Mile 418.6 to mile 436.1, 17.5 PCT miles, no off trail miles!!
Running total: 459.3 miles
As we had anticipated, we woke up to rain falling heavily on our tents. The wind was blowing, but we could hear it up in the mountains absolutely gusting- we made the right decision to marathon it yesterday!!
I ate all of my snacks and some of Matt’s before 8 am, ’cause what else is there to do? And damn that hiker hunger…
When the rain lightened up a bit, Matthew & I ran to the pit toilets then quickly returned to the shelter of our tent and warmth of our sleeping bags, where we remained for the rest of the morning! Only Silver was brave enough to leave his tent, but he was fully armed with his fancy skin-colored thermals and his sun umbrella.
By reallllly late morning the constant rain had turned to periods of sun (causing us to roast in our tents!) and brief periods of rain storms (where it became so cold we had to jump back into our sleeping bags!) The bravest of our trail fam (Arc!) was the first packed up and on the trail- soon followed by the rest. Matthew and I didn’t hit the trail until 1:15pm.
Arc had originally mentioned camping at the North Fork Ranger station more than 17 miles away, but when we all agreed to stay in our tents until the rain stopped, we realized that this was overly ambitious. Messenger Flats was our next best option mileage wise, located only 12 miles away, BUT it was described as exposed and windy, which caused a little concern for us. The decision was made to play it by ear, and if somebody decided to stay at Messenger Flats they should write a message in the dirt.
Matt and I busted out the first six miles in under 2 hours, even including a wardrobe change when I decided it was too warm to hike in my rain coat!
It was another crazy day where we walked from desert to forest to rain forest back to desert- so wild!!
We were entertained along the way by drawings left in the dirt- some were fun (a woodpecker!) and others were terribly disturbing (the dark mark?! Friggin Death Eaters on my thru hike?! I quit!)
Just over the 6 mile mark we ran into our trail fam enjoying a lunch break, where it was discovered that Silver was the artist behind the dirt graffiti. His continued art allowed for some comic relief as the day turned ugly later on…
After lunch we had another climb, and again I found myself quickly shedding my rain coat layer that I had thrown on at lunch- it gets so chilly when we are sitting still!! BUT, not long after taking it off it started to rain again, so back on it went, along with my fancy garbage bag pack cover.
I ended up hiking the majority of the afternoon alone- I had passed Arc when she stopped to fill her water at a creek, She-Wee and Yaara were wayyyy ahead of me, I had told Matt to hike on when I stopped to take my coat off, and Big Mama passed when I stopped to put my coat back on!
I was enjoying the quiet walk until it really started to pour and sleet, and I saw that I was walking into a black cloud- legit my hell: walking into a storm on a trail surrounded by poodle dog bush. Ugh!
When I arrived to Messenger Flats I didn’t see anyone, so I carried on towards the Ranger station. It stopped raining for a few minutes, then it was back to wet, cold, misery.
I started getting upset that Matt hadn’t waited for me- he was usually all about sticking together in bad weather and waiting for each other at junctions, etc- WTF, Matt! I was super wet and super angry…and not entirely sure I wasn’t super lost- I had come to a dirt road and didn’t see another trail sign, but after walking down the road for a bit I found another trail sign- so turns out I was just super wet and super angry.
I hadn’t seen Matt in nearly 3 hours! He didn’t think to walk back to see if I was okay? He knows I’m directionally challenged and my phone sometimes dies quickly!! Didn’t he turn on the phone to see if we had service? Was he too cold to wait?? Ha! Joke’s on him- I have the tent stakes…he couldn’t set up shelter if he tried!! I was pretending to be more upset than I was- I was more so confused by the fact that he didn’t wait- he’s usually more courteous than that!! and I was pissed that it was raining…
Just a little after 7pm I heard a noise behind me- I turned to find Matt! What the fuck?! How did that happen!!? Turns out he had stopped at Messenger Flats to use the pit toilet and had been behind me for hours! Oops…
Matt and I strolled in to the Ranger Station together around 7:45pm. The rain had finally stopped and the sun started to shine through the clouds just as it began to set. While we looked around the site, we didn’t recognize any of the tents- umm….where were our friends?!? After walking around for a minute we noticed a set of familiar packs next to a building- could it be? Shelter?!? Inside the building we found friends, warmth, and food!!
Happiness is: shelter from the storm! Friends reuniting! And Ron and Todd at the North Fork Ranger station! Todd is a badass ranger that keeps the pit toilets full of toilet paper and the water cache full of clean water (among other important duties as a ranger, but those are the two things I appreciated the most today!!) AND Ron is a volunteer that spends 6 weeks during the hiker season living very simply in the middle of nowhere to greet hikers and feed us snacks and coffee!!
Ron welcomed us in to the office, allowing us to thaw off a bit. Snacks and soda were 1$ each, and if we spent $2 we got a free hot dog and carrot!! I enjoyed chips and soda while Matt enjoyed two hot dogs and a carrot.
When we felt we overstayed our welcome and accepted the fact that we had to go back outside and brave the cold to set up our tents, we shuffled out into the frigid night…then quickly shuffled back inside to beg Ron to let us change into dry clothes in the office. After donning dry shirts we all raced to set up our tents.
Just as we were finishing setting up our tents we saw a light in the distance- we all called out, “Arc!!???” When it was confirmed that it was her, we all cheered her on as she came down the last stretch towards us- it was such a relief to see her!! We had all been worried about her- last we heard from her she was still considering camping at Messenger Flats, but nobody knew for sure AND there was no service to confirm that- did we just assume she was tucked away in her tent at Messenger Flatd? Or was she still in route towards us?! Was she okay?! Again, so happy she came strolling in!
Matt declared it a “cook dinner inside the tent” night- it was that miserable, and we were soaking wet!! I could literally ring the rain water out of my shorts and underwear and my shirt was soaked through with sweat! Brrr!
Dinner & hot chocolate complete, we bundled up in our sleeping bags for sleep! Zzz