17.1 miles (Miles 847.6 – 864.7)
Evolution Creek – Heart Lake
I was tired today and feeling kind of groggy, but it didn’t seem like I had a good reason. I slept well, ate well, and was well-hydrated. After about an hour of hiking I realized I was definitely worn out from yesterday, but not because of how many miles we hiked, and not because we had climbing… I was worn out from all the prettiness. It seems strange but it’s for real. I was overwhelmed all day yesterday with looking around and seeing so many vibrant colors and amazing scenery. I experienced sensory overload again, but it went on almost all day long. I was having a sensory hangover! And boy, oh boy… it’s the best kind of hangover ever – so very worth it!
I was thankfully able to function just fine, despite my newly discovered hangover, and so the miles flew by like normal. We hiked to the infamous Evolution Creek ford. Past year’s PCT hikers have had to wade across in water up to their chest, floating their backpacks on their sleeping pads or holding them above their heads. The deepest it got for us was about mid-thigh. The current was swift, but overall it was pretty easy – it was icy cold, though!
For quite a few miles we followed San Joaquin River, crossing it three times on nice, sturdy bridges. Both Evolution Creek and San Joaquin Rivers had wide, cascading waterfalls, teal and crystal-clear water, and some really pretty calm spots. I’ve always really loved rivers, so I was a happy hiker this morning. At one of the falls, the mist even made a light rainbow!
The trail brought us way down into a valley where the rivers quiet down, the meadows are all over, and the skeeters are abundant. Then it started to climb us right back up again, working us toward Selden Pass. The climb was mostly switchbacks through low manzanita scrub, so we were exposed to the hot afternoon sunshine. It sure would have been a bad time for us to both run out of water… and we did! About halfway up to the next water, at almost the same time, we ran out.
We hiked on, slow and steady until we hit a great stream. We filled up, chugged, and chatted with Acid Glasses, Stumbling Beav (the owner of a ginormous footprint we’ve been following – size 15!), Treekiller and Milkman. A group of four forest rangers also showed up and asked to see our hiking permits and bear canisters. Ali was super-nice. She signed our permits for us and I asked about the penalty for not having a permit – $120 fine and you have to leave the trail at the next possible exit, and you can’t return until you’ve obtained the proper permits. Yowzer… glad we’re all legal! That would be such a pain in the buns!
We hiked the same exact distance as yesterday, which was totally unplanned. Our 17.1 miles landed us at Heart Lake, a gorgeous little mountain lake a little under a mile from Selden Pass. When we got here it was still a little early, so we set up camp and went down by the lake to get water and do some laundry.
There was this perfect jumping rock that I just could not resist. Milkman and Treekiller showed up just as I was about to go in, so they stuck around and swatted mosquitoes as I cannonballed into the cold lake. It was cold, but not too bad! In fact, I went in a second time and was able to dive in! Worth the cold… so refreshing, and super-fun!
Two funny random conversations from today that had us laughing pretty good (and making it hard to breathe and hike):
Me: They should make shoes for walking in sand like snowshoes.
Tears: They do, they’re called camels!
Me: Oh yeah! But really… shoes just wide enough and spread out to walk on top of the sand.
Tears: You should invent those… and you can call them Camel Toes!
We all have some pretty dry skin out here. I was trying to explain how my dry skin was all over my silkweight long johns this morning – all powdery like “dandruff of the leg hairs.” We talk about all kinds of crazy stuff out here. Usually it’s food, though.
Tonight I love Watkins mosquito repellant. It works better than straight-up deet. Thank goodness, because they are now out in force!