I was about two miles up the trail when I got a blister. It was bad enough that I decided, grudgingly, I had no choice but to take off my boots and hike back in my socks. Then it started to rain. Big, fat, summertime thunder storm drops slapping down.
I had set out mid-morning on Saturday for a short hike up Chorro Grande Canyon in the upper reaches of the Sespe Creek watershed. About a mile up the trail my right boot started grating on my heal. I had made the foolish decision to wear a pair of six inch logger-style boots I had not worn since last winter, although they had never given me any trouble before. When I plan on bushwhacking, I prefer their heavy sole and leather protection, as opposed to my usual choice of light-weight trail shoes.
Rather than stop and take off my boot to see if I could fix the problem, I pushed it another mile to Oak Camp. I thought the irritating burn on my heal would only amount to minor scrape, and that I would make an adjustment at the camp and then continue hiking.
The dirt portions of the trail were splattered trackless by a light rain shower the afternoon before, and just short of the camp a set of bear tracks appeared for a number of yards. They were the only tracks I saw that day.
When I got to the camp I took off my boot and saw that I had a blister the size of a quarter on the back of my heal. I decided to take off both boots rather than hobble around like Quasimodo from one heavy boot and one barefoot. I had no tape or any supplies to pad the blister and it was unbearable to walk with the boot on.
A decent trickle of water was still flowing in the creek aside the top camp for a few yards before it seeped back underground. In typical fall fashion, it was pleasantly cool in the shade but still hot in the sun.
After a brief respite under the oaks I started back down the trail and shortly after it started raining. It rained lightly for about ten minutes. The big drops wetted down the landscape, my socks and the tops of my shoulders and hat. The fallen moisture made the humidity rise quickly and unpleasantly, but it also brought out the earthen and floral aromas of the mountain, a wilderness equivalent to the smell of the first drops of rain on hot asphalt in the city.
I made it back to my iron horse parked on Highway-33 frustrated the day ended short of my intentions, but with no further travails.
Highway 33 heading into Sespe Gorge with Pine Mountain rising in the background.
Red sandstone along the Chorro Grande Trail.