Lewis River Trail (2023)

Season Opener!

Trail: Lewis River Trail
Total Mileage: 26.62
Nights: 1

This is the first backpacking trip Mat and I have taken this year; it’s the first actual hiking we’ve also done this year.

Day 1

Miles: 5.52
Trip Miles: 5.52
Duration: 2 hours, 28 minutes

We arrived at the trailhead around 2:30 pm on Friday. We didn’t take long to get our gear situated and on our backs. Soon we were off down the trail on what should be a pretty mellow trip.

This trip was meant to test my body, specifically my left foot and left IT Band. Last fall, the IT band started talking to me on our Sleeping Giants v1.2 trip, translating into a significant pain when bending my knee.

My left foot started giving me issues with intense heel pain over the winter. So this trip was meant as a test.

I was feeling good, we were trotting down hills, and before we knew it, we were at the 5-mile mark. It was still really early, but we figured we should stop as we weren’t sure how many more campsites would be available if we kept moving forward.

We stopped, pitched our tents, and set about doing routine camp chores. I had a new recipe that I was trying out, “Backcountry Spaghetti.” I got the recipe from backcountryfoodie.com, and it did not disappoint. After taking the first few bites I exclaimed, “This is delicious, it’s certainly going into the rotation.” Mat gave it a try and agreed it was good.

As darkness fell, we climbed into our tents and quickly fell asleep.

Day 2

Miles: 21.1
Trip Miles: 26.62
Duration: 12 hours, 41 minutes

We got up around 6:30 AM and lazily started getting ready for the day. I ate some oatmeal while waiting for Mat, but I ended up being the last to finish packing.

We set out at 8:03 AM without a goal in mind other than we were hiking. Today we would hike past Lower Falls and the campground.

It wasn’t long before we passed a group camping at a dry spot on a ridge. It was a scenic spot that was relatively large. It overlooked a deep canyon that the river was cutting through. Soon, we arrived at FR 90, which the trail crosses and continues following the river. We started seeing an influx of people out for the weekend and enjoying the river and forest. We hiked on through the crowds and up past the campground. We continued on to Middle Falls and ate lunch there. I had another recipe I was trying, “Spiced Bean Dip” with Chili Cheese Corn Chips. It was good but salty. The corn chips have a higher salt content than the plain version and certainly more than the recommended Triscuit the recipe calls for. I wasn’t too upset, but I’ll stay away from the Chili Cheese version in the future.

The viewpoint at the lower falls wasn’t fantastic. I quickly assembled my meal while Mat curiously watched what I was doing. Once assembled, the bean dip took long enough to rehydrate that we decided to pack up, move on, and find a different location.

Soon we were past lower falls and headed back across FR 90. We came across a nice meadow and investigated the area to see if it was good enough to take a quick break. It wasn’t long until we discovered that an animal (or many animals) used this area as their personal toilet. We kept going.

Just a few hundred feet from the meadow, we encountered access to the river and a couple of girls enjoying the location. We greeted them, and Mat asked if they would mind if we sat and ate our lunch in the area. They didn’t mind; I quickly scarfed down the chips and beans—I just dumped them into the bean dip and ate it with a spoon.

Soon we were off again, headed down the trail, and hoped to find a campsite. As we were passing the dry ridge camp again, I wondered in which direction the previous folks had gone. It wasn’t long before we passed the campsite where we had stayed the previous night; it was taken. We kept going.

We came upon a beautiful small stream and decided to take a break, fill up on water, and dry out our socks. A couple of mountain bikers passed by, but other than that, we didn’t see a single soul. It wouldn’t be for a few more miles before we passed a single woman who seemed to be day-hiking/ jogging the trail. After she passed us, we wouldn’t see her again until we got back to the car.

We hustled; as we got closer to the clumps of campsites and discovering that they were taken, we kept up the speed. Mat and I were talking about strategy. What would we do if we couldn’t find a spot?

We had two real choices. Hope that the very first campsite wasn’t taken, which is a possibility as it was only a mile or so from the road, and most people want to hike further than that, and it wasn’t that great. The second option was just to go back to Mat’s house and end the trip early, this option would also provide access to restaurant food. Which is always important to the hiker.

I really didn’t like the idea of ending the trip early and the sound of restaurant food was growing stronger. As we reached Bolt Camp, we realized that we only had 2-1/2 miles left to go before we reached the car. Knowing that we were traveling about 2.7 mph while moving we knew that we could reach the car in about an hour. The pull of the restaurant food was too great, and as we reached the campsite, Mat asked what option we should take. I uttered let’s keep going, and so we continued towards the car.

After trip report

Even though the trip ended early, it was a great first trip. We ensured that my IT Band was no longer an issue and that my foot/calf was feeling better. Now, I had to stretch and work my calf muscle A LOT throughout the day, so much so that this wouldn’t be great on a longer trip.

The Monday after our weekend trip, I received my new orthotics, and it’s been about a month of using them, and they are exactly what I need. My calf muscles are no longer tight, and my foot feels good. However, I am still going through the adjustment cycle, and they aren’t fine-tuned enough quite yet, but they are getting better.