76: Mount Washington?

June 26, 2014
11.3 crazy miles
1018.50 miles total

Well today started much like a day on the Appalachian trail. I heard rain falling on my tent early this morning. I knew most everyone else slept with their rain flies off as well. I felt bad as I saw headlamps flash around in haste. Sometimes it is nice to have a single wall tent. What was it somebody said about no rain on the PCT?

Anyway I got up early, around 5 to the sound of rain and wind. Like I said much like the AT. I slowly did everything I could in my tent. It was nice to be warm and dry. Packing up my sleeping bag was the worst. But all good things come to an end.

Arctic and I (shockingly) were out of camp first. I was dressed in warm layers and my rain gear. We started climbing early, gaining over 2,000′ in the first two miles. It was windy, cold, and kind of miserable. My hope for clearing was not in the cards. About halfway up Patrick passed us. Arctic and I checked in to see how I was feeling about the conditions. At the time it seemed alright, so we pushed on.

As we climbed the wind picked up, it got colder. My hands started to go numb. Conditions deteriorated the rest of the way. We tag teamed with Patrick, all of us taking turns leading. I am not going to lie, it was miserable hiking. I even cried at one point. My hands were so cold and the snow crossings were intimidating. But I got a hold of myself. I was happy I wasn’t leading kids through such conditions (although I doubt I would have done it with kids.)

It was an interesting day. The 11 miles reminded me of hiking Mt. Washington in NH’s White Mountains. Limited visibility, walking in a cloud, and overall crappy weather. Thankfully we ended up safely at Senora Pass.

Our next adventure involved hitching 30 miles to town. Let me tell you it is hard to hitch when your thumbs are numb. After about 30 minutes we snagged a ride with Richard, a section hiker we met in Kennedy Meadows.

We arrived in town around noon, all we wanted was a hot shower. Locals looked at us in all our rain gear as if we were nuts. Here we thought they were crazy for wearing shorts.

After finding heat and warmth in hot showers, Patrick, Arctic, and I set off for food.

We found it.

image

image

Now it is time to relax and get ready for tomorrow as we head back to the trail.

Day 75: I could walk 1000 miles

June 25, 2014
19 miles
1,007.20 miles!

It was a great start to the day, Arctic brought me my bear canister so I was able to eat in my tent bug free. After getting all my life sorted we hit the trail around 7:30.

The trail was marvelous! The “climb” to Dorothy Lake Pass was so wonderful. While we were going up, it was spread over many miles. It was a walk in the park. We traveled through flat meadows and lovely creek sides. We ended up hiking with several new folks Twice and Angry Bird. It was nice to meet and chat with them.

image

We crushed the 10 miles to Dorothy Lake. There we took a break and enjoyed the view. We even skipped a few rocks. We had a whole 180′ to climb to reach the pass.

image

Once we reached the pass we were sad not to see a pyramid of bear canisters. Dorothy Pass is where we leave Yosemite Wilderness and Park behind… And the bear cans. I was tempted to leave mine for future SOBO’s but I also didn’t want to litter. So I carried it on.

image

Arctic is super excited to leave Bear Canister Land.

Then we pushed on to our next big milestone. 1,000 miles! Holy Wah! I can’t believe we did it. (Others couldn’t believe it either as there were four markers!)

image

We celebrated like any good thru hiker would. We ate a huge lunch! As we were eating a team of llamas hiked by. It was a cool sight to see. It got me thinking that someday I need to have some pack llamas, you know to bring my groceries home and such. How cool would that be?

image

We then pushed on the rest of the way to our lovely campsite at the base of Senora Pass. It is breezy, so not many bugs but nice. We were surprised that the rest of the gang showed up. They pulled some big days. The band is once again back together.

Tonight we are camped with more folks than we have seen in a while. Twice, Patrick, Owl, Slims, Angles, The Valley, Arctic and I all ready for a good morning climb.

image

Day 74: Roller Coaster of Bugs

June 24, 2014
19 miles today
989.75 miles total

We had a bit of a lazy morning, I looked at my watch several times but couldn’t be bothered to actually get up. That said we were still hiking before 8. It was a pretty morning, our day started with a climb then a decent. I got ahead on the downs.

I met Patrick at a stream crossing, he was filtering water. I had assumed it was the big one, but upon further investigation I pushed on three tenths of a mile more. There, as I was deciding which sketchy log to take across the creek I saw something out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was a hiker on the other side. But it was moving fairly quick. Then I saw it as it crossed the river. A beautiful coyote. It didn’t see me or smell me (shocking) as it wandered around. It was just so close and wonderful. It wasn’t until I attempted to get my camera out it noticed I was there. With that it took off in a run. It was a magical experience for sure. I am glad I pushed on to the larger crossing or I would never have had such a sweet interaction.

image

After Arctic caught up we pushed on towards the big climb. It was full of switchbacks and lots of trees. The top was hard to find. We had intended on eating lunch at the top of the pass, but we never saw it. I ended up getting ahead once again and ate lunch in a sunny area with a good breeze.

The afternoon was a mix of climbing, mosquitoes, and beautiful flower lined trails. The bugs got so bad that I sprayed myself in bug spray and they just came back. It was a cloud of buzzing. We were warned by several folks that the bugs were bad. It reminded me of times up in the deep woods of Maine. I try to be zen, but after a while the thrill of killing 8 mosquitoes with one smack was more exciting.
The climbing wasn’t as bad as I had been thinking. The trail was in bloom, there were tons of amazing wildflowers in bloom the whole way up. It was as if the trail maintainers had planted beds of flowers next to the trail. It made me smile. How lovely.

image

image

image

Eventually I made it to lake Wilmer where we planned to camp. The bugs were crazy, even more so then before. Every surface exposed or not was swarmed by the little beasts. I put my rain gear and head net on to set up my tent. Dinner was cooked down by the lake, it was kind of hilarious. So many bugs landed in my food. Extra protein.

I am now safely in my tent. My vestibule is covered in my little friends. But only a few sorry beasts made it inside. Gotta love the woods:)

Day 73: Lakes a plenty

June 23, 2014
20.6 miles today
969.20 miles total

Today was great. It started at 6, and we were on trail a little after 7. After sorting out which way to go (there are many trails and the PCT is rarely labeled.) The morning was gentle, the miles came very easy. The views were great and the forest seemed quiet again. I guess that is what happens when you leave the busy JMT and National Park areas (accessible by car) behind. We did see others, but they all had a tranquil vibe. It was great.

image

We stopped by a beautiful lake for lunch. There was a crazy hatch of dragonfly and damselflies. It was cool to see them swim in the lake and others drying their new wings on a log. We had eaten and were taking our siesta when Emu and Muzzy showed up. They asked about swimming. So we all ended up in the water. I was the only one too chicken to go all the way in. Which in hindsight was good as I was freezing from just going waist deep. It was lovely to relax in the grass for a bit.

image

Then it came time for the climb. I had given my maps to Arctic as he forgot his in his bounce box. So I thought it was right away. Instead we went up a bit, down a ton, walked flat along the valley floor (where we saw 3 deer!) And then up. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was actually nice.

image

Finally after climbing Benson Pass, we made it to a wonderful campsite next to a Mountain lake. Although the mosquitoes made dinner a bit of a challenge the alpenglow more than made up for it. It was such a great day