20.1 miles (Miles 226.3 – 246.4)
Mission Creek – Coon Creek [creepy] Group Camp
First of all, no bullfrogs jumped into our sleeping bags last night. Whew!
Tonight we are in the creepiest, weirdest camp ever, but I’ll get back to that. Today, all day, was interesting. We thought we were going to be battling heat on an all-day climb, but instead we dealt more with cold, a little rain and even some pea-sized snowballs that fell from the sky. Mountain weather is so freakin’ strange. But we were grateful for the clouds that kept us cool… because it was an all-day climb… a slow, gradual one, but certainly enough to wear out a couple sets of feet! We started the day at 3,100 feet and climbed to 8,500 feet over 20 miles.
Right out of camp, we were happy to hike along Mission Creek for the first few miles, so we had trees, tall grasses, river crossings, and even mud.
A little later that morning we hiked through an old burn area. I think I read somewhere it was from 1980. There were trees still standing in some places, but they where leafless with no bark, and an eery bleached-white color… like tree skeletons. The land was pretty barren, but there were lots of flowers. We also saw our first poodle dog bush, a very noxious plant. If contacted with the skin, it leaves behind a terrible, puffy and blistery rash. We did pretty good avoiding it. It also stinks pretty rank… almost skunk-like.
Once through the burn area, we climbed into some forest of deciduous trees, and then that changed to huge pine trees with a stream – our last reliable water source for over 16 miles. We filled up and hiked on. We only took a few shorter breaks today – no siesta needed! It actually got chilled if we sat too long!
We watched storms brew up in between mountain hillsides and peaks, then drop rain and snow around us all day. We were lucky to only get hit by a few short cloud bursts of rain and snow.
And now we sit under the roof of an abandoned-looking cabin. It’s got door and window openings (letting in a bone-chilling breeze), three large rooms, one with an old fireplace, a fourth tiny room with what looks like it used to be a shower, and two additional small cabins outside with holes in the roof. There are people’s names carved in all the walls, and the floors are cement, cracked and dusty. It’s just weird and totally spooky. BUT! There is a really nice modern pit toilet outside… which makes the whole thing even more weird. Do people still use this place for something? Anyway, we’re getting waves of heavy rain, snowshowers, and thunder rolling across the sky above us, so we’re just feeling thankful to have a structure to sleep in!
Hopefully we don’t gey kicked out by a ranger… and hopefully no weirdos show up. Creeeeepy!