Feb 17, 2020Big Piney Trail, Paddy Creek Wilderness – Day Three

Small Falls at Paddy Creek Wilderness – I stopped here to fill my water bottle and eat a well earned Snickers bar. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

The sky was clear overnight, but by the morning the cloud had rolled in and it was dreary. The temperature had dropped to a low of 43°F, I was nice and toasty, though the wind kept finding its way between my under quilt and hammock.

While I was heating water for a hot drink and breakfast a brief shower of rain started to pitter-patter on the tarp. With rain in the forecast, I decided to get moving as quickly as possible and try and beat the worst of it. It was only 4.7 miles back to the parking lot, but I had a set of falls to visit on the way.

I did not check the topography in detail before coming out. A close look at the map showed that I’d be crossing quite a few hollows, so there would be more hills to climb than I was expecting. More exercise, not a problem! That’s why I’m out hiking. And if it started to rain heavily, I have wet-weather gear.

I did a wet weather pack up. That involves taking everything down and packing it all away with the tarp set. Much to my surprise, I was ready to hit the trail at ten after nine. That must be a record!

Ten minutes later I was at the trail junction where the short cut from the South Loop joins.

At the North Loop Junction of the shortcut between the North and South Loops. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
At the North Loop Junction of the shortcut between the North and South Loops. In front of me, the way back to Roby Lake Trailhead. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

This section of the trail quickly widened out into what must have been a forest road. There were shallow drainage ditches on either side of the ‘road’ which is very unusual.

Partway along the ‘road’ I spotted what looked to my untutored eyes like a very small bunker access hatch a short way off the trail, which I had to investigate.

Did I take a peek inside? Of course. I wasn’t at all surprised by what I found, and it made me chuckle. I didn’t take a picture, and I’m not saying what I found. If you want to find out what’s down there you’ll have to hike out and find out for yourself.

An old trash/swill collector – It’s been used as a firepit, and has a new resident. I didn’t spoil the fun by taking a picture, you’ll have to look for yourself. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Back home I did some image searches and found out that these were used as in-ground trash or swill containers. This one had been used as a fire pit, and now had a new resident. And that’s all I’m saying.

Another few minutes and there were branches and a small tree spread across the road. I’ve learned my lesson about closed trails, and looked around. The trail turned left leaving the road, and not much further on there was a healthy-looking stock pond.

Stock Pond – the trail leading here was following a wide forest road, which even had drainage ditches on either side. The trail past the pond is faint, and bears to the left (going counter-clockwise). Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

As I’m finding, sometimes working out where the trail leaves a stock pond site can be difficult. In this case, the trail headed out to left (south-ish) past the pond, and down into the first hollow of the day’s hike.

Trailside Campsite – The wilderness rules say you shouldn’t camp within 100ft of the trail or a water source. I stick to that as well as I can judge the distances, but most of the fire rings I find are almost on top of the trail. When I saw this ravine, I knew there would be a campsite nearby. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Down in the hollow I stopped to take a selfie and a picture of the creek. I didn’t need to top up with water, I was planning on doing that when I got to the falls.

Feeder creek in Paddy Creek Wilderness – (to Little Paddy Creek). No need to stop here, I’m planning on getting some water and rewarding myself with a Snickers bar when I get to a set of fall’s that I’ve read about. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
Gary in Paddy Creek Wilderness (Day Three) – I’d just dropped down into this hollow, which of course means I’ve now got to climb out the otherside! Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

The rain was misting, not enough to warrant wet weather gear, and just enough to get everything damp. As I was going to be finishing the hike in a few hours I decided not to bother with rain gear unless it really started to rain hard. Once again I wished the camera was weather sealed. I put the camera away to keep it dry – so no more pictures for a while.

A little over an hour later and I was looking down on the falls. I toyed with the idea of not stopping, but I was out of water, and decided it might be worth taking some pictures even if it was a dull, gray day. The trail goes right past the falls anyway, so the diversion was minimal.

Small Falls at Paddy Creek Wilderness – I stopped here to fill my water bottle and eat a well earned Snickers bar. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

I thought I’d try and get a selfie by the falls. I wasn’t quick enough the first time and barely made it into the picture.

Almost made it – Ten seconds isn’t a lot of time to run around the edge of the pool so you can appear in the picture. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

I did better on my second attempt.

Gary by the falls – I did a lot better with my second attempt. I really must start bringing my wireless shutter release out on my trips. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Just the final push back to the trailhead and parking lot to do. That took just an hour to complete.

Paddy Creek Wilderness Trip Over – Three days, two nights, 1720ft ascent and 17.5 miles. I’ll take that. Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

End of Trip Thoughts

  • I prefer the Trangia over the Fancee Feest stove, even if the latter is lighter.
  • I like Paddy Creek Wilderness, I’ll be back. There’s the most impressive Slabtown overlook still to visit.
  • The woodstove worked well, I just have to make sure the wood is dry. I only used it once on this trip so I’m going to have to take it out on another trip to see if it is a viable alternative.
  • I must remember that, if there’s a choice I should always camp where the sun will shine first thing in the morning.
  • The Zpacks Arc Haul backpack is the most comfortable pack I’ve owned to date. I can’t wait to try it out with a lighter load.
  • Anywhere where a trail runs through a flood plain the trail is going to get washed out, so expect to do some bushwhacking.
Copyright © 2020 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

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