Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day 136: Lava Spring to Cispus River

Crack, crack, whoosh, thud! I woke with a start as a nearby tree hit the ground with a loud thud. I checked my watch. 5:22 a.m. Too early to wake Sierra, but too late to go back to sleep. Laying back down, I heard the sounds of broken lava rock shifting under heavy footfalls. I lay back down and pulled the sleeping bag over my head, but the sounds of the shifting rock echoed through the ground underneath my head. Then I heard a piercing whistle, unlike any bird or animal I knew. Definitely time to get up.

Armed against the morning cold with jackets, gloves, and hats, we headed down the trail. Once through the lava flow, huckleberry bushes lined the trail, loaded with ripe, sweet, blackish purple berries. My pace slowed considerably as I stopped to pluck the tasty fruit.

In the afternoon, the trail began to climb. We reached a small snow patch near the creek and, predictably, a large snowball exploded on my back. We crossed another snow patch when we reached the crest saddle, and again at Cispus Pass (6,460 ft). Now above treeline in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, the wildflowers were incredible: purple and white lupine, paintbrush, daisies, monkey flowers, pasqueflowers, and more.

We camped on a grassy knoll perched between two pure, snowmelt creeks, sharing a site with Tour Divide rider Cjell Money (PCT '09) and Robin, a couple we had met earlier that day.

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