One detail had me worried last night about where we camped. The campsite was far enough off the trail that I would be unlikely to see anyone walk by.
This was a concern because I knew Just Awesome was not far away. I feared my friend from the Woohoo Crew would pass the campsite without me seeing him. I didn’t want to miss a chance to see him again.
|Date||Tuesday, July 30, 2019|
|Weather||Gradual climbs and descents on mostly smooth trail |
|Trail Conditions||Clear skies with a high temperature in the upper 60s|
When I left this morning, I hoped he was still ahead of me. I kept my eyes open for him while I was walking.
Bluejay and Sunkist left camp at 6 a.m. Dave and I didn’t leave until 6:30. We didn’t know it then, but this would become a regular morning pattern.
We stopped to top off our water bottles at Mosquito Creek, which was only a tenth of a mile down the trail from our campsite. Then we were on our way.
After walking a couple hours, Dave stopped to take a break, so I did too.
While making coffee, I discovered I was receiving a good cell signal, so I downloaded some podcasts to listen to on the trail. I had intended to do that yesterday in Trout Lake but forgot.
Near where we stopped, we began to see Sawtooth Mountain. It stood 5,354-foot high and was less than two miles directly up the trail. The trail would go around, not over it.
Sawtooth Mountain is a shield volcano, which means it was created almost entirely from hot, fluid lava that flowed from an opening in the earth. Eventually, that flow built up as it poured from the vent and hardened into rock.
Because of the way they form, shield volcanoes are not usually steep mountains. When viewed from above, they can look like a round warrior’s shield.
Once we began hiking again, the trail seemed to be a series of easy, rolling hills, but it was, in fact, gradually gaining elevation. For the first eight miles of today’s hike, the trail climbed more than 1,500 feet.
At first, trees were spaced widely apart with tall grass and wildflowers filling the spaces between. Soon, however, we were back in a thick forest.
At about 9:15 a.m. I saw a hiker rounding a corner and walking toward me. I knew immediately that it was Just Awesome. As soon as he saw me, he had a big grin and I’m sure I had the same. I was relieved to see I hadn’t missed him.
We talked for several minutes, but it wasn’t possible to catch each other up on all that has happened in the last two-and-a-half months.
I knew Just Awesome, or JA as we sometimes called him, had hiked for a time with some of the other tramily members who jumped ahead of the Sierra because of near-record snowfall. He told me they attempted to hike north before running into more snow.
JA eventually split from them so he could hike at a faster pace because he was intent on finishing the entire trail.
Forgive me for sharing this spoiler, but I’m pleased to say JA continued hiking all the way to the Canadian border, then flipped to complete his remaining miles in the Sierra. The odds of finishing a thru-hike aren’t good for any hiker, but when we departed I knew he would do it.
Soon after leaving JA, I caught a glimpse of Mt. Adams. Its peak could be seen just above the trees as the trail went up and around the side of Sawtooth Mountain.
A little farther up the trail from that viewpoint, it crossed into Indian Heaven Wilderness. This area was given its name because it had cultural significance to the tribes who lived here.
A meadow in the wilderness area known as Indian Racetrack was the site of Native American pony races through the early 1900s.
There are several volcanic peaks in the 20,784 acres within Indian Heaven’s boundary. Sawtooth Mountain is the third-highest of them. The highest is Lemei Rock (5,927 feet), where a lake has formed in its crater.
There are also several other lakes in the area and the trail went past many of them today. I stopped for lunch near one.
Junction Lake was another lake, but this one was shallow and not an ideal spot for collecting water. It was a good spot for mosquitoes, however.
Not far from Junction Lake, as the trail headed in the direction of East Crater Mountain, it entered a burn area. This was one more of the many trail sections hikers had to detour around in 2017 because of wildfires.
This particular fire burned about 1,000 acres in September of that year, which was the peak time for northbound hikers heading to Canada.
After passing Blue Lake, the trail began to climb up and over Berry Mountain. At the higher parts of the mountain Mt. Hood could be seen. It was about 40 miles away as a crow flies.
The trail will take me directly past Mt. Hood, but I will need to walk about 100 miles to get there.
Descending from Berry Mountain’s summit was a little slow because there were several rocks on the trail. I was delayed again when I reached Green Lake because I stopped to filter water.
The lake was a little less than three miles from the campsite.
A frog was swimming nearby as I scooped water, but seeing it didn't bother me. I used a good water filter.
The stops and delays, plus my long chat with JA, caused me to reach the campsite well after Sunkist, Bluejay, and Dave. Still, I arrived at 5:30 p.m., which wasn’t a bad time after walking more than 20 miles.
They waited for me for dinner, when we were able to appreciate the luxury of a real picnic table.
I enjoyed seeing JA today and having some time to reminisce with him about our tramily days on the trail. At the same time, I was beginning to realize I was bonding with a new tramily.
You never know when or how relationships will form on the trail. What I know, however, is that trail friends can be some of the best friends to have.
Your rain falls like crazy fingers
Peals of fragile thunder
Recall the days that still are to come
Some sing blue
Hang your heart on laughing willow
Stray down to the water
Deep sea of love
Beneath the sweet calm face of the sea
Life may be sweeter for this, I don't know
From "Crazy Fingers” by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia
See how it feels in the end
May Lady Lullaby sing plainly for you
Soft, strong, sweet and true