The rain was due to start today.
I was up when the sky began to lighten and transferred the food box I had mailed to Christina into my pack. The rain hadn’t started yet, so I packed up my tent and gear while everything was dry. The forecast forecasted 5 days of rain, so I tried to stay ahead of the wet. The snow levels were dropping, but so was I. For the next few days I would be walking between 4,000-5,000′ on a series of dirt roads until I dropped down into Joseph Canyon, hopefully for a quick crossing and up the other side.
The Intrepid Three had gone a longer route into Joseph Canyon and came back with tales of bushwacking through blackberry thickets and poison ivy. I didn’t need any part of that, so we scoped out a few other ways in. None of them look easy…but that puzzle is for another day.
Christina came over bearing another gift…a smoothie! It was the sort of magic exlier filled with ingredients that make your body want to be better…and it helped. The afternoon of sitting and eating the good food that my trail angel brought had toughened up my blisters and eased the ache in my shins. Even partial days off can be a life saver on a long hike as your body knits itself back together again.
I had a couple of route choices in here, and after hearing from Christina, decided to take the longer more southerly routes. Why? It would take me to the Zumwalt Prarie, which as I came to understand, is the last of the paulouse (sp??) prairie left in the country. All the rest has been converted into wheat fields. (Someone may need to fact check me here…I should have been taking notes when Christina was talking, and now a day of walking may have altered the facts a bit in my brain.) A chance to walk through the last of a particular ecosystem? That’s a good reason for me.
Christina decided to walk a few miles with me, so we set off under a still-dry sky. She is a wealth of information and good ideas…I’m glad she offered to resupply me again in Troy so we have another chance to connect.
Right after she decided to turn around, the first few drops started to fall. I pulled over under some trees to switch to my rain gear. I should be in good shape to walk through cold rain and snow on this trip, and was pretty happy that I was carrying all that extra gear. I had shoved a synthetic vest in my resupply box, and now I could tell, that vest would be a key piece of gear to keep my core warm in the cold wet.
The walking was quiet in the dripping ponderosa pine forest. I encountered an unknown access problem on one of the roads, so had to find a way around. My cross-country route was also blocked, so I headed north to walk around. The detour added five miles to the day, but it’s something I expect from time to time, and a small price to pay when groundtruthing a new route.
It rained all day save for a few minutes when I was on top of Cayuse Ridge. The native prairie areas were beautiful, especially in the misty rain that made the golden grasses shine.
I was ready to call it a day after a few more miles, so found a little perch for my tent that would be out of the gusty winds that were expected over night.
It’s a little more work to relax when arriving at camp wet and in the rain, but before long I was warm and ensconced in down and tent.