28.1 miles (Miles 1932.4 – 1960.5)
Forest Rd. 5897 – Horse Creek Trail
If I could give future PCT hikers only one piece of advice, it would be to always look for something beautiful. Most days you don’t have to try at all – you don’t even have to think about it. Thankfully today was one of those days for me. There are days, however, that feel dreary – maybe it’s because of the weather, or you feel like everything is looking the same, or your feet hurt, or maybe you’re just tired. But in any struggle, if you look for something beautiful, you’ll find it. It can be a tiny flower, a rainbow, a glistening stream, a mushroom, a cloud, or even a short conversation with another person… whatever is beautiful to you. The point is that it will lift you up, and you’ll find yourself looking for more.
I remember when I hiked through my first burn areas. I remember feeling really sad – all that forest – gone. Charred black streaks scarred the landscape and it felt so empty and barren. Then I started to look around more. The flowers that thrive in a post-burn environment are colorful and spatter the ground in all directions, the trees are barkless, white, and glow against the blue sky, and sometimes being able to see through the open trees grants a view of a snow-spotted mountain you wouldn’t otherwise see.
I thought about all this during the first few hours of hiking because the early morning brought me right into an old burn. I almost couldn’t believe how pretty it was. There were purple and white flowers everywhere, huckleberries to pick, dew-covered leaves reflecting fresh sunlight, and the trees stood tall and skinny high into the sky, framing a fading near-full moon. I almost fell over a few times just looking around.
After the burn area, we stepped into forests of pine, firs and awesomely gnarly hemlocks. I finally got a photo of the old man’s beard that I was pretty satisfied with. It’s really tough stuff to photograph with a phone camera!
Next we entered the Three Sisters Wilderness. We’ve been getting glimpses of the snowy peaks of the Sisters way off in the distance for a few days now, so we were pretty excited to get a much closer view late this afternoon. We had to peek through the trees, but I think we’ll get some clearer views tomorrow. What was really great about this wilderness area was all the lakes! Especially coming out of such a dry section of trail this past week. There were ponds spotted with lily pads, low and film-covered pools, shallow and muddy, and big lakes painted in teal and blue, reflecting the forest on the opposite shore in perfect detail, just upside down. It seemed like we had a new lake around every turn.
The other great thing about today was all the huckleberries. It was hard to make good progress in some spots, the way those plump, purple berries hung along the side of the trail, begging to be picked and eaten. Tears and I joked that we needed “huckle-blinders” to get down the trail. Maybe we’ll invent those when we’re done hiking. Huckle-blinders with dwarfle-blinder attachments. Yeah, we come up with some weird stuff sometimes, but it’s fun.
Tonight I love doughnuts. I wish I could eat a doughnut right now.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!