Day 93 mile 1622.2 – 1649.5
Elevation: ascent 3,473 ft, descent 8,264 ft
We felt even better about our decision to move on to this camp site last night as we woke to a gorgeous view of the Marble Mountains. The sky was a little less hazy this morning and we had a great vantage while still lying in our tent.
The trail this morning had us heading right toward the Marble Mountains and should give us some great photo opportunities. We were greeted by a plethora of wildflowers not long into the hike today. Then as we started to climb we got better and better views of the mountains which look just like marble.
Double Down and I should have been carrying machetes today instead of hiking poles as not long after passing by the Marble Mountains we started hand to hand combat with all of the plants. It felt like every wildflower and plant along the trail was trying to take it back by blocking our way. All we wanted to do was just to hike. Instead it becoming serious bushwhacking as we each fought to get through the over growth. Then the plants would use their roots, hidden beneath all of the foliage to try and trip us. It felt like war at times 🤣.
This morning Long Stride passed us by, but then we caught up to her at lunch which was at Buckhorn Spring. She has been a lot of fun to chat with and has a great positive attitude. She left before we were done eating, however we might see her later as we both have the same camp site in mind. After refueling our bodies from the morning hiking we headed off down the trail hoping for less turf wars.
Well the large wildflowers that were taking over the trail dissipated but the long grasses and low brush took over. This was easier to get through and with the climbing we did in the morning we had some great views of the mountains around us.
Our goal is to try and get to Grider Creek and camp site which will set us up well for reaching Seiad Valley tomorrow. This was going to cause us to lose 6,000 feet in elevation, meaning warmer temps as well. Once we started our decent down into the valley the small brush started to be replaced with large shrubs and trees as they now took their turn in reclaiming the trail. The hiking became very difficult as we literally had to push our way through brush where we could not see the trail at all. Double Down fell victim to a root by a tree which tripped her causing her to lose her balance and fall downhill into more brush. It got seriously frustrating that our hike was requiring so much more energy as we had to push, pull and claw our way down the trail. Double Down did have our fifth bear sighting as it ran away from us through this thick brush as if it wasn’t there. Most be nice to move through this jungle with such great ease!
For those of you who know me, you know how patient I can be. The trail this afternoon pushed me to my limit and beyond. After tripping over the millionth tree branch, I lost it. I decided this last dead branch had to pay. So I tried to channel my inner Wayne Rooney and did my best impression of a soccer player as I tried to launch the branch deep into the woods. Well the first one didn’t even get it off the trail, only making me more mad. Right at this time Double Down came around the corner to see me take swipe two at this thing (Success). It made me feel much better and also gave Double Down a good chuckle!! This damn trail can get under your skin at times 😂.
We reached the Grider Creek and camp site at about 6:30 and found Long Stride there setting up her tent. Double Down and I were exhausted from the 27.3 miles and all of the bush whacking. So we grabbed some water bladders and clean clothes as we headed to the creek to cool off. Lying in the creek never felt so good and I could feel my stress of the day being washed away.
While cooking dinner, a late afternoon thunderstorm popped up. Our tent site did a great job of protecting us and the three of us didn’t even have to dash into the tents as the rain drops were minimal. We did have a local come up to make sure we hadn’t set up around any “snags”, dead trees that break off at the top in high winds. We had picked a great site with healthy low trees around us and no dead ones even close. It was a little eerie as we ate dinner because we could hear a lot of these “snags” falling in the forest off in the distance.
Being in the valley with a lot of trees around and a storm overhead brought darkness sooner then we are used to so we retreated to our tents by 8:30. It is super humid and hot. Double Down chose to sleep in her town dress and I have the arms and legs of my sleep wear rolled up as much as possible. Hopefully it will cool down during the night so I am not sweating all night long.
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