9.19.18. 24.6 miles.
Boy, today was hard. So steep and so many blowdowns! And washed away trail! And super narrow trail that’s a trench that makes it hard to not trip or run into the sides of higher ground! These miles were probably the roughest I’ve faced collectively.
I woke up to my alarm at 5, but didn’t start getting ready until 5:30, still tired from yesterday. I was hiking by headlamp at 6:10. It’s so dark in the woods. The morning was not relaxing. So much overgrown trail, I felt like I was bushwhacking sometimes, and was smacked in the face and legs by thin branches as I walked by. I was immediately climbing after a more flat walk through these overgrown parts. Steeply uphill. It was a pretty hike, but I was hurting. I ran into some hikers I recognized from back in NorCal - Amanda, Bernt, and Hans. Finally at the top of the long climb, I took a small break to chat with those hikers and eat a snack. The view at the top was simply breathtaking. The mountains were dusted with snow, the alpine meadows below so green and littered with white stone.
I hiked a steep 1.5 miles down to Mica Lake, home to the bluest water I’ve ever seen. The perfect spot for lunch. I was joined by Sprinkles & Burps, and Burps even decided the water was so tempting, he had to jump in. In his defense, it was pretty warm in the sun on the rocks we were sitting on.
After lunch, it was another 4 steep miles down to a bridge over a creek. My right knee has not been happy with these steep downhills and has been twinging every few steps as I go downhill. After the steep descent, of course we had a steep ascent right after. The trail went right up and over another mountain, directly across from the one we were on in the morning. We could even see the switchbacks of the climb across the valley from Mica Lake. The climb was about 4 miles, and seemed to drag on forever.
Finally, I reached the top, and the trail descended a little and I walked through a pretty alpine meadow with beautiful mountain views before slightly ascending again, and then beginning the long descent down to another valley, where I’d be camping. I was practically sprinting down the trail, always trying to get to camp before 7 pm, so I can set up in the light. I always get there slightly later, and it’s usually fine enough to set up camp. I got to the campsite I wanted and there were TONS of tents. Where the heck did all these people come from?! They did not seem to be PCT hikers, and it looked too crowded, so I continued down the trail, hoping to find something decent, and found some dug out tentsites below the trail just a few yards away from the large, occupied camp spot. I hope the others behind me found places! There weren’t really any on the way down.
Tomorrow will be an interesting day. The Bannock Lakes Fire has closed part of the PCT to Stehekin, so I need to take a detour to Holden Village to get to Stehekin. It’s going to be ~16.5 PCT miles, and then another 11 detour miles to Holden Village. We’ll see if I make it all the way to the town or stop short. I need to be on the 10:30 shuttle to the ferry to Stehekin on Friday, so it’s ok if I can’t make it all the way to Holden Village tomorrow, but I need to come close.