RAINY DAYS AND THURSDAYS
Day 22: Mile 411.7 – Mile 436 (North Fork Ranger Station)
Thursday May 5, 2016: 24.3 miles (38.9km)
Today can best be described as a day of two halves. While both halves were cold, the morning half was bathed in bright skies and sunshine and the afternoon by gathering fog which then developed into rain.
I woke at around 4.30am to hear the wind howling through the trees. I buried my head deeper into my sleeping bag hoping that magically the wind would ease before we needed to be up and about. No such luck with the wind but we did witness a stunning sunrise over a fog filled valley above which we were camped. The biting cold wind made this the coldest morning so far on the trail.
It was enjoyable hiking when we were shielded from the wind otherwise we just made quick tracks. We met up with Jim, who camped 4 miles further on, and made our way towards the Mill Creek Fire Station. The wind was still quite strong and cold as we refilled our water supplies for the next 17.5km dry stretch.
Heading out of Mill Creek, on a gentle uphill section of trail, we were circled by airforce planes on manoeuvres. The sky was a lovely clear blue and we warned up on the climb. Neither being warm or the blue sky lasted long.
We took a detour of the PCT at Mile 421 due to risk of coming into contact with a nasty plant called Poodle Dog bush. It causes a severe allergic reaction in some people which can require hospitalisation. We walked along Mt Gleeson Road which parallels the PCT and appears to be mainly used as a fire trail. We could see fog rolling down over the valley below. Midway through the climb the fog enveloped us and by the time we stopped for lunch it started to rain. It all would have been OK were it not for the wind which just did not let up.
Once we rejoined the PCT Trail we put our heads down and just motored to get to a camp spot and get out of the wind and the rain.
Much of the trail we walked through today had been affected by recent fire. There were lots of fallen trees and skeletons of trees still standing. So devasting to see such large areas of forest destroyed.
We arrived at North Fork Ranger Station around 5pm, with no signs of rain or wind easing, we decided to call it a day.