I may have slept in a bit and not gotten up until sunup, but I wasn’t going to let that cut my hiking short on a day when the hike was mostly downhill.
The hiking started out level around the mountain, across lava fields and rock piles, through the burnt remnants of forests, rock hopping over the milky glacial rivers.
About two hours in, I stopped for a snack in front of a small cave. It was nice to have a bit of cool air to contrast with the direct sunlight on this exposed section. I thought about crawling inside, but I could see it didn’t go anywhere.
After nine miles, the trail was about to take a sudden hook to the right and down the mountain, so I found a tiny clearing among a tiny patch of living trees and made lunch.
Then it was hours of descent, straight down the side of the mountain, all exposed by fires of years past. There were views, sure, but it wasn’t particularly interesting terrain.
Some four miles later, I was nearly at the bottom of the descent. I passed an elk hunter climbing up the hill to his fresh kill just a couple miles in, ready to butcher and haul the second quarter to his truck. He was the first and only successful hunter I met.
Finally, after passing a quiet hipster with a camera and just before crossing FS 23, the road to Trout Lake, I stopped at the White Salmon River, more of a small creek, for another snack break.
But I wasn’t done for the day. I crossed the road and started another climb. It was fairly steep at first. On the way up, I passed a message. Someone had written “BEE” in pinecones right across the trail. Confused, I looked around but didn’t see any beehives or hear any buzzing. So I kept climbing. The trail got steeper. Huffing a bit, I stopped for a moment to stretch. Bees started pouring out of the ground right next to the trail. I canceled my break instantly and started running up the hill. Just before it leveled out again, I stepped over another pinecone message. “BEE” again, but written the other way so nobos could read it.
I sure climbed that hill fast.
At the top, I crossed a small open meadow with a number of good campsites. But I wasn’t done yet. By not collecting any water, I had committed myself to camping next to the next creek. And why not? There was still plenty of daylight to be had.
After a long level section, the trail hooked and climbed up over a saddle, then began another long winding descent, reminiscent of the one that had started the afternoon, but this time under cover of trees.
Finally, just as the last available light was disappearing, I crossed a creek and found myself at a large campsite with plenty of places to sit. I dropped my bag and went to fetch some water from the next creek (Trout Lake Creek) , then set about making supper by headlamp light.
It felt like the hiking would never end, but I had gotten enough done to be satisfied with my day. More importantly, I was exactly keeping to the camping schedule that I had reported on the self-issue permit coming into the wilderness.
Total distance: 20.5 miles