We retrieve our intact hanging food from the camp across the stream and make breakfast. Steve in his grogginess pours his coffee grinds right onto the table - a foreshadowing of the more serious Aeropress misadventure to come!
One of the camp hosts told us that he hopes they reopen the road to cars so that Bear Harbor is more accessible. We selfishly hope for the opposite - it’s incredible to be there alone. We enjoy a slow morning, waiting for low tide so that we can check out the tidepools. They don’t divulge as many treasures as we expect - a few starfish and anemones.
Setting south towards Wheeler the trail immediately narrows and the more strenuous climbing begins. It’s a very pleasant 4.3 mile hike and about a 1,000 foot climb with spectacular wildflowers. We’re glad for our long pants as nettles and poison oak encroach the trail. (By the end of the trip, we both get stung by nettles on our arms and faces and I get poison oak on my wrist.)
When we arrive at Wheeler we head straight for the beach. After some good lounging on the sand under the sun, we are ready to keep going to Jackass.
The map shows the trail heading south close to the beach, and a bigger road or trail above it to the east, but we are at the beach, and don’t see an obvious trail. When I had asked a friend who had been on this stretch about the possibility of doing a loop she said she hadn’t even noticed another trail. So we think it should be obvious and head back inland along the trail we came in on until we hit the outhouse nearest to the beach and a well trodden trail extending beyond it.
The last printing of the map is in 2004 so we don’t think too hard about it, assume the map is wrong, and take the trail out from the outhouse, which quickly turns into a fire road. Enjoying the steady climb and the feel of our bodies, in sync, pushing upwards, it takes us a long time (embarrassingly, like 4 miles time) to realize our mistake. Whoops! The map is right, of course, and we are on the road to Usal that completely bypasses Little Jackass. Steve wonders about bushwhacking down to Jackass but it’s already after 5 and I’m not feeling being lost in the dark so we had back to Wheeler for the night.
Besides my sore ego, we are fine and Wheeler is beautiful. The big open meadows near the beach could clearly hold a lot of campers and once again, we are grateful to have the whole camp to ourselves.
We locate the real trail heading from the very southern corner of the accessible beach. It’s overgrown and hard to spot unless you are standing right in front of it, but it’s there!