Friday, April 19, 2019 – 16.30 miles
I had to walk sixteen miles today, so I was on the trail by 6:45 AM. I passed three tents beside the creek, two below the first bridge and one at the Splinter Cabin trailhead. One of the hikers asked me later where I had camped, and when I answered experimentally that I had camped a mile back to avoid camping in the Deep Creek section, he indicated that he and his hiking partner had known about the rule but couldn’t find anywhere else to camp. Not sure about that – there were more potential campsites in the area where I camped. Maybe the translation is ‘Guthook didn’t show any other campsites’.
Deep Creek was rushing through a beautiful canyon.
The walking was all on a ledge and mostly without shade – the trail jumped maliciously across the canyon to ensure that I was always in the sun – and that got old after awhile, but the scenery was consistently impressive.
I had to detour around two rattlesnakes. One seemed chill but I must have startled the other, which tumbled off the raised ground to one side of the trail and assumed a menacing pose. (If people treated cacti like rattlesnakes.) I also saw a red velvet ant, identified with the help of eTrails, which states: ‘The Red Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla aureola pacifica) is one of the more interesting insect species found in California. Actually a flightless female wasp, she packs a profoundly painful sting that earns her the nickname “cow killer”. Resembling a hairy orange or red ant, she has a black body up to 1/2″ in length. She is a parasite who invades the ground nest of another wasp or bumblebee species and lays her eggs near the pupa in the nest. Her babies soon hatch and devour their hapless hosts. The male is much larger, winged, stingerless, and rarely seen’.
Deep Creek has hot springs, clothing optional. A fellow PCT hiker recommended them to me, but I dunno. I’ve only been to one nude beach, and that was inadvertent while hiking in Australia. There was no one near the water, but when I grew tired of walking on the sand and decided to try walking in the bordering forest, I encountered a variety of naked people concealed there in the shade. It was sort of weird and comical and vampiric. Does a nudist turn to dust in the sunlight or sparkle? I’m sure those people would have told me that sitting naked in the shade on a hot day is highly pleasurable, but my feeling is more like ‘put on some clothes to shield your poor fragile skin and you can play on the beach’. I was in a hurry too, so I decided to skip the hot springs. The bushes were sprinkled with toilet paper and people were camping right next to the water. Literally. A tent was pitched on a rock extending into the water. It made me feel silly for being so concerned about camping nowhere nearby. BUT STILL MORALLY CORRECT.
Near the exit of the canyon, I started seeing graffiti everywhere. eTrails says: ‘The lower reaches of Deep Creek attract a crowd of desert vandals and nere-do-wells; traveling in a group is advisable’. I don’t know whether this is the 18th century or Mad Max, but I’m here for that vocabulary. Seeing the beautiful area vandalized was sad and shocking though. Curse you, nere-do-wells!!!
I was getting tired and hot and cranky and ready to make camp and also to have somewhere to pee in privacy. A ford of Deep Creek near the end of the day helped cool me off.
Looking for somewhere to camp, I ended up in a group with some others, but was too tired to want to socialize. I did learn that drones include software that prevents them from flying into restricted areas. I had always thought of drones as a fancier version of remote-controlled airplanes…
The wind picked up later in the evening. My tent was unstable on the sandy ground, so I had to move it to a different location. A long day, but a scenically rewarding one.