No condensation on my tent. I peek outside. It’s clear and sunny.
I hike through quiet towering forests carpeted in moss. The base of the trees form green, amorphous humps. This plushness is punctuated by views of jagged peaks. Combined, this is some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve passed through. There are also downed trees creating dramatic portals, glacier-fed creeks flowing through lush passageways, and miniature blueberry plants that sprout full-sized, full-flavor berries. The landscape acts as a gentle but effective medicine. My hand, gut and spirit all feel better.
I meet up with Tin Tin, Cracker Jack and Smokey to get water. Then CJ and I stop for a coffee break. Butterflies fly around us.
We hike 6 more miles and eat dinner on a ridge with a priceless view. We look at our apps and decide to head to a creek to camp. The apps don’t mention tent sites, but 9 times out of 10, where there is water, there is camping.
It’s 5 miles of downhill with lots of mud and difficult trail. It grows dark and we hike by headlamp picking our way over creeks, blow downs, and mud patches. And then, the trail just disappears. It becomes a hole in the darkness. We look down and crack up laughing. It is like some long joke and we just got to the punch line. We backtrack and find an ad hoc side trail/mudslide that we slip down. I’m covered in mud. We’re both cracking up with laughter.
By the time we finally make it to the creek and bridge it’s 8:30pm. It’s also that 1% of the time when there isn’t a tent site by a water source. There are no flat spots to camp on. Beyond the creek, the trail climbs 3,800 feet in three miles. We can’t muster the energy for this. What to do? Camp on the only flat spot around: the bridge.
Cracker Jack and I both have a Tarptent Notch. They are not free standing, but I’ve rigged mine to act this way in the past (like when I camped in Coon Creek Cabin during a snowstorm). We gather some large rocks to support the ends. Then Cracker Jack’s innate German engineering skills kick in. He ties rocks to the guy-lines on the sides of his tent and throws these over the side of the bridge. His tent pops up. I take a simpler approach. I slip the stakes though a space between the bridge deck and the low side railing and then turn in vertical and tighten the lines all the way.
We are 100% blocking the bridge. The water below is deafening, no doubt we’ll be covered in condensation tomorrow morning.
Best campsite ever.
Cracker Jack yells above the roar of the water, “good night and good luck!”