NOT QUITE AN EASY DAY
PCT Day 138: Mile 2390.6 – Mile 2504.8
Monday August 29, 2016: 14.8 miles (24km)
This morning I had a leisurely breakfast and hit the trail at 10am. My body was telling me it would appreciate a zero day but I thought it would be better to get moving and have a relatively easy day on trail. But that was not the way it worked out.
It was a solid climb out of Snoqualmie and I found it slow going. About three quarters of the way up there was a log just off the trail and the perfect place to stop, cook lunch and make up some tortilla sandwiches for supper. While eating lunch my spoon broke but luckily at the PCT Trail Days the folks from Zero Grams had given me a spork which has made a timely replacement.
Walking by myself gives me a bit of thinking time and it made me realise that old habits die slowly. My shoes have just done 1000 miles which is probably about their lifespan on the trail. They still look ok but I am starting to feel many of the rocks through the sole. It reminded me of some of my early cycling trips when I would carry an emergency tyre which was often in such bad shape that it would get punctures very quickly, really false economy when a new reliable tyre at the time was about $12. I’m thinking I really should have replaced the shoes but with only 250 miles left to hike I will keep going in this pair. It will simply remind me that old habits die slowly.
While on the trail today the silence was broken by two jets roaring through the peaks. By the time I got the phone camera out they were already gone. Once the jets had gone I entered a large rockfall area and could hear the chirping sound of picas and the occasional whistle from the marmots.
The trail was cut into the side of a cliff for much of the afternoon and the temperature was quite warm. Halfmiles app indicated that thete were 3 small ponds for water in 4 miles. In fact there was lots of lakes they were just not accessible, as you passed about 1000 feet above them. When I got to the ponds only one still had water and it looked a bit ordinary for a water source but the next water was 4 miles further on and seemed a bit unreliable from the description. I filtered the pond water and it seemed to be alright. A sign appeared on the trail for stockman wsrning that there was no place to turn around or pass for the next 4 miles. This also meant nowhere to camp and sunset was approaching.
I continued walking and the pace was slow due to the technical nature of the trail and that there were so many photos that I felt needed to be captured particularly as the sun was setting behind some amazing rock formations. Mount Rainer was also in full view and had a ring of cloud around its base which reminded me of a ballerinas tutu.
A short time later a later a large white male Billy goat appeared on the trail and it seemed just as surprised to see me in the twilight. I fumbled for the phone and took a number of photos which captured a rear view. It was now getting quite dark and I stopped to locate my head lamp. There were two brown objects ahead on the trail which were either small deer or brown goats. They seemed a little undecided as to their next move. By the time I had the light they had moved down the steep embankment and even with the light I could still not work out if they were goat or deer.
It was slow going but eventually I made to what is indicated as a stock camp, come hiker camp. There were trails going in many directions but eventually I found a suitable flat spot for the tent. It was about 9.30 by the time I crawled into the tent. So much for an easy trail day, although the distance covered would indicate that it was an easy day.