Monday, June 11, 2018 – 12.20 miles
Today I hiked into the Russian Wilderness, a truly special place. One square mile of the Russian Wilderness is known as the ‘Miracle Mile’ for containing seventeen different conifer species, making it one of the most diverse conifer habitats worldwide. Identifying flora would be an interesting challenge hereabouts for sure.
The Russian Wilderness also has the most impressive scenery thus far, especially at the first point that views became available heading north.
The mountains were eclectic and asymmetrical and increasingly fascinating the longer I looked at them, and the PCT followed a ledge of pale granite crossed by crystalline streams.
My speed dwindled from turtle-hiker mileage to crawling-baby mileage (a particularly energetic baby might have been faster). Eventually burn areas marred the views. I’ll have to research how forest fires spread, since I had always imagined the trees burning in a huge chunk but the burn area on these mountains is in a striped pattern. Some trees even had their branches burned on one side and intact on the other; it was odd.
Throughout the section with good views, the trail was a narrow path built into a steep slope. I entered a forested area and set down my backpack to pee. While I was posed with my pants down, my backpack tipped over, rolled with the momentum and toppled over the edge of the trail as I watched helplessly. Children, carefully observe this demonstration of what happens when you lose your footing. See how it (you) tumbles recklessly down the slope? Imagine what might be happening to the contents within its (your) flimsy shell?
To my relief, my backpack thumped to a stop against a tree about seven metres below the trail. Not great, but it could have required far more effort to recover. I picked my way down and retrieved the pack and my Nalgene, which had fallen out from its side pocket. I also discovered that my tensor bandage, which I had been using to wrap my calf on and off this week as needed, was gone from its pouch. I couldn’t spot it to save my life, so I climbed back up, looked down the slope and of course immediately saw the bandage hanging on some branches. The end had been dangling out of the pouch so it must have caught on a twig and been pulled out.
Back down and up I went, then I gave my gear a brief check. I was most worried about my water filter since it was secured on the outside of my backpack, and though I drop it twenty times a day, that doesn’t seem equivalent to it being bounced on and repeatedly rolled over. I didn’t see any cracks so I’m assuming it’s okay.
In the mid-afternoon, I met a couple heading in the same direction. They were surprised to have caught up to someone since they were hiking slowly. I understand! Hearty shoulder slap. They asked where I was planning to camp – Paynes Lake – and then said that they would be camping there as well. When I arrived I didn’t see them, so I assumed they must have pushed on, but later I saw campfire smoke from a different part of the shore and realized that we had approached the lake on different sides of the outlet creek.