26.9 miles (Miles 2161.1 – 2188.0)
Creek at PCT Mile 2161.1 – Wind River
Last night, right before falling asleep, an owl hoo-oo’d a little ways off in the woods. A minute later was another call, but much closer. Then a third that was so close it actually kind of made me jump. He must have been almost directly above our camp. There were a few more after that, but each was further away until I couldn’t hear it at all anymore. It was a really neat way to drift off to sleep.
The hike today was through a lot of forest. The morning was really pretty with whispy, thin clouds of fog rolling through the trees. It wasn’t long before that fog thickened enough that we lost any potential views of the far off hills through the trees. I don’t know what we missed, if anything, but I still really enjoyed the new forest. I’ve always loved the fog and how it gradually makes everything pastel and softer. The grass closest to me was bright green, fading to a lighter green, and the pine trees along the horizon seemed airbrushed. I was walking in a hazy wonderland.
Being in Washington, I had this idea that I’d pretty much be soggy-feeling all the time, and it would rain every day. I’ve only felt slightly soggy, and that’s partially because of sweating like crazy up some pretty stretched-out climbs. I’m glad I didn’t look at the elevation profiles… I would’ve gotten tired just looking at it. Sometimes I think it’s better to not know what lies ahead. It wasn’t terribly steep or super-difficult climbing or anything… it just went on for a couple of hours. Then it would drop down into a valley by water, then back up again.
As for rain? Well, I think Washington is probably one of the few places you can get rained on when it’s not even raining. What was happening is those low foggy clouds rolled through the forest, and what little condensation they held clung to the trees. The trees held on to each droplet of water until a breeze would softly pass by, and if I was in those trees, I got rained on. I didn’t get too wet, so it wasn’t a big deal. I found it so interesting, though, that less than a week ago in Oregon, if it rained I could take cover under a hemlock with some old man’s beard hanging in it and stay almost completely dry. It’s weird how drastically things can change simply by stepping over an invisible border line.
My favorite color has always been green, so these Washington forests are a wonderful place for me to be. The forest here is almost solid greens in all different shades. Even the trees and dirt are covered in several different types of green mosses, lichens and shrubs. I couldn’t resist touching all the different mosses to see how soft and spongy they were. If only I could have a bed made out of that stuff! There were also a bunch of different mushrooms to look at and enjoy. One in particular reminded me of bread.
Later in the afternoon we had a new experience. Angry bees. We heard a rumor that there was a nest right on the trail around mile #2182. There were even statistics thrown out there – something like, “9 out of 10 hikers were stung 5 times.” I have no idea where the stats came from, but it sounded like a pretty big deal. Once we got to that spot there was a note in the trail, and Australia was there trying to decide what to do. According to a southbounder we ran into, five people had gone through without a sting. We all decided to put on our raingear and headnets and hope for the best. Australia didn’t have a headnet, so he stretched his long johns over his head, and he was still able to see – it was one of the funnier things I’ve seen on the trail. Creative solutions to trail dilemmas are fun.
We started down the trail. Australia was first, then me, then Tears. There was another note about a bushwhacking detour. We stopped to read it. A very short while later was another note. As Australia stood over it to read it, Tears hollered, “Youch! I got one! GOOO!!” Bees shot out of a hole in the trail and swirled up around us as we ran our butts down the trail. Man, were those bees unhappy! Tears ended up with four stings – we realized afterward that it had to have been because she was last in line. I stopped to let her in front of me after a bit, but I think it was over at that point. Thankfully she’s not allergic! What a freaky new experience. We all hope that will be the last time we have to deal with that!
Toward the end of our day we came upon some trail magic – Sage Girl was there with her dog, Buddy. I enjoyed an apple, a banana, some pistachios and a couple of figs. It was a really nice pre-camp stop. We hiked on another few miles to the Wind River where we get to fall asleep to the amazing, soothing and consistent sound of softly flowing water. There’s just nothing like it.
Tonight I love sipping a cup of hot cocoa. What a nice way to wind down from the day.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!