During the night the temperature dropped, the wind got up, and it started to rain. It didn’t rain long and it didn’t rain hard, but it did wake me up for a while.
The temperature dropped to somewhere around the low 20’s and I was glad I had brought my trusty old Marmot Helium 15F sleeping bag. I was especially impressed with how warm the Thermarest Xtherm sleeping pad was and I never once felt cold from the ground. I sometimes wished I had bought the large size, as the regular is 20 inches wide before it tapers, but some of this is taken up when the pad inflates, and it is sometimes difficult to stay on the pad when tossing and turning during the night.
By the time morning came around the wind had dropped and the rain had stopped. It was still pretty cold though. The thought of crossing Fanes Creek was about as appealing as a wrestling match with a Grizzly Bear, but it had to be done. The long night had given my tired legs time to recover, and I was feeling pretty good as I packed my things away.
Our plan today was to hike 7.5 miles to an unnamed seasonal creek that was close to mile marker 39. We didn’t know for sure that it would be running, but the chances were good. Most of the small, seasonal streams we had crossed so far had been running, if sometimes only very slowly. But they were running.
We crossed Fanes Creek with all the usual whining and screaming like little girls, and then began the ascent up the next mountain. My legs were feeling much better today, and it was a good thing that they did because the uphill hike was never ending. We never stopped climbing until we reached mile marker 36, which meant that we climbed for 4.5 miles, and it was brutal (or at least it was to me).
We stopped for a quick break and to catch our breath, and then we reached the end of section two at Cherry Bend. I was proud to have reached this milestone so quickly and in such good shape. Last year it took me almost a whole week to stagger along section one, and then several weeks longer to recover from it. This time I felt much stronger, and we had hiked section 2 in less than three days. I had every reason to be proud of myself, and I took a drink of water to celebrate.
It didn’t take us to long to hike past mile marker 38, and then we found the creek we had been looking for. We were relieved to find that it was running pretty well, so we crossed it intending to find a decent campsite close by.
We walked for about a half mile past the creek looking for a suitable site, but the terrain was very hilly and anything but flat. Eventually we compromised and found an area that sloped slightly less than vertical and pitched our tents pretty close together.
We walked back to the creek and gathered our water for the evening. The temperature dropped rapidly as the afternoon wore on, and it wasn’t long before we retired to the warmth of our sleeping bags.
The night was long and cold. I was warm and toasty wrapped up inside my sleeping bag, but I had to get up several times in the night for nature calls. This is normal for me post stroke, and it is just something I have to put up with.
Sometime in the dead of night I woke up desperate to find a convenient tree when I heard heavy breathing approaching our campsite at a rapid rate of knots. Then I heard heavy footsteps too, and I was convinced I was about to become a late night snack for a starving bear.
I laid there hardly daring to breathe in case it heard me (silly I know), and I just listened. Bigfoot hung around our campsite for what seemed like an hour (actually it was only a few minutes), and then it took off back from whence it came. I was desperate to go outside, but I didn’t move for at least another hour!!
It had probably been a deer in search of salt, but in the middle of the night it was a Grizzly Bear, and nothing was going to convince me otherwise!!