Day 23 – “I’ll Raise…”

Buckthorn Camp to Trail Camp
1.4 Mile Detour, Mile 394 – Mile 420.6

Buckthorn Creek in morning

Sometimes when you are playing poker and you find yourself in a bad spot, the only thing to do is raise the bet. So too with hiking I suppose.

Trail flowers

My plan for the day was to finish the endangered species detour and knock out a 10×10 which would land me at a picnic area on Highway 2. I was betting that I’d be able to take a break and get the cellular coverage I lacked last night.

Pleasant but no views

The morning walk through Pleasant View Ridge was, um, pleasant enough but I’m not sure where they were hiding those views. I confined myself to small scale spectacles.

Red eruptions through the pine straw

The day was overcast but I arrived at the picnic area in high spirits only to be disappointed. I was able to dump some trash (never pass up a trash can) but posting was a no go. Nothing to do but keep going.

Entering the fours

The trail entered a fire damaged area of low, labyrinthine hills. The walking became quite tedious and monotonous as the trail snaked through the scrub. I’m pretty sure I walked every point of the compass disconsolate and unable to perceive any progress. I did run across a guy who was out doing a 5 day hiking fast, limiting himself to only water and electrolytes. Um, seems like a spectacularly bad idea to me.

What’s better than 10×10?

To break out of my funk, I raised the stakes setting myself the goal of 20×2. Unbeknownst to me, the last part of the 20 included about 2000 feet of elevation gain but by that point I was determined.

Approaching the promised land

The payoff for my achievement was a sweeping view and 3 bars on my phone. I removed my shoes and socks and stretched out on a large rock for an extended break. I then set my sights on the Mill Creek Fire Station another 6 miles ahead as a good stopping spot. They did have a spigot with cold water but camping there would have been under power lines, next to a noisy highway, and no phone service.

Sunset camp

Time to reraise! Though ready to stop, I girded myself for another 2.5 miles of climbing in hopes the elevation would deliver silence , solitude, and service. Ring the bell, we have a winner! I found a terrific spot that gave me all three with a colorful sunset thrown in to sweeten the pot. I wasn’t planning on doing 28 miles today but I am glad I raised.

Bonus sunset