Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 439.2

Saturday, August 24, 2019; day 35

I rose, crawled out of my tent (after untangling my hair from the zipper), and went in search of the faint trail that led to an access point of the North Fork of Little Boulder Creek. It was far easier to spot in the light of day.

I returned to my tent, filtered, and reviewed the guidebook.

So many roads.

At least they are Forest Service Roads. I thought of how they were sort of the middle ground between wilderness and civilization. A medial place where wilderness and society meet. I don’t know much about Forest Service Roads, or what exactly is being “serviced”.  I need to learn more about what is being said.

I thought of moderation and extremes.

I stopped and ate breakfast, roadside.

I continued on.

I passed the only water source for miles. I turned back to find it, periodically stopping to hear beyond the sound of my footsteps on gravel. Then I hear it faintly.

I stop to collect, sitting cross-legged as I filter from one bottle to the other.  A raised SUV with giant wheels drives by. The man inside waves and nods as he passes. Human sightings on these roads make me nervous, especially when I am stationary. When I am sitting, things splayed about, I feel vulnerable. I listen for the sound of the motor, making sure it fades away entirely before I fully relax and return to the water.

Two young people pass on an ATV.

The road becomes wilder as it climbs, practically becoming a trail as it descends to the southeast.

Suddenly the “trail” disappears. So many fallen trees, such overgrowth! I continue, pushing and climbing my way forward. I notice twisted, rusting barbed wires between downed trees. I remember the history of the path, what potential dangers its industrial use could bring.

It was not long before the path became clear again. I  felt positively euphoric from the excitement of the quasi bushwhack.

The contrast of wildflowers and new growth in a burn area is so outstanding in beauty; a stunning portrayal of death and rebirth.

I was happy to join the Kettle Crest Trail.

As I hiked into the night, I began to look for a place to camp.

The entire region of forest was burned. “Widow-makers” or “snags” abounded. Though I found them to be very visually appealing, they did not make for safe sleeping. The wind could blow, their roots could lift from the earth, they could fall at any moment.

I soon realized that camping within the burn area was unavoidable. There was no swaying or creaking of trees. The night was calm, the stars brilliant.

I found a spot of relative clearing. I would star-camp.

I was alone out here. I have not seen a single hiker on trail since Montana.

I laid out my ground tarp and mat right in the center of the sandy trail.

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