July 12, 2017
Mile 1284.55 – Mile 1297.98
Well, our plan to get up early failed miserably. The alarm went off, and was immediately silenced while a couple more hours of sleep were acquired, and we didn’t end up leaving camp until after 8. Luckily, the climb out of Belden wasn’t nearly as bad as I was imagining it to be. I had myself all psyched out for 13 miles of steep uphill on hot, sunny switchbacks. Well, we did do some of that but only for the first few miles of climbing. I definitely struggled a lot, and my calves were shrieking with pain. But once we stopped for our breakfast break, I started feeling much better.
After awhile, the trail entered a nice, shaded forest, and the climb became much more gradual. A lot of the time, we weren’t even really climbing. At some point in the morning, we had stopped to debate which creek we should stop at to get water and eat lunch (large creek, small creek, or Chip’s Creek), when we heard something crashing through the bushes. A lot of the time when we hear something moving around off trail, we’ll jokingly say “bear!”. Well this time, it really was. A small, brown bear was sprinting through the woods towards us. For a second, I thought he was charging us, but he crossed the trail a few metres in front of us and continued on his way. It was pretty crazy, and really amazing to see. It was the closest I’ve ever been to a wild bear, and the first time I’ve seen one actually on trail and not off the side of the road. And that was about the only exciting thing that happened today.
We stopped for lunch (by large creek), and since we’re in time-killing mode it was a nice, long lunch break. A few hikers passed us today, but not nearly as many as we’d been seeing the past couple of days. The trail wound through the forest most of the day, going through a couple of meadows and open areas close to the end of the day. We had to ford Chip’s Creek twice, and ended up just sloshing through and getting our feet wet both times. There was a campsite perched right on the top of the massive climb, and we decided to aim for that. Right at the end of the day, as we neared camp, we came out into an open area on top of the hill, and that’s where we’re camped tonight. We have a really cool view of what I think might be Mt. Lassen from our site (we entered Lassen National Forest today), and we sat at the edge of the ridge to take it in while we cooked and ate dinner. Tomorrow, I’ll officially have walked 1000 miles.