PCT Day 5: Monday July 18, 2022
Mile 2147.6 + 23 miles today
Total Distance Hiked: 72.6 miles/117 kilometres
We left our motel at 6am nervously anticipating the first12 miles of hiking in Washington, it’s all uphill. I wasn’t sure how my knee would feel with a heavier loaded pack. We plan to hike a 147 mile section before the next resupply at White Pass. We figured it would take about 7 days depending on snow cover.
Little traffic on the road made for an easy crossing of the Bridge of the Gods and we were in Washington. With fully loaded packs, I felt uncomfortable before we even reached the Bridge. It was a cool start to the day, but it didn’t take long for the sun to start burning on our backs.
As we progressed up the trail, the pounding of my heart in my ears blocked any other messages getting through from my knee. It was hot and sweaty work. I worked out a walking posture which reduced the niggles in the knee. The forest was silent, not a breath of wind or birdsong broke the silence. Just the crunch of our feet on the ground. It was a head down, get it done kind of morning. We made the top of the climb and we were trashed, 12 miles by 12pm. Feeling pretty happy with our effort. It’s funny how the only memory I have of this section of the trail is the clear felled forest area, which was after the top of the climb. I guess it was a contrast to the forest before and after that stood out and maybe the beautiful raspberry smell. Today the raspberries looked to have a long way to go before ripening.
Stopping for lunch is always a highlight and today especially as it offered a chance to rest and dry off after the sweaty climb.
After lunch the hiking was nothing short of spectacular. Soft trail in healthy pine forest, occassionally opening up to ever changing views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt Rainier. Now I remember, the 12 miles of sweaty uphill hiking was worth it.
Water was scarce along this section and with the heat we were running out of water by late afternoon. My knee was really bothering me, it was painful to walk. I was falling behind Hammer and dark thoughts were swirling through my head. I couldn’t manage the pain anymore. We stopped to fill up on water at the first available water source. It was a trickle and took ages to fill our bottles. It was late afternoon and Hammer took some of the load from my pack. I took some Ibuprofen and we headed off.
Maybe the slow water filtering which gave us more time to rest, or the pain killers or the lighter pack or all of the above made a huge difference to my knee. Pain was significantly reduced and we hiked on for another 3 hours. We passed Rock Creek with it’s creosote coated bridge. Amazing that after 5 years the smell of creosote is still just as strong. I camped here in 2017 and had a mouse chew through my tent. We decided not to camp by the creek and make a start on the climb out of Rock Creek Valley. It was another heart thumping, sweaty effort that seem to go on forever. I was very relieved when Hammer spotted a camp site a mile from the top of the ridge. We still had plenty of daylight, hope our sweaty clothes dry off by the morning.