We got up early, but not super early, in order to make the most of the time of day before the sun rose over the ridge and made us all overheat. Where Beaver Creek met Big Creek, there were still a ton of logs, more even than last year. They practically bridge Big Creek, though I don’t think I’d care to try crossing on that shifting pile. 
After the bridge over Beaver Creek, I hiked ahead of Ambrose, Bill and Mike. It was good to get some “alone” time on the trail. I kept up a good pace to try and stay warm in the early morning chill. I got a little paranoid about possibly missing the trail intersection, but it came up in due time and I dumped my pack on the trail to take a break and wait for the men to catch up. 
Bill wanted to spend some time taking care of Mike before starting up, so Ambrose and I got started before him. I quickly got ahead of Ambrose, but he kept up a good, steady pace. I could tell when the trail switchbacked around and gave me a view of him, and, eventually, Bill and Mike, making their ways up behind me. 
I caught up to the sun for a few brief minutes before the trail took me back in the shadow of a ridge. The trail here was as I remembered it from last year – long, switchbacky to the point of annoyance and STEEP!
But I made really good time since I wasn’t waiting on anyone to catch up. We had agreed to meet where the water crossed the trail above the old Estep cabin, and that was where I would stop. 
Well, actually, I stopped just below Estep to try and take care of some business (without success). And I confused Bill by doing so, because he was close behind and despite my earlier verbal instructions, followed me off the trail to where I was digging a hole. 
Bill and Mike and I went up to the water crossing and settled in to wait for Ambrose. I was trying to soak up some sunshine, so I went back down the trail a bit instead of staying right by the water. 
Ambrose arrived in a time much improved from last year’s. Part of that is the familiarity of the trail, but part is the hard work he put in to make it to Shi Shi Beach on the coast. We ate lunch – oh, and I forgot to mention, it somehow slipped my mind, that I forgot to pack our sporks. 
Now, in my defense, Ambrose took out the cook kit and handed it to me, and I didn’t realize that the cook kit was stored with EVERYTHING in it EXCEPT the sporks. But I should have checked the kit before checking sporks off the list, I’ll own that. So, we had one spork between us, since I had brought one with which to eat my Reese’s Spread. I thought Ambrose had brought one, too, but he had decided against bringing any spread at the last minute. So. One spork. Two hungry people. 
I made one lunch, ate it, then made the second lunch and Ambrose ate that. Oh, and these were really good lunches. Trailtopia Cheesecake Chocolate Raspberry is incredible. We like having a dessert for a meal, because it’s a sweet treat and easy to eat, but most desserts are small enough that we need to supplement them for a full meal’s worth of calories. Not this one. This one is 2 servings of 343 calories each, or a full lunch for one hungry backpacker at 686 calories. And most cheesecake backpacking desserts are really more like puddings – tasty puddings, but gloopy. Trailtopia’s cheesecake gets more fluffy, and I love the freeze dried raspberries and chocolate chips that break up the sweetness of the cheese with a bit of sour and a bit of chocolate. I love this lunch. 
After lunch, we had some more climbing to do, and some more switchbacks, but they weren’t quite as irritating to me. I knew I was getting closer to the top. This time, Bill struck off ahead. I somewhat kept Ambrose within a reasonable distance, just because I wanted to share things with him. Like the fact that the huge tree that gave us issues last year had been cleared. And where the sneaky switchback was. And then an official break when I caught up to Bill and Mike. 
Poor Mike was collecting tons of little burs in his fur. Bill got some of them out while we waited for Ambrose, but there wasn’t much point in finishing until we were at camp. 
Then Bill and Mike went ahead to the top of the ridge, and I pulled away from Ambrose as I made my way up. Bill and I each found patches of shade at the ridge top trail junction while we waited for Ambrose. 
Ambrose arrived, we took a break, and then hiked along the ridge for a bit. And then it was time to find out if we were right about the trail junction we saw last year. 
Ambrose and I were sure taking a left at this unmarked junction would take us to water and, most likely, good camping. But we hadn’t checked last year, we couldn’t confirm with absolute certainty that we were going the right way. I got even more nervous as we walked down the trail, because I thought it would be short. It wasn’t nearly as short as I thought it would be, though the descent was nice and mellow. And then, I saw through the trees a structure. 
Yes. A freakin’ cabin out in the middle of the wilderness. Oh, and a spring, too. 
But I was excited about the cabin. It was collapsed, but not completely. There were places inside still sheltered from the elements, and you could look around inside it (though I wouldn’t suggest or condone actually entering it). 
We found decent places to pitch our tents and had a nice long afternoon to hang out. 
A horsepacker came up on us while we were still settling in. Bill went over and talked to him because Mike was making a ruckus about the horses. According to the horsepacker, the trail to Lower Ramey Meadows was no longer maintained, which would put a crimp in our plans. But that was a problem for future Jeanne. 
I relaxed and started carving a wooden spoon to try and make up for forgetting to pack the sporks. Everyone kind of did their own thing, including the normal camp chores of putting up tents and getting water and drinking water and then getting more water. I explored the area a bit; it seemed to have gotten a good deal of use at some point. There was even an old power hook up near the cabin. I have no idea how they got power out there. 
Overall, it was a very good day, and we wouldn’t have to get up quite so early the next morning. 
Ambrose is ready to go.

So is Mike. 

Sure, the logs look like a bridge, but I wouldn’t cross on them.

A good flow of water in Beaver Creek.

Lovely little flowers.

That sun is so lazy, it hasn’t climbed the ridgeline yet.

Made it to the junction! Didn’t miss the trail!

There are several places on the way up to the ridge where you can clearly see the trail ahead.

And then you can see the trail behind – including Ambrose (blue speck).

I found the sun!

And then I lost it again.

But it came back!

And then disappeared again.

But then I found this little guy. Almost as good as sun.

The stove from Estep is still here, but in a slightly different location from last year.

There’s still water crossing the trail, phew!

Heading up to the ridge. 

Not a bad reward for all that sweating. 

Bill at the ridgeline trail junction.

A daddy-long-legs found my leg. 

Bill and Mike at the spring trail junction. We went left!

And then we found a cabin!

I find this kind of thing incredibly neat.

Oh yes, there was also a spring with flowing water. 

I’m pretty sure that’s an old fuel canister inside the cabin. 

I had my socks on my trekking poles to dry out and it turns out that butterflies like gross stuff. 

We ended up pitching tents pretty close, because there weren’t actually a lot of flat, non-rocky surfaces near the cabin.

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