32.8 miles (Mile 2027.6 – 2060.4)
PCT Mile 2027.6 – PCT Mile 2060.4
Come on, mountains, whatchya’ gonna’ do?
I said this a few times early on today, but it got old fast and I gave up.
I started hiking at 5am this morning with the intention of hiking 35 miles before dark. If it wasn’t for the weather and some dumb decisions on my part, I’d have made it. All things considered, though, I’m happy with how far I got.
I started out in the dark for an hour. It’s tough to hike in the dark. I was having a hard time seeing dips in the trail, so I nearly stumbled a few times. My favorite part about hiking so early is being able to see the sky wake up. This morning it was a cool gray overcast that reminded a bit of an early winter Wisconsin sky. Then it changed. Big, low, puffy clouds lit up in pink and floated overhead, and a short time later most of the sky lit up in a coral hue, reflecting onto everything around me a really pretty glow. Then it changed again. And again. And again. The mountains were working something up… clouds started forming at the peaks, then they started rolling up the sides to join the bigger plumes. Uh-oh..
It started to rain, so I brought out all the rain gear. About an hour later it stopped and blue sky took over with a few really low, whispy, foggy-like clouds, so I took the rain gear back off. During a bathroom stop it started to sprinkle again, and then that stopped. I got a dry break in at 8am, and that was my last real break until 2pm. That was my biggest mistake today.
I’m learning how to deal with lots of hiking in wet weather. Not taking breaks because I’m afraid I’ll get wet is not a good strategy. If it rains again tomorrow, this is the first thing I’ll change. Even though I was munching on snacks, it wasn’t enough. I needed lunch – substance. And because I was being stubborn and trying to push on, to get out of the rain, the wind, the cloud I was in, I lost a lot of time. I was practically crawling by the time I finally took my lunch break. A good lunch was all I needed – the rest of the afternoon was a ton better, and it still rained on and off.
There was a summit climb today with a really spectacular view… which I didn’t see any of (unless you count rain, clouds and small hail). I did get some gorgeous flying clouds going right past me – but when I stepped out of the trees and to the summit, I couldn’t see anything but white 15 feet in front of me. The climb down the other side was slow-going, too. I was still on my “no-lunch” snail pace, my feet felt like hamburger because they desperately needed a rest too, and it was a rocky scramble with a couple of snow fields. There weren’t even any trees – the landscape totally took me by surprise. Was I transported back to the Sierras on some high, stormy pass? I was navigating by looking for a rock cairn through the thick, cloudy air, then scrambling toward it, and continuing that until I made my way to a meadow where I could clearly see the trail again. Boy, it was an exciting day!
Oh, and Russell Creek… a scary river crossing. It was probably a little scarier because I was alone, and the clouds were flying up the river canyon in an eery fashion. I felt like I was stuck in a horror flick… about a girl hiking… and crossing a river. I know, scary, right!? But really… the river was rushing strong, and there weren’t any places I could safely rock-hop, especially since they were all wet from the rain. I just forded straight across in my shoes and all – they were already soaking wet anyway – and with each step, I’d wedge my foot in between a rock and the current until I finally was safely across. Whew!
I hiked pretty steady in the afternoon until I found a little flat spot just off the trail to set up my tent just before it got dark. A little while later Danny and Mike came down the trail looking for a spot, so they joined me. It’s always nice to have campmates – and these guys are both super-nice. They’re section-hiking – training for their 2016 PCT thru-hike!
So in the end of all the wet rain… I learned a lot today. I hope that I’m able to conquer the next wet day and come out laughing at the sky. I’ll get there…
Tonight I love how the rain drops bead up on all the plants and flowers.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!