August 4, 2018: Surprises

At Alex Hole Spring, Mile 1683.2

As I had my breakfast and broke camp this morning, several hikers stopped by to see the cabin and sign the registry. I hope the signatures are encouraging to the Offenbacher family. They’re really doing a wonderful job.

I headed south through Donomore Meadows, after leaving the cabin. The Meadows have recently been acquired by the PCTA, protecting not only the trail, but habitat for elk, owls, wolves, and a wide variety of rare plant species. It was a beautiful walk, and led to Donomore Creek.

According to my sources, the creek smelled vaguely of cow, and wasn’t the best place to get water. It seemed fine to me, although retrieving the water meant crawling down next to the bridge, and carefully scooping. But eventually I got enough to top off. Bearground Springs was a few miles down the trail, and I’d heard it was running well. The NOBO I talked to said that it was unmistakable, and it poured into a wooden trough.

Sure enough, the spring was flowing nicely. The inside of the trough was fit for neither man nor beast, but I was able to collect enough via the pipe to last me to the evening’s destination, Alex Hole Spring.

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I continued on, paying more attention to my music than to my surroundings, when all of a sudden I heard a big rumbly bass noise. I stopped in my tracks, dropped my headphones, and tried to make sense of it. I turned this way and that, wondering where it had come from. Finally, I headed back down the trail, and I heard it again. I had no clue what it was. An elk maybe? Certainly not a bear. I puzzled over the situation, until suddenly I heard…wait for it…cowbells.

I knew it was more wild-west-like in northern California than it was in southern Oregon. Nevertheless, I still couldn’t believe I was fooled by a cow. The cows and their cowbells were right where I needed to go, but I figured I’d solve that problem when I came to it. And I never saw them, not once.

Bearground Cows
The cows I didn’t see. Photo credit: Curtis Mekemson

Having rolled my eyes at myself…cows, for heaven’s sake…I headed through some trees, and came out at a road junction. There was a 20-something woman sitting under a tree, having some lunch, and much to my surprise, she said, “Are you Rest Step?”

I was speechless. Somebody recognizing me in California? OMG! I finally stammered, “Why, yes I am.”

She introduced herself as Socks, aka Sara, and said we’d chatted on the Women of the PCT Facebook group. Wow! I remembered talking with her. She said I’d given her a lot of advice, and gear recommendations, and she really appreciated it. How cool!

We hung out for awhile, chatting like new-old friends. It was delightful. Finally, I had to keep going, so I gave her a big hug. I hope we can connect on FB!

There were only a few more miles to go before tonight’s goal. A lot of it was level, in and out of the trees.

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Not too far before Alex Hole Spring, I had yet another surprise encounter. As happens on these hikes, I needed to find a bush. This is generally pretty easy, although you may have to push aside branches, swat some mosquitoes, that sort of thing. This day, I had found a pleasant little spot, where I could commune with Mother Nature. The bugs were buzzing, the birds were flitting, life was good. I prepared for that special moment, when all of a sudden something darted between my knees, buzzing like all get out.

I had no idea what happened. A large insect maybe? Whatever it was, this was the wrong time and place for a visit. Then it zoomed back, and stopped in front of me. It was a hummingbird! Poor thing nearly had an unpleasant encounter!

Once I had, umm, gathered my composure, I headed down the trail, and in no time I was at my destination.

Alex Hole Spring is off to one side of the trail, and down a steep spur. The tentsites are wedged between the trail and a small Forest Service road, but only a couple of trucks drove by. I dropped my pack and emptied it out. Then I put all of my water carriers, and my filter, into the pack. I grabbed my poles, because yes indeed, it was a steep little spur. This situation is a textbook example of why I load up in the evening, and filter the last bit in the morning.

I reached the bottom, and I saw one of my favorite new inventions. I don’t know why I haven’t seen it before, so I’ll just say it’s new, and call it good. Somebody had taken a large leaf, and placed it under the slow outflow of the spring. They’d put a rock on it, and held it in place. This turned it into a spigot, and that in turn made it much easier to collect water. It wasn’t instantaneous, but I collected two liters, and filtered them into my Smartwater bottles (my clean containers). Then I collected three more, left them in my Evernew bladders (dirty), loaded everything up, and went back uphill.

I started setting up when I got back to my gear, and in fairly short order there were three other hikers. One of them was a woman from Graz, Austria, and I told her about our family connection. It was a nice way to end the day, and I crawled in my tent.

Tomorrow’s goal is Cook and Green Pass, where I will head down the road.

One thought on “August 4, 2018: Surprises

  1. Funny how I hear wind chimes . . . Feel confused when I’m in the wilderness . . . As then the connection comes. Oh cow bells. First time I encountered was in the Marble Mountain wilderness in the PCT mucking up some springs.

    Liked by 1 person

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