WONDERLAND TRAIL, Day 6, Nickel Creek – Paradise River, 8/9/2012
We were now entering what is considered the least interesting part of the loop, a long slog down and up with not many jaw dropping views, too close to civilization, and probably the worst tread of the whole loop – a narrow trail leading too close to a cliff to my liking with parts washed out and tricky to cross.
Yet nature has the most amazing ways of letting one forget about all the stress of everyday life and experience joy in the most unexpected moments. A patch of wild strawberries caught my eye near Box Canyon, and as I run my hand through their leaves, a tiny red berry popped out. It was the first ripe berry we found on the trail, and wild strawberries being my favorite, the found was even more treasured.
Once we were past Box Canyon and turned on the long uphill towards Louise and Reflection lakes, snacks of salmonberries and blueberries grew at various spots along the trail, initiating numerous stops and little bit of scrambling.
The nearer to Reflection Lake we got, the more we could feel the civilized world. The noise of heavy machinery as a crew worked on road repairs near Louise Lake, Blue Jay’s, the little camp robbers, and people. Tons of them, coming in various shapes and sizes, mostly car hikers in flip flops carrying only a bottle of water or nothing at all. After the 5th screaming kid, I could not wait to be somewhere more remote again.
Paradise River Camp where we arrived somewhat early, was inhabited by not very social group, so we retreated to our site and hid in our sleeping bags as the evening was arriving cold, and read The Fellowship of the Ring. It felt good to give our feet few hours of rest.
And while we were reading, a doe wandered through the sites and after her a fox, it looked just like the grey Paradise fox that is often seen by the road, visited with us. It run away quickly but despite its briefness it was a very neat moment.
Not so nice of a moment was our realization that our itinerary was not quite correct. Things started not to add up when we calculated remaining places we will spend a night at, and it nearly made me jump to realize we had a 9 night/10 day itinerary not our originally planned 8 night/9 days one. I have no clue how we ended up with the extra night, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I already got away with 5 vacation weeks this year, I would gladly take that extra day; however I knew under these circumstances I could not afford not to be at work on Monday morning bright and early.
Quick check with the map, which camp could we try to switch to make things work? In the end, the best solution was to simply skip the last camp and opt for a long 15 mile day to walk out. Any other combination would at this point only add up to already longer days, and would make us speed through parts we really wanted to take some time to enjoy.