Good morning from inside the tent.

Goodbye Nanny Creek!

Nanny Creek to the trailhead is not a long hike. With a clear trail, I think I could do it by myself in four hours. With Ambrose (and his toe!), I was counting on six or so. I saved most of my coffee for after the crossing of the Queens that would begin our day’s hike. It’s not a difficult crossing per se, it’s just that you have to walk through a freezing cold section, the climb up onto an island with a very big step on slippery, collapsing ground, walk through grass that feels like knives on your cold sensitized skin, and then get back in the water before you reach the trail. By the time I got to a sitting log, my feet were painfully cold. I spent extra time chafing warmth back into them, and gulped my coffee to heat myself from the inside out.

That was a cold crossing. 

See, I do let Ambrose use the camera sometimes. 

Moments after I finished my coffee, Ambrose asked if he could have a sip. His bad timing, or my good timing? The world will never know.

We continued hiking close together down the Queens River. I hiked a bit ahead, but never so far that I couldn’t see Ambrose if I stopped for a minute or two. It was good endurance practice. I might not be traveling as fast as I wanted, but I was, because of that, staying on my feet longer. And my feet were doing really well. Last year, they would ache after only a couple hours in my boots, but this year the aches took longer to start and weren’t as intense. Hurray for my new boots!

No ripe huckleberries 🙁

No more ice cave…

I spotted the huckleberry bushes, but they were way out of season, sporting tiny green proto-berries. The ice/snow cave over the river had melted away, leaving distinctive debris across the river. The washout where I’d had to climb down nearly to the river and then up a steep bank had been fixed so that Ambrose didn’t have to repeat my adventure. Considering his ailments, I was glad it was fixed up for his sake.

I recognized parts of the trail, but there were more sections than my mind wanted to remember. I knew what we had to pass before getting to the next crossing, but I kept expecting the trail to edge close to the river well before it actually did. But after it did edge close enough that we could see the river, and practically cross it, we came to the places I did remember. The field of flowers wasn’t as riotously colorful as last year, but the flowers and grasses were a lot taller than I remembered. In a few places, the trail was difficult to follow, but I kept my nose down and figured it out.

Hurray for trail maintenance! 

No need to scramble up the bank this time.

I don’t want to be here the next time it rains torrentially.

On this side of the loop, too, the burned areas were recovering with blankets of greenery. The crossing itself was hardly recognizable, it was so overgrown with new life.


More columbine.

I can’t decide which flowers I like best.

These are some very tall flowers. 

Also very pretty.

Ambrose wanted to have a snack before he crossed and I wanted to have a snack after I crossed, so I crossed without him and had my snack. He stayed behind to eat before doing his own crossing. And then came the part I’d really been looking forward to.

River crossing!

A trail dug into field of rock landslide.

Last year, this simple, short section of trail had become a nightmare of washed out trail for me. I lost the trail at the first big washout and didn’t recover it until the crossing, which I only found by luck. I couldn’t wait to find out how those washouts had been adjusted.

It turned out that trail maintainers weren’t the only ones making adjustments to the washout. There, too, growth abounded. In one, a stream now flowed, and plants grew all over it. All of them had clear paths through them now, demonstrating to me that I should have walked straight across the washouts last year. Though I’m not sure how feasible that would have been. Maneuvering through them was hard enough without trying to stay in a straight line.

The large pine – cut, but not washed away.

Trees and boulders. 

The last ford of the day!

We found the large pine tree that had fallen across the trail, that I tried to find last year and couldn’t. It had been nicely chopped up and no longer posed such a challenge to hiking the trail. I was surprised, because I thought it had been washed out, but I’d just managed to miss it.

When we reached the next (and last) ford of the Queens River, Ambrose suggested that I go full speedy rabbit ahead on the other side. I was tempted, but the last thing I wanted was to arrive at the car and wait for hours for him to catch up. I’d worry too much. So after we crossed I told him I’d be sticking with him. And that turned out to be better for both of us. My fast pace pulled him along at a faster pace than he would have managed had he been all alone. And when he was feeling good, he hiked even faster, causing me to speed up so he wouldn’t catch me. By playing that push-pull game, we made good time.

Getting closer…

Almost there…

Lots more greenery here too.

We stopped for a snack break after making it through the high reroute over the swampy section of the trail. And then we found yet more greenery on the previously quite barren hill. There were a few stream crossings, but nothing that required boots off. One of them was bridged by a log, and, after I crossed it, I turned to make sure Ambrose made it across safely, a serious look on my face. He caught me looking at him just as I saw him finish. He was closer than I thought which made me half-smile.

Not far from the trailhead, Ambrose asked me to stop. He wanted to take off a boot because of a piece of something in it that was bugging him. I decided that it was time to go on ahead. I set off, drinking deeply from my water bladder because I knew I was close. Okay, 20 minutes from the trailhead might not seem that close, but after hiking for several hours, 20 minutes is really close.

So close!

Ah, made it – even with those large sunglasses. 

I moved the car to a campsite and started to get set up for boiling some water. I wanted to wash my hair and Ambrose’s feet and anything else we wanted. Ambrose showed up in not too long of a time, and I went down to the river to get some water for washing. As I stood on the sandy bank dipping water into a squeeze bag, a fly, or something, bit my left foot, near the instep. I squished it with a vengeance, but it hurt badly so I decided to wade into the river to soothe it. And then, because I’d been backpacking for 5 days, I waded all the way in, fully clothed.

Ambrose made it too.

I came back to the picnic table sopping wet, but satisfied. I heated our water and we set to washing. But we didn’t dawdle. After a 5 day trip, we had a reward coming our way. Hamburgers and milkshakes in Idaho City. Still a long way to drive to get to them, so we got in the car and drove off as soon as we could.

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