PNT day 20 – Jackson Creek Alternate


Geisinger Camp (296.2) to Trail Junction (314.6)

18.4 miles

What a difference a day makes! After a very pleasant night at Upper Priest Lake I packed up and said goodbye to Heather and Philip. They would paddle back to their car while I would hit the trail again. We all wanted to leave before the weird dad with his problem kids showed up again.

The trail followed the shoreline of the lake up north and I was surprised to see so many good camping options at the beach. The locals mostly came by boat or kayak to these places to camp. I passed another couple at their campsite. He was preparing what smelled like the best breakfast ever and I had to eat one of my energy bars right away.

The trail left the Lake and went into the Forest. It was nice and sunny although I didn’t get too much sun under the trees. The trail stayed in the forest for another couple of miles until it met a forest road. Hiking up the road I turned left and took the Jackson Creek Alternate which was recommended. Apparently the primary route offered a lot of bushwhacking again. No, thanks!

I hiked along the road in the sun and only a few guys on motorbikes went past. Soon the road crossed another smaller road that would finally turn into a trail again. I hiked on curious what it would be like at the end of the day. I was aiming at a trail junction right in the middle of the alternate. It seemed the only place in that area where camping might be possible. Who knows?!

The trail – leading through a dense forest again – climbed up on the side of the mountain. Countless mosquitos were my constant company. The trail led into an area called Salmo-Priest wilderness which meant for me lots of trees right across the trail.

It was kind of hard to climb, scramble over trees and at the same time fight the mosquitos. It’s a pain with these animals! I also need to buy new repellent as mine was coming to an end.

But it should get worse. I had just reached an area where the trail went up in switchbacks when I heard a crawling noise. Was it an animal? I tried to be noisy as I hiked further. It took me a while to realize that the noise I heard was thunder and it was confusing as the sky I could see was blue. Very soon the thunder came closer and I was unlucky enough to hike towards it. With 1.4 miles left to the junction I sped up and tried to get there in time. From one minute to the other the trail changed from a nice forest trail into a steep and overgrown mess on the mountainside. When did that happen? No matter what I kept fighting.

Of course I didn’t make it and stopped under a tree when it started to rain heavily. Maybe I could wait for the worst to pass by. After 15 minutes the rain stopped. It hasn’t been too bad. Unfortunately all the plants were wet now and within minutes I was soaked all over. My new shoes got wet for the first time!

I scrambled through bushes and was wondering how the primary route was compared to this. I could hardly believe that there would be a place to camp anywhere close. Another ten minutes and I hit the trail junction on a saddle between mountains. The trail I would have to take tomorrow looked like the same overgrown mess. I hiked north towards another saddle where a campsite was supposed to be. And there it was! I just started to pitch my tent when some drops fell again. The tent was up, my backpack in the vestibule, I was in and the next rain shower was ongoing. Wet again!

It rained for 30 minutes straight and now the sky is clear again. I can even see the sun shining on the side of the mountain. Of course it will never shine on my tent because it sits in a saddle between two mountains!

Tomorrow I want to make it all the way to Sullivan Lake which is about 20 miles away. From there it’s another I think around 12 to 15 miles to Metaline Falls – my next town stop.

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