Day 14: Sensory Overload

14.5 miles (Miles 168 – 182.5)
PCT Mile 168 – Strawberry Junction

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Trail on a cliffside

It seems like every day out here gets better and better. If this continues… I dunno… is it possible to die from sensory overload? I sure hope not, ‘cuz I really want to finish this trail!

I just don’t have words to describe it. I’m always tryin’! Tonight I thought I’d play off of the “sensory overload” feeling. Sitting in one spot, maybe on a break on a random ridge, this is a touch of what goes on:

You see a huge view in front if you… expansive, layered mountains, trees, sky… and it’s stunning.

You hear birds chirping and the breeze coming up the hillside in front of you, softly swishing through the treetops.

You feel the gentle touch of a cold breeze on any exposed skin, and the rays of the sun warming you all over like a hug.

You smell the fragrant, sweet smell of pine mixed with a touch of wildflower.

You taste the glorious saltiness of the cheesy potato chips you just hauled up the mountain…

All 5 senses – all at once… overloaded. It sometimes physically gives me a tummy ache because I can’t quite process it all at once. It’s pretty glorious.

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Mountains and big rocks!

Later in the afternoon we approached a junction to a side trip (off the PCT) up San Jacinto Peak – 10,800 feet. Of course I wanted to climb it! I felt conflicted about it all day. It would add lots of climbing onto an already very heavy climbing day, it would be in the afternoon, and it would add on 1.6 extra miles. Then this started to roll in:

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Ominous skies

An ominous sky… we heard we might get rain or snow tonight, and I don’t have any idea how the weather and mountains play together out here… so I chose not to climb – it just felt too risky. I was sad about the decision, but very comfortable with it, if that makes sense.

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I usually do a much better pouty face. :)

This afternoon, just before camp, I had my head in the clouds. Literally. My head was actually in a freakin’ cloud! Hah! Right where it belongs!

As we climbed, those ominous-looking clouds that kept me off the peak got closer and closer as we climbed. Then they were just above the treetops. Then they were floating right past us. And then we were in the cloud completely.

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Clouds just above the treetops

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Walking into clouds

One other cool thing that happened today, was running into three friendly volunteer forest rangers. They were out doing some trail maintenance. They asked for our thru-hiking permits, which we proudly provided… and they signed it to show we were legit. I feel so official now! They kindly reminded us about the extremely high fire danger. It’s sooo dry out here! I questioned the use of camp stoves, and they clarified the only stoves you can use under such high fire danger are ones with an on/off switch. So the Jetboil passes!

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Friendly park rangers

Speaking of Jetboil… dinner was mac & cheese with cheesy potato chips crunched on top (yeah, so? We’re from Wisconsin. We can put cheesy on cheesy. It’s how we roll!) We had string cheese, too. And then Oreos for dessert.

It’s cold. We’re bundled in our sleeping bags in the tent, at 8,500 feet, wondering if we’ll wake up to snow on the ground. I’ll let ya know tomorrow…

…if I don’t croak from that sensory overload phenomenon. :)

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Windy!

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Great PCT trails

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Uh-oh! Let the blow-outs begin!

P.S. Happy Birthday to my nephew Rex-a-Roo! ♡

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