We slept wonderfully at the Klondike Motel. We ate breakfast in bed and relaxed debating to take a zero or not. His ankle is still sore, but he wanted to hike on. Around 11, we left the hotel and walked out of town. We got off the main road and stood with our thumbs out for maybe 10 minutes. A couple about to celebrate their 42 years of marriage gave us a ride back to the Sweat Creek Trailhead.
An appropriate trailhead name as within a few minutes of the uphill I sweating. But I still smelt pretty good thanks to two showers in town. I always feel guilty at the hotel because after one shower I still leave dirt marks on the white towels. The uphill was steep and dusty. My shoes looked white most of the day. At times, the trail would pop out into a clearing looking back at the hills with a smokey haze. The scent of forest fire is not present today, but the sky and air quality tell a different story. We climbed uphill and split up at one point. He was behind me a saw a cub in a tree. I’m guessing I scared him up there. We took a break at a spring for over an hour. We ate town food- a pizza slice and deli sandwich. Yum! Always treat yourself the day out of town because you made it out.
We couldn’t walk behind each other because of all the dust each of us kicks up. The trail is very steep for a few hundred feet in both directions. Lots of afternoon dips! I managed to lose the trail due to all the cow paths crossing ours. We walked across loose rocks and desert terrain downhill before hitting the trail again. We finally saw our first cow drinking out of Cougar Creek. He was scared and hid in the bushes while we drank some water next to the creek. We passed some private property near the forest boundary then started looking for a place to camp. We have a small section of NFS land before entering private property and ranches for miles. We found an old road and a flat spot. We ate another deli sandwich and relaxed after a quick 9 miles out of town. We camped just inside the forest boundary. Around 7:30, the closest property owner started up his generator and was jamming out to tunes. I read my book and worked on my blog for some time before my eyes got too heavy.
The alarm buzzed at 5, but we didn’t really start packing until 5:30. Surprising, we were hiking by 6 and it was chilly. I even wore my down jacket during breakfast. The temperature will be in the high 90s this afternoon. We walked by the first home to have an angry dog barking at us and follow us down the road. It was easy dirt road walking past dozens of no trespassing signs. Lots of old homesteads and trailers parked on both sides of the road. We then hit the paved road which climbed uphill for a few miles. Many gorgeous horses roamed land in this area and only a few car passed by. We watched a gravel operation for some time lucky to not be walking down that road. A huge boulder was pushed down and will likely be crushed somehow into small stones. The gravel trucks flew down the road towards us.
We turned off the paved road and back to dirt. We passed some mucky water holes and got swarmed by mosquitos. It was awful! It was like the arcade game whack a mole! He has short sleeves so I was slapping his right arm while he watched his left. We couldn’t fight this many especially after slowing down to cross a cattle guard. We used our Deet for maybe the third time on trail and it truly made a difference. We were happy to come to a hill near a pond where we could take a break. It was only 8:40 and we had hiked 7.7 miles! The temperature was still pleasant as we ate and watched ducks swim and land on the water.
We made a mad dash towards the Lake Bonaparte Resort. We had two options to go by trail and never saw the official route. The dirt road turned to paved and around 10:10 we were chatting with the old guys out front. They told us that we just made it in time for breakfast. 11 miles down and time for a warm breakfast and of course a couple of cups of coffee for my man. He will certainly be flying up that mountain now.
We crossed through a campground where we filled up on water and tossed our trash. There were lots of people out fishing in Bonaparte Lake which is the most diverse lake in the state with many species of fish including crawfish. The climb starts on long gradual switchbacks. He spotted a huge frog that was the size of my palm on the trail. I have never seen one so big before on a trail. Then you join a forest road for a short time before the climbing is much steeper with over 100 feet gained every .1 miles. He was flying up the climb with his caffeine boost. I just took my time being drenched in sweat. We stopped at a nice spring to hydrate then continue our climb. It wasn’t too bad as it leveled out for over a mile. I ate the best huckleberries so far on the climb. Yummy! The last bit of the climb is steep on a rutted old ATV road. The trail is so dusty I kept my distance from him to inhale too must dust. We were soaked, but I insisted we climb the last .5 to the very top.
Of course, the view was ruined due to all the smoke, but it felt great to be on top of the 3rd highest point in Eastern Washington. We checked out the old cabin that was built in 1914 and the newer lookout tower. The views from this mountain would be spectacular without the smokey haze. There were thousands of ladybugs flying about as we took a break on the top. The next four miles brought us downhill. A few years ago micro bursts brought down lots of trees. Most have been cut up, but every year more fall. We climbed over, under, and around quite a few trees before resting on a bridge and filtering water.
We passed by an old cabin that is caving in, but I was impressed with it. I still dream of building a little cabin in the woods one day. We finished up our day by coming to a road junction. It doesn’t appear anyone has drove this road in a long time. We set up, ate dinner, talked about our next adventure, and then retreated to the tent. This is the first year I have packed out a paperback book… it’s nice to read at night, but I’m choosing to read instead of blogging. Oh well they will both get done at some point.
We slept in a bit longer today not starting the trail until 6:40. The sky is even more smoky then before so we are getting concerned about the next section. The trail is a closed down road that is marked for cross country skiing. We crossed many cattle guards before finally hitting the paved road. Lots more “no trespassing signs” along the roads. We turned onto a nice dirt road for a short amount time passing farm land. Then we made a wrong turn up the wrong the paved road for almost half a mile before turning around. We walked about 6.1 miles along the paved road while listening to Podcasts. We passed a damed lake and lots of little cabins and retreats. I find it enjoyable looking at all these homes, the old cars parked on the lots rotting, the various no trespassing signs, and the lack of much traffic. A woman stopped to talk to us for a bit. She’s talked to a few other hikers over the past week and even gave one guy a ride. By lunch time, we had hiked over 10 miles and were back on a trail that at one point was a forest service road.
We followed the old road that was overgrown with grasses for almost three miles. It was so pleasant to be on a trail again instead of pounding the pavement. We followed former Road 100 which is now Trail 100 for the rest of the day past a locked gate meaning we shouldn’t see any cars. The trail gave views of the mountains in the distance. Also, it is a very rocky landscape with lots of thimbleberries to eat along the way. You come to a scenic overlook of the town of Oroville. You should also be able to see the Pasayten Wilderness, but due to the smoke from the wildfires you can only make out the outline of the mountains.
We heard something off to our left in the trees making a lot of noise. We both yelled and it started to move quickly. We searched for it spotting the black bear’s butt as he ran up and over the rocks. I think we were eating some of his berries today. That makes 3 bears and 4 for him in the last week. I love bears. The next animal we encountered is my least favorite. I was playing music out loud and before I could register what was happening. There was a coiled large rattlesnake right off the trail to my left. I screeched and moved quickly up and off the trail. It was rattling so large and perched up meaning it could of easily struck me. I yelled “rattlesnake” as he watched it continue to rattle, but move away from the trail! I was no expecting that! I joked that now I no longer want to live in Washington. I have been expecting bears and maybe even a mountain lion. But not a rattlesnake. The last mile I was looking very closely along the trail for another one. We set up while being attacked my mosquitos. We both wore a piece of our rain gear to keep from being attached while we ate dinner. We hiked 22 miles today and were eating dinner around 6. We have a little less than 6 miles to town. So we had plenty of time to relax and listen to the buzz of mosquitoes, strange bird sounds, and other unknown sounds.
We slept in a bit, but we were walking by 6:45 towards town. We only had 6 miles to go and we were moving quickly. The sky appears a bit clearer as we walked through the Whistler Canyon. We turned a corner to find a full view ahead and the town of Oroville. We are in desert land with sage, tall grasses, flowers, and some ponderosa trees all around. We continued switchbacking downhill toward highway 97. We came to a large apple orchard that we walked next for a few minutes before hitting the parking lot. On the way out, we walked by the largest PNT sign yet, but unfortunately it had fallen over.
We began a 2.6 mile road walk along the highway. Humans are disgusting as we saw chicken bones, dozens of cans, bags of trash, and other unspeakable things. It’s sad to be walking by beautiful mountains and rivers while being surrounded by trash. The traffic was flying by quickly, but there was a large shoulder. Before 9, we were in search of breakfast. The one place was closed due to a family emergency, the other only had pastries, so we walked a bit farther and ate a delicious meal.
The next stop was the Camary Hotel! We caught up with the big group of hikers we have been around for a while. It was a nice day of catching up and eating good food especially Mexican from a food truck. We hung out at the Brewery and got to know Beads who we just met.
Today was a pure zero day! Everyone left and we just relaxed. We chatted with Shutterbug and Sogood who just got into town today. We are preparing for a 158 mile section so a zero day before is essential.
Here is our hiker bubble minus two other hikers. Everyone got a ride out of town so they will be three days ahead of us when we leave town tomorrow. We are staying “true to the thru” as Crocs would say. Connecting all of our steps from Glacier to the Pacific Ocean.