I was toasty warm all night in my cocoon of down. The world around me through had frozen solid.
Once it was daylight and the sky had lightening up enough to walk through the forest, I continued on the decommissioned side road up. The general direction for the day was up. The Elkhorns are another high mountain range, with the trail hovering around 8,000′ and the peaks at 9,000′.
I licked snow off tree branches to supplement my lack of water, then turned the corner to see a full pond of water…about half a mile from where I had camped. Doh!
The air was cold, and I stayed in my down jacket and long johns the whole day. That meant breaks were short and miles were quick. Snow still clung to the road in shady patches; it hadn’t snowed last night, but never got warm enough to met it off.
I could see I wasn’t the only one using the road; animal tracks criss crossed all over the place. I could see rabbit tracks and squirrel tracks…and one very large set of wolf tracks that followed the road for miles. Whoa!
I decided to stay on the route Jared had proposed and drop down to the headwaters of the Grande Ronde River. It could mean a bushwhack (thus a road alternative is available up top), but I wanted to see this river at the start, this river I had crossed last in Troy. Rivers are a big part of my life (thanks Kirk)! And I’ve enjoyed seeing how their characters change over distance and time.
I made camp by some other small ponds. No dry camping for me tonight! The majority of my nights have been spent away from a water source, so having an unending supply nearby is quite the luxury.
Rain started soon after I put up the tent. Rain! I might have preferred snow…