When it comes to our backpacking trips, Ambrose has a habit that I don’t agree with. The first day that we hike, the day that we are hiking out, is the day he calls Day 0. To me, that’s Day 1. It’s the first day of the trip. Day 0? Well, that’s the day before the trip. And that’s where I will start my narrative. 

To begin, we had originally planned for this to be a hike for three people. We were going to meet our friend Bill up at Big Creek and hike out all together. Unfortunately, Bill was ill. Worst timing ever! But a good chance for Ambrose and I to reconnect and celebrate each other, especially considering that the anniversary of the day we met (which we celebrate) would be the day we hiked back in. 

For this trip, we had 7 planned days of hiking, and full days devoted to travel on either end. It’s nice not to be rushed before or after the hike itself, when we can. And so on Thursday, July 14, we set off from home to Big Creek. 

I drove this time, which is a bit unusual. Typically, Ambrose drives us up, and I drive us back down, because I’m generally not quite as exhausted after our trips. But since we’d have a rest day between hiking in and driving home, I wasn’t worried about Ambrose driving us home. 

The drive was very nice. There was not a bunch of traffic going up on a Thursday morning, and I didn’t encounter any jerk drivers. Well, there was one driver just past Warm Lake that was going very slow, but they were nice and pulled off when they got a chance, allowing me to zip past them. 

I wanted to stop at the top of the summit to use the pit toilet, but some other people had had the same idea. Unfortunately for me, the folks who had that idea had some large vehicles and ENTIRELY blocked the pull out for the toilet. I drove on by, minorly irked, but able to continue. 

Once I turned onto Johnson Creek Road, I was on the lookout for a good lunch spot, but I couldn’t find one until we got all the way to the Trout Creek campground. I pulled into there and found us a picnic table in the shade. We ate our boneless Yangnyum Chicken from Han’s Chimaek (we had to order Wednesday night – worth it!), and got attacked by bugs. 

The drive was uneventful after that, which is the way I like those drives. I get nervous about being on those narrow, dirt roads. You never know when an approaching vehicle will pop out from behind a tree! 

Once we were safely at Big Creek, I claimed us a campsite and then we went over to the lodge to say hello. Plus, they have muffins and coffee, so there’s also that. 

The afternoon was relaxing, but we were really waiting for the dinner. We’d made reservations back in May as soon as they opened practically. At the campsite, we put down the footprint from our big car camping tent, and then the car sleeping pads along with stinky the blanket and one of our gray blankets. We were going to cowboy camp without sleeping bags so that we wouldn’t have as much to put away the next morning before hiking.

The dinner was delightful, and we turned in fairly early. I was not sure I’d be able to sleep without a sleeping bag. In fact, I’d brought the one I use at home just in case, but I ended up using it as a feather pillow instead. The lows were only in the 50s, so we stayed nice and warm. 

The moon over Big Creek Lodge.

The next morning, I saw that the footprint had some moisture on the bottom. I asked Ambrose if he thought we should put it up damp or leave it to dry on the site’s picnic table, and he thought we should leave it to dry. He even anchored it against the wind with some small logs. 

Then we went and had breakfast, and, just as we were getting ready to leave, the weather starts to shift. 

Something in the air. 

Pressure dropping. 

And then the sky broke open. 

I blame the rain for what happened next. Ambrose and I hung out in the lodge, waiting for the squall to pass. And once it did, we were soooo focused on getting ourselves to the trailhead that we completely forgot to get the formerly damp, now soaking wet, footprint from the campsite. 

That little cloud down there made me nervous for another squall!

Instead of getting the footprint, we drove off. Ambrose handled the delicate negotiation of our car down to the Big Creek trailhead parking lot where we’d normally park. Good thing we were driving by this time, because both sides of the parking lot were pretty full of cars and trailers and tents and people. Next, he got us back down Smith Creek Road to the cutoff trail. And, thankfully, we didn’t run into any freshly downed trees to stop us. 

We were ready to start Day 1 (or Day 0 if you count like Ambrose). 

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