Twig Adventures

PNT Day 3: The Pacific Northwet

Sunday July 3rd, 2022, 0600-1800
Toroda Creek Rd to West side of Swan Lake bushwack, WEBO mm 512.3 Segment 5 Okanogan Highlands
30.3 miles, Gain 5090′, Loss 4530′, elevation 3800

It was a good day, just a little wet. It started with light sprinkles overnight, which woke me up, having to deploy my my rain flaps. My stealth spot proved to be perfect otherwise. It was quiet (only a few cars passed all night) and you couldn’t even tell I’d been there once I packed in the morning. I wanted to sleep in a little but I knew it wasn’t good to linger on private property. I hit the road and had it all to myself for a few miles. Then I turned onto another dirt road that had a lot of shady dwellings along it. There were heaps of junked cars and trash spewing from many of the properties. Notes warned about loose dogs. I was glad to be skirting by at 6:30 in the morning on a Sunday holiday weekend, figuring the owners and dogs were all asleep after a night of partying or away on travel. I didn’t see a single person or even hear a dog bark.

Finally I came to some real trail. It had been a whole 24 hours since I last left one. The freshly cut trail went steeply up but it was soft and loamy, with a firm grip. It felt really nice on my road-weary feet. I climbed for 2000′ and took a break at the top of the mountain to take advantage of cell service. I was trying to decide on whether to get off trail at the HWY to go into Republic, as was my original plan. Or to continue on for another day, since I still had a day’s worth of food. The weather forecast for thunderstorms and heavy rain with a flood watch suggested that I stick with plan A. But I was leaning towards plan B more and more. With an overcast sky, the morning was cool and pleasant.

Looking back towards Bonaparte mountain, which I had to skirt around due to a 2021 fire closure. That’s where I was just a day ago

As I came down the hill towards the HWY crossing, it began to sprinkle then hail. There were even a few claps of thunder. I stopped to get water at a stream. Either mother nature was giving me an early warning of what was to come (and I better heed the message) or was  just trying to scare me into submission. What was a little rain? I’d dealt with worse I figured, as I started up the other side of the pass. There was more newly cut trail, sometimes obscure but generally marked with PNT signs…the most markings I’d seen yet. It began to rain again but not too bad. My shoes quickly succumbed but that was the worst casualty all day. It did cool down pretty quickly so I put on my rain jacket. As always, my umbrella saved the day. Even when it started raining pretty heavy, I stayed dry and happy.

The trail was a mix of old road and singletrack surrounded by so much green. There were a few boggy meadows and some dense forests. After about 5 miles, I hit a road walk for the rest of the day. Still it was easy walking through the rain, with the occasional distant rumbles of thunder. After a few hours of this, the rain stopped and the sun came in and out. It actually turned out to be a pretty nice day.

Such beautiful forest and trail

Maybe because of the rain, I also had some good animal sightings. First was a family of snowshoe hares. Then a couple of mule deer and one barred owl. Most exciting was a glimpse of a moose and her calf crossing the road! My first WA moose sighting ever! And of course lots and lots of cows. Four fun pigs (sidebyside vehicles) passed me in the afternoon, along with 2 cars. That was it for people all day.

You can just see the moose ahead on the right side of the road

Early in the evening, I collected water at a spot that was listed as a grassy campsite. The grass was waist-high and very wet, so I kept moving. Another thunderstorm was creeping up behind me, so I was rushing to find a good spot and get my tent up before it stared raining again. I found one at the beginning of a trail that was described on the map as a bushwhack. It was clear that a crew had done recent work clearing the trail but the notes indicated that most hikers were still doing the alternate road walk. I hated doing it, but this one night, with the rain bearing down on me, I set my tent up basically right on the trail. As I had yet to see another hiker AND I was on the less popular route, I doubted it would be a problem. The skies let lose just as I got my tent up and everything put inside. Whew!

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