22.2 miles (1168.5 to 1190.7)
We leave camp at 7am. Immediately, we’re back on snow. Lots of it.
But the snow soon thins, then disappears, and we come to an overlook and a meadow far below. The meadow isn’t green yet; snowmelt is that recent. We descend over widely spaced snowbanks, then cross a road and ascend to Lacey Peak, still hiking on and off snow. At the top of the ridge, we pause for a rest stop. The view is wonderful. We can see Meadow and Fordyce Lakes, Old Man Mountain, the Black Buttes, and Grouse Ridge. We’ve done a lot of backpacking over there in the Grouse Ridge area. I like seeing everything from this perspective.
We also have a spectacular view of the Sierra Buttes. From any angle, the Buttes are gorgeous. Today we can see a white peak sticking up behind them. Lassen? Lassen hasn’t been white for many summers; it would have been easy to overlook last time we were here.
We walk on. All of my muscles feel tired, I suspect from scrambling over snow. I don’t usually use those muscles. Unfortunately, I’m not done using them. We descend into more snow, lose the trail, then find it again. Traction devices come on and off. Then the trail is dry once more and we enjoy another great view of the Buttes and the Grouse Ridge area. We stop for lunch, then slog through more snow, then drop below snow line for the last time and stop for water at Mule’s Ear Creek.
I don’t feel good. I can’t say exactly why. Just…bleh. A little later, nausea. Definitely nausea, with a headache creeping in. I stop in a patch of shade. Not long after, I stop again and sit and stay awhile. When I start hiking again, I get stomach cramps. Well, this sucks. I keep walking because at least I’m getting somewhere. Next time I check our progress, three miles have gone by, and I don’t feel so bad. Whatever that was, maybe it’s over.
We finish skirting Jackson Meadows Reservoir and continue north, climb a little, and eat dinner at a campsite on the top of the canyon. This site was our goal for today, but now that we’re here we both want to go a little farther. We’ll go down to the campsite at the first crossing of Milton Creek, 3.6 miles away. We’ve camped there before. It’s a nice little spot.
On our way down the canyon, we smell smoke. I can’t help worrying that there may be a fire nearby. Being overrun by wildfire is my biggest fear out here. When we reach the campsite, there are already three tents set up. Where did these people come from? Are they southbounders? They’re already inside their tents for the night, so I can’t inquire.
I enter the day’s mileage into my log. Wow. Despite nine miles of snow and an upset stomach, we ended up covering 22 miles. Not bad.