Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 37: June 30, 2012

June 30, 2012.

Day: 37    Daily Miles: 47   Total Miles: 1630   Hours Hiking: 17   6:40am-11:25pm

Listen to the audio journal above or Download June 30th Audio File Here

Day 37
Through the clouds we hike, on the ridge after Hwy 93.

June 30, Day 37. Let see... I made it 48 miles to mileage 1630. I actually lucked out beyond belief and got to camp inside a forest service station, basically it was just a cabin that trail crews and the like use. Lets see, that point was 0483424 E 4601311 N. So.. the day started off just fine, probably better than fine actually.... I didn't get wet overnight, a beautiful thing. It ended extremely better than I could have ever hoped for...but the three hours prior to the ending were my worst on trail by FAR. I'll get to that...but lets start where I started, up on that saddle, literally 100-200 yards from where you drop off the ridge down into a little valley and pop up to Highway 93, which I believe will take you into the Scotts Valley I think, which is Etna. It's the first road of two, the second is actually Etna summit, that will pull you down to Etna itself pretty quick. Anyways, I left at about 6:40am, and made good quick work of the downhill. The clouds were.....oh my god this is muddy as shhhiiiii..... the clouds were around and just starting to build up. They were about....I'm totally distracted right now, this trail is sooo muddy and wet and terrible and I'm going downhill, and trying to speak into something with only one trekking pole....umm lets see, where were my thoughts...Oh, clouds, yeah. The cloud bottoms were covering peaks and just above the saddles, so basically they were hovering around 7,000ft. So if you're hiking high, you're in the clouds, if you're just a little below them you can see this 
flat line cutting the tops off of all the peaks around you. The saddle I slept in, about an hour or two after I left it was socked in, so I got out of there just in time. Down into the canyon, then uphill to the road where there were some day hikers getting ready to go fishing it looked like. Then I proceeded to do the long uphill climb kind of parallel to, on and off a ridge, until I finally topped out, all the while counting. That's one of the easiest ways I can take my mind off of having to do long uphills and not really stop. You just keep going and don't think about it. But I counted to 10,000, which basically my correlation is that 2,000 steps is a mile, well a mile is a little less than 2,000. So, roughly a 5 mile up, which is just looonnngggg as hell. Anyway, I get to the top and I knew there was going to be snow on the backside, just from my experience {in 2009} and there was. You get into these trees and there are just these mounds of snow. Right over the first little ridge of the lip of the summit, there is a nasty 20 ft snowfield of slanted terribleness that I had to walk/downclimb around. I got through that snow patchy area, and the clouds came in on me. As I crested over into the next valley, the entire valley was full of clouds. I was in the clouds for a while while descending and traversing the western side of this mountain. I got sprinkled on a bit, I was still in the clouds and had a sharp, steep uphill to get off of the side of the mountain into a little side valley thing. I got around that and got to the top with this awesome view down towards the Scott Valley where Highway 93 goes - green fields, farming, things like that with big puffy clouds stretching out with blue sky intermixed, sun rays coming through. It was really pretty and I figured I might have cell service, turned on my phone, I had service, I kept walking and at mile 1600 I texted Pi, because he had texted me "Hey what's going on, haven't heard from you in a while and was just talking about you". So, he got a cool text and basically I just kept on trucking, which wasn't bad. Little ups and little downs and I was on the sunnier side. It looked like the majority of the clouds and such were stopped right at the edge - the mountains I had been climbing on were kind of the border  
Before the descent to the Etna road.
 - the taller mountains before you get lower mountains off to the east, so the clouds just seemed to pile up on the backside, the west side. So, I was on the east side which was nice because it's not so cloudy and not rainy. I traversed up and down, up and down. Hit another section of snow when I came around up to the last high point before heading down to the Etna Summit. That took a little while...there's another 50 ft snow patch with a good 10ft headwall that I to go up. I fell once and slid about 5 feet and stopped before diving into the trees. And then it took another 10 minutes to chisel your feet in, chisel your feet in. The worst part is, is that I can't really kick very well with my right foot because the side of my big toenail is infected still and hurts. So if I kick with it, it sends shocks through my whole foot. That's not cool, but, what can you do? I finally made it over that and headed down. I met a couple weekend hikers who were like "ohh yeah, definitely more snow coming up in the Marble Mountains, probably about a miles worth." I've heard that Oregon has a bunch of snow still, so from here on out, north sides and dense tree sides are going to be socked with snow. Definitely thinking about needing to make a couple calls and possibly get some lightweight or mini crampons sent, because snow like this isn't that bad, but you're always worried about slipping, so you have to go slow. If you have something that gives you traction, you don't care about snow because you just walk right across it. So, that would be extremely helpful if that was to come to pass. I think I'll have to call Pi and have him do some research and maybe send me some at Crater Lake. Regardless, I got down to the Etna Summit - clear skies, no not clear, nice skies, patches of sunlight, big puffy clouds. I had lunch just over the summit road. That was mile 24 I believe, so about half way for the day. From there, there was a climb that I didn't really remember about. You just kind of make your way, snake your way up to this ridge 
That's the trail...a sign of things to come..
 and then once you're on top of this ridge, you just hang out, traverse, for a good ohh, 10 miles or so. You're just slapped onto the middle part of these mountains and hit saddles here and there...walk, walk, walk. At this point I'm again on the west side of the tall mountains and heading towards the west, the clouds were getting thicker and looked to be more 'angry'. I got rained on a couple times, enough to put on my rain gear. You try and dodge it by running to the trees so you don't get so wet etc. I did remember one climb that we did in 2009, so I was really trying to get to that before it got dark. I made it there, but at the same time, it started to rain, like proper rain...and the snow actually started again...and that's when everything turned to shit...The trail itself was literally a river 70% of the time. My feet were wet within a good 10 minutes, like soaked. The rain wasn't soo bad, It was drizzly and down poured in bouts, but manageable. The snow was not so nice, especially when you are climbing up, up, up to a steep saddle. You kind of zig-zagged up and down on these rocks, so it was kind of painful trail tread, especially trying to dodge the water and everything. Just a culmination of things that weren't fun. There was a couple camped out just before it started to rain at the first little lake, and they told me who was ahead and everything......hold on here, we're going to have to pause here...PAUSED...
Climbing to gain the ridge after the Hwy 93 crossing.

June 30, part 2 Day 37. I talked with some people, so I had to stop recording. Anyways, so yes...I met a couple, an older couple, they were actually in their tent because they said that zippers were broken - totally understandable. It hadn't started raining yet and I was just dropping into this valley where the climb was about to start. They gave me an update on who all was still ahead. Mouse was pretty close they told me. So yeah, it started out just fine. I remembered it being pretty wet even in 2009, but this was a whole different ballgame. *laughs* The trail is rock. They've basically chiseled it into the side of a wall and so they've got lots of steps and things like that. Then, there are these little creeks and water flows that are pouring off this granite slab above you, so all the water that crosses the trail wants to flow down the trail...the path of least resistance, so the trail is just soaking wet. That's when the rain starts. Light at first then kind of heavier and 
View N, the clouds are building...
then misty... it fluctuated. I just keep going, hoping that once I get to the pass it will get better, just because I'll get into another little valley with maybe a little different weather 'system' of it's own. I get to the last cirque/headwall area where it goes up steeply to the final pass and the snow really begins. For a good portion, a good 80% of that climb was on snow and it was steep. Not super long, but in the rain, in the snow, you're wet, it's getting was awful. I finally peaked out about 20 minutes later and come to find that the other side is even worse... It's raining harder, there's a strong breeze and my rain system SUCKS something fierce when it has to deal with wind. It's a dry ducks poncho, which whoever designed it is a complete moron. It has a long rectangle in the front and back and the shoulders come down to about your elbow, but there is no way... they didn't include a way to tie the front and back together, so if it's windy, they just flap in the wind and you get fucking soaked. Retarded. So I got a safety pin and pinned off one side and held the other and just kept going. I mean I was getting wetter and wetter by the minutes, but, once you're wet, you're wet, so it's not truly that big a deal... of course there's a hill how.....By that time, I was at around mile 40, it was probably 8pm I think and I was just like "well, you're getting wet, you're on a ridge, there's zero places to camp, and once you're wet you might as well keep going until you find a good place' So I did. I kept going, and going and going...wetter, more angry, just not loving life at all. It sucked. Especially when you drop off the pass, go down then level out for a bit and then you go up higher than the original pass, for some godforsaken unknown reason.
My warm salvation. Such luck!
I mean I can see all of 50-100 ft because I'm socked in by the clouds and it's raining, but from what I remember from 2009, we would have been totally fine to go low. So, I'm stuck on this ridge for a good 7 mile pretty much and a few really crappy campsites cropped up and disappeared. Plus, there was zero water because you're on a ridge. It's raining, but you can't get it. So I needed to get water and I knew that the closest water was down at this next creek at mile 1630, so I...the trees even, a couple trees had dry spots, but the rain eventually turned into a mist, but the trees were filtering the mist and literally making it rain underneath them, so camping under a tree was totally out, because you're just be rained dripped on allll night long. So, that being the case, I was cold. I didn't want to put my jacket on because then my jacket would get wet and if my jacket was wet know, you want something to look forward too and I'd rather be freezing cold for another hour, then get my tarp set up and then be able to put on something warm and dry once I'm in there. So, I was just in my shirt and shorts. And, the poncho isn't made for 6'5" people, so the bottom like 2" of my shorts get wet and start wicking the water up. Somehow my shirt over my chest is wet, like soaked. I'm sweating, but I have yet to soak that part of my chest just from that...I'm not sure how that's getting wet because I have a hood on...that's a mystery to me. I'm probably 70% wet. I think my back and backpack are the two driest bits of me. So I just kept pushing. It's 9pm, just keep going, you'll get miles, it's not going to be any different camping here or somewhere else. You're going to be just as wet and have just as much pain in the ass to set up your tarp, so you might as well put the time in and not have to do it tomorrow, because the plants are going to be soaking wet and you'll just get wet again. I kept going. My watch beeps 10pm. Shit, I'm tired, but there's no real good camps spots. The map says there's a camp site at 1630, ranger station. You know, if worst comes to worst, well shit. I was like 'ranger station, that means A. I might be able to get into it, B. I might be able to break into it, C. I might be able to sleep underneath it, D. there might be a porch, E. there might be an outhouse to hide out in' that was a big push, plus the campsite was right next to it, so screw it, go there. I pushed and I
did such a thing. I made it to the ranger station at about 11:15-30 or so, I'm not totally sure. I smell smoke first before I see it, and then I look around and see glowing lights literally escaping through the cracks in the walls. I get up closer, get to the door and I hear voices...I'm like 'OOHHH HELLL YEAHH". I know on the door and a head pops out at the bottom of the door because there is someone sleeping right in front of the door and I kind of start chatting with them, 'Hey, how's it going, what's going on in here...I was just checking in because I heard voices and saw the lights'. Basically, I talked my way in. The place was PACKED. There were probably a good 12 or 13 people in there - a trail crew and 4 thru-hikers, but they made room. The head guy I'm pretty sure was like 'ohh yeah we can totally make room, we'll find a spot', so I got in. I must have looked like the saddest, wettest puppy ever. There was definitely some pity working for me. I get in, strip off my shoes and pack and start chatting. Over half the people are sleeping or trying to sleep, so I try and be quiet. I chat with a couple of the guys for a little bit, get my food going. They go to sleep, and I'm pretty sure the main guy, is who I was sleeping next to. We chatted while my food cooked and then we finally turned off the lamp. I remember my watch beeping for 12am and I laid down and was the luckiest god damned person in the whole wide world right then *laughs*. I told the guy, I'm so grateful for this. My life is 1,000,000 times better right now then what it could be. I knew that he knew I appreciated it. So, that was my night. I got a bit warmer, but in the morning they were pretty dry, which I'm happy about. My bag might be a little damp because it soaked up the water but hopefully it will be...well today is blue skies and the sun kind of rose and foggy steamy clouds billowed up everywhere. Hopefully they'll burn off. But making Seiad Valley this afternoon and hopefully putting on another 10 after that, because it's 33 from the cabin to Seiad Valley. My average right now is over 44 miles per day. So, I'm doing it man! I just have to keep strong and always remember that tomorrow should be a better day if today sucks.
View down into the Scotts Valley by Etna, before the Etna road crossing.