MOSQUITOS AND BLOWDOWNS
PCT DAY 29: Monday July 24, 2017
Mile 2187.9 – Mile 2216.2
28.3 miles (45.3 km)
Today is a brand new day and to quote Rilke “Full of things that have never been”
I woke refreshed and renewed. It was still dark but I could see the shape of the mountain slowly coming out of the darkness. By the time I broke camp the sky was a brilliant display of pinks and blues and the sun lit up one face of the mountain. I was happy, the pain of yesterday was forgotten.
The air in the forest as I set off this morning still held a little bit of the heat from yesterday. But there was a glorious cool breeze. My pack felt as light as a feather. Yesterday afternoon it seemed to weigh a tonne. Within two miles I reached a creek and stopped to fill up with water. And here I met a northbound hiker “Trash Man” who was camped nearby. So good to finally meet someone on trail who is heading in the same direction.
The next couple of hours of gradual downhill were absolutely delightful. There were wildflowers and the air was cool. This is more like it Washington.
But as you could maybe guess, this joy did not last. I stopped for breakfast by a campsite next to a dirt road. Little did I know at the time that this will be the last time I am able to stop until reaching camp some 9 hours later. After breakfast and crossing the dirt road the trail started to go up towards a series of lakes. I was going to stop for lunch at a beautiful sounding Blue Lake. But as soon as I approached the first of the lakes, Sheep Lake, mosquitoes started. Nothing too fierce at first but as I got further along their numbers and ferocity increased. I stopped to apply insect repellant, something I really hate using. But they seemed impervious to it.
Before reaching Blue Lake the trail winds over Berry Mountain. And this section of the trail made the fight with the mozzies worthwile. From the top of the mountain there are spectacular views back towards Mt Hood and walking further along My Adams pops up almost in front of you. And then through the trees Mt St Helens – stunning.
By the time I descened to Blue Lake I knew there was no chance of lunch there…I filled up with water there. The swarms were so thick I couldn’t see through them. I thought I’d stop for lunch further along in a breezy spot. But no sooner did I stop before the swarm descended. I was forced to eat and walk. That was the only way to stop them from crawling into ears, nose, eyes. These mozzies made the Oregon ones look shy by comparison.
So the test of the afternoon was spent trying to outrun the mozzies and not get tripped up by rhe numerous blowdowns. By late afternoon my feet were killing me. I’d not taken a break at all. So i thought id stop snd camp earlier then usual. By the time I reached the campsite just before 5 it was already occupied. Unbelievable, thetexhave been so few people on trail and here were 3 tents. Turns out they were southbound and stopped early to prepare themseleves for the mozzie run tomorrow. So on already hurting feet I hiked another 3.5 miles to camp by Mosquito Creek (hardly and mosquitos). There were already 4 guys set up there when I arrived just after 6. But I managed to find a spot. I really didn’t think I could go any further. Soooo happy to get horizontal. And only second time in a month on the PCT that I’m camped with others.