Rock Creek (2166.7) to Panther Creek (2182.6)
Something was shaking my tent! Or better: something was trying to get into my tent! Half asleep I turned around and thanked Therm-a-rest for the noisy mattress. The sound was enough to scare away the critter.
Next time I checked my watch it was already 6 am and time to get up. I peeked out of my tent and saw some movement. Joda and Bruises were still in their tents but awake. I decided to pack up first before having breakfast. Maybe the two women would join me? But no way. They packed up and were ready to hike by 6:30. My tent was still standing upright and so I had to say goodbye. I wouldn’t see them again.
I finished my camp chorus, had some granola for breakfast and was ready to go by 7 am. Slowly I started climbing along the sides of Rock Creek. It seemed to me like a forever climb through the rainforest but indeed I was done with the climb around 11 am. I had just crossed the top of a ridge and started descending when I bumped into Springsteen. He was hiking south from Trout Lake after skipping up from Kennedy Meadows. We exchanged trail and town information and Springsteen told me that the trail was free of snow all the way to Trout Lake. I was happy to hear the good news and it restored my faith. I will make it to Canada!
From now on the rest of today would be easy. In my thoughts and on trail as it was mostly downhill. I was shooting for Trout Creek, the next bigger watersource to have lunch. Arriving there I met a bunch of day hikers. Two older ladies were sitting on stones next to me at the creek while I had my obligatory tuna tortilla. I was just about ready to hike on when one of them asked me if I wanted to know something about the flowers along the trail. Sure, was the only answer I could think of and so she came over with a huge book and scrolled through the pages to show me some wildflowers I would encounter along the trail. Now I know that the grass with the huge white flowers is called “Bear grass” although bears don’t eat it. Elks like it though. She also told me about a flower with three leaves and a flower coming up on a separate stem but always in the middle of the leaves. Back on trail I saw the flower with different eyes and I even checked out the separate stem – a few times!
Last we exchanged names and ages. While Andrea and Bev believed I was more 23 than 33 I could hardly believe that Andrea was nearly 80 years old and Bev even older! Do you?
Back on trail testing flowers I thought about meeting people. Conversations were mostly the same about where I came from where I go and vice verse but still there was always something extra. People always added something to my journey may it be important trail information or the name of a flower I saw every day.
From Trout Creek it wasn’t too far anymore to Panther Creek and a Campground nearby where I wanted to stay for the night. Right now I am waiting undecided what to do. The campground looks nice and has benches to sit on but I don’t want to pay 18 Dollars to stay here. I need to talk to the hosts and ask but they are not here yet. But there’s still a lot of time until sunset. Enough time to find a spot.
Time went by and I got to know Bryan, His daughter Kensey and their three-legged dog Harley. They were out on a couple of nights camping trip. Harley was the second three-legged dog I saw in only two weeks. I had seen one back in San Francisco hiking along the Bay Trail. It was nice to see that missing one leg didn’t bother them at all.
After checking with the campsite hosts I pitched my tent for free at a campsite close to Bryan’s. He invited me for the campfire and so I got to eat some S’Mores (a roasted Marshmellow with Chocolate between two Crackers) and a banana. We sat for a while entertaining the kid until it was finally time for me to return to my tent. Bryan invited me for coffee the next morning. We’ll see. I was aiming for an early start as a climb up to 5000 ft was waiting for me.