CDT Day 16: Straight Creek to Dearborn River – Kalamatagusta Camp to Butterfly Enlightenment Camp
Miles hiked: 18.8
Total miles: 248.2
The alarm rang at 6am. I got up and moving, but somehow forgot to wake up. I was on trail a little after SpiceRack at 7am(!), stumbling along carrying my trekking poles under one arm while I ate a packet of Pop Tarts. Just like the good ol’ days on the PCT. My body felt good, rested, but my mind was already tired, like I got zero sleep. Very strange, I had slept well. Spice couldn’t help commenting on how puffy my eyes looked. I could feel it too. Whatever, I’d hike it off.
Two and a half hours went by in a blur. It was simple walking up Straight Creek through dense forest, then burn area filled with deadfall. It was beautiful, but I wasn’t paying attention. What was it? Was I still bummed about losing my sunglasses? Maybe, but the thought didn’t make me feel anymore awake. Still, 7 miles by 9:30am felt pretty good. Maybe our best morning yet.
We took a long break in a one of the few shady spots in the area. I ate a lot, the idea being that I was low on calories. Even in town yesterday, I didn’t exactly eat like a thru-hiker. Perhaps that’s why I was tired. I demolished two days worth of trail mix and a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter. If that didn’t fix me, I had no idea what would. An hour later, I was feeling a little bit better. Time to hike, regardless.
The exposed burn area persisted for the next five miles of gradual climbing. I picked up steam as the day warmed up. The rocky, dry hiking reminded me of good days hiking in Southern California. The trail pretended to be a river for a while, then climbed away from it for good. Spice was nice enough to lend me her sunglasses, so I started to feel mighty fine. Jolly Ranchers kept the juices flowing on the way up to an unnamed pass thing. Views were good in both directions though we were still pretty low in a valley. Lunch was hot and exposed, not all that restful as we followed the sparse shade of a dead tree clockwise around its base.
We finally managed to cool off a bit at a welcome creek crossing. I dunked just about everything that I was wearing into the frigid flow. My achilles tendons ached when I started moving again after soaking my feet. I needed that.
The rest of the day seemed easy from there. The last several miles along the Dearborn River drifted by. The gradual downhill did not demand too much attention so I plumbed the depths of my mind for song lyrics to use as bear (and people) repellant. SpiceRack was nowhere to be seen, so I guess it was working. The trail mostly flowed with the river through more burn area, this one older with 10ft pine trees already filling in. 10ft ain’t tall enough for significant shade though, so I missed my sunglasses after returning Spice’s to her.
Before we knew it, we were 18 miles in for the day. Enough. 7pm. Camp was easy to find near the Dearborn and I spread out my body and gear to get some sun. It was a warm and dry evening. Super different from the rest of the trail so far. A congregation of butterflies confused the heck out of me, but not enough to kill my appetite. Burritos for dinner. Feeling good.