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Colter - Desert Trail Journal - 2012

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City: Fairbanks
State: Alaska
Begins: Mar 1, 2012
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Mon, Jul 16th, 2012
Start: Canadian Border
End: Trail 308 Trailhead
Trip Distance: 2,223.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 1,873
Journal Visits: 89,988
Guestbook Views: 7,515
Guestbook Entrys: 83

Gear list

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Cedar Trees

Back to Civilization

(Make sure you read my prior post about the day I reached Canada!)

July 11
I spent about an hour at the Canada border, taking photos and enjoying the scenery. I decided to scout out a different route back to the saddle below Snowy Top so future hikers could have an option for various snow levels.

Descending to the south I followed a snowy drainage westward, then crossed a ridge and descended to South Salmo Creek. I was very tired from the hard work and the stress of trying to find a route past the knife edge ridge, as well as all the excitement.

At the first good campsite I dropped my pack. It started raining before I could set up so I sat under a tree and cooked dinner. During a lull in the rain I set up my shelter and crawled into my sleeping bag.

It was my last night on the Trail.

July 12
I climbed the trail to the saddle and headed south. The 349 Trail wasn't exactly where the map showed it to be. The sign was missing and there was a stick laid across it. Someone was hinting not to hike this trail. Since Boats was meeting me somewhere between the intersection of this trail and the 308 Trailhead I didn't have much choice.

At first the trail was easy to follow, then it descended into an old fire burn where it became less and less visible and more grown over and blocked with deadfall. Somehow I managed to follow the trail quite a distance before I lost it and headed down cross country hoping to pick it up again. I didn't. Instead I had to descend over 2,000 vertical feet down a steep mountainside mostly covered with thick vegetation, including alders and some Devil's Club (shudder) and more than enough deadfall. I was soaked with sweat. My feet slid out from under me many times and on that descent I think it's safe to say I fell more times than I did in the first 1,000 miles of the hike.

At last the cool waters of the Priest River were visible a couple hundred feet below. I'd been out of water for two hours and was very eager to reach the easy walking of the 308 Trail which I knew was maintained.

I waded the icy knee-deep water of the river then unslung my pack on a gravel bar in the cool shade of huge cedar trees. After filling and treating a quart of water I put some more water on to boil and spread out my gear to dry in the sun.

The contrast between that hot hellish descent and the nearly perfect shaded comfort of the open gravel bar next to the rushing river could hardly have been more extreme. Butterflies fluttered about.

After a good rest I packed everything up and headed east away from the river until I hit the trail. The footing was easy and the shade of the big timber almost continuous.

Ahead someone appeared on the trail. It was Boats. We both raised our arms in triumph.

It was great to see him. He'd driven over 500 miles to pick me up. That's a good friend. At the first creek he pulled out a large cold Pepsi. An even better friend. From his pack he retrieved four cheeseburgers. Boats had earned the title of "Amigo Ne Plus Ultra."

During a rest break a large bull moose waded out into the river for a drink. After about four miles of unusually pleasant walking through the big trees we came to the trailhead. My walk was over.


Please check back as I'll be posting more photos and information about the hike and I have a list of people I'd like to thank.

Enjoy your day.

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