Since I was hydrating through the afternoon to try and make up for getting behind during the day’s hike, I got up a couple times during the night to answer mother nature. It wasn’t too dark out as the stars were bright and the sky was clear.

I tease Ambrose that he’s guaranteeing us a summer free of rain because he really wants to see how our new tent does in the rain. So far, despite forecasts as high as 80% for rain, we’ve avoided it.

We were up before the other camp even began to stir. And when I write we, I mean Ambrose woke me up after he made coffee. I think I’m always going to be a night owl at heart, but I’m getting used to these early awakenings for the sake of backpacking.

Our breakfast was no-cook, Spam singles and a bagel. I saved part of my bagel for the hike back and helped Ambrose strike the tent. We headed off before the sun touched our campsite.

A very convenient crossing spot. 

I felt very safe crossing this, but I can’t vouch for Ambrose. 

We hiked together down to the swampy pond and then to our first ford of the morning. Now, I know that the water temperature couldn’t have changed all that much from the previous morning, but apparently crossing before the sun has been up for any significant amount of time is cold. Very cold. Bitingly, painfully cold. I had a bruise on the inside of my leg from a box jump attempt and it was only that the pressure of the water was making it throb that convinced me my legs hadn’t gone entirely numb.

The swamp was probably bitingly cold too.

Once we were across, I wasted no time in getting my socks and shoes back on. I also voiced an idea that I’d been playing with about the next crossing. Since it was so deep, and it would be less than an hour to the car from that point, I asked Ambrose if he thought it would be a horrible idea to ford it in boots.

Now, generally I’m against getting water inside boots. If you still have a lot of hiking to do, or another night to spend out, you are going to have wet, stinky feet for the rest of the trip. Maybe that’s okay for a solo trip, but when you have to share a tent, it becomes a matter of courtesy to try and avoid such things.

However, I have gotten boots wet before, partly for speed, partly to help break them in, and always within an hour of the car. Ambrose admitted the idea wasn’t bad and that he might do the same (he also has new boots).

We hike towards the sunshine.

Not bad for maximum digital zoom. 

I might have sped ahead, but it was still relatively early in the morning, so I stayed behind Ambrose. I didn’t look around very much, focusing instead on not tripping him with my trekking poles or stepping on his boots.

My view hiking behind Ambrose.

We reached the last ford of the Little Queens and paused for a snack before the crossing. Again, I watched Ambrose cross first, though I followed a bit before he finished and ended up having to wait for him to clear the bushes at the far side before I could emerge. The water didn’t feel quite as cold when my flesh was protected by layers of clothing, but I was glad to get out and get moving.

And moving quickly. I made it to the car in under 40 minutes.

Hello sunshine!

Oh, and we saw a snake. Snake butt shot!

I only had to wait about fifteen minutes for Ambrose to arrive at the trailhead, by which time I had given myself a cold rinse in the river and changed into driving clothes. We drove off feeling that we’d accomplished a nice bit of training and acclimatization. Whether we’d be ready for the next trip, which we planned to start with a 13+ mile day… that remained to be seen.

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