This time I got my pad properly inflated the first time, but I still ached from the hips down despite the ibuprofen. Will I ever sleep well out here? I’m going anyway. I poked my head out of the tent and watched the trees sway for a while. The clouds were nice, but they didn’t stay long. Stoic laughed at me for only making it this far out of bed. I’m slow in the mornings.
Coffee and biscuits and gravy were calling. They could’ve used some cayenne, but I’m not sure that’s a cat hole friendly spice. Parmesan, however, deserves a permanent place on the packing list. We keep forgetting it. Our morning coffee ritual is still enjoyable, but the flavor has been lacking. Next time it’s Mexican instant coffee. I don’t know what it is, but I’m curious. If it’s anything like Mexican hot chocolate, I’m in.
We walked to the creek to filter water. The bank was slippery and I nearly went for an early swim. I’m not interested in ice baths, thank you very much. It was cold enough just carrying the pouches back to camp.
We set about packing. I’m a slow poke compared to Stoic’s Army habits, but it went rather quickly. We stood on our personal beach one last time before loading up. No fishermen, no one on the water at all, and almost no one on our side of the lake trail. Relative peace, pregnant peace, ready to explode. But at this moment, just the two of us and a dozen salamanders noodling around at our feet, it was perfect. I’d never been happier not to reach my original destination. Could Wahtum Lake possibly have been better? I’ll still see it one day.
We passed a few people and a couple of boats along the shore. That was all. In no time, we were back at the trail junction. Ready or not, here we climb. We thought it would be worse, but just plugged slowly along and had no complaints. The ice cold water was nice to have, but it was really a very manageable hill. We could both use more of those, truth be told. On to steeper things we are now. We’ve been taking it easy for a while after a severe (but completely overcome) health scare, but the time to climb has come again!
We stopped once more at our inadequate lunch log. I walked to its end, the only way to easily get off trail to make a personal waterfall. Being creatures of casually made habits, we snacked before continuing on. We met a helpful couple who called to us after we passed by, convinced we’d dropped a pair of sunglasses. I hadn’t brought any and Stoic’s were safely packed away, but when the man yelled a second time, we went back to meet him and thank him for his kindness.
By the time we reached the top, my body was finally fully awake, and we set a fast pace southward. He thought we’d make it to the car by four. I said three. What did I want to bet? If I won, we’d go out to dinner before parting ways. We didn’t let the bet keep us from stopping to pick up a rock that reminded us of a Russian nesting doll (me) or a few times to take photos with a massive camera (him). When we came upon a corner with a stream that had fresh trail work to prevent a washout, we both stopped dead in confusion because it had been done after we passed through the afternoon before.
We were close, so close, and I was surreptitiously checking the time. I heard whining behind me. No, you do not have a cramp! We had big smiles on our faces. We could see Stella through the bushes. It was 2:52.
The road still had an unpleasant surprise for me on the way back. It was hard to see in the alternating bright and dark going in and out of the shade, and I almost-but-not-quite slammed on the brakes to stop in front of not a pothole, but a foot-deep dropoff on the far side of a bridge. Stop, reverse, use the other side of the road. That would’ve hurt.
You wouldn’t think so to look at it, but the Trout Pub in Sandy, OR has great food and a great staff. Chocolate porter for the win. 😉