I left the perfect trail town of Paisley this morning but not before I had the last of my left over pizza from the Pioneer Saloon for breakfast. Today started with an 8 mile road walk up to the Fremont National Forest. It rained the night before so the valley I was walking was still covered in mist. This made for a cool stroll up the road into the mountains. After about two and a half hours I finally arrived to a REAL trail!! For the next 33 miles or so I could just enjoy the views. Place my mind into cruise control and make some miles.
But it was not quite that easy. Because it had rained the night before the dirt was sticky and I quickly had an inch of dirt stuck to the bottom of my shoes. This made climbing up the trail very difficult. I would have to find a log or rock every view minutes to scrape off the mud on my shoes.
Finally, after about an hour I got high enough that the dirt had dried out and I could get moving. It was like being back on the PCT. Not having to worry about getting lost. No rocks to navigate over. No sage brush! It was just me and the pines. Apparently this trail was built in 1996 by the Pacific Northwest Youth Corps. It is a really nice trail that appears to get little use.
The further I went along the higher I got and the vistas became greater and greater. Finally I reached Morgan Butte Fire Lookout. Wow! What a sight. I could see Diablo Peak and Rim from the North where I had came from a few days earlier. In the west I could see the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness. To south was the Fremont Winema National Forest and finally to the east was the Abert Rim, which I would be standing on in two days. The thing about the ODT thus far that has impressed me the most are the outstanding views. Again, no one was around. I felt like I was the luckiest guy alive to have this all to myself at this moment.
After having lunch at Morgan Butte and taking in the view. I continued down the trail. One of my co-workers asked me before I left for this hike “what do you think about while you are out there hiking?” Prior to today it has been: Where am I? Where do I need to go? Don’t get lost and don’t step on a rattle snake. But today I was able to relax and space out and think about where I have been in life and where I would like to go.
After 33 miles I finally made it to my destination that day: Pine Creek. Once I got there I set my pack down and began looking for a campsite. As I was scouting for a site I came across a mostly eaten cow carcass. It still had some flesh on it. I decided in that second that I needed to move on a little further because of big predators. I continued up the trail for another 10 minutes and set up camp. As I was getting ready for bed I found my first tick on my leg!! It had not attached itself to me yet. I promptly squished it and tossed it out of my tent! Unfortunately, this is the first of many ticks to come.
For those of you planning on hiking the ODT. All the water sources in the guidebook along with other seasonal creeks where flowing in this section when I hiked through it.