Not that I knew it was the creek in Steam Mill Hollow at the time. It seems I need to learn several more lessons in checking my compass and map before I assume I know where I am. This was the area I had originally picked as my preferred stopping point for the day. But it was far too overgrown for my liking, and I decided I’d rather fill up with water and carry a gallon-plus of water on the trail up to the top of the ridge and camp among the pines. It was several degrees cooler down in the hollow, but upon the ridge, there would be a breeze to cool things down.
Now would have been a good time to check the map I picked up at the trailhead. There wasn’t any trail leading down to this hollow, I used an old forest road to get here. The area was crisscrossed by horse trails, so I had no concerns about finding a trail back out to the main North Fork Loop, but had I checked, I would have found out that the trail I planned to hike out on no longer exists.
I spent an hour or more enjoying the scenery and eating my lunch of Tuna, noodles, and nuts & raisins, having a cup of tea, and filtering water for the night and the next day.
Knowing I was on a small creek to the east of the ridge I’d just come down, all I needed to do was hike back to where the creek joined and turn right, and I’d be on my way. Perfect, if I had indeed been on that creek. Rationing my GSP batteries meant I didn’t bother to check my location, and no, I didn’t bother to check what direction I was headed in with my compass.
So I did exactly that, and I was bumbling along at a fair clip when I thought things weren’t quite right. Firstly it didn’t feel like I was hiking in the right direction, and secondly I was hiking upstream when I should have been going down stream.
A quick check on the compass showed I was going northeast. Really? I reluctantly go out the GPS and discovered that I was now going up the creek I thought I’d stopped for lunch on. Oh well, time to turn around and find the right way out of here.
Thanks to the compass and map I was soon on the correct trail and heading west — the right direction — the trail was very easy to follow, as it is heavily used by horse traffic. I wasn’t too disappointed when I couldn’t find any sign of trail leading off to the north heading up back to join the main loop. I decided to follow the horse trail, which I guessed would be heading to the North Fork River (it was) and back on to the North Fork Loop Trail there.
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