Havillah church camp (550.0) to bench camp (575.3)

approx. 20 miles due to alternates

Today’s hike was meant to be easy, mostly flatish and downhill and the only problems I would face were my aching foot and a lack of proper water sources along the trail.

I woke up after a good nights sleep on the church lawn. Slowly packing up I made sure to leave everything in the church as I found it. I left a thank you note on the Hiker information board. Words were all I could give.

Thankfully for having visited this great place I started hiking on Swanson Creek Road. I would spend half of today on this road taking two alternates which were a bit shorter than the original route. I had filled up my water at the church not expecting any water sources until late afternoon. Very soon I realized that the temperature rose so much that my water supplies would hardly be enough.

Around midday I arrived at the place where the junction of the road and Whistler Canyon Trail should be. It was a bit of a hassle to find the right trail – because it was actually a forest road. I hiked down the trail in the heat of the sun wondering how much the landscape has changed into hot and dry. I could easily imagine a fire starting here right away. But I felt save as I knew Jim was watching from his Lookout!

After a short break at a picnic table in the sun and using the reception to send some messages I aimed quickly for the next spring. Arriving there I cameled up a bit but loaded only the essential water to get to the next creek. I wanted to camp and fully rehydrate there. It was another two miles into Whistler Canyon and to the creek and I settled on an average pace.

My foot wasn’t too bad today. Instead of numbing the pain by taking Ibuprofen I had opted to feel and assess the damage. I still had no clue what was wrong. Was it a tendon? Bones? It wasn’t too swollen and it didn’t show any color yet but massaging my foot and comparing it to the left one I had felt some differences.

However I haven’t got my trailname for nothing and so I hiked on. Around another bend through some bushes and there should be the creek. After a while I checked my phone and my GPS told me that I had passed the creek. I backtracked. Where was the creek? There was a wooden bridge! I crossed it and looked down into what was supposed to be the creek. Bonedry!

I had probably half a liter of water left and roughly six miles to town. Two and a half miles down to the highway where the map showed another creek. It was my only option. I left the dry area and hiked downhill towards the highway.

Unexpected I found another small creek and filled up my bottles. Enough to camp. I didn’t want to do the same mistake again. Now it was all about finding a good spot to camp. Of course there was nothing until I was nearly down the mountain. There was a bench overlooking the valley and some kind of tree farm. That’s where I had dinner in the sun and set up camp as soon as the sun was behind the mountain.

There’s something else behind the mountains on the other side of The Valley. From my camp spot I could see the smoke of a forest fire develop and rise into the air. It is behind the mountain west of Oroville. Directly in my direction of travel. I put another point on my to do list for town: check trail conditions!

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