N. Fork Blackwood Creek to Ward Creek: 6.7 miles

It’s was a cold night. High 30’s and breezy. By midnight Sherman and I are under the quilt together. Very toasty and very cozy. At one point in the early morning I notice that he has 2/3 of the sleeping pad and I am along an edge. How does that happen? So I move him over and claim my half. When I wake up about 7:30 he’s got 2/3 again…

We wake at 8:00 to the sound of a helicopter. A few minutes later, another one. We get up and retrieve the bear bags. I see Carl and Natalie are up so we walk over to say good morning. Another helicopter goes by. We see the markings this time. Search and Rescue. 10 minutes later another. That makes four copters headed in the same direction. They’re flying fast so they’re not looking for something or someone, they are on their way someplace. We spend a couple minutes trying to imagine what could require four helicopters and can’t come up with anything. The mystery will remain until we get back to Wi-Fi and News access.

We’re packing and they head out about 10 minutes before us. We assume will see each other on the trail later in the day.

This is the second most difficult climb of the trail. It’s about 600 feet in total elevation in less than 2 miles. Many of the uphills are quite steep – a 7% grade. When we get to the top Carol, Natalie, and Stella have taken a break. We too stop for a break. We’re all beat up by the climb at the altitude.

Natalie asks if I’d like a photo with both of us. I do, and here it is…

In about 15 minutes they say it’s time for them to head onward. We probably won’t see them again… Their trail splits off soon onto the PCT heading for Donner’s Pass.

A bit later we start off. In 100 feet a trail junction turns toward Tahoe City. We have another half a mile of steep climb to get to the apex.

These sections of trail with smaller granite rocks in the trail than the surrounding area…? There are no trucks or horses bringing in gravel. These are from human beings, mostly volunteers, with 3-5 pound sledge hammers breaking the rocks into these small pieces. At times I’m just overwhelmed by the love and energy people put into creating, repairing and maintaining these hiking trails. Phenomenal…

Love the multiple angles and clouds…

At a place I stopped to catch my breath, Sherman went off exploring for a couple minutes. He’s returning so we can start up the mountain again.

What caused those curved lines of the trees on the inner face of this mountain wave?

We’re just past the crest heading down.

While I take the prior picture Sherman’s also enjoys the view.

We’re starting a 2.5 mile 10% downhill grade to Ward Creek where we’ll spend the night.

This is a steep grade for this distance. Feet, knee and back warning! Frequent break alert!!

The terrain alternates between rocky zones where the mountain has spalled smallish rocks in a kind of endless landslide and zones filled with pine colonies with soft dirt paths.

The emotional feeling of each is so distinct. The rocky areas are expansive, yet vulnerably exposed. Alone with the most basic building blocks of the earth’s land masses. The forest areas have a feeling of closeness and being held, being part of something. A member of the community of living beings taking care of each other in some mysterious way. Communities formed by eons of eroding rock and soil created by evolving living beings. Soil so deep that it covers the rocks that were just traversed. We live on a rock ball with a thin skin of created soil in places that support myriad forms of life that in turn replenish the living soil.

Walking through all of this brings deep joy and sadness. The joy of the splendor, mystery, magic, harmony and cellular experienced beauty of it all. And the sadness of the unseeing, and uncaring masses of human beings. Condoning, by their participation in our profit addicted social structures and beliefs, the slow poisoning and destruction of the cyclical ebbs and flows of the natural world that supports us.

We don’t experience ourselves as being a part of this ongoingly living creation. And it’s killing us.

I have walked past this plant along the trail in multiple micro-climatic zones. Today I know what it is. It’s a 6-8 inch high Manzanita variety. Almost a ground cover. I’ve never seen this variety before.

I love the way trees hold on to the ground that’s uphill for balance. The amount of “hanging on” done by this 30 inch pine is so palpable.

McCloud Falls means we’re near Ward Creek.

30 minutes later Sherman and I arrive at Ward Creek. It’s about 3pm. I find a group of lovely sites hidden 100 feet up the creek. This gives us time for housekeeping. It’s sunny and we’re alone. I start to unpack. Removing the tent off the lower edge of the pack is the 1st item. I check on Sherman. When I return to the pack/tent there are 1/2 – 3/4 inch prehistoric looking/feeling critters crawling on the tent stuff sack. I’ve not seen these crawlers on this trail previously. In fact, I’ve never seen them anywhere. No idea who they are…

I check around and they seem to only be on rocks and the wood of tree trunks. Not on decomposing trees. Not on the dirt.

Sherman is in his element. Hanging outside watching life lifeing…

I dry off the tent bottom. Dry the down in the quilt, the edge of which you can see along the top of the log. The bulk of the quilt is splayed out on the other side.

This shot gives a sense of how I mange emptying and filling the backpack. On the ground next to the pack is my yellow raincoat with the yellow outside on the ground. I use that open raincoat as the intermediary space to organize our household stuff. Emptying it into groups of food, take in the tent, overnight storage. Once it’s been put into groups it takes about 10 minutes to distribute out to the camp or back into the pack.

We have a lazy afternoon. After we eat and take a stroll along the river, I give Sherman a quick brushing to relieve him of the sticks, stickers and leaves he’s picked up from the trail and a pretty good detangling. He struggles with the process at times. Surrenders at times. In the end he seems pleased with his hair feeling free.

We’re in bed at 6:30. No one else shows up to stay here. Yum…