Approaching Little Paddy Creek I could hear voices. I was surprised (and secretly pleased) to see that it was the four riders (and their dog) who had passed me on my earlier climb away from Little Paddy Creek. Someone suggested that they must have been talking too much, giving me time to catch up. Someone else pointed out that it was going to be cold crossing the creek in my bare feet. “I’ll be okay,” I said before plunging onward. Actually, it wasn’t too bad. Once on the other side, I took off my pack ready to filter some water and took a few pictures. I missed the best shot, which was as the horses and riders crossed the creek and were silhouetted by the setting sun. Unfortunately, I had just put my camera down and my hands were full of my water filtering gear.
In terms of composition, the picture below is much better, removing the distraction and multiple points of interest created by the horses and the sun. The image below has a strong line leading towards the focal point of the sun. But I prefer the human interest of the riders, which is why I favored that image to head up this post.
The setting sun reminded me that time was getting on, and I needed to be moving. I quickly filtered a liter of water and set off, noting as I did, what looked like a very likely area to camp tomorrow night if I make it this far! As for tonight, I still had to climb out of the hollow up to join the Pig Piney North Loop Trail and get to my planned campsite for the night, a mile or two away.
As I was getting near the top of the ridge (and the junction with the North Loop), dusk was setting in, and I was overtaken again by the group of riders (plus dog. One mustn’t forget the dog). I thought that was a bit odd, as they’d left ahead of me, but I assumed they must have been exploring one of the side trails. They stopped a ways ahead of me, and I noticed a cell phone (presumably GPS) being consulted. Then they turned around and headed back in my direction. “Is there a trail turning right near here?” “Hold on,” says I, “I hope so because that’s where I’m headed. I’ll check my GPS.” A quick look at my GPS (phone) told me I was where I thought I was. “Yes, the junction with the North Loop is around 600 feet further along the trail.” They turned around again and headed off. Fortunately, I’d got my information right for a change, and they were soon on the North Loop of the Big Piney Trail heading northeast. It was starting to get dark, and they were a long way from the Big Piney Trailhead if that was where they were headed. Hopefully, they got to their destination without incident.
I followed them down the trail, and I was soon at the side trail I needed to take to get to my planned camping spot. I was glad to see that my hunch was right, and there was water in the creek, and I quickly left the trail and started bushwhacking along looking for a good place to stop.
The USGS Topo Map for Paddy Creek Wilderness is wrong
It was a puzzle as to how they could have got themselves misplaced when they had a GPS. Then it dawned on me they were probably using the same USGS CalTopo map I was. On my previous visit, I’d noticed that the trail’s position marked on the map was offset to the north by about 240 yards. For that reason, before embarking on this trip, I had downloaded a GPS track of the Big Piney Trail so that I wasn’t relying on my remembering to mentally shift the trail south when navigating. If they were using that map, it would be easy to become misplaced and take the wrong trail.
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