You Guys Must be Raindancing Your Butts Off


The day began with a crossing of the highest bridge over yet seen

Start: Middle Fork Feather River (1252)
Camp: W. Branch Nelson Creek (1225)
You guys must be raindancing your butts off because I’m getting drenched. It sprinkled yesterday, rained last night, and now it’s raining again. Take THAT King fire!
I woke before my alarm and noticed nothing as I stood to pee other than a loose tent stake. The usual pain in my feet was not there. But the tent stake was mine. Then I struggled with the presence of a new tent. I didn’t get it at first.
I left camp shortly before 8:00a.m., after saying goodbye to Girly Girl, and was perplexed as to why my feet did not hurt. At all. There was only explanation: I’d slept 10 hours with then elevated, just slightly, on top of my JetBoil pot (on its side.)
It rained last night and I got wet as I climbed through drooping and overgrown late summer branches and bushes, but the steep climb out was spectacular. Among granitic rocks of a soft gray, white quartz bands traveled and among lush green mosses that adorned both rock and tree I ascended into clouds. Yellow oak leaves dotted the pine needle floor between young incense cedars and a new plant that I’ve not seen before but which I suspect to be a cousin of the Hawaiian antheriums with which I grew up. image

Noticing new plants as you pass through is one of the beauties of hiking a long distance trail for the first time; even if you’re not a botanist (and I most certainly am not) you notice them because to you they are foreign. I clamber under snag of sugar pine that has fallen across the trail and Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ begins to play. In warmed up. It’s time to really hike. In a couple of miles I’m up and put of the lush overgrowth. It gets cooler and the plants become more yellow. I love starting the day this way, going slowly, thoughtfully, uphill.
The afternoon alternated between conditions too hot for a rain jacket and wind blown rain that numbed me through. It was astonishingly beautiful throughout. The saturated forest floor hostsa wealth of color. Newly fallen pine needles turn a bright yellow and the damp earth goes almost black. The fall plants go more fall and those still green grow greener and lusher.
I ate six Snickers today and a half dozen mini Butterfingers. I am decidedly ill in my upper respiratory.
The evening sucked. The first spot I tried to pitch my tent wouldn’t work because the ground was just too soft. This was doubly insulting because a mile back if bypassed a big flat campsite because it was a full hundred feet off the trail. I’d cover that just looking for a new spot now. I’m sleeping with my feet above my heart as I did last night, although tonight I’ve not the option.
I can’t find my headlamp. It might be back around 1231 where I had lunch, or was that 1236? Or it might be where I ate my morning snack, on a rock behind some bushes on a saddle with a great view. It was a fairly expensive lamp, costing close to $100, and so I am considering going back to look for it, but I am discouraged from this by the fact that water has not been plentiful except from the sky, and this I’ve no way of drinking.