We did hike over the weekend of November 18-19, despite the cold and despite the fact that no one else wanted to go except Mickey and me. I chose the Big Schloss area again this time around because daylight is really short in the autumn, and I knew that Mickey would be tough to roust in the morning. I called him several times before waking him up, and then a few more times again to make sure he was really on his way.
We got on the trail by noon (see what I mean?), and quickly found out a couple of things: we're hiking really fast (close to 2 mph according to the GPS), and the trail isn't nearly as long as I had estimated. We got to the airway beacon (about 6 miles?) just after 3 pm, and pulled into camp (which because we missed the trail intersection) around 4 or 4:30. We used the remaining daylight to gather wood. Because we missed the intersection, we actually wound up camping very close to where we camped the first time we were at Big Schloss, back in June. We would have used the same site, but a bunch of hunters had set up a massive camp there, so we hiked back down the Little Sluice trail to the first water source and into the woods well away from the trail.
It wasn't particularly warm a day to begin with, but once the sun went down it got much colder, fast. We had managed, because we had time and light, to gather a large pile of wood. There was a lot all over the ground near where we had set up the fire ring, but the pile started to disappear quickly because it was very dry wood that burnt fast. We got the dinner together, cleaned up, hung the rest of the food up and sat back to enjoy some whisky by the fire. I fell asleep waaay too early, around 10, but I guess I needed it. I had tucked my bivy underneath a hemlock, and Mick found a nice groove in the ground near the fire ring to fit his bivy. Like I said, I must have needed the sleep, because except for waking up a little here and there (which I do often while hiking), I slept like a hibernating bear until 7 the next morning. That's a lot of sleep for me!
It was quite cold when I awoke, and if it weren't for the overwhelming need to throw a whiz, I would have relaxed a bit and enjoyed the warmth. I shivered as I threw kindling and wood on top of the ashes from the previous night, and with a couple of quick breaths I was able to get it going again. Eventually I pulled down the food bag and went to the small stream to purify some water for breakfast.
The morning passed with amazing amount of relaxation, I must say. It was so relaxing, in fact, that we didn't hit the trail again until 2 in the afternoon! One must, when hiking with Mickey, take this into account when planning! I don't mind it, though, it's just something one has to be prepared for...
We hiked back to the intersection missed the other evening and headed back in the direction of the Rover. Along the way, we met a bunch of hunters, saw a semi-skinned hanging dead raccoon, and I managed to trip while not paying attention on the trail. I was looking at this massive complex of trailers that comprised a hunting camp, complete with 2 generators and a water pump, when I tripped over a rock or something and fell not only forward but corkscrewed several times before hitting the ground. Whatta show. I got a bruised hip and a bit of trail rash on an elbow, but once I got over the shock, I laughed because it was such a dorky maneuver.
If you look at the map, you'd see that there's a small distance between the Stony Creek Trail and the 4x4 road - well, that was a bit longer and more uphill than the map indicated, but we made it up just fine. The hardest thing was finding the trail off of that road to the parking lot at Wolf Gap. It was unmarked and dark. We passed it by once, but paid closer attention to the topo map and the road itself, and it was right where it should be. A quick 400 foot climb in about a quarter mile, and we were on 675 again, on the way to the lot. We agreed over steak and Guinness later that night that we had, once more, a nice little hike!
Last Updated: March 6, 2001