PCT Day 6: Tuesday July 19, 2022
Mile 2170.6 + 22 miles today
Total Distance Hiked: 94.6 miles/152 kilometres
It was a warm and very still night. Great camping conditions. Dawn provided background lighting to the huge pines surrounding us. The bird melody started just a little bit before 5am. It was a perfect start to the day.
We broke camp and were on our way by 6am. The first mile was uphill and it took a little while to get my legs coordinated. I was pleased that my knee did not feel too bad.
Early morning birdsong soon faded away and was replaced by silence. Not even a gentle breeze disturbed the giant pines we were walking by. The silence was broken by the rhythmic clicking of our hiking poles on the ground. We reminisced about people we’ve met on the trail previously. Wondering where they are now and what they are doing.
Hiking through the green tunnel, there wasn’t really much to look at although the green of the forest with sunlight filtering through was so pretty.
It was a hot morning and got hotter as we descended into Wind River and Panther Creek Valley.
It felt quite strange, the Panther Creek campground had a few tents but no other sign of life. In fact we did not see one other person all day. It was as if though the hot weather has forced everyone to the seaside for respite.
Lunch by Panther Creek was really pleasant. Hammer went in for a quick dip in the icy water. The cool breeze coming off the water was refreshing. Later in the day I regretted not going in for a swim. It would have been amazing to feel the chill of icy cold water on my knee But I’m a little lazy about the whole effort and especially putting dirty clothes on after being in the water.
Loaded with water for the next 14 dry miles we started the slow grind up countless switchbacks. The climb out of the valley was hot and thirsty work. Mind numbing switchbacks which went on forever.
The only reward for this sweaty work were three views of the north face of Mt Hood.
My knee was getting more painful as the afternoon progressed, my mouth was burning from the hot air and I seriously questioned what I was doing here. Hammer just slowly chipped away at it, without complaint.
I remember how tough this section was the first time, I’m not sure why we decided to come back to it. We could have cherrypicked, in fact that was the original plan, to hike only Trout Lake to White Pass. But somehow it morphed into a much bigger and more ambitious undertaking. I was doubting my physical ability to do it.
I think I almost had another meltdown before we stopped for a rest, had some snacks and that was enough for a mental reset.
We hiked another couple of miles and stopped for the day. We had plenty of water and didn’t need to hike another 4 miles to get to the next water source today so we decided to stop early.
Our campsite has fantastic views of Mt Adams to the north, the sun is still shining and there is a lovely breeze blowing through the tent. We were soon joined by another hiker – trailname Starman – whom we first met going onto Eagle Creek Trail.