Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 23: Little Bear Springs Camp to Willow Creek

Hiking through the burned area was bittersweet: the bitterness of the charred tree stumps tempered by the sweetness of the grassy meadows, the brightly colored wildflowers, and the new growth. Old, brown leaves rustled in the wind like the tail of an angry rattlesnake, but tiny, bright red leaves poked out from the tips of the new oak branches that surrounded the base of the charred dead trees. Scruffy, foot-tall pine trees poked through bare, sandy earth, pine needles askew like the ruffled hair of an infant after a nap. A potpourri of wildflowers added color to the meadows, and pretty clusters of violet lupine, red fireweed, and delicate yellow flowers brightened the trail.

As we descended along Holcomb Creek, we reached an area less affected by the burn. Large oaks, pines, and incense cedars shaded the canyon. We eventually reached the 90 foot steel and wood bridge spanning the Deep Creek canyon.

Hiking down to the shallow creek (only the canyon is deep), we stopped to rest on its sandy beaches. Tall Jeffrey pines, incense cedars, and several other varieties of trees provided cool shade by the water. Sierra waded across and played in the water, while I looked up information on the recent reroute of the PCT in the Deep Creek area due to potentially treacherous, washed out sections of trail.

I wasn't excited about the reroute, which follows an OHV road and then connects to a closed section of Highway 173, but Sierra wanted to stay on the official PCT route for this year. So, after crossing the bridge, I reluctantly turned left, following the official PCT reroute.

While not offering the beautiful Deep Creek Canyon views and natural hot springs of the closed section of trail, the PCT reroute had very little OHV traffic and offered its own beautiful views of the surrounding hills. Steep, rutted, and rocky in sections, we plodded along, reaching Willow Creek by 7:00 p.m.

We located a beautiful camp with a level sleeping area and large granite boulders on which to sit, cook, and eat. But the afternoon's gentle breezes had transitioned to a fierce wind, making it impossible to set up the tent. Reluctantly, we packed up our things and moved to a more sheltered spot, surrounded by oaks, pines, and manzanita, on the other side of the road.

Setting up our lonely camp, I felt the weight of our solitude like never before. We had not seen any other hikers since early this morning. While Sierra and I have enjoyed camping alone many times, I feel unsettled camping so close to civilization and would have preferred the company of other hikers. But tonight we are alone.


  1. What a well planned and organized trip to include places where your dad could meet you and offer support! Remember that you are never alone. Our thoughts and prayers are constantly with you...and God has his angels surrounding you both.

  2. kgb has you well in our sights heather! we are following daily, checking maps, posts, and daily pray for your safety and strength. you are as close to God as possible in those hills! xoxo