Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day 140: Big Crow Basin to Ridge Near Road 784

Elk in the nearby meadow bugled our morning wake up call. The Big Crow Basin where we were camped opened to the east, and the hills above were already lit with a soft glow. Early morning sunlight filtered through the trees as we packed up.

The trail meandered through the forest, passing from the sunny east side of the ridge to the west side, where we caught another glimpse of Mt. Rainier, then back to the east side again. The trail continued meandering through a tall forest carpeted with pine needles and fungi until we reached Government Meadow. The lush golden-green grass and the orange yellow husks of corn lilies swayed in the gentle breeze.

Sierra ran out of water in mid afternoon. We hiked faster towards the next road crossing where, the Data Book promised, there was a spring nearby. But the spring consisted of nothing more than marshy ground, with no running water. Next water source? More than 14 miles down the trail ... unless you counted the raindrops that were beginning to fall from the sky.

But at the next road crossing, a large black truck pulled over and offered to share their water when I asked if they had extra. A tall man dressed in camouflage from head to toe stepped out of the truck and gave us two bottles of water. He and his daughter had been bow hunting.

A few miles down the trail our friend Piia stepped out of the brush. She had saved the larger of two small campsites for us, the only campsites for the next mile or so.  Uncharacteristically, Sierra insisted on setting up our tent, despite the fact that it was an awkward fit on our tiny flat space in the bushes.  I was soon glad she did.  We began hearing thunder as we cooked dinner.

Soon the storm was directly overhead. Blinding flashes of lightning illuminated the inside of our tent. An ear splitting crash of thunder immediately followed. The storm seemed to move through, but then the rain began. Torrents of rain poured down on our tent. The rain eased only when it was time for another series of bright flashes and deafening roars. Then a volley of hail pelted our tent, the pea sized balls of ice leaving pock marks in the tent fabric. Another round of thunder and lightning heralded another torrential rain. We lay awake through seemingly endless cycles of lightning, thunder, and rain until sometime in the morning when we mercifully fell asleep, exhausted.

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