We’ve been awake for about an hour. Right now, sipping coffee and mentally preparing to put packs back on. Yesterday was intense! From Crooked Creek trail head on, it was almost all uphill. We knew about the crazy ascent just north of Crooked Creek because we had practiced that one in April–without packs. The really tough leg of the journey, though, was after we crossed Highway 46 and climbed up to Scarce O’ Fat Ridge. Do they call it that because you burn off every ounce of food ingested to get to the top? Miles, it seems, of gradual inclines to a few feet of flat (thank god!) or downhill (no!) trail before climbing up again. Mostly on gravel. The sucky kind that you stumble on along railroad beds or the like. Brutal!
By the time we got to the last section of Scarce O’Fat we were so exhausted and focused on putting one foot in front of the other we barely noticed the scenery but I’m sure it was marvelous. Skipped High King Hill I think (a wrong turn that worked out in our favor).
We finally broke out of the trees and found ourselves at the foot of the dam, the southern edge of Yellowwood Lake. It was a glorious sight…and smell. We were nearly out of water and we could smell all that cool, wet deliciousness on the other side of the dam. But we had to go a little further. There was no way we could shrug off the packs to get to a water filter and then put them back on. We were so sore the mere thought made us both want to cry. So, on we went to find camp.
Finally found the campgrounds and staggered into the first one we saw. Red Pines #28. Only two other sites were occupied, and we had the luxury of running water and pit toilets. Fantastic! We laughed as we slid out of our packs. Every inch of movement made us whimper or cry out which made us laugh even harder. Did lots of stretches under a weird dripping canopy of Tulip Poplars. The scale infestation brought down a rain of honeydew (or essentially bug poop) all around us, shellacking everything in sight. Thankfully there was a safe spot under some maple and beech trees (I think they were beech). We set up our tent and our kitchen and stretched out, poop-free.
After relaxing and setting up camp, we took a walk (seriously!!) around the park, down to the forest office, the boat slips, an old abandoned camp store, and through many beautiful, dusky campgrounds. It felt amazing to walk with no weight on my shoulders. The evening all calm and quiet and beautiful.
We returned to camp. Made dinner. Continued laughing a lot. Shared interesting ideas. Fell asleep under the stars cradled in our peaceful space. A difficult but wonderful day.
So, as I write this morning, I am fully ready to shoulder the weight and head on to our next stop: Plum Creek/Dolsberry Junction. It will be another 11-mile day. Let’s go!