I wake up at 6. No rain! Yay!
Mike is up and making breakfast at one of the picknick tables. The Alexes are still in their tents. I look over and Mitch is asleep.
I slip out of my sleeping bag as quietly as I can and brush my teeth at a curtious distance. It doesn’t look like they’re getting up anytime soon. I stealth pack my things and hit the trail around 7.
Feeling good today!
The trail cruises down gradual switchbacks through the forest. Leaves and pine needles cushion the way.
I size up Mount Baddenpowel through the branches. All the other thru hikers have been talking about this climb. You think you’re so steep huh? Well I’m ready.
I reach a road and a small parking area at the bottom of the switchbacks and pause to situate my water and snacks. A car pulls up and drops off another hiker. He looks at me and says he wished he did this when he was my age. I look at him and think, I wanna be able to do this when I’m his age. We have a nice talk. He says his daughter is always telling him, “You can always get more money, but you can never get more time.” I think there’s a lot of truth to the ‘time’ part.
We say goodbye and I begin the climb.
When I know I have a lot of up hill, I like to think like a bike and shift into low gear. I might not be fast, but I can keep this pace all day.
Up and up the trail zigzags. After the first 4 switchbacks I’m immediately hungry and have to stop to eat something. It’s amazing how fast food turns into fuel. I start to spot patches of snow ahead.
Getting close! I sit for another snack break and two lady day hikers find me. They both want to hike the PCT some day and take a picture with me (Hope I wasn’t too smelly…)
I hike on and catch up to two thru hikers, an older gentleman trail named OB (Old and Busted) and a girl my age named Lydia. She’s from Colorado too! I pass them but not for long. The trail disappears under a huge snow bank with no foot prints to forge the way.
Where’d the trail go?
Lydia and OB catch up to me. We look around. It seems like people scrambled strait up to the next switch back. I crawl up the slope to check. Yep. That’s the way.
The rest of the hike to the top involved a lot of guess work and following forged paths in the snow.
Mitch catches up to us and powers past to the summit. Lydia, OB and I take our time across a saddle on the way to the top.
The view is amazing. I ask OB to take a picture of me.
I offer to take one of him in return. He turns around and asks me to take something out of his pack. I don’t understand what he wants.
Lydia knows, she reaches into the back pocket and pulls out a piece of laminated paper. It’s cut into the shape of a paper doll and is decorated with crayon. A picture of a woman smiles warmly for the face. He poses with it for the photo. I think it is just wonderful. I have to know the backstory.
He points at the crayon, “My grand children drew this……”
He then points to the picture, “And that’s my wife.”
He takes her everywhere with him.
The hardest thing on the trail isn’t the high mileage or the hills. It isn’t the blisters or the aches and pains, the rattle snakes, poodle dog bush, bug bites, lack of water, cold nights, rain or snow. The hardest thing, is being away from the people you love.
We sit at the saddle and eat next to the oldest pine tree in the western states.
Lydia and I explore the summit. A lot of people are gathered at the top.
The French Canadians, Alex, Alex and Mark show up. It’s getting crowded. OB and Lydia head out and I’m right behind them. We end up leap frogging each other down the switchbacks.
The trail goes through an old burn section. The trees and pine cones are huge.
I get to the next water source first. It’s a short but steep hike down to a spring. I lean my pack against a tree and head down. I find a few guys getting water too, Awesome Possum, Jeppe, Disco and Dylan.
I filter the water back at the top near my pack. Lydia and OB catch up and leave their packs with me to get water. The guys climb back up on to the trail and head off. Lydia tries to stuff her water bladder into her pack when something falls out! Her pack cover! We all watch it bounce in slow motion down the hill, over the trail, down down into the bushes. There’s no way we’re getting that back. It’s gone.
Dylan suddenly drops his pack and jumps down the slope. What is he doing? It takes us a second to realize he’s gong after the pack cover! No. Way. Lydia tries to stop him but he’s determined. After some searching he finds it!
We’re so impressed. Any extra energy spent on the trail is a big deal. He refuses any compensation, food or candy and hikes off down the trail a hero. Lydia says she’s going to buy him dinner when we get to the next town.
I hike ahead and eventually get to a road and the endangered species closure. There are two ways around it, a road walk or a 20 mile detour into the Devil’s Punchbowl. I’m planning on doing the road walk but I pause to take a break. A guy leans out of a parked car, “Want a coke or beer?”
It’s another thru hiker named Sublime! He’s taking a few days off the trail to rest his feet and do trail magic! He’s waiting for a group slack packing. They gave him their backpacks so they could hike Mt Baddenpowel without them. They’re meeting him here to get them back.
I take a coke and hangout by his rental car for a few hours. He offers me a ride up the road walk after the slack packers arrive! Yes!! I don’t want to walk the road! I ask if he has space for OB and Lydia. I only just met them but I really like them! I feel like we’ve been hiking together forever. He says he can take 3 people. Awesome! I wait for them to show up.
A bunch of other hikers arrive. No one is very happy about the closure and it’s getting late. I feel awquard about having a ride. There isn’t space for everyone, and I can’t offer, it’s Sublime’s car. OB and Lydia arrive. The other hikers decide to camp just up the trail. OB and Lydia start to follow and I ask them if they want a ride. Yes they do! We walk back to Sublime’s car and wait for the slack packers to show up.
They crest the hill whooping and hollering. Sublime pulls out the cokes and beers. It’s a party! We introduce ourselves and one of the hikers is Vango!!! I found him! We pullout our paint kits. He only has two small pans of pigment! A yellow and blue. We sit and paint a picture for each other.
So much fun! Sublime is ready to give us a ride up the road. Lydia, OB and I say goodbye and pile into the car.
Sublime drops us off at the next point where the trail crosses the road. Thankyou Sublime!!!
The sun is setting and the forest is getting dark fast. We hike in and set up camp at the first flat spot we find.
Camped at mile 397.7 of the PCT.
Miles hiked today: