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The Wonderland Trail: Part III

Volume 64: Sat September 23, 2005

In which our intrepid adventurers are stalked by a watermelon and an invisible bear, and other happenings

August 4

Rick woke up early, once again, while I slept in late at Nickel Creek Camp. At 9:30, I finally hit the trail. I later regretted this decision, because it wasn't long before the temperature started rising and it was way too early in the morning to be getting so hot outside.

I stopped briefly at Box Canyon—where the Wonderland Trail touches civilization in a form of a road, a parking area, and trailheads to area trails. Besides wanting a look around, I also wanted to dump my trash in a trashcan to save another pound or so of weight on my back. I also secretly harbored a hope of trail magic, but alas, there was none to be found. In fact, the only other people I saw at the trailhead were other backpackers heading in the opposite direction of myself, and backpackers aren't generally known for carrying trail magic.

I stopped briefly at this nice little waterfall, but alas, I should have stayed much, much longer....

The trail crossed over the road—and I do mean over the road. The road goes through a tunnel at this point, and the trail passes directly over the road. Kind of a surreal feeling, standing at the top of a tunnel like that with cars whizzing by at high velocities underneath you. It was a first in my hiking experience, at least!

The Wonderland Trail runs right over the top of this tunnel at Box Canyon

The trail was miserable. The flies and other flying insects came out in force. The temperature continued to increase. The trail was badly overgrown in this section. There was little shade to protect from the sun, and with the trail so overgrown, I couldn't even use my umbrella for protection. And, except for a single, soothing, beautiful waterfall, there wasn't even much in the way of amazing views. This day, I decided, was the worst of the entire hike and I didn't really much enjoy it.

I did stop at the waterfall briefly. It was in a small, shaded alcove and the force of the waterfall pushed a strong, cool breeze along. Looking at my map, I saw another waterfall that should have been another mile or two ahead and figured I'd stop there for lunch. Alas, I never did find that darned waterfall. In fact, at this point, I suspect the waterfall I did stop at WAS that 'second' waterfall on the map. I don't know what happened to the first one, but I was very disappointed about not stopping longer where I did. Had I known that was the last waterfall, I would have stopped for lunch and enjoyed the moment for a couple of hours.

As it was, the trail crossed another road—okay, it was the same road, but miles away from where the road was first crossed. This was the point to get off the trail. Since I knew Rick had been planning to fish on this trip, I selected to stay at Snow Lake Camp—about a mile off the Wonderland Trail—since any camp with a lake nearby was bound to make Rick happy.

I followed the road slightly less than a quarter of a mile to the Snow Lake trailhead then follow the Snow Lake trail to its end. The map showed a largely flat trail here, but it turned out to be unexpectedly strenuous with many steep up and downs. It didn't show up on the topo map, however, since the ups and downs were so short it never triggered new contour lines.

A sign marking the Snow Lake trailhead

Rick had beat me into camp—only the second time so far on the trip he had done so. (The first was Sunrise Camp where I took the 'scenic route' along Sourdough Trail instead of the direct route that Rick followed.) He set up his tarp at site number 2. Both campsites at Snow Lake were baking under the sun, though Rick managed to score a small piece of shade.

I set up my tarp in the baking sun just so I'd have a place to sit in the shade. And the flies were already out thick. I quickly killed a dozen without even breathing hard.

Our campsite was in the hot, searing sun. Rick nabbed a small piece of shade (that's his gray tarp in the background) while I had to set mine up directly in the sun

At the bottom of the bear pole for this camp, there was a giant watermelon. Just sitting there. Thing must have weighed 40 pounds—I swear it was heavier than my backpack! It was left the evening before by some friends of hikers who'd be camping at the site at some point in the future. We know this because they left notes along the trail to tell their hiking friends about food they left at the bear pole.

A full-sized watermelon, though. That was a new one for me. I've seen a lot of trail magic in my day, but a full-sized watermelon—what were they thinking?! They also left a bag of other food including strawberries, grapes, cantelope, apples, and some fancy chocolate bars. This, I'm happy to report, they actually hung from the bear pole to keep the animals away. The watermelon was resting on the ground where, with closer examination, I could see that something had been nibbling one end of it.

Frankly, I was a little ticked off about the food. As much as I can appreciate trail magic, I had two problems with this: (1) It was designed for someone else rather than anyone who was passing by—trail magic should be for everyone, not just your buddies—and (2) it's completely irresponsible to leave food unattended where animals can get to it. Rick seemed to think the whole situation was pretty funny, and I threatened to haul the food out the next day.

Oh, the flies were awful! Did I mention that? I cannot stress this fact enough. Our experience at Granite Creek was nothing compared to these persistent insects. At Granite Creek, the flies and I ended the day at a draw. This day, I am sad to admit, the flies won. Yes, the flies won. I briefly started running out into Snow Lake to escape them, but stopped after about three feet and I was knee deep because, WOW! That water was cold! Not really shocking, I suppose, when you consider it's called Snow Lake. I briefly considered suicide as too extreme, then wondered many times later if I should reconsider that theory.

Finally, I covered myself from head to toe with clothes and mosquito netting, and laid down in misery under my tarp where it felt like an oven. This day, I decided, really wasn't worth the effort of waking up. All the clothes and mosquito netting didn't completely protect me from the flies, however. I could hear them buzzing around my head and running into the tarp above me. Running into the tarp really annoyed me. How stupid were these flies anyhow? They had no trouble finding me under the tarp, but when they wanted to leave they were helpless idiots. I imagined them saying, "Hey, look! A green sheet of plastic! Let's see if we can fly through it!" Smack! "Hmm.... That didn't work. Let's try it again!" I wanted to cry.

That's the Wonderland Trail on the left side of this bush that's quickly overgrowing the trail. Hot, sunny, and while you can't see it in this photo, the bugs were out thick!

Rick went fishing to kill time at camp, and sadly, he lost his favorite hook. Or lure. Or something. It didn't much matter to me. =)

Rick went fishing in Snow Lake, and came back an hour later soaking wet and grumpy about loosing his favorite fishing lure or hook or whatever it was. He had saved it at Mowich Lake, but this time it got away. It had got caught on something underwater and he did try to retrieve it, but ended up dropping it into a deeper part of the lake he wasn't able to reach. However, he noted brightly, he had—very briefly—caught a fish. But it too, yes, got away.

We weren't having a good day.

As the sun started to set and nobody arrived at the other camp, we concluded we'd be spending the night at that awful campsite by ourselves. I decided to pillage the trail magic. I immediately ate an apple (very good) and the chocolate bar (which I hated, but I had to eat on principle). The strawberries and grapes were starting to look pretty ripe, and I decided not to try my luck with those.

I put the other two apples and chocolate bars in my own food bag. Rick was astounded at my "theft." He thought I was joking when I was ranting about leaving food unattended where animals could get it and that we should feel free to take and eat as much as we wanted.

I applied several layers of logic to defend my honor:

  1. The food had been left over 24 hours ago by this point. It's quite likely the friends who were supposed to pick it up changed their plans and wouldn't be coming out at all.
  2. Already the grapes and strawberries were beginning to look unsafe to eat. It would be an even bigger waste to let the watermelon and apples waste as well!
  3. Fresh fruit looked awfully darned good for a couple of guys living on dehydrated food.

Rick still thought my theft was astoundingly inconsiderate.

"Hey," I told him, "if we don't take it, the rangers will haul it out of here as soon as they discover it anyway!"

"You know, that's the first excuse you've made that I actually agree with."

He still wouldn't help himself to any of the food, however.

Snow Lake is incredibly pretty, but go when the bugs aren't so thick! This is the view from campsite #1. (We stayed in campsite #2, however.)

I was really itching to eat that watermelon. I love watermelon. I really wanted to eat that watermelon. But I had a couple of 'technical problems' to consider. Like how to cut it open. My little pocketknife could cut through rope easily enough, but it wasn't exactly the best utensil for a full-sized watermelon. Additionally, the melon was way too big to eat the whole thing even in my half-starved state. What do you do with leftovers when your miles from civilization? At least animals had to chew through the thick shell of the watermelon—if I cut it open, nothing would stop them.

I briefly considered shattering the watermelon on a rock. Environmentally, it would have been hugely frowned upon by the park service, but how often does one have the opportunity to slam a watermelon against a rock as hard as one can? It might be fun!

Sadly, I concluded, it was best not to do anything with the watermelon. I couldn't eat it, and I couldn't destroy it. I'd carry it out the next morning to the Snow Lake trailhead.

However, I still didn't like the idea of leaving the watermelon on the ground where any manner of creatures could eat at it, so I put it in a garbage bag I had and tried to hang it from the bear pole. Tried being the operative word here. It was so heavy, my arms shook uncontrollably and the watermelon danced around the air above my head in a rather precarious and probably amusing manner.

My arms exhausted, I finally gave up and set the watermelon back on the ground. I needed a Plan B.

My next theory was that if we couldn't get the watermelon on the bear pole, we should bring it into camp. We'd protect it.

Rick rolled his eyes and would have had me committed into an institution if there was a phone to call in the guys with the white coats.

I finally decided to hang the garbage bag with the watermelon from a tree next to Rick's tarp. It had a stout branch that could hold the weight of the watermelon, it kept the watermelon off the ground and away from the animals (at least those animals that didn't have the insight to climb the tree), and it was close enough that bigger animals probably wouldn't approach close enough to get the watermelon.

I cooked up a batch of Mac 'n' Cheese for dinner. Rick uses the privy—quite a hefty hike up a steep slope behind our camp—but marvels that it's the nicest privy in the west. It overlooked Snow Lake and sitting on the seat there was just too good of a view. He recommended that I go up and check it out, but I passed since I didn't need to make use of the facilities. Rick still talks about that privy with awe.

Speaking of which, I had to explain to Rick that privy was the same thing as an outhouse. I'm not sure if privy is an eastern word or an Appalachian Trail word, but I'll admit to never hearing that term until I started the Appalachian Trail. Back on our side of the country, it's an outhouse. I continued to call them privies, however, out of the ingrained habit I picked up on the Appalachian Trail. Only sissies call them outhouses.

The sun set, the weather cooled, and the flies finally started to leave us alone. We were whipped, though.

With no clouds or rain in the weather predictions, and a clear sky, I decided to sleep under the stars. I took down the tarp, crawled into my sleeping bag, and prepared for sleep.

Just before complete night, I watched a couple of deer walking around the meadow behind our camp munching on grasses. I couldn't see them very well because it was getting pretty dark by then, but it seemed nice to see the deer wandering around camp, the stars shining overhead. Life was good. =)

I forget which creek this is, but it was pretty so I took a picture and am sharing it with you here. =) I took at it some point during the day on the hike to Snow Lake.

Rick also crawled up into his sleeping bag, zipped it up tight, and went to sleep.

The stars were nothing short of amazing. The Milky Way was clearly visible, and I spotted half a dozen shooting stars within an hour or two. I contemplated the meaning of life and the planets floating around other solar systems. I marveled at the thought that some of those photons of light striking my eye was first generated when dinosaurs ruled the earth. It was so peaceful, and there was nowhere else I wanted to be at that moment.

"RYAN!!!!" I looked towards Rick, rather startled by his alarmed tone.

"Ryan! There's bear eating your damn watermelon! Throw me a flashlight!"

I chuckled. "That's not a bear, those are deer! They've been tromping around all night!"

"Quick! Throw me a flashlight!"

He finally extracts himself from his confining mummy bag and I toss him my headlamp. He flashes it towards the watermelon and sees nothing.

"You and your damn watermelon!" he says while shining the light around camp. I notice he's wearing nothing but Speedos. I start laughing. I can't help it. Rick is scared to death, running around camp wearing nothing be Speedos in the middle of the night looking for a bear that wasn't there with a small headlamp and poor batteries.

"It's just a deer!"

"I heard a CLOMP near the watermelon! It was something BIG! And it was poking around at your damn watermelon!"

"Really, it's just a deer! They've been feeding around this meadow all night long! E even saw them just before it got completely dark!"

Rick started to settle down a bit, but he was still agitated. "You're sure it was a deer? I didn't see any deer.

I kept laughing. Harder and harder. "Really, it's a just a deer. Throw a rock at it the next time it tries to poke around the watermelon."

Rick finally settled down and got back into his sleeping bag. I must have laughed on and off for the next hour remembering Rick running around camp wearing nothing but Speedos looking for the bear that wasn't there. Oh, man, that was funny. Well, I'm not sure Rick would agree, but darn, it was funny!

And what a beautiful night. I finally fell asleep, under the watchful eyes of the stars above.

August 5

Rick once again woke up before me to hit the trail early. I, however, wasn't too far behind. I wanted to get the heck out of there before the flies came back to attack.

I tried once again to get Rick to help me carry the watermelon or other bag of food out, but he refused under the grounds that I was crazy. So I packed the bag of food into the top of my pack and carried the watermelon about a tenth of a mile, staggering like a drunk, before I had to rest. Damn! That watermelon was heavy! With my pack filled with all the other food, the watermelon wouldn't fit. And it was just too heavy to carry in my arms. I finally decided somebody else would have to carry out the watermelon.

I put the watermelon at the sign that marked the junction for Snow Lake. Considering that only backpackers would go into the camps and based on the night before, there weren't many of them at Snow Lake, it was best to leave it on the main trail where day hikers to Snow Lake could find it and one of them could pack it out.

I also left a note with it—the note left by the people who left the watermelon for their friends. It was signed with the first names of those who left the watermelon, and it was addressed by first names to the people who the watermelon was for. And it said they'd be camping at Snow Lake. I secretly hoped the park service would find the watermelon and the note and track down those evil people who abandoned it. I wasn't feeling very kindly towards them at the time, since my pack was excruciatingly heavy from the rest of their food that did fit in my pack.

At the trailhead, I was disappointed to see nobody around who I could give the bag of food to. I could leave it on the ground at the trailhead and it would have been likely someone would have found it soon and removed it, but I didn't want to leave the food unattended for even the briefest amount of time. Nor did I want to wait for the first hikers of the day to hike Snow Lake. It was barely after sunrise, and I suspected a few hours might pass before the first hiker arrived.

Mount Rainier reflected in Reflection Lakes, of course!

So I continued on, with the heavy food bag in my pack. I knew there were more road crossings a couple of more miles up the trail, and I hoped I could find someone there to give the food to or at least let there be a trash can where I could dispose of it properly.

In all, I carried the extra food bag for three miles before I finally got rid of it. The trail briefly followed alongside a road for probably half a mile, next to a scenic lake reflecting the summit of Mount Rainier. A group traveling in a camper had pulled over, admiring the view, and I walked up and asked for a small favor. Could they take a food bag for me?

I explained the situation, complained about the crushing burden breaking my back, and they were more than happy to help me out. I even told them some of the stuff such as the cantelope was probably still edible, though I'd probably pass on the grapes and strawberries. I didn't tell them about the apples and chocolate bars still in my pack. I had not intention of eating the chocolate bars—they were awful!—but I figured I'd give them out as trail magic for other thru-hikers further along the trail. They were fairly small and lightweight so I wasn't too concerned about them.

Then we chatted some more about the beautiful views, and I told them about the thru-hike I was working on. The family was from Gig Harbor on their way to Spokane, and passing through Mount Rainier along the way just because they could. They stopped at this particular location to get pictures of Mount Rainier reflecting in the lake spread out in front of us. I took some pictures myself. =)

We finally said goodbyes and I continued on my way. The trail entered the woods once again and headed downhill where I quickly caught up to Rick. Turns out, when he passed the lake less than an hour before, it was covered with fog and he never saw the reflection of Mount Rainier that he knew would have been in it since a sign on the lake had such a picture and mentioned a lot of people stopped to take that very picture. I bragged about seeing the mountain in the lake.

"Shoot! This is the first time it didn't pay to wake up early!"

He also asked about the watermelon and food bag, and I explained that I had to leave the watermelon behind but left the incriminating note hoping the NPS would nab the perpetrators of this dastardly crime. The food bag I left with a family I met alongside the lake.

We also passed Narada Falls on our way to Longmire. It was still in the shade when I sauntered past, and it didn't really make a very good picture as a result. It was a nice waterfall, though!

Then I continued down the trail, with Rick limping behind me. I was anxious to reach Longmire where our second food drop was waiting for us. Along with restaurants, gift shops, and flush toilets. I wanted to make a day of it! I first tried to call Amanda, but sadly, only got her voicemail. I did get ahold of my mom, though, to let her know Rick and I had made it to Longmire and was still in good spirits. Naturally, I told her the story about watermelon and Rick running around in the middle of the night wearing nothing but Speedos looking for the bear that wasn't there.

The restaurant was still serving breakfast when I arrived. Unfortunately, I had already eaten breakfast and was looking for lunch. So I decided to wait another 40 minutes before lunch would be served. In the meantime, I wandered around Longmire.

However, I did see a group of familiar faces eating breakfast, so I dropped in to say hi. They were the four people from Southern California Rick and I first met at Summerland, who spent the night in the group shelter. We traded war stories along the way and compared notes of our future travels. They were scheduled to stay at the dreaded Devil's Dream that night, and were worried about the bug horror stories they'd heard about the site. I told them it couldn't possibly be worse than Snow Lake to make them feel better, and thanked my lucky stars I wouldn't have to camp at Devil's Dream. After that, we'd be sharing camps for the next three days! We'd be seeing a lot of them at this point!

I wandered around Longmire to kill time before lunch. In a former, old-fashioned gas station there was a nice display about the transportation infrastructure for Mount Rainier with those old, grainy photos.

Rick finally caught me resting in a comfortable chair on the porch of the restaurant and inn, and we headed in to get some real food.

The restaurant is a nice place. The food at Sunrise was more like a cheap cafeteria (though the food was expensive!), but this place is the kind of place people might dress up to visit. You wait to be seated, and a waitress gives you a menu, fills up glasses with water, and waits a few minutes before coming back to get your order. Needless to say, Rick and I felt conspicuously out of place. We had a week's worth of dirt, grime, and stubble to our name. I was probably a little worse for wear since I didn't take daily baths in the glacier cold waters and had only been washing my socks on a regular basis rather than my whole wardrobe. On the other hand, after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, I had experience in walking into nice places looking like I'd been run over by a train. I was in my element. Rick seemed much more uncomfortable with the surroundings than I did.

"Oh, don't worry about it. They're probably used to lots of grubby thru-hikers tromping around. They won't even remember us five minutes after we leave!"

Our waitress didn't seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact, she was more like the spoon. The service was terrible, and at one point, when Rick wanted a refill of his soda, he sneaked into the back and helped himself. For awhile, we thought maybe she forgot we were there but finally came back ten minutes later to get our order.

Rick prepares for lunch

I ordered a bacon cheese burger, and Rick ordered something else. A soybean burger. And when the food did finally come out, it wasn't what Rick ordered. And when Rick brought it to the attention of the waitress, she seemed perplexed. "You're right! But I wrote down exactly what you wanted. The cook didn't make the right thing."

"Can you take this back to him and have him make the correct thing?"

She seemed to think about the request for a bit, and finally decided that could be done. I took a big bite out of my bacon cheeseburger and purred with pleasure. Yum!

Rick took another drink out of his near-empty soda.

"I should have asked for another refill while she was here. Now I'll never get one!"

Unlike the bacon cheeseburger at Sunrise, this one was truly delicious. It tasted like it was cooked to order—which is nice since I suspect the meat paddies at Sunrise might have been leftovers from the day before.

Rick finally got his meal at about the time I was finishing mine. We paid the bill—I left a minimal tip due to the dreadful service—and wandered over to the Wilderness Information Center where I had picked up our backcountry permit and left a food drop over a week before.

I was saddened when I walked in. It was that same bozo ranger who told me all the campsites had bad bugs (when, in fact, only Granite Creek and Snow Lake had been problem sites), and said there were no problems on the trail even though a bridge had been washed out across a major river crossing.

He was at a map, doing something or another. I cleared my throat to get his attention, and he ignored me. I spoke to Rick saying this was where I left the food drop, hoping to get his attention. He continued to ignore me. What the hell is wrong with this man?! What is so darned pressing that he can't take his eyes off the map for five minutes to help us out. There wasn't anyone else in the building who needed help!

We left our packs on the porch while we ate lunch, and I couldn't help but notice the remarkable size difference between my pack (the blue one on the left) and another unknown hiker's pack (the green one on the right) when I went to retrieve my pack. If you wonder why I can hike more miles with less effort than your typical backpacker, this is the primary reason! On a side note, Rick had a pack size comparable to my own.

This ranger, without a doubt, should win an award for being the world's worst NPS ranger.

I started toying around with a computer next to him hoping to annoy him into helping us. The computer had information about Mount Rainier on it, so I clicked away seeing what was there while the ranger examined his map a couple of feet away.

Finally, I got his attention. Actually, I'm not sure that really did the trick. I think he had finished whatever he was looking for and finally turned to us and asked how he could help.

"We're here to pick up a food drop." I don't think he recognized me from when I dropped it off the week before. Perhaps too much time had passed. Perhaps the stubble and grime covering me made me recognizable. Whatever the case, he didn't seem to remember me from our previous encounter.

We took the food drop outside and hoped another alcohol bottle hadn't leaked. I explained to Rick that, in theory, this food drop could be as much as four times worse than the one we got at Sunrise. This food drop had TWO bottles of fuel, and it had been sitting there for twice as long. Therefore, if the bottles leaked, it would have contaminated the food with four times the concentration!

"Is that alcohol I smell coming from it?" Rick asked me.

I noticed the smell immediately when the ranger handed the cache over to me. "Yeah, I think it might be." This wasn't a good sign. The last food cache we couldn't smell until after we opened the box. We hadn't even opened the box this time!

I tore off the duct tape and popped off the lid. And there was the source of the smell, right on top. An ugly, moldy orange. I was surprised. I'd never seen an orange turn to mold—completely covered in mold without a hint of its normal, orange color to show for it—in just a single week. I threw it in the trash.

Both bottles of fuel, however, did not leak. Rick threw out his Hostess pies once again, this time because they were crushed so badly he didn't even want to try eating them. He never told me his food drop contained those delicate Hostess pies, and I crushed them pretty badly while packing the food drop not realizing they were there.

The extra bottle of fuel I included turned out not to be necessary since I figured I still had plenty to get me to the finish line, nor did Rick need it. And I didn't want so much as a drop out of that bottle since it had come from that awful TrueValue branded denatured alcohol and burned so poorly. My fuel bottle still had the clean-burning fuel I had purchased for the hike the year before.

I ate the heavy comfort foods I left in the food drop—an orange soda, a can of peaches, and a cherry Hostess pie that, happily, made it through uncrushed because I knew it was there and made sure to keep it on the top of the food drop.

Our packs were heavy once again from the food drop. I went into the Wilderness Information Center to give them the plastic container we used. We wouldn't be picking it up, and it seemed like an incredible waste just to throw it away. However, the rangers will keep it in back so whenever the next person arrives with a food drop that's not in a rodent-proof container, they can provide one. I liked that. =) Reuse, recycle.

However, I saw an unexpected friend when I walked through the doors: the watermelon. Still wrapped in my garbage bag. A female ranger had just walked in through a back door with it and was telling the bozo ranger she had found it at Snow Lake.

I immediately walked back outside. "Rick! It's the watermelon! It's following us!"

Rick seemed surprised at this unexpected development, and walked into the building with me to see for himself. Yep, that was definitely the watermelon. No bones about it.

Rick left to hit the trail, and I listened in on the female ranger's account of the watermelon. Having found it at the end of the Snow Lake trail and carrying it back to the trailhead. Then she pulls out a scrap of paper. "And look! They even left a calling card!"

I was absolutely giddy. =) Nail those bastards!

I couldn't stay quiet any longer. "Man, that's a heavy watermelon, isn't it!" Then proceeded to tell them about my experience with it. And let them know about the other food bag that I had carried out myself—those perpetrators were guilty of leaving behind more than just a watermelon, and I wanted to make sure they knew it.

Then feebly explained that I tried to carry the watermelon out, but it was just too heavy. I couldn't do it. I couldn't even get it up on the bear pole where small animals wouldn't be able to get to it. She seemed to understand, though, and seemed surprised that I had actually bothered to carry out another bad of food at all.

I handed over the empty, rodent-proof container, and left the two rangers. On my way out the door, the lady ranger was getting onto the computer were permits are issued, and I overheard her telling the bozo ranger about teaching the criminals "a lesson on food storage." You go girl!

Rick was already hiking back up the Wonderland Trail to our camp at Pyramid Creek. I went back to the porch for the restaurant and inn to wait and kick around. It was comfortable here. Real, cushioned chairs to sit in. No bugs flying around your head. It was my intention to reach camp at sunset and go directly to sleep. I had no incentive to rush into camp as quickly as possible.

On the porch I bumped into a couple of girls I'd met near Summerland Camp a couple of days before. From Indiana. One was celebrating her 21st birthday, and other other (her aunt, I believe) was celebrating her 50th. They had arrived at Longmire and would spend two nights at the inn there. I was envious. I wanted a room at the inn, even if for no other reason than a brief shower. I chatted with them for a half hour or so, hoping they'd offer to let me shower in their room. While it's always okay to hope for trail magic, and even wriggle for it, it seems kind of rude to outright ask for it.

So I played them. =) They were nice, so I didn't mind chatting with them anyhow. But I did try to finaggel a shower out of them. When they mentioned taking a shower, I enviously told them how much I wished I could take a shower too. I didn't ask to take a shower in their room, but I said practically everything but that.

I failed. I didn't get any showers. =( Oh, well, it was a long shot anyhow.

Finally it was starting to get late and I decided it was time to start hiking towards camp. Rumor had it that there wasn't a good water source at Pyramid Creek—Pyramid Creek itself was a glacier-fed stream filled with glacial flour—so I filled up all my water bottles and started hiking up.

The trail climbed a steep slope for a couple of miles, but after the multi-hour rest at Longmire, it wasn't much trouble at all. I made it to camp quickly. I found Rick set up at one of the sites. Actually, I found his setup—Rick himself was nowhere to be seen. Probably off soaking his knees in Pyramid Creek.

I set up my tarp and made dinner. The bugs, I'm happy to report, weren't particularly bothersome. Rick finally sauntered into camp and told me the four folks from Southern California were sitting around on the bridge over Pyramid Creek with him waiting for it to get late before hiking into Devil's Dream Camp. They wanted to get in late to avoid the worst of the bugs.

I laid my sleeping bag out over me and took a nap. Not even that really, just resting my eyes.

I woke up several hours later in complete darkness. So much for my nap! I hadn't intended to fall asleep for so long, and my headlamp wasn't readily accessible. I also hadn't hung my food bag on the bear pole. It was resting next to me. Oh, well, not much I could do about it then. It was cold at this point—that's what woke me up. I had only thrown the sleeping bag over me rather than get inside of it, so I got inside of it like one typically would and immediately went back to sleep.

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