9.20.18. 16.6 PCT miles. 11 alternate miles. 27.6 total.
I again snoozed my 5:00 am alarm. I’m liking this new system. I eventually wake up between 5:20-5:30 which was my intention with the 5 am alarm, but I’m one of those people who are kind of against the snooze thing & would rather just wake up to my alarm at once. Oh well. The light sprinkles I heard on my tent got me going pretty quick. I did not want my tent to get too wet.
I was hiking by 6:15, and soaring downhill, even though it was dark and I needed a headlamp. Usually I’m moving a little slower when it’s dark, but the trail was really smooth. I was 5.5 miles into the day in less than 2 hours. Then, the climbing started. Very gradual at first, with some undulating trail, then more constant uphill for about 5 miles. It was at a decent grade though and not too steep, so that was really nice, and I moved pretty well up the incline. The weather was weird all morning. Sun and blue sky, but then it would be sprinkling. Then it would be cloudy again. So bipolar.
Of course when I sat down for lunch, the clouds were in, and it was drizzling a little harder, but still on & off. I cooked some ramen and ate other random snacks to decrease my pack weight. About halfway through my lunch, one of the hikers from NorCal who I’ve been leapfrogging with, Amanda, showed up and we ate lunch and chatted together. She’s really nice.
After lunch, it was time to finish the remaining climb to the Cloudy Pass junction, where the Bannock Lakes Fire closure begins. The climb was steeper than the first part, but only about 2.5 miles, and went by fast. The views on the PCT were nonexistent all day, but when we got onto the Hart Lyman Trail alternate, the views were astounding! We climbed a little, descended, climbed again over cloudy pass, and the views really opened up. The mountains were incredible, I could see the glacier blue waters of Lyman Lake below the mountains, and the fall colors were in full swing in the meadows. It was amazing. All I can think about in my mind when I see views like that is to sing “The hills are alive, with the sound of music!”
After ascending Cloudy Pass, the trail was downhill the rest of the way, with a few uphills, but not bad. My feet were hurting pretty bad, but overall the alternate was great. It’s a great trail with beautiful lakes, and the grade wasn’t terribly steep like the awful Goat Rocks detour. Only one more fire detour left to go!
I was impressed with my speed. I started the alternate at 2 and got down to the Holden Village camping area at 6. Only one other person was there when I got there, but Amanda and her group came right after me. We all set up our tents, searched for and used the pit toilet, got water at the creek, and made dinner and talked at the picnic table. I like nights like these where I can relax and socialize. It definitely helps that tomorrow is a “town day” - we’re all just in a relaxed mood now that we’re not trying to cram any more miles into the day - because we went as far as we could!