Kennedy creek – Stubblefield canyon creek
23.6 miles. 2397ft up. 3706ft down.
I groaned when my alarm went off. I didn’t get the best nights sleep and I woke up thinking ‘why am I doing this?’. I’m cold, I’m uncomfortable – I had pitched my tent on a slope so my head was bashing into the top of my tent all night – I’m grimy, I’m smelly, my back hurts, my knees hurt.
I miss home. I miss my bed with my feather duvet and my Nepalese blankets. I miss the choice of food in a supermarket. I miss general conversation about tv and popular culture. I miss not having to think about going to the toilet and not having to carry around my shitty toilet paper. I miss moisturiser. I miss being clean. I miss being in one place. I miss a routine.
But that’s mostly what I wanted to get away from. I fear I will spend my whole life wanting what I don’t have.
I start walking and it warms up quickly. The first 9 miles to Dorothy lake are beautiful and I’m immediately reminded why I’m out here. I just had a bad night. The sun is streaming through the trees and as the trail climbs higher it becomes rockier as it opens out and it just get more and more beautiful. I don’t stop until I can see Dorothy lake and I sit and take it all in. It’s so still, the only sound is the clicking of the crickets.
I eat some snacks and lie on a rock for a bit to wait for Catwater. I had managed a 3 mile and hour pace which was a surprise, so I though she would be a little bit behind. When an hour had gone by I started to get a little concerned. Just before 12 I saw her coming up over the hill. She didn’t look happy. ‘Everything ok?’ I asked. She was having one of those days. One with no energy and no motivation. I asked where the planned camp spot was and she told me it was Stubblefield Canyon Creek, she said not to wait for her and just carry on. So I did.
The next 20 miles were flat or downhill. As I passed Dorothy Lake it got really very warm. The sun was strong and I felt a little like I was burning. It was a relief at times to go into the shade of the trees. The trail was rocky in places but not too bad, and when it opened out into meadows the trail was nice and clear. It followed Falls Creek for most of that section so water was never a problem, other than I probably hadn’t drunk enough. The colours were so beautiful, beds of yellows and reds and golds.
5 miles before camp I came to a ‘wide creek that can be difficult to ford’ which is information for people in June, but now in late September the creek can just be walked across on the rocky bed without getting wet at all. I collected water from the creek as I wasn’t sure how far I would get, I had been making really good time but there was 1000ft of climbing in front of me. Wilma lake was in half a mile but lake water is never the best so I picked up 2 litres and carried on. I had seen 3 people on the trail before 8am and I hadn’t seen anyone since, so I became one of those annoying people who play their music out their speakers. But I wasn’t playing music I was listening to a podcast.
As I walked along the edge of Wilma lake I felt irritation in my nose so it was time for another go at the snot rocket. And I had my first successful evacuation. Irritation gone. No snotty residue over my face. Practice makes perfect. I see a couple of people on the edge of the lake, not that far away, looking over in my direction. Oh well.
It was 4pm when I got to the base of the climb. It was super steep, it was about 1000ft over 1 mile. I took it slow and steady, with my bag super heavy with 2 litres of water it was all I could do. Half way up the climb is a creek which was reported as dry, but not mentioned in the guide is the bloody great lake where I could have gotten water from! As the trail climbed steeply it got really rocky. It was tough going but a few switchbacks helped and in a little over an hour I was at the top. The sky was really hazy and I wondered if it was smoke, if there was a fire somewhere. I gave the air a sniff but I could tell if it smelt like smoke or not, maybe I was getting a faint whiff. Anyway, I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. When I was at the top I knew Catwater wasn’t going to make it up and down (I still had over 1000ft of descent into the canyon) before it was dark. I didn’t know whether to wait for her or not. She had said to carry on. So I carried on.
The descent was worse than the ascent. Huge rocks and a heavy pack is murder on the knees and ankles. It was also tough going. But at least it had cooled off now. I made it to the canyon where the creek I though was reported dry was not dry at all. I had carried 2 litres of water up and down that mountain for no reason! I found a way around the water without having to get wet or take off my shoes and it was about 6:30 when I found a camp spot just south of the creek.
I pitched my tent and had a disaster. The pole snapped. Great. To my surprise though I didn’t get angry or upset. I just put up my tent with the broken pole – things aren’t quite right, the walls feel a little as though they are closing in on me – and thought ‘at least it’s still sheltering me’. It’s not ideal, and it wouldn’t protect me very well in the rain because the fly is touching the net in places but it’s remarkably warm tonight.
It was getting dark by the time I got around to eating so I ate by torch light again. I made chicken teriyaki mountain house and I was a lot hungrier than I thought I was because I devoured it. It was still a little on the salty side but this one didn’t make my mouth sting, only 56% of my daily salt allowance in this one.
I hear something fall from a tree very close to me. That’s all I need this evening, a pine cone landing on my tent. I can hear crunching of twigs outside. I shine my light and a couple of pairs of eyes light up. Deer.
My legs are throbbing and my knees are very warm. They definitely caught the sun today.
I hope Catwater is ok. She didn’t look great earlier today and I’m feeling like I should have waited for her even though she said not to. There is a considerable amount of up and down tomorrow, I’m not really looking forward to that.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.