I had excruciating pain in my hips during the night, shooting down both legs. I doubled up my Aleve, but it seemed to be hours before I could sleep. At least it wasn’t my knee. I was concerned that if the pain didn’t subside, I’d be done. It did subside, though I stayed in my bag longer than usual. That night took a toll on me. In the early morning hours, we were treated to the sound of a loon. Eventually, I could rise, thankful that I could move and convinced that we could carry on.
In the morning hours we passed by three, strapping young men as they paused on their hike. Soon, they were close behind us. Rather than bunch up and create a group of five, we stepped aside to let them pass…first one…then the second…then the third…and I’ll be damned if Penny didn’t fall right into place as #4! I marveled as she marched off in synchronized steps with her new friends. The scene reminded me of the Seven Dwarfs heading off to work, “Heigh-ho!”
I whistled to get her attention to no avail. It is difficult to whistle when laughing by the way. Then I began clacking my trekking poles together thinking perhaps she’d think I’d stumbled and needed help. Nothin’ doin’. Finally, on my next round of noisemaking, she glanced back at me – doubled over with laughter! She immediately realized that she had fallen in with the wrong group, wheeled herself around and joined me in fits of tear-provoking hilarity! She wasn’t about to let those kids show her up!
This was a spectacular section of the trail. The terrain was varied, sometimes along the cliffs, others through the forest and up rooted inclines. We had learned to keep distance when going up steep inclines, lest the turtle in front was pulled back by the weight of the backpack “shell”. It was a good challenge and fun! We visited a cave and saw some impressive geological features. We met a young couple on the way to our same campsite from the night before. It was nice to have some conversations along the way.
Perhaps due to the proximity of this trail to the more easily accessed Chapel Beach, or perhaps because it was absolutely stunning, we encountered more hikers, and saw more tour boats and kayak-tour traffic on the water. This was truly one of my favorite mornings on the trail. The photo opportunities were plentiful, and I was so thankful I’d packed a charging unit for my phone. It was worth the weight. In fact, there was one group of kayakers all facing their guide as a bald eagle glided over our heads behind them! That would have been a spectacular sight, I’m sure.
And of course, I love my fungi!
There were so many opportunities for adventures onto rock outcroppings, so many beautiful places along the trail…it was an exciting morning for exploring. We came to a place where we could spot Spray Falls close to noon.
Just before 1:00 PM we arrived at Chapel Rock with a large pine growing from its cap with roots reaching back to its past, keeping it anchored to the landmass.
Chapel Beach was lovely. I think we had the best campsite there #3. It was right at the bend in the river and afforded several places where we could pitch our tents. The pit toilets were a bit of a walk away; however. Since we had arrived so early from this short 4.3 mile hike, one of us thought it would be grand to do the loop around Chapel Lake. That had been our original plan. According to Penny, our brother had completed this hike and had reported it to be excellent. (She determined later that it was a different hike!) My knee was debating whether this was a good idea, but we set off to add another 6.1 miles to our day. Had I been completely “hiking my hike” I would not have added this distance. I wasn’t sure how many more miles my knee had left. On the other hand, I also suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), so off we went! We both found this to be a rather boring trail. We did see Chapel Falls and could at least boast to have conquered nearly 10.5 miles of trail this day.
As we completed the loop back to our campsite, we noted folks camping outside of the official campground with considerable litter around their sites. Chapel Beach would benefit from more of a Park Ranger presence. The relatively short hike (3 miles) from a parking area left it vulnerable to abuse from those less committed to the leave-no-trace practices.
Being sometimes-crabby senior citizens, we were a bit concerned about our neighbor who had an exceptionally loud voice. We struck up a conversation hoping to promote the idea of a quiet night. It was not necessary. She was accompanying an older…that being relative…friend in his 70s on a section hike and was quite a fascinating woman. She worked a food truck in the summers and would volunteer for an educational program in India every year. She had no formal higher education but possessed an obvious passion for living. We also met three young ladies from the next campsite down who we’d be camping with at Potato Patch on the following night.
There were several wooden beams on the ground at our site. We arranged one overlooking the river bend and enjoyed our dinner of Three Sisters Stew as a kingfisher flew nearby. We couldn’t help but to think about our other sister, Sally; and wish that she could make a trek like this. We walked down to the beach again for water and the sunset. It was beautiful and serene. It was Penny’s night to fetch water from the well, but I managed to get my clean socks and my shoes soaking wet! This had been a remarkable day with plenty of sunshine. We headed to bed by 9:20 with my step counter having recorded 31,429 steps.