We slept in. I didn’t set an alarm or anything. The plan was just to get up when we got up and go from there. We had an easy 3 miles back to the car; no need to rush.
I woke earlier than I would have hoped, but not much earlier than I expected, considering my bladder tends to wake me up before I’m done sleeping. I got up to water the bushes, and I was very quiet. Then I got back to the tent and was startled by the sight of the hikers from last night headed our way.
I had made a point of showing my friend how I would put the pot on a carabiner hanging right outside my door. The idea is, if anything scares me in the night, I can just hit it and make a racket that would scare most animals away.
Well, I managed to make quite a racket when I saw those hikers approaching, and I woke her up. I apologized and told her they were coming by. They headed up Skillern Creek, along a trail I’ve taken before. In fact, that’s the trail where an elk cow came charging at Ambrose and I, only to stop, regard us for a minute, and then turn off the trail and cross the creek.
She accepted my apology for waking her, and we both tried to fall back asleep. Tried being the operative word here. Neither of ended up falling back asleep, and after nearly an hour of desultory chatting, we agreed it was time for breakfast.
Now, I hadn’t specifically recommended that she bring a down jacket. Those things aren’t cheap and I didn’t know if she had one. I’ve got one for backpacking that I had with me, and I knew from my earlier trip outside the tent that it was pretty chilly. Too chilly, in my opinion, for her to wear just a fleece. So I told her to take the down quilt that she’d slept in outside and use it as a cloak. Not ideal, but sufficiently warm for the task.
I got the ursack from where I’d tied it, about halfway between our backside campsite and the frontside campsite. Then it was time to do breakfast. We had talked about how much she loves coffee, so I decided to make her a big coffee. Well, technically, this was powdered instant espresso – my go to coffee these days. If she hadn’t told me black coffee was her preference earlier in the week, I would have bought some instant latte powder, but this morning’s coffee would be black.
Naturally, I made the coffee first. Priorities! Then I did the Mountain House Raspberry Crumble.
Now, you might say to yourself, isn’t that a dessert, not a breakfast?
And to that I say, breakfast is the first meal of the day, no matter what it happens to be composed of. If leftover pizza can qualify as breakfast, then so too can a dessert. Plus, it’s not like this is much different from eating a Pop Tart for breakfast.
While we waited for the raspberry sauce to finish rehydrating, I made my friend get up and walk a little bit. Not too far, just far enough so that we could look in the direction of the hot spring and she could see the steam rising up. I love when it’s cool enough to see that steam rising, betraying the location of the spring that could otherwise be hidden.
Having something hot and sweet to eat first thing in the morning, especially when it’s chilly, is such a treat. The lunch and dinner from the previous day were packed individually, but this one we had to share a bag. I told her the tactic that Ambrose and I use – choose a number of bites to take and then alternate. I said three bites first, but then I took my first bite. It was very sweet, very rich and still quite hot, so I revised to two bites.
A motorcycle roared up the trail at one point, carrying a man and a woman. They parked it by the trail, and then walked up the Skillern Creek trail. They were clearly hunting; the man carried a compound bow and both wore camo. I told them there were some more hunters that had headed up that way earlier this morning and wished them good luck.
After breakfast, we talked some more while finishing up the coffee. Then it was time to break camp. I had her get the water this time to fill the dirty water bag, and then she got to filter her own water. We took the tent down together, folded it, and I started to stuff it in the bag to show her how it was done and then let her finish stuffing it in.
I’m really not very good at keeping surprises secret. I told her about the “secret” roadside hot spring the night before while we were at the Skillern hot spring. And I told her as we were packing up about my intention to give her the pack that I had loaned her. It was the second backpacking pack that I ever bought, and I learned a lot from it about what I didn’t want in a pack. But I never ended up using it very much, and I wanted her to have it and use it.
When we were ready to hike out, I told her I wanted her to pick whether we did the high road or the low road on the way back. I mean, I would make the safety call – if the crossing on this side did not look good to me, I would veto and we’d take the high road. But it was up to her if we tried.
We hiked on past Skillern Creek, and I noticed something hanging in the trees to the creek side of the trail. Several bags were up there; I figured it was from the hikers from last night, though I couldn’t figure out why they’d store gear in the trees here.
|Goodbye, hot springs!|
|Never seen a tree growing so much gear before 😉|
At the junction of low road and high road, my friend picked the low road, and I grinned. I’d never gone that way before, and it was so special to me that I’d get to experience something for the first time with this friend, on this trip.
The junction is far enough from the first crossing that you can’t see it. We had to walk a bit farther before I could take a look at the crossing and determine its safety. The depth was reasonable, ankle to mid-calf, and not too fast flowing. I deemed it safe, but told her that I would go first to demonstrate how to cross safely.
We both adjusted shoes before crossing. She had brought shoes specifically for stream crossings, and I was taking off my socks and the liner from my shoe. We also needed to lengthen our trekking poles a bit, and then put packs back on. I explained that while I learned from Ambrose that you should do stream crossings without fastening the pack straps, that there were arguments to be made for keeping it fastened. See, if it’s unfastened and you fall, you can easily bail out from the pack rather than letting it drag you into a drowning situation. But an unfastened pack balances differently from a fastened one, so crossing with it unfastened can impact your balance, and with a crossing this shallow, a fall would just get you wet. This creek was not sweeping anyone our size away any time soon.
For demonstration’s sake, I did leave my pack unfastened at this first crossing. The flow was low and slow enough that I had to remind myself to demonstrate good technique instead of just forging forward. Good technique dictates maintaining three points of contact at all times, moving only one foot or trekking pole at a time, and I mostly did that on this crossing.
Then it was my friend’s turn. I took pictures, of course, but I also decided that I could do a video. I don’t often do videos because that mode drains my camera battery at a terrifying rate, but we were headed home and I didn’t need to conserve. I managed to turn the video on at exactly the perfect time.
|The Low Road|
|Careful crossing demonstration.|
|Successful first ford!|
|The low road is rather pretty.|
|Crossing number 2.|
|Hazy light reflecting on the water of crossing 2.|
|That rock made a deep spot in the water.|
|Not too deep to ford!|
|It only came up to my knees.|
|Campsite along the low road.|
|Very hazy still.|
|All dry and back on the main trail.|
|What’s over there? Well, there’s a bucket… but why? Beats me.|
|Whoop! She made it!|