Day 3: Rock Creek to Panther Creek
I woke early from a somewhat fitful sleep. Because there were other campers in the site I decided to just pack up and go. It was a good decision too because it allowed me to make my big climb of the day during the cool early morning hours.
I hiked from 7 to 9:30, steadily gaining elevation. My highest point of the day was around 3,100 feet, a good 1500-foot climb over the first 5 miles of my day. Once I gained the ridge, I was treated to the occasional view back to where I’d hiked the previous day as well as some peek a boo views of Mt. Hood.
I took a break after about 6 miles at an old dirt road to make some oatmeal as my “second breakfast” (elevensies, anyone?)
My next 4 miles were all downhill through the Wind River Experimental Forest. Just after noon I reached the lovely Trout Creek. I pulled up a rock creek side and dipped my feet, which helped to cool not only my feet but the blisters I was nursing too. Lunch was surprisingly delicious. It always amazes me how good food tastes after a day (or morning!) of backpacking.
The next 3 miles were an easy ramble over dirt roads, past fields and around the base of “Bunker Hill.” I stopped for an afternoon break from the heat at the rocky beach of Wind River, joining a large family group who were camping at the nearby Panther Creek Campground. They were wonderfully nice and curious about my trek. When they learned my destination for the night was also Panther Creek they invited me to their campsite in order to make use of their RV shower.
2.5 miles of walking later, that’s exactly what I did! I made good time with that carrot dangling in front of my nose. The shower was amazing and I enjoyed some time to sit in a real camp chair and socialize.
Unfortunately the campground was full for the night so I headed back to the trail to make camp under some lovely old growth cedars.
For dinner, I had my first thru-hiker ramen with Panther Creek as my evening entertainment and then tucked in for a well-earned, and blessedly quiet night’s sleep.