Day 62: Life below the tree-line…

Day: Saturday, July 30th 2016

Miles: 1239 – 1269

Fowler Peak Trailhead Camp 1239 – Remote Camp 1269

Waking early, my compatriots in camp were not yet stirring. We had a nice evening cooking dinner together and hanging out, and knowing their target mileage I decided to get out early so that I could aim for something similar and maybe share camp again. The trail provides little opportunities like this occasionally. You drop into a crew who have goals that are similar to your own, so a tweak here and there of your plan lets you align a little closer for a while and enjoy some social days on the trail, more than you may have if your desire is to remain solo. Things like this are important as we’re now below the tree line, which for me means the views are largely replaced with tree-tunnels where the human mind seeks some additional sparks to maintain momentum.

The morning light filtered through the trees this morning in strange and unusual ways, a feature of the density of the forest which has been increasing over the last few days. The landscape seems to be a little more green around the edges and certainly a major transition is continuing from the High Sierra as we move north and things evolve into the expected tree lined hills of the Pacific Northwest, I certainly didn’t expect to see it here so early however.

This morning I finally decided to break into my stash of candied Ginger from Trader Joes which I was holding off on for a while. Whilst definitely one of the more unusual additions, I simply couldn’t decide over 20miles as to whether the sweet and hot flavor was horrible or strangely pleasant. Definitely worth a try for the food-curious.

The main target all morning was the Feather  River and its swimming holes although the bugs on the way down were slightly annoying, determined enough to warrant me putting on my bug net for the first time in a large number of miles. After some miles of morning mediocrity with a slow pace, the trail dropped very quickly to the green and vegetation lined Feather River valley, an abundance of trees and beautiful views across the steep valley sides were a really welcome break to the slow mornings pace and views.

Finally dropping down to the valley and Tuley/TheOptimist just caught up to me. We wandered around the cool bridge span over the river, and looked down to the beautiful swimming hole below. At this point I was really feeling focused on the high ridge climb ahead and went cold on the idea of a swim, however Tuley was all over the idea of a cleanup and so I continued on alone.

The trail entered a well shaded but steep and continues ascent immediately after the bridge crossing and I realized I probably missed a nice opportunity to cool down. Some pleasant little springs and creeks passed the trail with ample water opportunities and pleasant cool ridges in the shadows to further shield from the hot exposed sections facing the sun.

Reaching the top of the incredible climb after about two hours, I broke for lunch at an amazing view point looking ahead and behind across the ridges of the past few days. The Sierra Buttes were on the horizon and the ridge above Bucks Lake and Belden lay ahead. After lunch I dropped down to the busy road into the town of Bucks Lake a little to the west. As tempting as it is to hitch into town when this opportunity presents itself, I had about 6 miles to go to my target for the day so I continued on.

Rising above the next trailhead, road and additional temptation to drop into town a few miles later, I rose into the ridge I hoped to camp on, and an incredible set of flower lined meadows. The smells and colors were incredible as I decided to bed down in a small clearing with a view to the east. My mileage covered and a few deer munching on grass close by to keep me company. Today was a big day, mileage wise and even bigger in terms of progress and meeting my goals. Hoping I can keep it up in the days going forward!

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