Gold creek – Peavine Creek
25.5 miles.
3634ft up. 4235ft down

It was cold last night! I had my hat on but when I woke in the night my face was freezing so I stuck my head right inside my sleeping bag. Who needs to be able to breathe anyway? I was wedged in to the side of my tent, maybe the ground was on more of a slope than I thought! I was very reluctant to get up but I heard Catwater moving about and released the valve of my air mattress, filling my tent with stale breath.

We are both sluggish this morning and don’t get going until 7am. There is no water for 18 miles so we are carrying 2 litres, but it’s not as heavy as I was expecting. It was nice to feel the sun on my face, as it cuts its way through the smoke.

I was walking along chatting to Catwater and suddenly she wasn’t behind me anymore. I figured she had probably stopped to take her layers off. I carried on and saw what I thought were bear tracks on the trail, so I waited for Catwater to catch up and showed her. Now neither of us are bear experts, but she is from Alaska which at least has bears unlike the UK. So we decide it’s a bear track and Catwater tests the space between the prints. It’s a small bear she concludes. I look at her and she has a funny mark on her upper lip, it looks like she has been bitten by something. I don’t say anything and we carry on.

So she tells me that she stopped earlier to take a layer off, which is what I figured, then she says she was walking along with her poles in one hand and her phone in the other and she trips and face plants the trail, I look at her again, she has a fat lip!! I ask her if she is ok… and then laugh.

We see bear tracks for almost the whole day, the tracks I am looking for on the trail are footprints going south but there doesn’t seem to be any. All the foot prints are going north. Maybe the girls didn’t pass us last night after all. The bear prints are on top of all the foot prints so they are quite fresh. We walk together, or at least not too far apart, making sure we are aware on our surroundings. I hear a giant crash from the bushes right in front of us and a deer leaps out and bounds down the edge of the mountain.

Catwater says it’s likely to be more than one bears prints we are seeing, but I like the thought that it’s just one bear taking a casual stroll down the trail. We see different types of prints, one is more of a triangle and the other is more of an oval, but we think that is the difference between the back and front feet.

Catwater falls again. She is not having the best of days.

It’s very smokey today, it smells and you can feel it drying it the back of your throat. Visibility is reduced, but it’s still nice to be above the trees, it alters all day between forest and ridge. I see a bear poo on the side of the trail. Now I think it that’s it’s a pretty big poo which means it must have come from a pretty big bear!

We have a little break at the top of a climb to delayer. We have already done 8 miles in 3 hours so we are doing a good pace. It’s nice to stay fairly close together give the amount of bear evidence we have seen today, I would be pretty nervous if I was out here by myself and I probably would have been hiking extra fast and far today so I am extra grateful to have Catwater with me.

13 miles in it’s starting to get a bit hotter and my stomach is rumbling. I suggest stopping for lunch, she says she was wondering how to say ‘shall we stop for lunch’ and I said you say just that! I notice that she eats a cheese filled bagel and I nibble on a few Cheetos. I really need to sort my food out!!

With only 12.5 miles to go we should make it to camp by 6pm. We walk together on and off all afternoon, having random conversations about random things when we hike together. I then will go off a bit faster and she will have to stop to pee as she drinks far more than I do. I wait for her to catch up and point out there are some very small looking bear tracks on the trail so there may be a baby around. We see our first person of the day at about 3pm, a northbounder called Mad Hatter from Argentina, then we see Whit and later on One Eleven and then Dundee. They think that they are the last northbounders.

We se a lot of snakes and lizards.

The trail is beautiful this afternoon. It’s all very golden looking, the tall grasses glow in the sunlight, the only flowers are the orange ones. With only 2 miles to go I reach the power lines, the area where I almost stepped on an enormous rattler last year so I move through with caution. I find some shade and wait for Catwater, she would have normally have caught me up by now and I slightly worry that she may have fallen over again! I get service on my phone and check if there is anything important going on.

We walk together and before we know it we are at the dirt road right around 6pm. Thankfully I remember going to the creek last year otherwise it would have been a bit difficult to find. It was tucked away through the bushes and across a dry river bed, but it was still flowing slowly. It wasn’t too warm today and the pace was pleasant so I drank my 2 litres without having to fill up at all.

We find a camp spot on an abandoned dirt road and set up. I do everything leisurely as I’m in camp a good hour before I have been, I awkwardly divide my beans and rice into two in a ziplock bag, two servings is just too much, and I eat it with a string cheese and Fritos which is a perfect meal, both in size and taste.

It’s completely dark by about 8:10pm now. I hear voices, sounds like two girls. Maybe it is Crusher and Spice Rack this time. They don’t stop and the voices fade away as they continue up the trail.

I go to sleep thinking about a new year. Tomorrow I’ll be 34. A new start. A new mindset. No more tears.


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