September 19, 2016
A Tree Spring (mile 1217.2) to Middle Fork of the Feather River (mile 1247.2)
Our total Miles: 2604.5
At 4:30am Laurie was startled awake to branches breaking. Immediately her mind starting racing…. Is it a mountain lion? A bear?
She listened and as the noises got closer she yelled at it to go away. Andy woke up to the sound of Laurie’s voice, took out his ear plugs and sat up.
Neither of us saw anything and he reassured Laurie it was just a deer. We both fell back asleep.
When the alarm went off at 5:15 Laurie mumbled “no” and rolled over. As if hiding would make the need to get up disappear.
Andy started getting ready and eventually Laurie joined him. At 6 am we were ready but it was still dark.
We stood around eating granola and listening to the owls hoot for 10 minutes before starting to walk with our headlamps. This is the first time since the Sierra we have hiked by the light of our headlamps.
Andy led and Laurie followed – walking in a little white bubble of light. Laurie noticed her depth perception was off and it took more effort to avoid rocks, roots and branches.
We climbed from the get go. In the trees it was still dark but when we entered a clearing the morning light lit up the trail. After 20 minutes we stopped to take off our headlights and fleeces.
We continued to climb and then dropped. The trail switchbacked down through overgrown trail, past trickling creeks and across both paved and dirt roads.
We took a 30 minute shoes off lunch break to enjoy tuna and crackers. We had gone 15 miles in just under 6 hours and figured we could do another 15. We figured why not shoot big on our last days on trail?
The next 15 miles were uneventful. We hiked through the trees, going down more than we went up. Andy refers to these kinds of miles as “garbage miles.”
There are no views, the forest floor surrounding the trail is littered with downed rotting logs, with nothing to stare at other than oak and manzanita bushes and little inspiration. And in some cases, the trail exists simply to bypass a paralleling road.
Don’t get us wrong, we are grateful to have a trail to hike on in place of a roadwalk, we simply have to dig deeper for inspiration during these miles.
Laurie turned to Podcasts for entertainment as Andy led, lost in his thoughts.
With 5.2 miles to go we stopped at Fowler Creek for water. Laurie sat on the trail while Andy took the 0.1 mile side trip down to the creek. Little mosquitoes swarmed Laurie as she sat waiting.
We have been really lucky bug wise since returning to the Sierra. But aparently the lack of bugs has lowered our tolerance for them.
As we dropped more in elevation gnats began swarming us. Andy waved his arms and poles as he walked – trying to get them away from his face. Laurie just mumbled to herself.
It was hot, the trail dusty, Laurie’s knee was starting to hurt from the unrelenting downhill and now bugs were flying in our noses and eyes. Blah!
Andy eventually put his head net on to keep the bugs away. Laurie just kept grumbling and waving her arms.
We finally got to the Middle Fork of the Feather River at 7pm. We found a campsite, rinsed off in the surprisingly warm water and ate dinner.
There is a section hiker camped nearby and we chatted a bit but we were both too tired and hungry to be social.
Tonight we are at 2943 feet and it is warm. This is the first time we have been below 5000 feet in who knows how long!
We fall asleep to the sound of rushing water. It’s been a long day. We climbed 5042 feet today and descended 8672 feet.
Tonight we are grateful for cool mornings amd head nets.