The only thing preventing last night from being a great night of sleep was Advil. Both Brianna and I fell asleep quickly and were not woken up by any coyotes or wolves, as is the norm. Unfortunately, the long day of rain hiking, the slips and falls that come along with it, left our bodies bruised in a way that hurt enough to wake us up several times during the night. It’s not that we didn’t have Advil, it’s that we forgot to take it. Rookie mistake.
Our journey to the car begins today! Shauna was gracious enough to call the 1970s motel and book us their last room, so we have to make it to the car or it’ll cost us $100 anyway. 14 miles today in the 60 degree weather with no rain should be easy compared to the 15 miles we did yesterday in the cold, cold, rain.
Access to the sun was limited today but the wind was gusting hard, drying our packs out pretty quick. Unlike previous days, there were only a couple of steep climbs. The things you least expect are the ones that get you the worst. Suffice to say, steep climbs were not the day’s biggest challenge.
Ran into a couple more hikers today, this time it was two ladies heading westbound. They gave us tips on upcoming trail conditions and we did the same for them. It’s funny, running into all these people and never once asking each other for names or anything non-hiking or trail related. We are all out there doing the same thing, sharing the common bond of all the things that go along with long distance hiking… pooping in the woods for example. It’s the closest thing to instant respect without justification or qualification that I have come across, except for the family reunions. You’re here. You’re doing it. Brava.
We typically put in a high number of miles in the morning and then hobble out the rest in the evening. Watching us would be quite the site, appropriate trail names for us during this hike might be Hobble & Wobble. This morning was a mostly steady pace, mixed in with a lot of dinking around and enjoying the sites. We passed through the Victoria Historic site, an old mining town with remnant homes and rubble of the times. There is a lot of interesting mining history in the area. Mining companies would build homes, ponds, and general stores. They settled entire communities that only exists in rubble footprints today.
Lunch was a quick one, but we were able to spend it inside one of the three hiking shelters along the NCT Western UP section. These hiking shelters were built by the Peter Wolfe NCT chapter so that hikers can eat, sleep, or do whatever they need to do away from the elements. This shelter has four bunk beds with space for up to four more on the floor if necessary. It’s actually a perfect location for hikers heading Westbound NCT. The stretch right before arriving to the shelter is the Victoria Dam, a place we found to be… perilous.
Hiking down to the Victoria Dam took a huge toll on our already weary bodies. The road is washed out gravel of varying sized rocks. It’s difficult to find comfortable footing when the rocks are all different, it rolls your ankles around and forces the knees in awkward angles to prevent falling. We descended down this washed out road for about a mile before reaching the bottom. I thought we were hiking to a walkway or bridge over the water. I was wrong.
“So what do we do now?” I asked, scratching my head.
Brianna replied in a sharp tone, “We cross the river.”
It baffled me. Getting from point A to Point B meant walking through waist deep water that was flowing at a steady but not rushing pace. And let’s not forget the sign that said, “WARNING WHEN SIREN SOUNDS WATER LEVELS WILL RAISE RAPIDLY”
What if we are in the middle of the river/reservoir and the siren sounds!? Is this really about to happen?
I started into the water first, feeling the bottom for rocks and depth. Slick rocks covered the bottom, I did my best to choose the least scary rock with each side step. Brianna and I locked hands. What started out as a firm grip dwindled down to me holding her pinky, as if to say, “I pinky promise to keep you from washing downstream if you fall.” We adjusted hands and successfully completed the river crossing as we have learned to do and will have to many more times. Our adrenaline was pumping so hard that as soon as our feet touch dry land again, we both yelled “WOOOO!” and then FaceTimed a few people to share the view and experience. Life is so much better when shared with others, isn’t it!?
Without getting too much longer in the tooth, we made it to our car by 6pm and were back at the 1979s motel within the next hour. Laundry is done, burgers were delicious and we are ready for whatever tomorrow might bring.