November 1st, 2019
Mm 609 to Italian Trap Trailhead mm 639.8
Distance in miles: 30.8
It was cold overnight but not as cold as others. I was so happy nested in my space under the ponderosa. It might be my last campsite with my favorite trees this trip, so I savored it. The morning brought more cool balanced rocks and rock formations in general. It was like a rock wonderland, a boulderer’s mecca.
The trail dropped back into the desert scrub and I mourned my departure from the pines. I followed a series of creek beds and canyons for awhile. The terrain was very steep and rugged, the trail overgrown. Just as soon as I descended thousands of feet, I was climbing another 1600′ to go over a ridge. The trail led to a campground, where a short fire detour was in place. I had to walk the road a few miles, no big deal. I caught up to a SOBO, Dan, who I had been just behind for a week. We chatted and I found out he did Te Araroa a year after me. I put up my umbrella for the road walk…it was getting very hot. Plus, the highway was very busy and I figured drivers might see me better.
There trail resumed at another campground, where I searched for some water, since there hadn’t been any since a creek 10 miles back. Some mountain bikers were just leaving and gave me a spare jug…and that’s why I don’t mind sharing trails with mountain bikers. I wouldn’t pass any more reliable water the rest of the day, so I really appreciated the tank up. There was another climb over a saddle as soon as I left the campground, then mellow, rolling hills the rest of the day. The heat made me pretty thirsty and tired. I could feel the previous big climbs in my legs. It had been a hard day…chalk it up to the rocky, overgrown trail, the sun, the lack of water.
I kept moving and found myself in some beautiful grassy hills, wondering what just happened to the desert scrub? One thing about this trail, the habitat was constantly changing. I enjoyed the hills and late afternoon as it cooled. The challenge was to make it to 3 pm, when the heat started to abate. Then it was really pleasant for about 3 hours, until it started to get too cold.
I aimed for a dry wash just before another ginormous climb. There was a 4700′ gain in 7.5 miles to the top of Mt. Mica in store for the next day. But this day, I’d done enough. The wash was perfect, with firm flat sand and even a few trees. Owls hooted all night and it was very peaceful. Dan arrived an hour after me and cowboy camped nearby. It was nice to have company, even if I was already in bed.