Tentsite – deep creek bridge
21.3 miles. 4372ft up. 3332ft down.
It was a lovely warm night, just before I went to sleep a motorbike came up the trail (no motor vehicles allowed!) and creeped me out. It seemed to stop a moment when it got to our tents, its light shining bright and then it carried on noisily down the trail. After that I went to sleep and didn’t wake up again until my alarm went off at 5:30am. So early! But as it’s now dark by 5pm we wanted to get an earlier start.
And now it’s light earlier for a little while it was light before 6am. The first goal was to get to the next water about 6 miles away. We carried on through the burn area, it was warm but we were in the shade so the temperature was perfect. The trail twist and turns and follows a gently ascending contour. Then there is a fairly unpleasant section of trail which I remember not being that enamoured with last year. It passes some houses and some dog graves and a creepy area near the river.
I come to the river crossing which was a simple ankle deep trickle of water last year. This year it looked completely different. There was a beaver dam which I got across without really getting my feet wet. I had to get on to my knees to crawl under a tree branch which was very awkward. The water was stinky where the dam has created a stagnant pool. Now I was on a little island in the middle of the river facing tree branches to clamber over until I found the second beaver dam. There was no way I was going to get across that without getting my feet wet. I considered just wading across the river but when I tested it with my poles the water would have come over my waist! So I wobbled across on the beaver dam. My feet were totally soaked with smelly water. I was going to get drinking water from here but the smell put me off. It clung to the back of my throat.
I took off my shoes and socks and dried everything the best I could. I heard Catwater in the bushes and called to her. She couldn’t get across there so she went further upstream and waded across. She was further up on the trail so I put my wet shoes back on and went to find her. The only way to dry my shoes was to keep walking. It was really hot now, the sun was beating down so hopefully they will dry quickly. My shoes didn’t smell too great before but now they really stink, as they dry the smell wafts up.
The trail then follows the Mojave river through the canyon for a long way. It gradually ascends for the next countless miles. This part of the trail is easily accessible and people like to come and graffiti the rocks and leave their trash lying about. Like I said, not my favourite part of the trail. I get to the rainbow bridge and a couple on a day hike chat to me. They tell me that over 100 homes were lost in the fire area we just walked through last night and this morning. Horrible. I eat my lunch at 11am. Not because I’m starving, it’s just something to do.
Catwater catches up and I try to explain how finishing in the desert is really anticlimactic compared to finishing in Washington. Going north you work up to true Wilderness. Going south you finish in the scuzzy areas. I scramble down to the water which is nice and cold and then we carry on and there must be something dead nearby because the smell was putrid.
We carry on until we come to deep creek hot springs where all the naked people are hanging out. And when they aren’t hanging out naked they are shitting next to the trail and leaving all their toilet paper behind. Really disgusting area. Bottles and cans litter the bushes. We didn’t stop and I was glad to leave it behind.
We continue following the river, the river is down low and we are up high, and finally get back into the shade. The trail climbs up and up. I see a rattle snake briefly before it slithers off into the bushes, the best place for them! And I see a lizard in the trail who doesn’t move. I must get within about 6 inches of it before I encourage it to move with my pole. One of the highlights of the day!
We aren’t going to make it our planned 25 miles today so we revise our goal to 21 miles to get to deep creek bridge where there is water and camping. Just near here is a little spur trail to a parking area where there is a trash can and a pit toilet. It’s only 0.1 off the trail so I go and check it out. I throw away my rubbish and get rid of that slice of pizza I didn’t eat that has been stinking out my food bag. Between that and the garlic bread and the focaccia I’m surprised I haven’t invited the whole forest to my tent. I check out the pit toilet and I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s got to be up there in the top 5 pit toilets on the trail. Spotlessly clean, odour free and stocked with decent toilet roll. I don’t really need to go but I’m determined to drop off the kids before I go. It’s so nice in there I sit a while until my body has worked up a motion.
I leave the area and head back to the bridge where Catwater is – probably reluctantly – waiting for me. We cross the bridge and scramble down to the river and find a couple of flat spots to set up our tents. It’s early, it’s 5pm but it’s totally dark.
I eat another shepherds cottage pie, this time I add a bit too much water and it’s a bit sloppy but it goes down ok. I have patchy cell service and I manage to post a couple of blogs as I have time to kill.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.