We decide that Wheeler is the campsite of minor accidents as the wayfinding mistake unfurls into other mishaps.
First we wake to find that the Ursack has been breached! I had lazily tied it to a log for the night, instead of finding a tree to get it off the ground. Little rodent teeth marks are all over the outside of the bag, which held fast, but it seems something very small squeezed itself through the opening. So for my sloth we pay the small price of half a Clif bar.
Ah well, not too bad, but then the Aeropress explodes coffee all over the table and most unfortunately, Steve’s forehead. Luckily it wasn’t fully boiling and he sports only a slight burn. Then he drops the Sawyer Squeeze filter in the stream and has to jump in to get it, soaking his shoes.
We’re happy to leave Wheeler behind. Second try to Little Jackass. This 4.5 mile section of trail is more overgrown than between Bear Harbor and Wheeler but also filled with blackberry bushes, which yield enough ripe berries to keep us pleasantly distracted the entire hike.
The trail climbs gently (once again up to 1,000 feet) until just before Jackass and then descends steeply into camp. More gorgeous wildflowers. As we come into Jackass we see an elk across the gorge from the outhouse, sitting placidly, holding aloft his huge head of antlers. It’s spectacular to see the whole crown rotate as he slowly turns to look at us. Wow! So that’s who’s been crushing the grass down into a bed along the trail now and then.
We head southeast along the trail at the outhouse, curious about the two camps supposedly inland, but after a ways without seeing them we turn around and head to the ocean. We pass through a camp right along the stream and settle into the next one, at the head of the beach. The seal spotting is spectacular.
Soon a group of three very young men show up, possibly not even drinking age. They came from Usal and meant to make it to Wheeler but say they are more out of shape then they realize and might stay here. With their big packs and enormous cooking pot, no wonder they are tired! After we encourage them onwards with tales of the easy and beautiful trail ahead, they assure us that they will be very quiet tonight and we feel properly chastised for being seen as the old fogeys that we truly are.
It starts to drizzle so we leave our driftwood by the fire ring for the next group and cozy into the tent to read a Kelly Link short story out loud and listen to the rain.