Middle Fork of the Elk River to mile 1524.1: 21.1 miles
Total miles: 1310.1
Today was a pretty average day, and average is good! Last week I’d definitely was feeling out of sorts. Everyday it seemed like something unexpectedly difficult happened. So it’s been nice to have a string of days where the hike seems to be clicking. While yesterday was spent above tree line, today we meandered through the forest on a mix of trails and dirt roads.
Halfway through the morning we came to a sign that said the bridge was out on the trail, so we followed a detour on a road that had us take our shoes off to cross a stream anyway. At lunch we came to another stream, but we were able to pick out way across on some just barely submerged rocks.
We found a nice lunch spot in the shade, and caught sight of a little weasel or mink. It was about a foot long, and maybe 2 inches wide, with a small expressive face. It ducked into a hole before we could take its photo, but thinking of it amused me all day. As we were packing up from lunch, a couple on ATVs passed by and we chatted for awhile. They offered Garrett a beer, and he declined due to the heat of the day. I can’t believe it took 90 days for someone to offer him a beer on the trail, and he passed in the opportunity. For reference, on the Appalachian Trail our second day someone offered us beers at 8am (we passed on those, too. Had it been day 90 on the AT though, we definitely would have accepted!).
We started uphill after lunch, and the heat made the climb seem worse than it was. We stopped for water mid-afternoon, and tanked up as it was the last water for 12 miles and we didn’t plan to make the water until the next day. It’s been a long time since I’ve carried 4L of water, and it was much easier than I anticipated. Even with the extra weight, we enjoyed our walk the rest of the day. We passed through purple fields of lupine, with their aroma filling the air.
We had been just ahead of storm clouds all day, and had heard thunder in the distance for some time. Around 5:30pm it seemed like the clouds were starting to catch up with us, but we kept hiking on crossing our fingers we could make it a little further. An hour later we could tell our luck was starting to run out as the clouds caught up, and we started looking for a camping spot. We made it another mile or so before finding something, and quickly set-up the tent. As Garrett put the last stake in it started to drizzle, and we hopped in the tent just in time to stay dry.