Previous: Day 5
Today’s Miles: 7 Miles Total Miles: 45 Miles
We woke up on our very last day on the trail super early – we had plans to try to get to Fresno by 2:30 at the latest, and we definitely wanted time to shower and eat in that time. We were up at 5:30 and heading down the trail at 6:15, when it was still dark enough that we needed our headlamps. The sky quickly started to brighten as we moved through the quiet pine forest between Middle and Lower Paradise Valley. Above Lower Paradise Valley, we stopped for a minute or two to appreciate how beautiful the Valley around us was. The descent brought us close to but still above Wood’s Creek, which had definitely picked up some speed as we dropped in altitude. We’d asked the ladies who rushed up to camp late last night if the trail was up-and-down or mostly descent to Lower Paradise, and they said it would be a straight descent all the way to Road’s End. Music to my ears!
We stuck together this last morning on the trail, with me leading the way in some sections. There were plenty of places where we’d look to our left and Wood’s Creek would be slowly moving around big boulders, and then suddenly we’d see a giant log jam and rapids. It’s clear that earlier in the season, each Bubb’s and Wood’s Creeks would be roaring. We didn’t spend a lot of time to stop for pictures this morning, but if you’d like to see what the trail looked like, this 360 degree view captured it pretty well.
We passed Lower Paradise Valley just a half hour into our hike. We knew we’d made the right decision to stay at Middle Paradise the night before – the swimming, company, and the site selection all made Middle Paradise a better choice for us. A half mile or so after we passed Lower Paradise, we saw a large group of tents in a clearing. There is no camping allowed in Paradise Valley below Lower Paradise, so we weren’t sure if these people thought they’d made it to Lower Paradise or were simply disregarding the rules.
We now started our descent in earnest, heading down a series of switchbacks that gave incredible views of the Valley. I was in the lead when I turned a switchback and came face to face with what I assume was the adolescent bear that the women spotted the night before! I froze, panicked for a second (even though the bear was a good 40 feet from me) and blew into the whistle built into my pack. Mindy and Evyn rushed down to see what was wrong as I was waving my trekking poles and yelling “Hey bear!!!!” The bear looked at me and meandered about 15 feet further away to another berry patch. With my heart rate down, we decided to take a few minutes to watch and photograph the bear before scaring it off on its way.