19th August  Saturday
29 miles

Windy last night and this morning the air was clear and free of smoke.  The forest we walked through this morning had been burnt out, the whole valley was dead with skinny trees and new growth on the ground and bush flowers bring life back.

I took lead most of the morning and at a point we stopped at a stream for water, Czech Mix went ahead at a section where we had to climb 800 feet.  I was not far behind him and he stopped all of a sudden and started yelling out, a bear I thought, I came up and he was bent over catching his breath and his face as quite white, only 20 metres in front of him was a mountain lion.  It was coming towards Czech Mix on the same trail without knowing we were there. But it soon turned and disappeared and lucky for Czech Mix, he’s one of the few to see such an animal.

New growth amung the dead trees 

Czech Mix started at Lincoln with a food bag of just under eight pounds to last him 8 days where as I know my weight of my food bag and it was over twice that at 18 pounds, basically 2 pounds per day and this has been consistent for me and I’m still losing weight.

I did say to Czech Mix  that I think it’s not enough food and sure enough with still almost five days to go, he’s asking day hikers if they have any unwanted food.  But the funny part is that he first asks if they have any beer, of course they don’t.   I’m thinking, they are just finishing a 50 mile round hike to see the Chinese Wall.

Much activity  on the trail as we are close to Benchmark, I think Benchmark  is a resort and because of this, it’s a starting point for all the day hikers and the more adventurous hikers that are happy to camp out for a night and visit the Chinese Wall which we will see tomorrow.

Passed three groups of horses and teams of mules, we pulled over to let them pass but one of the mules got  nervous and broke the chain that linked him to the next mules.  Fortunately they just stood there and the owner had to get off his horse and reconnect them.   It was great watching them and talking to the other riders with them, they had just come back from dropping a team of trail repair workers some mile up the trail. These are the guys that make our life much more easier, by cutting the blown down logs and redefining the trail.

A rider just passing through from a day out with friends

Found a great camp site at 8:15 and a spot to hang our food from the bears, we decided to have an easy start tomorrow as for the first hour we have a nasty climb and by 10 o’clock  tomorrow morning, we should have great views of this Chinese Wall.

Start on the trail at 6am and finished at 8:15pm. 29miles (46.7kms)