's foot where my injury was located. I couldn't think of a name for it except the "back of my foot" or "back of my ankle," and I found both phrases needlessly wordy and imprecise. Heel didn't seem correct either, since I thought of the ball of the foot as the heel. I should invent a word for this part of the body, but what?

I settled on "kark." That's actually a Polish word for the back of the neck. My feet, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with my neck, but in English, kark had no meaning so I felt it was available to use for anything of my choosing, and I needed a word to describe the back of my ankle more than I needed a word to describe the back of my neck. And anyhow, in English, there was already had a word to describe the back of the neck--the "nape." So I figured I could re-purpose the Polish word to describe the location of my current injury. =) (If there was a Polish word to describe this part of the foot, I didn't know it, so that wasn't an option!)

With that pressing problem solved, continued down toward Ross Lake, eventually coming out to the shoreline with beautiful, wide and expansive views. It's a large, man-made lake that's 23 miles long and up to 1.5 miles wide and stretches across the Washington border into Canada. If the lake didn't exist, the PNT could just go straight across and cut dozens of miles of hiking around the lake into a few miles. But no, the lake is in the way, so now the trail follows the long shoreline the long way around the lake.

After covering about 7 miles for the day, roughly my half-way point, I was absolutely exhausted and crashed on a small nob overlooking the lake. The location was gorgeous! And I decided that I needed a long rest--at least for an hour or two which justified the pain and effort of taking off my shoes. Which is what I did.


I took a two-hour break on this nob overlooking
Ross Lake. It was a wonderful place for a break!

I enjoyed the break, eating snacks, reading my Kindle and admiring the views. But after nearly two hours, it was time to put my shoes back on and hike out to my campsite at Ruby Pasture. When I reached Ross Lake, I had entered the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and all camping was by permit only. I had a permit, and it required that I camp at Ruby Pasture.

The trail, much to my annoyance, climbed nearly a thousand feet up and away from the shoreline, somewhat of a "shortcut" to the Ruby Arm section of the lake. The path was shorter than one that would have stayed along the shoreline, but it was less scenic being in the trees and infinitely more painful for me to walk. My progress slowed dramatically.

Eventually I reached the top of the shortcut and the trail headed back downhill again.

On my map, the Ruby Pasture campsite appeared to lie right on the trail, or at least right next to it at the junction with the Hidden Hand campsite located a half-mile off trail. It was the reason I choose the Ruby Pasture campsite rather than the Hidden Hand campsite--it was closer to the PNT.

Except when I arrived at the junction, I didn't see the campsite. There was a sign pointing uphill to Jack Mountain, and there was another sign pointing in the opposite direction to Hidden Hand Camp, and toward Highway 20, and toward Ross Lake. All of the directions were labeled, but none pointed to Ruby Pasture. Where the heck was Ruby Pasture?

Unsure, I walked further up the trail for a few minutes, but it didn't take long before I guessed this was the wrong direction and retraced my steps back to the junction. So then I tried following the trail to Hidden Hand Camp--ironically not so hidden since it was labeled at the junction. My Ruby Pasture camp was pretty well hidden, though!

I decided to follow the trail toward Hidden Hand Camp, however, because if I didn't find Ruby Pasture, I'd just set up camp illegally at Hidden Hand instead. If the park service wants me to camp at Ruby Pasture, they should have labeled their signs pointing to its location!

A quarter-mile down the trail, I found the Ruby Pasture Camp. But I was further dispirited when a post marked that the water source for camp was I another 1/4-mile further down the trail. "That's Hidden Hand Camp!" I exclaimed with anger. I thought this campsite was supposed to have its own supply of water. If I have to hike a 1/4-mile to another campsite, then it doesn't have a water source! 

I was very angry when I discovered that I had to walk
another 1/4-mile (one way!) to get water.

I was so pissed. Every step was agony and I was doing too much off-trail walking already. Round-trip, I'd need to walk another half-mile just to get water! Which meant I had to do a full mile of off-trail hiking from the PNT to the water source. Not to mention the extra mileage I covered when I walked in the wrong direction looking for the campsite. I'd have been better off if I had just reserved the Hidden Hand Camp to begin with. Yes, I'd still have to walk a half-mile off trail, but at least I wouldn't have gotten 'lost' looking for my campsite and I'd actually be camped directly near a water source.

If I knew beforehand that there was no water at Ruby Pasture, I'd have filled up with water at the last creek I passed before arriving and save that half-mile of walking from the camp to the water and back.

Basically, I was very upset. Why did my maps show my camp on the trail instead of a 1/4-mile off trail? Why was there no hint that the camp didn't have its own water source? Argh!

I partially set up camp, dropping my heavy pack and tying my Ur-Sack to a tree (I don't normally like to leave my food unattended, but I sure as heck wasn't going to carry it to the water source and back!)

I took off my shoes--I couldn't wait to get them off again--then walked to the water source in my Crocs. The Crocs were wonderful to walk in. I flipped up the strap so it didn't get used and walking was easy as soon as there was nothing rubbing the injured area. I was still annoyed at the extra, unexpected walking, however.

I skipped making a proper dinner once again. It was too late (7:30pm) and I was too tired and felt too lazy to cook a meal. I ate snacks instead and pretty much decided that I needed to get off the trail tomorrow. Highway 20 was just 2.5 miles further down the trail. I could hike out in the morning--even with my injuries, it wouldn't take more than a couple of hours--and have all day available to hitchhike back to Seattle. Unless some miracle happened overnight and my karks started feeling a heck of a lot better, I was getting off the trail tomorrow.

Blowdowns were the most difficult part of my morning since I had trouble navigating them due to my injured karks.

The trail alongside the lake was well-maintained, mostly flat, and had no blowdowns at all! Beautiful trail!

That looked like fun right now. Maybe I could get off the trail without having to walk?! =)

The trail along the shoreline of Ross Lake was definitely the highlight of the day!

Plenty of fresh air while doing your business! =)

Today I named this area of my foot the "kark."
Turns out, hiking 14.4 miles today didn't help it heal.


Mary said...

Calcaneal area is where your blisters were and kark is a pretty good word for it! It sounds like a shortened version of calcaneous! The ball of your foot is not your heel! The ball of your foot is the padded part between your toes and arch. Good to know if you ever visit a podiatrist so there’s no miscommunication!

Ryan said...

I must have missed the foot anatomy lessons back in kindergarten. =)

Karolina said...

Stealing words from Polish, huh? ;-o)

Mary said...

I learned my anatomy in nursing school!