Mother Mountain Loop Hike – Final Day - Day 4: Cataract Valley Camp to Carbon River Park Entrance

Josh crossing suspension bridge over Carbon River

Today is the last day of our father/son 28-mile Mother Mountain Loop hike.  We have only 10 miles left to hike to get back to the car.  Today will be our longest day yet.  According to Josh we only have 100 feet of elevation gain today, and the rest is all downhill.  I sure hope his research is correct.

It is getting harder and harder to get up and out of the tent every morning. Today I really wanted to just roll over and go back to sleep when I woke up.  As much as my body was telling me more sleep would be good, we have a long hike out today, and the sooner we get going the better. 

I threw all my stuff out of the tent this morning first thing.   No sense in crawling back in again just to pack up.  It was around 6:45 AM when I finally got to gaze up at the sky to check out what kind of day it would be.   There was blue sky above.  I’m guessing that means another hot and sweaty day of hiking.

First order of business today was to head over to the bear pole to get my pack.  It was then that I found out Josh was also awake.  He said “Leave my pack up on the pole, I’ll get it myself”.  After retrieving my pack and returning to camp, I realized I couldn’t even heat any water for my morning coffee and oatmeal.  This was because Josh had our only stove in his pack.  Possible we should have each had a stove.  Always good to have a spare.

It wasn’t long until Josh got up and retrieved his pack.  While the water was heating for breakfast, we both started taking our tent down and loading our packs.  You would think we, where both in a hurry to get out of the mountain and return to normal life in the city.

We were fed, packed up, and ready to go by 7:45 AM.  A record for breaking camp on this trip.  Last order of business before leaving Cataract Camp was to get drinking water.  We each up with 2 liters of water.  

Josh filter creek water into his water bottle

With our water bottles topped off, we took off on the Spray Park trail toward Carbon River Camp. The trail to the camp as steep.  We carefully moved along the trail.   By the time we got to Carbon River Camp we had descended over 1, 300 feet, and traveled 1.5 miles.  We turned to take a side trip to check out Carbon River Camp.  There were a number of downed trees that made the trail difficult to travel, so we keep on heading down the trail toward our final destination. 

It wasn’t long until we reached a suspension bridge that crossed the Carbon River.  A sign on the bridge said only one person on bridge at a time, and no bouncing.   As I walked across it, my heavy weight alone made the bridge bounce and sway.  This made me a little nervous.  I slowed down and gently placed one foot in front of the other as I worked my way across the span.

The suspension bridge had old 2X6 wood slates to walk along and some of those had been replaced with new ones.  There were other slates that were cracked, and some were missing small little pieces.  Then there were those that looked like they could not handle my weight, so I made big steps to avoid these.   I walked slowly and carefully across the bridge, as I looked down at my feet and the raging carbon river below.  I was hoping I picked the right boards to step on, so I wouldn’t have to experience a real-life scene where I was hanging on for my life, like so many different action movies I’ve watched over the year. 

Crossing the Suspension Bridge over the Carbon River

I did pause in the middle of the bridge to take a picture.  I was very careful not to drop my camera or hiking poles while I took my shot up the valley made by Carbon River over the ions of time.  I was glad none of the boards gave way when I transited across.  I breathe a sigh of relief when I finally stepped on to solid TerraFirma after crossing the bouncy, swaying suspension bridge.  

View up the Valley from middle of the suspension bridge

The trail on the north side of the suspension bridge meanders down the valley through the tree.  The day was getting hot, so the shade was helping keep us a little cooler.  The closer we got to the end of our hike the faster along we went.  We were not holding back today, mainly because there was no real steep uphill to climbs today.

The trail eventually led back to the Carbon River.  As we started crossing the river bed there were boulders everywhere, and no rushing water.  You could see numerous washed out old log bridges.  This tells me the river changes course here over the years.  I know the big run offs this year had taken out the log bridge at this location, and the new one was only put in place a few days before we left on our hike.  With all the boulders, it was hard to follow the trail, let alone find the new log bridge.  We worked our way across the boulder field, and flood debris.  Eventually we spotted the new log bridge. It was easy to spot because of the yellow color of the freshly cut log, plus it had yet to be be bleached by the sun.   We each took turns crossing the log bridge.  Because the water was rushing so fast under the bridge, we decided to unfastened our waste belts, and took one arm out of a shoulder strap.  That way if we fell in, at least it would be easy to lose the pack, instead of losing our life when we sank because we couldn’t remove our pack.

Josh crossing the Carbon River on the new log bridge

We had just crossed our last big obstacle. If you can call it that.  There is now just 6 more miles of downhill trekking to the car.  It was 10:45 AM and we still had more than ½ way to go.  Will we ever get there?

We continued down the valley.  Along the trail we pass many day hikers and a few multi-day backpackers. Eventually, we go to Ipsut Campground.

By now we were on a mission to get to the end of the hike.  Plus, we were now hiking along a familiar trail, that we had hike in the other direction just 3 days earlier. We picked up the pace once again.  We were booking down the old washed-out road that led to the park entrance, and talking about that pizza we would get in Wilkerson.  We started talking about what type of pizza we would purchase.  My mouth was watering just from the discussion.  I even mentioned going off the wagon temporality, just so I could have an ice-cold beer when we stopped for pizza.  That just sounded so good after this hard hike.

We saw no bears, whistling marmots, elk, or other big fame on this trip.  But we did lots of birds, squirrels, a small critter without a tail, and a few deer.  In fact, one of the deer we saw was grazing along the road as we approached the park entrance.  The deer seemed very tame, and most we saw                                                                                                             just only saunters off, instead of jumping away, I  n big leaps and bounds as the wilder ones would do.

Deer Grazing as we finished our hike

We eventually got to the park entrance.  It was 2:10 PM. I was so glad I made it.  Our muscles were a little tired because we pushed it so hard to cover the 10 miles today.  A lady took our picture to document the momentous accomplishment of successfully finishing our father/son loop hike adventure. In total we covered 28.1 mile, and had scrabbled up 6,300 feet of elevation gain during our trek.  Maybe I’m not so old after all.

Josh and I at the end of our adventure.


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