I’m back on the NCT, starting off at Hwy. 326, just east of the Porkies. I’d hiked the eastern half in 2017 as the start of my NCT section-hike, then planned to do the entire western half this past July. But after I totaled my car driving through water, my plans got interrupted. Nevertheless, I’m back!
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I drove up yesterday, while it rained all day. And in fact, we’ve had rain just about every day this past week. NOT GOOD, since my July hike featured lots of rain, water and mud. Sigh. Anyway, after a good night’s sleep at the AmericInn Silver City, trail angels Russ and Karen Heathman met me at the Norwich Road trailhead, then shuttled me back to Hwy. 326, where I’d left off in July.
Leaving Hwy. 326 in the Dust
I started out at 9:12 a.m. with an 18-miler (29 km) on the itinerary. It was a little daunting, as I’d be hiking the Trap Hills. I’d heard lots of mention of them on various NCT Facebook pages, and the consensus is that the Trap Hills are the hardest section of the entire NCT. Yikes. Luckily, the highs were in the low 60s F. (20 C.) – perfect hiking weather!
Sure enough, there were a lot of steep climbs. But not as terrible as I’d feared. All day, the sun kept briefly appearing, then disappearing. Of course, it seemed that every time I reached a scenic vista, it was cloudy. No matter. The fall colors are starting to emerge and it was beautiful.
Finding a Camping Spot
I passed some people today. First, it was two guys who had been hiking a few days. Then I saw a couple about my age heading out for a day hike. We exchanged some pleasantries. With about 6 miles (9.7 km) to go, I ran into a couple from Chicago who have a cottage in Ironwood. They love the NCT and we chatted for quite a while. But then I said I had to move on. For my campsite tonight was in question.
The NCT chapter notes say that there are “possible” campsites near Mason Creek, about a quarter-mile (.4 km) from the trailhead. Perfect! Still, I worried, because all day there have been only a handful of spots where I could have pitched a tent. Almost everywhere the terrain features very high, dense undergrowth. Or, where it’s open, the terrain is hummocky.
Sure enough, there was nowhere to pitch a tent near the creek. I tried looking at the start of the next section, which I’ll tackle tomorrow, but it was the same. I considered driving ahead to Old Victoria Home Site, where there’s a shelter I plan to use tomorrow. In the end, exhausted and hungry, I pitched my tent at the parking area.
Mud, Mud and More Mud
While there was definitely a lot less water and mud than in July, the last several miles featured the most of the day. When I got to the parking area, my pants were muddy up to my knees. It’s supposed to be about 45 F. (7.2 C.) tonight, I think, so they’ll never dry out. They’re pretty beat up, too, as I wore them nearly every day of my Arizona Trail hike and on a lot of the NCT. I have two extra pair; I think I’ll toss them.
So yeah, I cleaned up in the parking lot, ate dinner and will turn in shortly. There are two other cars here that were here when I arrived. But as no one came back so far (8 p.m.), I’m guessing I’ll have the place to myself.
Oh – Russ says there’s some beaver dam ahead that I’ll hit in two days. It’s caused massive flooding. Some hikers swam across (with backpacks?!), but most shuttle around. I wish I’d known this before. Must scramble to find out exactly where this is, and make contingency plans with shuttlers. Hiking is never dull!
MI NCT miles today: 16.3 (26.2 km)
MI NCT miles to date: 429.9 (691.9 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,197.3 (1,926.9 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 3,402.7 (5,476.1 km)
Book a room at the AmericInn Silver City here!