Today again is sunny and it’s going to be another 10-mile day and I’m worried because the trail book says we could be hitting some wet sections but it’s really not that bad. The trail is definitely drying out. We’re both traveling in shorts and t-shirts. The day is sunny and we are starting to hit the famed pink quartzite of the mountains.
I am less anxious because we’ve already gone 17 miles and, as I said, I’ve made my decision to move forward. Just the thought of going back is terrifying. I regain some of usual joy at being in the woods. I’ll still be happy when this long day is over, but every step forward gets me closer to that goal.
I start taking pictures again. There are some nice views from the top of the ridges. We come down what the book calls “one of the steepest pitches on the trail” and it really is a steep pile of rocks. We’re lucky that the rocks are dry. We take it slowly and make it down without a hitch.
More uphills and downhiills until we come to a waterfall. The guide says we go up the east side of it. Because of the recent rains, rocks that would normally be dry in the summer are now covered in a low trickle of water. Our choices are to head further to the right and the larger, drier rocks or go up the smaller, wetter rocks that are clearly marked as trail. I choose the trail and, although I think I’m being careful, I slip on wet rocks and fall backward into the falls, landing backpack first in a bit of water. I am unhurt, just wet and rush to reassure Walt that there’s no harm done. (It’s really, really hard to watch your spouse fall on the trail.) We continue up a few more feet until we come to a big dry rock, where I sit and catch my breath. I’m unhurt but a little rattled by the fall.
We continue up before heading down only to go up a very long incline called Moose Pass. I’m more unnerved now by the mosquitoes than I ever was by the steep downhill or the climb up the waterfall or even my tumble. I’m already bug-bitten from yesterday – apparently I was too exhausted to realize I was being eaten alive and have welts all over. Walt looks at the back of my legs and tells me one reason he loves me is because the bugs like me better than him.
Hmmm. Not the most romantic reason I’ve ever heard.
But, then again, I don’t have to exercise or moisturize in order to hold onto this characteristic as I age; I’m not likely to lose it. Ok, I’ll take it.
We continue going up for a great view at the top and a take a break in the sunshine and breezes before heading back down into forest. It’s a bit tough – the sun and breezes ward off most of the bugs but it’s also really hot in the sun. The forest has dried out enough that the trail is beautiful pine needles but the bugs are relentless in the shade and there’s no breeze. Good thing we don’t have to choose: the trail is what the trail is.
The up-and-down continues until a last push up to our camp, a painful 3/8 of a mile off the main trail, including several ups and downs. When we finally arrive at Little Mountain Lake, we have a gorgeous campsite with a beautiful rock outcrop into the lake. There’s no one else here. It’s about 4 p.m. We set up camp and then swim and have dinner, feeling like maybe the worst of the trip is behind us. At any rate, I feel content in our decision to move forward.