Toughest day so far...

June 23, 2020

Destination: Head of 6 mile meadow Today's Miles: 18.70

Start Location: Buffalo Creek Trip Miles: 54.80

Day three was a tough day from start to finish. Waking up I flexed my feet and could feel the soreness. My feet and legs were feeling the miles, the front of my right shin was the worst and right away I rubbed it with Arnica and the cork ball - two items that were becoming a most welcome addition to my supplies.

We hit the trail climbing out of Buffalo Creek first uphill then through undulating train as we hiked the four or so miles to the Lost Creek Wilderness Trail. So far the trail felt very similar to hiking near our home in Arizona’s White Mountains. The flora and fauna were largely the same but the geology was different and the coloring kept catching my attention with lots of quartz and granite.

As we made our way along the ridge we passed a sign saying stay on the trail because a shooting range was nearby. As if right on cue, at the exact moment we passed the sign a loud shot rang out followed by several more in close succession. Interesting timing, I thought.

Before long we were at Rolling Creek which was the beginning of section 4 and the Lost Creek Trail. This was the first time we lost the trail but fortunately we had carried on only a short distance before realizing the mistake. As you approach the Lost Creek Trail you will be on a dirt road and the natural flow is to continue along Rolling Creek.

We backtracked to the Lost Creek Trail and took it to the right. We would climb for the next 7.4 miles on an old logging road – no switch back here – just straight up and if we stopped for more than five breaths the mosquitoes tried to carry us away.

We caught up with Shannon at a stream on the way up and visited for a few minutes before she took off again. We also met another man named Chip who started on Sunday as well.

The climb was tough but soon enough we were dropping down the other side into 6 mile meadow. We noticed there were other hikers camp here but felt it was too early to stop for the day (2 pm) and we read somewhere (guidebook?) that there were several camping opportunities along the meadow as well as plenty of water so we pressed on.

As it turns out there were virtually zero camp spots along the meadow and we weren’t even being picky. We ended up in the saddle 6 miles later all the way at the end of the meadow carrying several liters of water the last mile or so, the skies blending into the colors of an angry bruise.

The saddle was flat, treed and perfect for camping. There was one tent set up and it was our new friend Shannon! She was as happy to have company as we were to be there. We barely had enough time to set up the tent when the skies opened up, first rain then an aggressive hail storm leaving the ground around the tents solid white.

Our tent held up awesome during the onslaught (Zpack Triplex) But there would be no hot dinner for us. We snacked on protein bars in the tent, too tired from the almost 20 mile day and over 3,200 vertical feet elevation gain. It was a chilly night temperatures dropped with the hail, our elevation was over 10,900 feet. We were exhausted.