Ah yes that feeling when you’ve avoided something you really wanted too. For me that was a 15 mile climb up out of Sinead Valley. Updates on my feet. No new blisters, the shoes are great but I have injured something in my left foot. On up hills especially I get jarring pain heading down from my toes and up into my shins. I’m hoping it’s not a shin plint. Anyway, it’s manageable and I haven’t taken vitamin I since before Etna!
How did I avoid the climb? Art, a Siead Valley local drove myself and a young hiker called Heavenly up just a few hours ago. We drove out of the valley and up a steep road for 12 mile in his truck. He played country music, told us about the local Jade mine near by and showed us some waterfalls. Art has been driving people up and down this road for years. He has 4 wheel motorbikes too which he had given my friend fly trap a lift on earlier in the afternoon. Our friends Io, Butcher, Yeti, Frenchie and Neck Tie were also up here sitting around eating dinner. It was a welcome sight. Everyone had caught a lift, it was too hot, the climb was burnt and exposed and just simply not worth it. Ollie on the other hand has decided to complete the climb. Currently he is miles below slugging away up the hill. I’ll wait for him in camp tomorrow. If only he had known that everyone would hitch up. After being here for an hour or so the remaining 4 hikers who had also thought about walking arrived with Art. They too couldn’t be bothered. There are 14 of us camped here and only 1 of us (Frenchie) actually did the climb.
Rewind back to this morning, we woke early for once and left camp by 6. I love walking in the morning light. We crossed the ridge and dropped steeply down into forest again. Wild berries flanked the trail and Ollie stopped to eat some while I trundled on. We walked for 9 miles to a lovely stream and took a long breakfast. A sweet Doe came very close to us and then headed off into the forest nibbling green leaves as she went. Not long after breakfast we crossed a burnt bridge and underneath the river held the most perfect swimming hole. We had to stop and wash off the last few days. Another hiker, Ofir also came for a swim.
It was an easy 8 miles to Grider Creek Campground. Part of the trail have been burnt and as a result there is quite a bit of erosion and exposure. It was hot under the sun and cool once you had the protection of the canopy again. I saw a snake, I almost stepped on it. It was as still as a statue, hoping I wouldn’t see it. It didn’t move for ages. I watched it, walked away a few paces and turned around to see if it would move but it didn’t. Eventually I went back behind it and had it move off the trail and into the understory in case some other hiker wasn’t watching where they were going.
I reached camp well ahead of the others. Unknown to me Ollie had fallen over and hurt himself. He has a few small cuts on his right hand and knee. Jeneane, Gary’s wife and support crew was pulled up with their trailer. We chatted for a while and when Ollie arrived we had a swim and sat down to lunch. Eventually, after me asking lots of horsey questions and trying to wrangle myself a new place to go horse riding we headed to the road to road walk the 6 miles to Sinead Valley. We made about 4.5 miles of it till Ed picked us up. He stopped off on the way and showed us his favourite look out spot. The river runs wide and shallow, you can see the town bridge and the mountains the trail will climb.
In Siead Valley a group of both NOBO and SOBO hikers were sheltering on a picnic tables from the sweltering sun under the shade of big oaks. Many had ice creams,
Cold drinks or shakes and we followed suit. I was feeling particularly naughty and had a king size drumstick. I was not excited in the slightest for the climb ahead. My foot hurts most when I’m climbing and I was worried about the next 14 miles up which looked very steep. I had considered hitching to Ashland and waiting for Ollie I was feeling so ambivalent about it so when I heard about Art my heart sang. I knocked on his door, introduced myself and organised a ride. Not long after Heavenly also decided to come. I stocked up on fresh salad veggies for dinner and jumped in the truck. The lady at the Siead Valley General Store was very nice and generous also. And thus the circle of today is complete. Atop the climb I’m totally happy to have skipped these miles and ready for a little sleep in tomorrow.