Monday, July 22, 2019

2019 NUT Day 2: Dread and Terror Segment

After bidding our friend goodbye, the four of us set off on the trail around 9:30 in the morning. We knew that it would be a long day, as we had at least 13.5 miles to go. We headed down the road to the White Mule trailhead, where we found a concrete lined canal that would eventually divert water to the power plant. We also met two middle aged ladies (I did mention that we are all middle aged ladies, right?) who were preparing to hike one of the segments of the trail that day. We exchanged pleasantries and they gave us some insights on trail conditions.

From the White Mule trailhead, we stepped onto the trail and into the forest. There were many spectacular views during the first couple of miles. We hiked and hiked and about mid segment, we found a nice little spot to have our lunch...water access was a few steps away and there was a small fire pit. As my good friend Jean Ella taught me to do, I took off my shoes and socks (as I do at every lunch stop) and gave my feet a nice little soak in the river.

After lunch, we encountered three small slide areas. The first two were not bad, but the third one left us with a trail that was about as wide as a single foot and all sand. VERY UNSTABLE. The river was only about 10-15 feet straight down a sheer rock face, and there was a good sized stake ready to impale any hiker who had the misfortune of taking a tumble. We gingerly made our way across the slide area and shortly thereafter found our campsite. We were tired and very glad to be there.

The campsite was wonderful and very large with excellent water access. It was almost 7pm and we quickly set up camp, cleaned up and had dinner. We could see people down and across the river who were sitting in the hot springs.

The next morning, we continued on our hike and found several more large campsites. The biggest and brightest was directly across the river from the hotsprings with great logs "benches" for sitting in camp. Note that you cannot get to the hotsprings by crossing the river.

Total mileage for the day: 14.6 miles

Campground: Dispersed campsite approximately .4 miles upriver from the Hot Springs trailhead. There were 3-4 large, flat camp sites; we chose the one furthest upriver and the farthest away from the hot springs. Water access was easy for washing up and for filtering.

NOTE: There were only two other potential camping spots along this segment. We had lunch near the halfway point where you could fit two small tents. The other spot was about a mile or so up from where we finally camped. It was a large site, but pretty dark due to heavy foliage. Water access was easy in both cases.

Wildlife: Nothing on the trail.

Trail conditions: Three slide areas, making for pretty precarious crossing.

Terrain: Heavily forested and good climbs. 

Scenery: The first part of the trail provide spectacular waterfall views.

Surprises: Our mileage (14.6 miles) was longer than expected. The "brochure" indicated that the whole segment was 13 miles; from the inset, we estimated that and our campsite was about a mile east of the Hot Springs trailhead, so we figured it would be about 12 miles of Dread and Terror plus the 1.5 miles from Bunker Hill camp to White Mule trailhead. 

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