Trail: Green River, Vanson Ridge, Goat Mountain
Trip Duration: 9 hours, 24 minutes
Total Mileage: 20.2 miles
We were supposed to leave by 1:30 pm, and it was already nearly 2 pm. I was sitting in the Orthotist’s office getting an adjustment done on my custom orthotics. I texted Mat that I was running late since he should be arriving at any moment. Shortly afterward, I received a message from him; it read me too. Cool, so we were both running late.
I made it back to my house about 20 minutes before Mat arrived; once he pulled up, we loaded our gear in my car and headed out. Since we were headed past his brother’s house, we stopped by and hung out with him and his wife for a while. Hours later, we were on our way to the Green River horse camp, where we would be staying tonight and tomorrow night.
The goal was to complete the Green River/ Goat Mountain loop, approximately 20 miles long. I’ve hiked this trail twice before; it is a good trail for training. It isn’t intense and has great views if you go in the correct direction.
I was still experiencing foot issues, and adjusting my orthotics just before the trip was risky. I need to be acutely aware of my situation and take proper measures to prevent or mitigate potential issues.
We arrived at the horse camp around 8 PM with only one other party to share the campground. We set up our tent, ate dinner, and hung out until nearly 11 pm. Much later than my 9-9:30 bedtime.
I awoke with a start; my phone was buzzing, which meant it was about 5 am, and it was time to get up. I had no intention of getting up, so I turned it off and promptly closed my eyes. Today would be great, but I just wanted to sleep a little more. I didn’t make it much longer; the urge to pee was growing too much to ignore.
I stumbled out of my tent, took care of business, and checked the time. It was about 6:30 am now. Since I’m up, I thought I might as well make breakfast. I pulled a couple of packets of oatmeal out of my food bag and placed a pot of water on the stove. It was at this point I heard Mat. He was rustling around, getting his gear situated. Last night he had made the decision that he would only carry minimal gear today, whereas I would carry all of my gear. It’s a training hike, after all, right?
We got on the trail just after 8 AM. The first several miles were going to be easy and perfect to get our bodies warmed up. We would jog on the slight downhills and keep a brisk pace otherwise. I didn’t make it more than a few miles before I realized that I needed to tape some gauze to my arch so that it would be a bit more padded. This was one issue created by the orthotic I had been working through, so I knew it would only worsen if I ignored it.
We stopped once we got to a road crossing, about a mile and a half into the hike, and I could sit down. I quickly mended my foot, and away we went. I felt immediate relief and was very happy that I had done that. It wasn’t long before I realized I needed to apply more gauze. There was a part of my foot that was still painful as I was walking. We made it to a campsite with a nice sitting log, where I mended the other part of my foot. Once done, we were off. Ready to tackle the day’s big climb, about 4 miles and 2,500′ of elevation gain.
While we didn’t fly up the hill, we were pretty close. Neither one of us ran out of breath, and we only had one or two short breaks. We knew we wouldn’t have water again once we passed this location until we were near the horse camp, so we took advantage of a creek crossing near the top. Our plan was to cook our dinner up on the ridge before the big descent, a lesson we learned last year as we didn’t do that, and we were both grumpy and running on empty.
Once on top of the ridge, it was pretty smooth sailing. We ran into a bit of snow near Deadman’s Lake, but I expected some. I didn’t expect the immediate sensation that different muscles were now being used as we traversed the snow fields. Crossing snow sucks, and I am going to have to get used to it, as I will undoubtedly have some degree of snow traversal on the PCT next year.
Around 3 pm, we climbed up the backside of Goat Mountain and stopped on the trail just before we broke out onto the ridge to cook our dinner. There I tried a new recipe, the Peanut Butter Protein Shake, another recipe from backcountryfoodie.com. I had to substitute the milk with soy milk, so I’m not sure if that affected the beverage, but it seemed like it didn’t have much flavor. The cocoa powder used was just that. No sweetener; however, we did add a bit of sugar. I have it listed now as a Maybe. Perhaps it would be good with additional spices and sugar (or even salt?).
For some reason, I was ravenous (I suspect why, see the end). I ate my bag of cookies and the spicy potato chips by the handful, ignoring the dangerous fact that they had milk in them, and then, of course, my meal replacement beverage. After the break, I just couldn’t regain any oomph, so the last 5 miles were not the best.
At some point, when we got on the ridge, my right foot started giving me some burning sensation. I knew the feeling; it was a hot spot. It was in a weird spot and wasn’t normally an issue, so I ignored it because we were so close to the end. This probably wasn’t the best decision as the next day, I would realize that I probably wouldn’t be able to hike another 20 miles and complete the miles without blisters.
The last 5 miles went slow but weren’t terrible. We had a very large descent, descending 800′ per mile. Luckily, it wasn’t that steep the entire time. But just long enough to hate it. I did observe one interesting fact; when Mat has real food, he is a rocket. Soon, we were back at the campsite, where I took no time to remove my socks and massage my feet.
We were back at the campsite by 6:30 pm and had plenty of light left. It was quite incredible; we left much later than we would on a multi-day trip and were back at camp earlier than necessary. We like to get to camp somewhat late, with enough light to set up the tent, make dinner, and sleep.
I was heating water to boil some dehydrated tortellini that I was going to share with Mat and then make my next experimental meal, Pad Thai. As I did that, Mat declared he wanted to build a fire (great decision!), so he scavenged for wood. It wasn’t long before we were visited by our neighbors, who kindly let us know that there were dry 2×4 pieces of wood under a tarp near the outhouse. Mat immediately went over and brought back several handfuls. Yes, we burned it all.
The fire turned out to be the best way to end the long day. We sat around it eating and were pleasantly surprised that the tortellini (even though we didn’t have a sauce) was really good. The biggest downsides are it is heavy and takes time to rehydrate and heat through.
Before long, it was time for bed. We raked the coals out, then climbed into our tents for the evening, where I would sleep great and Mat, unfortunately, would not.
I awoke to the sound of rain gently hitting the tent. On this trip, I brought my new tent, an X-Mid Pro 1, a single-person tent created by Dan Durston. It held up great and felt palatial due to the large vestibules on each side. It was basically a gear garage on one side and an entrance on the other.
I, again, delay getting up, but now I’m awake and can no longer doze. I get up, grab my shoes and stumble out of the tent to make coffee.
It wasn’t long before I heard Mat rustling around, packing his gear. He emerged from the tent not long after. We discussed what we would do that day, and it was apparent that the call for restaurant food was strong. So, we would leave immediately and head to Packwood. However, we didn’t go directly to Packwood because that’d be too easy. We were off to explore the mountain roads discovering what had changed the past year and scouting out the snow levels.
It was rather uneventful and sadly ran into enough snow that we couldn’t make it through, so we had to backtrack and take the long way out of the forest. Once in Packwood, we discovered that we would have a 45-minute wait if we wanted to eat at Cruisers Pizza. We nixed that idea, and while thinking about what to do next, we refueled at the nearby Shell station.
I realized that our only option was to head to Trout Lake through the forest, which would be at least an hour’s drive, if not a bit more. So I grabbed some cokes and snacks from the gas station, and we headed out, thus finishing the weekend’s trip.
After trips, I always like to see what worked, what didn’t, and if I can improve it.
- The padding that I put on my foot worked fantastically.
- I drank enough water, but I should have drank more
- I need salty snacks.
- Candies for snacks aren’t going to work for me.
- I should have looked at the issue on my right foot. I could have at least taped it.
- I may need to start at 15 miles per day for a few days.