Each year, by the time spring rolls around, I find myself struggling against a desperation to break out my backpacking gear, stashed away since the previous fall. After the darkness and rain of winter, I'm itching to spend the night camped out on some wild and peaceful trail. There are always many problems with this desire; spring is a busy time for me at work, and I have several family birthdays to celebrate, so a free weekend before summer is in full swing is a rare thing indeed. The past few years, I've even had a particular trail in mind when dreaming of my early-season backpacking trips — Ingalls Creek. While many other trails in the area are still heaped with a mess of rapidly melting snow, this meandering trail in Teanaway is typically snow free for at least the first several miles. In the spring, like many other trails in the area, Ingalls Creek is decorated with a colorful blanket of wildflowers.
Unlike other river trails I've hiked, this one follows Ingalls Creek closely for its entire length, or at least the first five miles we hiked. Being down in a valley, there weren't any panoramic views, but as the trail meandered through ponderosa forest and rocky slopes, the occasional view of the Stuart Range would pop out above the creek. Even with mostly cloudy skies, I was astonished by how few people we passed over the course of the day. By early afternoon, Andy and I found an entirely unoccupied campground about 5 miles from the trailhead, and after wandering past several large, muddy horse campsites, we found a private little site tucked behind a clump of trees and looking directly out at the river. With a fairly easy hike planned, our packs were heavier than usual, loaded with all sorts of luxuries including hammocks and after setting up camp, we spent a lazy afternoon reading from our hammocks by the river.
These photos may look peaceful, but a combination of snowmelt and recent rain to kept the creek roaring down the valley, and our closeness to the creek made for a sleepless night. The water thundering past our tent wasn't exactly the lullaby I'd imagined when planning this trip! Thankfully, I at least managed enough sleep to feel rested for the hike home. Hiking mostly downhill, our trek back to the car went by faster than expected, and we made it back to the car shortly after noon. After such a sleepless night, we were happy to make it back to the car (and a coffee shop minutes from the trailhead!) early enough to load up on caffeine before the drive home.