Thursday, February 19, 2015

Travel Thursday (February 19, 2015) -- Northville-Placid Trail Part 6

Day 4, Wednesday, August 12

Up at 6:15 AM and packed all our wet gear hoping for no rain today & a shelter tonight at West Canada Creek! Breakfast was oatmeal & raisins and water. To save time we iodined water for the trail instead of filtering it.

Molly and Jonathan on trail from Fall Stream heading to Jessup River

We saw several beautiful wilderness sights including Jessica River, Spruce Lake, Sampson Bog & the West Canada Creek.  But we had perhaps the worst hiking I've ever done while backpacking. At points the trail was literally a running stream from two days of rain and we lost lots of time having to negotiate around numerous boot-sucking muddy bogs that used to be parts of the trail. Our feet and boots were still wet from yesterday and now became thoroughly soaked. We all changed into our last dry Thorlos & poly-pews to start the day, but by lunch at second lean-to on Spruce Lake the two layers were soaked through & the boots were still wet and very muddy. We determined to make it to the West Canada Creek shelter to give us space to hang drying lines & ensure a dry night in the shelter.

John and Jonathan crossing Jessup River. [Jonathan is carrying the map pouch.]

Molly on a rocky uphill trail section that was running with water.

More boot sucking mud in the trail before Spruce Lake.

At Spruce Lake the first lean-to was occupied with a fire going and bear bag still hung at 12:30 in the afternoon so we went on to lean-to #2 where we found four guys drying stuff on the roof & beginning lunch. Turns out two were the ones who signed the register just ahead of us at Cold Stream & it was their deep mud prints we had been following for a day and a half. The other two had a huge dome tent they were drying as it had holes & leaked badly the night before. They were meeting friends coming from the north (one arrived just as we were leaving). They drove in to some point where they could connect to the N-LP Trail somehow & didn't hike too far. They had no filter or iodine & borrowed the backpackers' filter while we were there -- didn't sound too experienced or organized but they did complain about all the trash they found when they arrived -- including apples & other "bear food." 

At our Spruce Lake lunch break in the sun. 

A trail break at the Sampson Bog Outlet. 

Sampson Bog Outlet

Sampson Bog Outlet

We enjoyed a lunch of salami & cheese wraps, gorp & water on sunny rocks on the shore of Spruce Lake after stringing a line & using some sun at the lean-to to try to dry our socks, towels, etc. Our feet were water logged, so we dried them in the sun before putting on some talc and our damp socks again. We left bound for West Canada Creek -- 5 miles up the trail -- at 2:20 PM. The trail was a grueling, buggy mess off boot-sucking mud with several steep inclines, but we kept on until we hit the footbridge across West Canada & an empty shelter at 5:50 PM! We immediately lay claim by stringing up all our wet, smelly socks, T-shirts, shorts, underwear, etc. and went to the river to filter water and take a bracing bath in the breezy air. We cooked dinner of couscous with veggies, raisins & canned ham, lemon drink & hot chocolate, tea & coffee. After all was away in the bear bags we gathered up the drying tent parts, put up our tents in the lean-to & went to bed about 9:00 after having our first fire -- more to burn paper trash & attempt to dry our boots than anything else.

A stream crossing before West Canada Creek.

West Canada Creek.

The bridge crossing over West Canada Creek

The grand drying out at West Canada Creek lean-to. Notice the attempt to dry the boots at the fire.

At their request, I read the trail book entries thus far to Molly and JPT. JPT read some of his letter to Ashley -- the last he can mail from our next (and last) food drop at Lake Durant. As I end this it is 9:48. The fire is glowing embers in a very cool night & the West Canada is a dull, soothing background roar of water down the hill from our shelter. Tomorrow we attempt 13 miles & all hope the trail is much drier!

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Additional Glossary terms

Thorlos --  refers to special backpacking socks made by the Thorlo company.  They are reinforced and padded in the heel and ball of the foot and are designed to reduce blisters and foot pain and handle moisture better than normal socks.

Poly-pews -- refers to thin liner socks made from polypropylene, as synthetic material that allows foot moisture to be wicked away from the skin and into socks (such as Thorlos) to keep them drier and reduce friction that causes blisters. After a few days on the trail and repeated wearings, these nerds can assume a certain odor that caused us to refer to them as "poly-pews."
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All images from original snapshots in the family collection.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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