Now, I can understand why Ambrose would want to call this day “zero.” We weren’t going to be hiking very far on this first day, but for me, the day you start backpacking is day one. After the slow, but frantic drive to the cutoff trail, it was finally time. The air was still heavy with moisture, and we weren’t sure whether it might rain on us again. We got moving. 

The cutoff trail is about 3/4 of a mile, and climbs about 500 feet. It’s in decent shape, and we were able to move pretty quickly along it. My shoulders did start to ache a bit from the pack, but that happens most every trip – the first couple days are hardest on my shoulders, and then from a combination of them getting used to it and my backpack weight dropping as I eat, it gets easier. 

There are huckleberries along that trail, but we were too early for them. The only berries I saw were absolutely green. But we were right on time for a spectacular bear grass bloom. Some of the bear grass blooms were bent over from the rain, but they were still beautiful. They almost looked like they were praying. 

The cutoff trail ends at the Werdenhoff Mine. Ambrose and I had hiked out to look at the mine itself over the 4th of July weekend, so we didn’t linger there longer than it took to take a few pictures. On this trip, Ambrose had decided that he wanted to take more pictures of me. I was happy about that, because usually I’m not in any of the pictures on our trips. But on this trip, I had total permission to bug him to take the camera and appreciate his wife 🙂 

After the pictures, we followed the road up towards the Mosquito Ridge Trailhead. We would be stopping for the night just south of the trailhead at a place that’s marked on the old maps as “Jeep Camp.” It’s where we should have stopped the very first time we did the Chamberlain loop, and where we almost always stop now. On that first trip, we were just so determined to get back to the car that we went for it. I got to the car before sunset; Ambrose made it at about 2 am. Yeah, we really should have just camped that night… 

It didn’t take us too long to get there. We really only hiked a couple of hours, which isn’t all that much. But we were out there. Out in the woods, on the edge of the wilderness, where few folks venture. We saw tire treads that indicated that someone had driven up the road recently, but we also passed by a fallen log that would block any other vehicles from coming by. If anyone were to drive up by Jeep Camp, we’d hear chainsaws first. 

But on that day, we didn’t see another soul. 

Ambrose got to making us lunch while I set the tent up, because I was worried that it might rain again. Once that was done, Ambrose and I found some shade and just soaked in the peace and quiet, the sounds of the wind and the chitterings of the nearby animals. It was nice to be out there and not have anything else that needed done. 

I mean, aside from all the camp chores. Even “relaxing” out in the woods isn’t exactly a passive activity. We have to move periodically to stay in the shade and catch a nice breeze. Staying hydrated is important, and more so when we knew we’d have a big uphill hike the next day, so we have to drink, which involves collecting water from a nearby stream, then filtering it. And, of course, after drinking enough we’d have to make our own water. 

Somehow, I like that it isn’t easy out there. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a hot shower and a flush toilet, but there’s also something about the work required to be in the woods that appeals to me. 

After dinner, we soon made our way to the tent to hide from the emerging mosquitos. It was going to be an early morning, so I was careful not to stay up too late. Ambrose, as usual, dropped right off to sleep. 

Ambrose is READY.

Ambrose is not only ready to leave, but also ready to take pictures of me.

The start of the cutoff trail is pretty flat. 

Raindrops on rose.


Raindrops on lily.

These huckleberries are nowhere near ripe.

Bent over bear grass.

The bear grass was a’bloomin.

This tree is down pretty close to the end of the trail, and I was hoping maybe someone would have chopped it out, but alas, not yet.

Ambrose at the mine.

Me at the mine.

That looked like it would be a slippery bridge, but it wasn’t.

We were glad someone had been clearing out this part of the road.

Tire tracks!

Yeah, I don’t think I’d even drive my Subaru up here.

Rocky section of road – we had to watch our ankles here.

No motor vehicle is getting past that tree easily.

Jeep Camp!

Ambrose getting settled.

It was nice to take my hat off for a moment and feel the breeze.

Ambrose walked up to the trailhead with the camera and found the registration box was broken (again).

I did a pretty good pitch. 

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