Blog Archive

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Surprise Thirty

Day 107 9/27
Mileage 31
Camped at Dry Creek Spring in Death Canyon

Today was insane. Our plan was to do a leisurely 18 or so miles to Diaz Creek. However, around 11 or so, as we were stopped to eat a snack, we noticed a huge bank of clouds that hadn't been there before. Shortly after, a few stray snowflakes floated gently down front of us. Then a few more fell. Soon, there was a nice dusting falling from the sky, and it began sticking to the trees and rocks near the trail. As I got one Christmas carol after another stuck in my head, the flurry picked up and became a full-on snowstorm. Before long, the trail was covered, and we were walking through several inches of snow. Not enough to pose a real problem, but enough to turn everything white and beautiful. Snow everywhere! After a long descent, the snow on the ground thinned and we were walking on dirt again. But sure enough, an hour later, it had picked up again. We were excited to get into camp early, since the miles were easy. The miles may have been too easy, and our rampant speed, combined with the snow, meant we blew right by our campsite. We located a meadow a mile or so away that might have water, since this is a dry section. Upon arrival, we were disappointed to find it dry. Our maps indicated a spring another mile or so down the trail. No luck. Big bummer. It was getting dark by this time and the next water was another 8 miles away. With no other choice, we had a snack, put on our headlamps, and prepared for a slog. The clouds parted with the fading daylight, and stars began to appear, along with a tiny sliver of moon. The moon and stars provided enough light to hike for a while. We climbed a long hillside, with a full view of the moon off to our right. It made me feel like I was at the very edge of the world, looking down at the moon and stars. A long series of switchbacks brought us down the other side of the mountain and as we descended the smell changed. It was no longer the resinous aroma of the Sierra, but something new, yet strangely familiar. The spring, thankfully, was not dry, and I've never been so happy to see a tiny little piddling trickle of water. I demolished my dinner in seconds, and now I will sleep the sleep of the dead.

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