My Adventure Story
Day 1 - Nira to ? Started out cruising right along and made it to Manzana Narrows in about 2.5 hours. Hung out for a few minutes re-watering and kept at it. Ran into a gentleman coming the other direction about .5 miles East of the Narrows.
Once I made it up to the top above the Narrows, the wind was pretty blustery. It kept the bugs away, which is a welcome surprise! On the way up the trail I saw a Coral snake, a Gopher snake, and a 2 Stripe Racer.
Because I was downwind, I was almost able to sneak up on a bobcat. Instead I just saw the ghostly outline in the grass.
After a quick visit to the Shaman, I kept cruising along, and found the trail conditions to be less than ideal. The grass was chest high along much of the trail, and the foxtails were quickly filling my shoes. I spent an hour at Happy Hunting Ground picking the stickers from my shoes and socks. Lesson number 1: Bring the right shoes and gaiters for the stickers.
From White Ledge to South Fork the trail had been recently improved and it was quick and easy going. At South Fork I just kept plugging along and once I hit the Salisbury Potrero cutoff the trail all but disappeared. It is the worst trail conditions I've experienced back here. I was not prepared for the grass and foxtails contaminating my shoes.
I continued West and past the swimming hole, which is not much more than a small pool now, instead of the 20 foot deep rock diving spot it has been in the past. Along Forester's leap it appears to have been redone sometime since I was through in the last 5 years.
Finally hit Sycamore, and while my feet, legs, and knees were shot, I decided to hit the trail again after some much needed dinner. First use of the Solo stove and I really liked it. It's easy to light and use, with the only downside being the soot on the cup/pot I used.
After hitting the trail I was planning on making Cliff camp for the night. Found lots of bear prints, and big ones at that! Unfortunately the trail conditions were so poor that I only made it to the Big Bend Trail cutoff. After fighting leg cramps while setting up, I had a fitful, sweaty night of sleep.
Day 2 - I will finish this trail today! I got up and hit the trail. Only it was the wrong one. I went about 10 minutes on what I assume now was the Big Bend trail until I realized it didn't seem familiar. This would be the first of my many backtracks today. I kept walking through the grass and shoe destroying stickers until I finally passed Abel Camp, then Mormon Camp, then Miller Camp, and ultimately stopped at Water Canyon Camp.
I was starting to seriously cramp so I ate some dry Lasagna to get the salt, followed by a bunch of water. It was here I decided to follow the river instead of taking the trail, which I had done twice in the past. The trail is usually covered in grass on a good year, so I can't imagine how it would be this year. I'd seen many others take the river route and I decided to do that to avoid all of the stickers. I changed my socks and picked the stickers out of my shoes again. I was pretty lucky in that there were only a few fields of grass to walk through from here on out.
So, I hit the river route. And I walked. And I walked. And I walked. I hit the trail around 1245 and figured I'd get to the Manzana (about 4.5 miles) within a couple of hours. Since it was slow going I gave myself another buffer and figured 330 at the latest.
3:30 came and went and I was still trudging along. Hmmm. I wonder if I missed something? Wait, there's a road! The only road I know of in the area is at Manzana Schoolhouse, so I started walking on the road. And walking. And walking. Hmmm. Don't remember this. Check the map. Walk. And then I saw it - something I'd never seen before. The Tunnel House. It appears to be an old Ranch building along the Sisquoc, well West of the Manzana. Crap! Check the map. Lesson number 2: Take the whole map, not just the little 8.5 x 11 section of the area you plan to travel in.
So I figured I walked until 4:30. If I assumed that I walked 2.5-3 mph then I should have arrived at the Manzana by 2:45. That means I walked 2.5 hours past it (6 miles). Now I have to walk back. Crap.
Only this time I decide I will hug the mountain, being on the river as much as possible, right up against the mountain, so that I don't miss it again. About an hour into it I ran into a creek coming out of a valley. I hiked about 20 minutes up that creek as the first creek on MY map was the Manzana. Didn't look familiar, but time changes everything, right. I guess so, but it takes a long time to change topography. Now I head 20 minutes back down that creek to the bottom.
I keep creeping along the mountain edge and then I looked up and saw a hitching post. Wait! The Manzana Schoolhouse has hitching posts! Lo and behold, I was there. It was 6:30. Crap. I had every intention of getting out tonight but it's about 9 miles from here to Nira.
Did I mention that I had been in the water pretty much all day and my feet are thrashed. Lots of duct tape has been used on them, but the rock hopping and slipping has done a number on them. Plus, I've been walking in such a way that compensates for my sore feet, which led to sore knees.
Oh well. If I stop now my feet will not want to go again in the morning - so I trudge on. First landmark was Dabney Cabin. Then Horseshoe bend. It's dark not long after that and walking by LED headlamp is not good for tore up feet. Finally I hit Coldwater. 1 more hour. Then Potrero. Should have only taken me 20 minutes to get to the road, plus another 10 to get to Nira, but it took 30 to get to the road because of the feet. Downhill is really the bugger when your feet and toes are blistered and bruised.
Did I mention the butt chaffing? Really shouldn't have been so lazy and rinsed a little on the first night!
Finally, the trail head and the .4 miles on the road back to the car. Surprisingly I didn't cramp up taking off my shoes. At least my legs didn't. My abs did though.
So - all in all, a long trip in two days. I figure about 34 miles on the last day.