Day 73 (Thursday, June 30): Bear Trap Creek (mi 1224.12) to Bear Creek (mi 1250.53), 26. 41 miles! (up/down: 4785/-7500ft)
I left camp around 6:20a just after Perma-smile and Rafiki, fairly certain I wouldn’t see them again as they were cruising and crushing big miles. A few steps out of camp, I felt a sharp pain in my hip/groin. Crap, I strained a muscle. This was going to be a long day.
After having plentiful water the past few days, today was a bit different, though still nothing like the desert. There was a “lake” named Duck Soup Pond a third of a mile off trail in about 3 miles. By the time I got to the road that lead to the pond, it was incredibly buggy. And the view I had of the pond from trail showed why the pond had such a name….It definitely did not appear to be worth the extra walk. I’d suggest anyone only go there in an emergency situation. There was another trail just after the road that lead to a spring that I’m betting was a bit cleaner. With no reliable update of the spring from the water report (one downside of being ahead of the heard), the extra walk, and atrocious amount of mosquitos I decided to wait it out until the next water.
About 3 miles later, I reached Quincy La Porte Road where there was a strong creek about a third of a mile down the road. I pulled over on the side of the road trying to figure out exactly where the PCT continued as signage want great at the intersection. I also tried to decide if the water was worth the hot walk down the asphalt with a climb back up to the trail, with more bugs. I still had some water, and decided to push on again. I wanted to eliminate as much up hill walking as possible as it really hurt my hip.
After 5 hours and 10+ miles from camp and my last refill, I reached the junction to Alder Spring. I was going to drop my pack on trail and walk DOWN a 1/4 mile to the spring. But that would require another walk back up. The trail to the spring would pass a road about halfway. The PCT also would cross this road about a half mile down. So instead I brought my pack down the trail to the paved road and continued another 400 steep feet down to the delicious and cold spring. Even just the short climb back to the road sucked. Though here I’d take my first full fledged, pack off, sitting break. I enjoyed a second breakfast, charged my electronics, and found the perfect spot to roll out my muscles.
The next part of the afternoon was mostly down, which was a relief but still beating me. Around 3:20 I got to the trail junction for Fowler Creek. The sign read 500 ft to the creek…but it was 500 ft pretty much straight down and straight up on the way back. The worse. After making it back to the trail and my pack, I quickly at my lunch/snack, because the bugs were also hungry for my blood and sweat.
I somehow managed to get a second wind that carried me to the next two dirt roads. I begged for there to be someone on this desolate road that could give me a ride. I was now wishing I stopped one of the few cars that passed me on the road near Alder Spring. No luck. I continued walking and losing a ton of elevation until I got to the Middle Fork River (the decent down was great, but just reminded me of the huge climb up I’d have tomorrow). It was 5:30 by the time I got to the river – I stopped for a water refill and short break. I wish it would have been earlier with some company as it would have been so refreshing to go for a swim. All I wanted at this point was to get to camp, which was about 1.5 miles up 780 ft of ascent.
The climb was slow going and rough. I could hear the stream flowing not far in the distance where the campsite would be, and was relieved. That is until I got to the stream…There was no campsite, only steep drop offs. F#@k The trail guides were wrong. I worried how far it would be to the next site as I now didn’t trust what my guides and map described. 2 miles later, I passed the wooden bridge that was earlier described over the real Bear Creek and came to a campsite around 7:40p. Excuse my language, but Holy Shit…I just did my first actual marathon day! I’d done 26 miles before, but not all on trail (incl. walking around camp and side trails to water). Today I walked 26.41 PCT miles, plus close to another mile or more on side trails. Damn.
26+ miles come with a cost…
I somehow managed to catch up with Perma smile and Rafiki who were at the same site. I set up camp, but had no appetite for dinner. I forced my self to snack and then crashed not looking forward to the 3500 climb in the morning.