Cumulative miles hiked: 312.9
7/22 l got dropped off on the edge of the pavement from Metaline Falls at 9 am after a breakfast cooked by Dave. I hiked way farther than I’d intended but it was good dirt road to good trail. There were campsites galore at the top of the climb but it was 3:30 in the afternoon. The PNT digest or guide book claimed there were flat sites in a saddle a few miles down the other side. As happens all too often, that was bad information. The saddle was completely covered in fallen or felled trees, I’d have had to do a major log removal operation to create a patch to sit in. So I kept going to the next listed spot, a primitive USFS campground at the bottom of the trail and junction with the next “forest road.” Camped at 7:30 in an eerily deserted campground. I don’t know why it weirds me out to be in an empty campground with road access and no people.
7/23 I walked 4 quick forest road miles to pavement. Road miles are quick and that helps. It’s interesting walking through ranch country with cows and horses behind barbed wire fences, and there were few cars. After awhile though slapping your feet flat down over and over hurts. I got a new blister on the end of a toe and my left shin started to ache. But an old red dump truck came up behind me, stopped and the driver leaned out with a bottle of water for me. Kindness! I grinned and accepted although I didn’t need it. As the miles went on, I turned onto the highway paralleling the Columbia River and it got hotter and hotter, with the uphill side all Private Property and the downhill side bordered by train tracks and the river. Where would I be able to camp? I satellite messaged Dan my dilemma and he found me a perfect little cabin in Northport for the night, so my attitude improved. I knew I had a bed and shower at the end of a hot, painful 22 mile day.
Is there anybody else besides me who can manage to fall on flat blacktop? Admiring the Columbia River, I failed to notice a little rockfall on the road and tripped on a loose rock, went down and got a bloody knee. I spent my entire girlhood with scabby knees and frequently with scabby elbows too. So scars on scars on scars. Fortunately, there were no cars at the time to freak out at the sight or hear the single word obscenity I yelled. A few minutes later, mini poodle Paisley came running and barking down her driveway to put her little paws on my leg and get a pat. Her mom followed and offered me water from her tap. She said they hadn’t seen any hikers this year and were pretty excited when I said there were at least a dozen maybe half a day behind me.
The walk wasn’t horrible until the last 6 miles of pavement into Northport. Hot, so hot, no shade, uphill. And then, my little cottage appeared as I got to town. I called the owner, got the key code, went inside, showered, rinsed my disgusting clothes, cooked my instant dinner and didn’t emerge till the next morning. So happy!
7/24 Road walk again, at least it wasn’t paved and there were pleasant clouds in the morning. My feet and legs hurt again by 3pm from the pounding, oh well—I much prefer dirt to pavement and I made 23 miles by dinner time. I camped in a weird place down a blocked and abandoned road, out of sight of the road and the occasional dirt biker buzzing on it. And cows today! I love cows, the baffled stares they give me, the calves freaking out and trotting.
7/25 Dan got me near the 395 after about 4 miles and took me for the night to Dave’s in Chewelah. His awesome grandson Tanner was there and I really enjoyed talking with him over dinner outside at the golf club. He’s 12, loved the time he got to go snowboarding last winter and really wants to learn to skateboard. It’s a high probability that he won’t get in-person school this fall, which really bums him out, but when he started talking about learning to skate, he lit up!
7/26 Back to the trail the next morning, or as the photos show, “non trail.” After a bunch of miles up dirt roads on the west side of 395, the route goes on an abandoned, obliterated road, politely described on the maps as not maintained. These 2 miles are my (so far) fourth place nominee for worst PNT blowdown section. After a brief stretch of double track, I walked on my second place nominee (first place for all time will be the blowdown east of Eureka, MT). It transitioned to double track for a bit, crossed Boulder Creek Road, and became the well trod Kettle Crest Trail. All day I was in burn area, as far as the eye can see behind and ahead. I camped by a fire ring in dead trees, hopefully nothing falls on me, but what else can I do? Hot as hell today too.
7/27 I took a picture of last nights camp and then came across a lovely alternative bed, if only I’d known.
I walked through the burn until noon when I got into living trees. And then the bear yodel.
“One Gallon, what are you doing behind me?”
“Zero’d in Metaline Falls and zero’d in Northpoint too!”
Then Gasket, Goose and Cruise caught up. We chatted by a fenced spring piped to a cattle tank. Nice to have hikers to talk to again! The Kettle Crest Trail was good and clear the rest of the day. Hot!
7/28 Happy Birthday, GranDan!
Dan met One Gallon and me at Sherman Pass and took us to Republic and breakfast at the Knotty Pine. I’ll take a zero, skip the section between Hwy 20 and Hwy 21, then get back on.