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Rlhdancer - Other Trail Journal - 2020

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Split & Two Step
City: Pleasanton
State: California
Country: USA
Begins: Jul 23, 2020
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Fri, Oct 2nd, 2020
Start: McCutcheon Creek , elev 8775 ft
End: Harrison Pass, elev 7263 ft
Daily Distance: 7.85
Trip Distance: 258.7
Hours Hiked: 3.25
Daily Ascent: 616
Daily Descent: 2129
Max Elevation: 8891

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 58
Journal Visits: 2,155
Guestbook Views: 51
Guestbook Entrys: 4

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(Click image for full size)

Colorful hills and valleys call for us to linger...

The RCTs Final Leg

The RCT's Final Leg

We woke without an alarm as the sky began to brighten and immediately felt a chill breeze. With a morning temperature of 33F, we were happy to do a little language training (Duolingo French) in our sleeping bags for 20 minutes, at which time the temperature had skyrocketed to 34F.

Just as we were about to get out of our sleeping bags, our friendly hunter, Mike, again stopped by looking for a lost hiking pole. He immediately headed off trail uphill to where he was glassing yesterday evening. While we were eating breakfast, I used the spotty cell service we had found last night to download the podcast I listen to most mornings, Up First and we were surprised to hear President Trump had contracted the SARS-COV-2 virus and was experiencing mild symptoms of Covid19. Mike again stopped by and had also just heard the news, which we discussed at length. If the three of us, many miles from civilization had managed to hear this news, I can only imagine the reaction from the rest of the web-connected world.

Mike said one last goodbye, not expecting to see us again, and we went into high gear to move out despite the cold. By 8:30am we had packs-up and started hiking on a gentle downhill and into the sun. We walked through numerous aspen groves and never tired of their golden fall glow or the gentle rustle of thousands of small leaves, and hardly noticed the trail turn gently uphill. We had worn our down puffy jackets out of our cold campsite adjacent to McCutcheon Creek, but we soon realized it was perhaps 10 degrees warmer away from the creek. In fact, each creek bed we crossed, wet or dry, funneled a frigid stream of air across the trail. But about a half hour up the trail our hiker furnace warmed us to the point where we stopped and stowed our jackets.

It took about an hour to climb the few hundred feet to the last significant ridge crest of the day, and again were startled to see the array of colors in the last valley of our trip. Here we left the Ruby Mountains Wilderness and our trail that was limited to foot travel only (human or horse/mule) and joined an ATV trail. The trail was dusty and rocky, and full of tire tracks. We were not surprised to shortly see a dirt bike coming our way. We exchanged waves as a young man drove carefully by us.

From here the trail was predominantly downhill with a few short but very steep uphill exceptions. We walked and discussed our return to normal off-trail life but basked in the sunshine under blue slightly cloudy skies, continually taking in the mountain scenery and fall colors.

We stopped at the trail head, still 2.8 miles from our car, to talk with another hunter who had been here for three days, living out of the back of his truck, and while he sipped his lite beer, told us he had yet to see a deer. Quite a contrast to the effort and thought Mike had put into his hunting expedition.

Just before the last downhill to our car, we saw Mike one last time at his truck packing for his drive home. We exchanged another lively and enjoyable discussion about hunting, hiking, and politics and wished each other well. For us it was just another ten minutes downhill walk and then packs-down at the car.

I had occasionally been worried during our weeklong hike about our car left in a remote parking lot, but it was unmolested except for an attack by the local dust storms. We took some time to change clothes and wipe/wash off the worst of the trail grime.

It is always bittersweet to finish a trail. There is a definite thrill of accomplishment, an anticipation of showers, good food, and adult beverages - especially beer ;-)
But there is also a challenge ahead to readjust to normal life. In the time of COVID, we had to walk back to the car to retrieve the masks we had forgotten after preparing to enter the fast-casual Mexican restaurant we visited upon reaching Elko. But although we are leaving the Ruby Crest Trail behind, we will take its memories with us, and discuss it for years to come. We will remind each other of the highlights...
Remember the evening sitting on the ledge above Overland Lake. The fish were jumping, the temperature was perfect, and the hunters watering their horses was great hiker TV. Or Remember those two days on the RCT when we saw only one other couple the entire time, and then only for a minute? Well remember the mountain goat sighting, and the near absence of any other mammal sightings other than chipmunks. We will remember that the air quality was relatively good throughout the week with only a little haze visible in the distance while our Pleasanton California home had unhealthy smoke filled air at least part of the last week. But mostly we will remember we were happy and healthy enough to enjoy each of the 188,101 steps we took on this RCT journey.

On the road in Nevada/Idaho,
Split and Two Step

Entry 23 of 23
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Split And Two Step's 2019 Big SEKI Loop

Other Trail is located off the beaten path, somewhere between the soles of your feet and your imagination.


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