Sunday, May 15, 2011

Into the snow and rain

The Man and I awoke to drizzle on the tent. I didn't want to get up so early because I didn't want to hike too many miles. My plan was to keep my miles around 18 per day so that I could stretch out the hike until Thursday (today was Sunday.) I also didn't want to go out into the cold drizzle. But The Man wanted to get going early so he could drive home. So I ended up starting hiking around 6:30 in the morning.

It soon started to snow lightly. Then it snowed heavily. It was not too bad since snow is wet. All morning it snowed. The trail was descending and I worried that soon the snow would turn to rain. I had forgotten my umbrella. I had rain pants and a jacket that can handle light rain but not all day rain or heavy rain.

I walked into the burn zone that had been closed back in 2008. The trail was pretty even in the burned area. There were lots of flowers blooming. The trail went through a swamp and my feet got quite wet. I was wearing sandals with wool socks, which worked out okay but any little wetness from wet plants or swamps got my feet instantly wet.

I stopped at Little Bear Springs camp to eat something and then got really cold. I started walking again to warm up. Then I started running because I wasn't warming up. I heard something and turned to see smoke in some bushes by the creek. Someone was having a fire. I went down to ask if it was okay if I warmed up a little by the fire and the hikers said of course. A little trail magic for my morning. Warmth just when I needed it.

I warmed by the fire for a few minutes and as soon as I felt like I was able, I got hiking again. I wanted to try to get to Splinters Cabin where I had dreams of it being like South Fork Station. I pictured a real cabin with a pot belly stove and someone tending it already. I had it all worked up in my mind, but I was also pretty certain there was likely to be nothing of the sort there.

Later I found out all Splinters Cabin offered was a shelter covering a picnic table, a nice shady place to get out of the sun. Still, it would be shelter from the rain and I felt I needed it. I was wearing my plastic ground sheet as a shawl to try and keep at least my core dry. It worked somewhat, but I still felt pretty cold and wet. I tried to remind myself that as long as I wasn't cold, I was okay. Just keep moving. It made no sense to stop if I wasn't cold. Maybe the weather would improve soon and I would be happy I had kept going.

The trail had me make several wet fords of Holcomb Creek. Knee deep creek crossings would have felt great on a hot day. Today they were pretty miserable.

The scenery all day was really beautiful. There were lots of wildflowers, mostly lupine and yellow wallflowers. I descended out of the forest and into a more mixed forest of oaks and cedars and burned manzanita. White ceanothus were in peak bloom. There were lots of tiny creeks everywhere. It was a lot wetter than the year I came through on my long hike in 2008.

I finally made it to Deep Creek bridge. I stopped under the bridge to try and dry my stuff in the sun on some rocks. The sun was out now with clouds moving in an out. It was a weak sun and it wasn't drying my stuff well. I looked up and saw a flock of Western Tanagers in a tree. They were so beautiful.

On the other side of the creek and bridge about a tenth of a mile away was Splinters Cabin. It was once a cabin but now was just a roof shading a picnic table. There was a little sun still shining so I set up my tent and made dinner and basked in the warmth the sun makes inside a tent. Tonight I planned to sleep wearing the world's best invention: down pants.

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