7/1/17 – Baby Bears
Miles: 1,468.42 to 1,486.94
Total miles hiked: 903.09
Today was Canada Day and so I let Dave sleep in little longer, all the way till 5:30 a.m. which considering that it was supposed to get close to 100 degrees was quite a gift. Our site by a river was very comfortable and I enjoyed the extra sleep as well.
The trail did not waste time sending us uphill. Once we crossed the river, the climb started, and with the exception of short local downs, it pretty much lasted the entire day. Once again we hiked in trees and the trail was mostly in shade but it was very humid today and by lunchtime we were drenched in sweat. So we used our break to do some laundry and rinsed our shirts off.
About an hour and half after lunch we arrived at fast flowing river. There was a bridge built over it so crossing was not a problem. This river was our last water source for the next 10 miles. We hiked 13 miles already and we knew we would not make another 10, especially since they involved a very steep climb, and so we filled enough water to dry camp. One site was about 3 miles away, another one little over 5. Our dilemma was whether to start right away or wait for the air go cool off. In the end we decided to go, slowly, and rest often if there were prolonged periods on the sun.
About an hour into our climb we got to a slope with switchbacks. Their steepness reminded me of Washington trails, here in California the grade is usually much more forgiving. And as we climb the third switchback, I looked ahead and glimpsed a bear behind a tree. I only saw a head, black bear, smallish, and it did not seem to notice us yet.
We made our “hey bear” greeting and the bear looked at us and got up. A second later two cubs run from behind the tree, curious to see what’s going on. I froze for a second but the mama bear did not seem too disturbed by our presence. Still, the bears were little too close to the trail and we did not want to risk mama getting upset when we go closer, so we banged our poles to make little bit of noise and the cubs run downhill a little. One of them climbed a tree, the second one jumped on fallen log and they were watching us from their vantage points. Mama moved closer to them, and we moved up the trail and a switchback later we could not see them any longer.
The first site on our way was taken and so we continued up the hill for two more miles until we reached the second one unoccupied and moved in for the night.
Finally we saw bear cubs. I can’t believe we were so lucky. We also crossed the 900 mile mark and we celebrated by having a drink of our Green Apple Gatorade that we carried all the way from Burney. Though there were no views along the trail today, it was a really good day.