Saturday, December 19, 2015
Atlanta to Willow Creek
On July 18th, my 11 year old son and I started my next portion of the ICT. We were dropped off in Atlanta and took off for the Willow Creek Camp Ground on the South Fork of the Boise River. It was a nice gradual climb as we headed to the Sawtooth Wilderness. Things got quite interesting as we started hiking along Mattingly Creek. The rain started to fall and we were coming across a lot of Bear scat on the trail, a lot! I didn’t want to scare my son, so we kept hiking at high alert. The Cat... errr Bear was out of the bag as we came to a clearing and spotted a big ole feller about 150 yards north of the trail. He was just sitting on his butt checking things out in the meadow. We finished the rest of the hike in the rain, and 11 miles later we got into camp soaking wet. We dried off the best we could and called it a night, all the while of being on guard from our fury neighbor two miles down the trail.
I don’t know what time the rain stopped, but we woke up to a winter wonderland, as everything was frozen! Unfortunately our shoes were still soaking wet, and they didn’t really dry out until the end of this hiking day. Hiking in wet boots is no fun at all, and drained a lot of our enthusiasm and fun right out of our backpacking experience. We encountered some other ICT hikers who were using Alpacas/Llamas; I might have to look into this! We stopped and checked out an old cabin and carried on. We found a nice camp site along the South Fork Ross Fork, right before it gets into some major climbing. My feet were shot; 12 blisters and an unusual sharp pain in my Achilles tendon. This is a really pretty area with a ton of huge deer! We completed around 11 miles today. I’ve got to figure out this boot thing, I thought I had some good Merrell boots; maybe I need to carry hiking sandals?
I woke up the next morning in excruciating pain in my feet and Achilles, knowing that I had the worst part of the trip ahead of us. Hiking up Ross Peak was tough, but nothing we couldn’t handle. The highlight would definitely be coming within petting distance of an owl in a tree right on the trail. I took some more pain meds on top, and we then started the slow and arduous trek down the 12.5 mile and 4350’ decent into Willow Creek. I didn’t know what the hell was going on with my Achilles, but our breaks were longer than our actual hiking. I have to give it to my son; as I had tears sneaking down my cheek, he was encouraging and had the “Let’s do this dad” attitude! We encountered a couple of deer and a fox, and then eventually made it to our pick up crew. The Podiatrist told me that I had Achilles Tendonitis, thus ending my backpacking for the year. Well, see you next year!