The deer continued to be unafraid last night. Even to the point that it got a kick on the nose when it tried to lick the bottom of Rocket Cop’s sleeping bag.
We started with a tough climb and I was certainly glad we hadn’t tried it last night. After reaching a saddle with views back to an impressive rock formation called King’s Castle the trail goes along the crest, dips to a saddle and climbs steeply up the other side. Unfortunately we turned west on the more prominent trail at the saddle and descended a few hundred feet before finally stopping to consult our maps. We retraced our steps and before long found Tiki and RestStop taking a break, also on the wrong trail. We were glad not to be the only people dumb enough to make the mistake, and they were too because they hadn’t noticed anything was wrong and were still heading down.
Together the four of us got back to the saddle and took the real trail northwards. From that ridge we could see the smoke filled valley of Happy Camp, evidently still burning but luckily for us it is over a ridge from the PCT.
All afternoon was spent descending towards and then along Grider Creek. According to Tiki, the humidity, the forest and the lack of views are comparable to the Appalachian Trail. A hike I never intend to do.
After a short eternity we finally reached Grider Creek Campground, which is really just flat areas with picnic tables and a gravel car park (an American hiker told me “car park” sounds like a place cars go to have fun). It also have a flowing river with swimming holes which I intend to use before dawn tomorrow.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Etna to Ashland