We woke up so early that there was no light in the sky except from the setting moon. That moon was gorgeous, setting amidst clouds painted yellow and orange, just over a ridge. I wanted to give Ambrose the CBD balm for his ankle before he got his socks on, but I forgot where I put it. I distinctly remembered tossing it above my head the night before, but I must have forgotten the part where I decided to be responsible and put it away.
Ambrose was having problems of his own as one of his toe socks had disappeared. This is what happens when we breach the etiquette and spread out!
Neither of us found our equipment while we were still in the tent. It wasn’t until we had resigned ourselves to not finding them that they appeared. Ambrose’s sock was just outside his tent door, and I had put the CBD balm in my snack hip belt pouch, rather than the essentials hip belt pouch where it is supposed to live.
So it all turned out just fine, but both of us were in a harried mood. Me especially. Ambrose had been putting on his pack before I was ready to go, and it made me feel like he was rushing me. It turned out he was putting it on because that makes it easier for him to drink from his water bladder and he wanted to drink with breakfast. Funny how we can interpret the actions of others’ in such different ways than they might be intended.
There were deer on the airstrip in the dark. I turned my headlamp up to max setting to get a decent picture of one. And one of the deer had line wrapped around his antlers, something shiny, maybe purple. I wished I could get the line off of him, but I had no way to stop the deer from running away or, as Ambrose suggested, goring me with his antlers. So I let it go.
We hiked by headlamp for a while, along the air strip and then turning south. Actually, Ambrose almost missed the turn. I had to ask him where he thought he was going as he walked past the junction.
The low part of the trail passed quickly, but climbs were coming. I went ahead of Ambrose at that point and kept an eye on the time so I could try to stop at the perfect spot – a place good for a break and right on time so that when Ambrose walked up, he would get a 10 minute break from our hour of hiking.
That was the stop that I started cheating. If he hadn’t shown up by the time I had 10 minutes left, then I paused the timer so he would get a full 10 when he did show up. The sun was pretty much up by that point, but not burning hot yet.
We came across more stands of young, dead trees, and then some stands of living ones, which I was glad to see. We climbed, sometimes up steep inclines and sometimes along rambling switchbacks. I tried to find where the Three Blaze trail intersected this trail, and I think I might have, but I’m not sure.
Hiking along towards Lodgepole Creek on this day, I began to feel more confident about my solo trip. I could actually see Moose Meadows Point at the start of our day’s hike, and that’s where I’ll be going. One of the places. I know this area pretty well, and I know how to handle myself out on the trail. It is going to be tough. It will be a challenge. But I have allocated enough time this year to make it through the Frank Church.
I hadn’t hiked towards Lodgepole Creek from this direction before, and I found that it had some incredible views to offer. Also, I think I’m more receptive to enjoying views in the morning. Maybe I have more bandwidth for it when I have less miles on my feet.
The creek had a nice easy log crossing that I took, and then I started on filling up my water before Ambrose arrived. Even HE took the log crossing for this one. We filled up our water bladders and bottles. We each carry a small 16oz water bottle to use as a cup, and we had decided to fill them so we would have a reserve of water to use to make lunch. That way, we wouldn’t need to worry about conserving water from our bladders, that we can’t see, in order to make lunch. There wasn’t much shade at Lodgepole, so we decided to hike on to the next four way junction before eating.
We stayed together a bit for the next section, but my legs wanted to stretch and I couldn’t say no to them. A crew from the Idaho Trails Association had flown into Chamberlain last year and done the trail we were on. I have to say they did a bang up job. Easy to follow, very little treefall. The first time we were on that trail, it was very difficult to follow. I suspect they did a bit of a reroute, because it seemed to take much longer than I remembered to get from Lodgepole over past the burned section and to the junction.
I got to the junction first and proceeded to set out and start prepping lunch. I didn’t start Ambrose’s lunch, because I didn’t know if he was going to eat it, and I wanted to ask him if he wanted some espresso powder in his creme brulee. I had added a generous spoonful to mine, and it smelled FANTASTIC.
But when Ambrose arrived, he was not feeling well. He was shivery, and exhausted. He wasn’t sure he could make it to Mulligan Creek, which was our planned campsite.
I said we should eat lunch and he should take some cold medicine and then we should hike on to the bog, which is our next possible campsite and see how he felt.
But I knew, with a sinking feeling in my stomach, that we were not going to be making our planned campsite, no matter how optimistic I tried to be about it. I really wanted to get to Mulligan Creek so we could be pretty much done with climbing for the trip. I figured if he were feeling sick today, he might be feeling worse tomorrow, and we’d still have to make the climb.
And, when we got to the bog site, Ambrose declared that he was going to be taking a night time cold medicine and passing out for a while. That’s how bad he felt. Though I think I didn’t really get just how out of it he was until he went to go for water much later in the afternoon (it was his turn, and I was setting up the tent). Dear reader, he went the wrong way. Luckily, I was watching so I turned him around before he got out of sight, but that is so completely unlike him.
So we spent the afternoon doing pretty much the same thing as the day before, chasing shade and relaxing. Except there was more shade here, so we didn’t have to chase so hard. When it came time to get the tent up, I moved slowly and deliberately to avoid getting too hot. The spot was in the sun at the time, but we were in deep forest, so the sun wouldn’t be shining on us all evening.
The spot was a bit close to the trail, which would have impacted the experience of other trail users if there had been any. I don’t know why I thought people might walk by, but no one did. Not even any deer in this spot. And, although the last time we were there, the mosquitoes were so thick that they tried to fly into my mouth since I didn’t have deet on the inside, this time they were not around. The bog itself seemed much drier than in years past, though it’s been a high water year for most of the streams that we’ve hiked by.
Ambrose still wasn’t eating as much as he should have been, but he did eat dinner. Maybe not his full share of it, but I was hungry enough not to complain. I tried to ply him with some of my candy, my idea being that it was different from what he had and therefore might be more appealing. I’ve discovered that Chewy Spree is a pretty good candy to take out there. Something about the sourness and the burst of fruity flavor is really attractive.
We planned on another very early morning, since we would be covering more ground than we thought. And the last nail in the coffin of my hopes to actually hike down to Copper Camp got driven in with Ambrose being sick. He already had pretty much vetoed it because of his ankle injury, but now there was no question. We’d head down Ramey Ridge the next day to Beaver Creek and spend our last night just 3 miles from the trailhead.