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Album: journal:day26

Corliss Camp to Spruce Ledge
23 Oct 2005
Day 26
6.7 miles, 247.6 cumulative miles

Last night I had to answer Nature's Call after midnight. The patter on the leaves was not just from me. The rain had returned. My headlamp also illuminated some large snowflakes mixed in with the rainfall. Throughout the rest of the night I was restless and heard lots of strange noises from the forest and the shelter. Later when I heard sliding on the roof, I realized all the rain had turned to snow.

This morning was a white winter wonderland. At 31° F it was not too cold and the snow was about two inches deep and very heavy with water. Oh no. That means getting soaked. I decided to wear some extra clothing although it would mean sacrificing comfort at the next camp.

The miles went smoothly up Butternut Mountain a modest 900 feet higher than Corliss Camp. The trail was a little hard to follow in spots but nothing a minute or two of searching couldn't fix. The snow was deeper though. It was above my boots much of the time. The weight also bent over a large number of trees to block and obscure the path. Lots of broken limbs were scattered along the way as well. And always thee was globs of snow falling from branches. The space between my shoulders and backpack was stuffed with fallen snow. I had to contort my arm to scoop it free.

I thought I was doing okay until I came across the sign for Bowen Mountain's summit. With horror I stared at the topo map. In the hours since Butternut Mountain I had made hardly any progress. Could the sign be in the wrong spot? No, not likely. (It turns out the map is mislabelled, but I didn't find that out until later.) Nightmarish memories of my winter ordeal in the Smokey Mountains were vividly playing in my head. I started going over how much food I had.

Standing in front of the sign for Spruce Ledge I realized the map's error. I was relieved but also completely soaked from head to foot. The snow at that level was melted, but I knew I would encounter it again on the other side of the pass. There was no way I could make the next camp as planned without hours of night hiking. I decided it was best to stop early, very early actually (13:45) and try and dry a bit.

I wonder how Strange Brew and PC faired? This next section is probably rougher than what I experienced. They might have stopped early too. If not, then I am a whole day behind them and will not catch them before the end.

I'm damp and cold and have to leave my sleeping bag to answer Nature's Call again. I could really use a steak and some mulled wine. I wonder what Half Mile is doing right now? I bet she is warm and dry and loving it. This is the wettest trip I've ever taken and I have been to the Amazon!

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