Monday July 11th, 2022, 0730-2030
Cedar Creek rd to Flume Creek Rd, WEBO mm 360.2 Segment 3 Selkirk Mountains
27.3 miles, Gain 5500′, Loss 5000′, elevation 2625
I heard some noises over night but figured they could be any number of things. Then at 4:45 am, I heard footsteps that didn’t sound like a dog…too lumbering. My thoughts were on a large herbivore but I watched as a gigantic black figure glided past the front of my tent, 8 feet away. It wasn’t Chica the dog, much bigger, that’s for sure! I was grabbing for my bear spray as a full sized black bear casually passed without even a glance in my direction. It was already just past when I managed a blunt “get”, which seemed to surprise it very much. It gave a brief look over its shoulder and broke into a sprint. Again, camo tent. Whew! That’s the closest I’ve ever been to a bear…that I know of. Could be that bears have passed by my tent many times while I was asleep.
Needless to say, I was fully awake, eager to pack and go. I should have realized while setting up the day before that there was a trail of trash bits leading from the dumpster trailer. The bear probably comes by every morning and I mistakenly set my tent in its path. As I got out of my tent to pee, I also noticed 2 deer bedded down less than 50 feet away. Everyone seemed to like this area. No wonder Roman felt the need to mark it… he’s got lots of competition!
Jen made us french press coffee and cookies for breakfast. She’s quite the mom! She also drove us the 1.5 miles back to the main road, from where we departed our red line the day before. This saved us some time and effort. We had a bit more road walking through country farms, which was very pleasant. Deer were streaming across the road and we even spooked another bear, just catching sight of its but as it ran into the bushes. A 2 bear day!
We started up the trail to Abercrombie mountain, which would be our biggest climb yet…5000′ to gain. The trail was nice with lots of switchbacks, and it wasn’t too hot. I hiked up with Wolverine and the time passed quickly. Soon we were standing on the top, above the trees and with amazing 360 views. Abercrombie is the second highest peak in Eastern WA at 7320′. I could see all the way back to Mt Bonaparte, the Kettle range, and even a bit of the Pasayten. Ahead I had a good look at the Idaho Selkirks, still holding a bit of snow. This concerned me since we hoped to traverse one of the ridges in a few days. It felt like 80 degrees at the top of Abercrombie, so for sure it was melting fast.
We spent a long time at the top, enjoying the views and cell service. I made a few phone calls to family members. The rest of the day was downhill and then a short piece into town the next morning, so we weren’t in much of a hurry. It was too far to make it to town this day. Going down, we walked through a few remnant snow patches…enough to get my feet a little wet. I found a stream and loaded up on water…which was pointless since I passed close to 100 streams on the way down. The trail ended all too soon into a logging road.
We tried to coordinate a campsite where we could all fit but the only places were pull-offs next to the road. Since I hate camping next to an active road, I pushed on a few more miles on my own. It had gotten pretty late and the mosquitoes had come out. I didn’t want to stop to make camp and deal with them but I had to face the music sometime. I was looking for an easy spot where I wouldn’t have to do a lot of prep work, prolonging the time when I could dive in my tent to seek refuge. I finally found an older road that looked like it didn’t get much traffic. For good measure, I dragged a few small trees across the road to slow down any potential night-raiders. (Don’t worry, I removed them the next morning.) I set up in record time and did everything else inside the tent. The mossies were really bad. They seem to be getting worse the farther east I go.