July 29, 2017: Panther Creek to campsite at a Spring, 11 miles
The morning is a perfect temperature and we take our time getting out of camp since we know we have a lot of uphill today per the elevation profile. My knee prefers the ups so I feel happy about it. We hit the trail around 7:30am and immediately climb, climb, climb long shaded switchbacks.
The forest is dense through here and so, so silent, luckily not in a creepy way. Although if I was by myself I might feel differently about that. We see a handful of people all day, mostly going the other way. The trail dips and climbs, winds around the mountains, dips back down into the fern and lichen lined gullies. The only color besides brown and green are some bright red (definitely poisonous) berries. Sarah jokes all day that she is dying for fresh fruit and keeps forgetting they are poison and keeps “eating” a few. This leads to Hunger Games references and entertainment for a while in these quiet woods. I know she is kidding but I also am not sure how desperate she might actually be for fresh berries so I keep saying, “No seriously do not eat those!”
We do get rewarded from our morning of climbing with an awesome break spot, including views of Mt Hood behind us. This would be a great campsite if you did not mind carrying water with you to dry camp here. I pull out our tyvek ground sheet and we take our shoes off to eat candy and relax in a little shady spot for a while.
Break time flies by and we put our shoes and bags back on. The trail dips down shortly for a teasey bit and then right back up again. This time when we round another mountain we get a peak of Mt Adams to the North.
Then it’s back into the forest and as the early afternoon arrives we start trying to keep an eye out for a little elusive spring that we plan to camp by. Walk, walk, walk. Trees, ferns, death berries, a little view, more trees, and ferns. The time goes by quickly and it seems we should be at camp soon but no sign of the spring or any campsites…hmm. More climbs, more trees, more ferns and finally Sarah spots a little wonky handmade wood sign pointing to the spring, a little past some obvious campsites. There is young woman here whom we saw earlier today that is hiking all of Oregon, she is coming back up from the spring and she let’s us know it is cold, clear, and a little tough to collect from. We get out our little collapsible bucket and dip in to a deeper spot to fill up.
When we climb back up from the spring an older gentleman whom we also leap frogged with today has arrived and is setting up his tent where our packs are and we were planning to stay… oh well. He had a tough hike today and is a thru-hiker who started in Mexico. The young woman chats with him trying to encourage him to stick it out, he is on the last state of an amazing journey. He seems really down and just exhausted. I hope he takes a rest and figures out what’s best for him to do. We scout for a different campsite and find one on the other side of the trail. It is farther from the spring but with likely less traffic, which is fine with us.
Sarah does some laundry and I lay in the tent to elevate my knee and take a little nap before dinner time. Another lone gentleman arrives a bit later and sets up a few hundred feet from us. Otherwise we see no one else walk by or set up camp.
I emerge from the tent by the protest of my stomach, FEED ME SEYMOUR! I do what the boss demands and start boiling water on our little pocket rocket stove. Unfortunately I set up my ziploc bag dinner on a slanted spot and after I pour the boiling water in it spills a little right on top of my barefoot, ouch! Sarah grabs a bandana and wets it with cold water while I whine, my poor footsey! Once I cool it down it does not look too bad and I’m hopeful that some vaseline and a night of no walking will fix it right up for tomorrow.
My dinner is the Good-to-go Thai curry and to be perfectly honest it is terrible. I choke down what I can since I did not want to carry it out but it is definitely one of my least favorite meals. I really liked the Pad Thai of the same brand but this is just yucky. So all and all a pretty failtastic dinner situation. Oh well you can’t win them all. I seal up my half eaten dinner in 2 ziplock’s and am glad there’s only 2 more days to carry it with me. Soon I’m back in the tent and out with the light as usual.