Mile 2186.2 to mile 2162.3, 23.9 PCT miles + 0.5 miles off trail for a campground pit stop
PCT total miles: 847.6
Running total: 951.2
“The mountains are calling and say go back to sleep. It’s fuckin raining. Again.” Now, I’m pretty sure that those weren’t his exact words, BUT, I’m also fairly certain that if John Muir had hiked the PCT in 2019 they would have been…
I woke up around 415 thinking there was a bear outside trying to get our food. There was a noise that I imagined was a paw scraping against a tree, trying to knock our food bag free. Then I saw the tent camped across from us packing up- there must definitely be a bear that they were trying to get away from- why else wake up that early!??
Matt saw me sitting up and thought that I thought that the humans were bears. “Ali, bears don’t wear headlamps, go back to bed!” Oh lawd! As it turned out, there was no bear- those other people just like to get early starts! Weird. (Sidenote: Matt had thought that there was a bear last night before going to bed- he heard the sleeping pads of the other people crinkle and a water bottle pop. I had left a water bottle at the bottom of the tree where we had hung our food- he was confident that when we went to retrieve our food in the AM the bottle was going to be crushed- it wasn’t!)
I woke up again a while later thinking that the blood-thirsty mosquitos were dive bombing our tent- turns out it was rain drops.
As Matt woke up to his 5am alarm (we had another long day ahead of us!) he said, “What. The. Fuck.” My thoughts exactly.
We fell back asleep and around 8 went to retrieve our food. By 8:20 we started packing up and we were moving by 0915- again, in the rain.
We got a little steamy in our rain gear, so when we hit a campground slightly off trail 3-4 miles into the day, we went off trail and stripped our layers. (We also utilized the pit toilets!) The host at the campsite was super nice and gave us a quick rundown of what he had to offer us: bathrooms, completely potable but slightly red/brown well-water due to rusty pipes, cleaner water around the corner, and a PCT hiker registry!
While we were hanging by the pit toilet we met an older couple who had cruised through the campground to use the bathroom. It turns out the man had JUST told his wife that morning at breakfast that he wanted to give up all of his responsibilities to hike the PCT- he was psyched to meet us! They asked a bunch of questions and seemed really interested in our adventures- it was nice talking with them! When they left and we started packing up, we realized we had been there for nearly an hour! Ah!
The next few miles were flat-ish and we cruised, depsite me again feeling a little off. THEN, we came across trail magic!! Huckleberry soda was left at the trailhead, and after sharing one with Matthew I felt so much better!! Then we came across a bucket of food- a hiker had to leave trail due to injury and so donated his already purchased food to trail magic! Matt and I both took a small container of Pringles. Mmm, salt!!
Soon enough we came to a creek at the base of the first of two climbs for the day: this one had an elevation gain of over 2000 feet in about 4-4.5 miles.
Matt sat to filter water and have a snack while I pushed forward, knowing that he would catch up soon enough. I ended up waiting for him to show him this amazing cliff a NoBo hiker pointed out to me.
THEN, since Matt has a faster pace and I always feel bad when my pace prevents him from getting in his groove going up a hill, I had him go first. We had agreed on a meeting place just 2 miles away. He ended up waiting for me sooner to show me a giant slug, knowing that I would have mistaken it for mountain lion poop- Gross! (Later I think I stepped on one- I had sticky gunk mixed with leaves and dirt ALL over my shoe- Ewwww)
The climb was steep but not terrible- I just found it annoying that once we climbed up, we had to descend back down to nearly where we started, only to climb up to a higher elevation again! Grrr
Matt and I rarely talk while we hike. Instead I write novels in my head, sing and make up songs, reflect on our day, find animals and faces in the trees and rocks, and dream of food. Today on the climb I was thinking about the big day we had yesterday- the last time we had hiked a marathon and set our PR we were greeted by our trail fam with cheers and a pizza party when we arrived to the tentsite. Last night we ate freeze dried food and camped by a stranger. It was a little lonely, but we are adapting.
I also dreamt of food- next time we hit a town I wanted to pack out refried beans, tortilla chips, and nacho cheese to make trail nachos. I had seen a couple pack out canned refried beans in a ziplock bag back in the desert and I thought that that was brilliant!! Mmmmm.
Matt had waited for me at our planned meeting spot and we started the descent together. About halfway down a girl approached us coming NoBo and said, “omg I know you guys!!” – GUYS!!! She was the girl from the desert that had packed out the refried beans!!!!!!!! What are the chances?!?!? We spent some time catching up and hearing Rocksie’s flip story (everyone has flipped to and from somewhere different and is planning on ending somewhere different) and exchanging numbers- she’s moving to Phoenix after the hike and Matt and I are there enough that we figured we could hang out!! Also wild- we first met Rocksie the day after setting our first PR- and then didn’t see her again until today, after setting our new PR!
Anxious to get the next climb over with, we said goodbye and pushed on down the hill. After getting to the bottom we had 2 miles of small inclines and declines until we reached the base of the next climb. There we found Rock Creek- Matt and I were both BEAT and needed food and water, so we decided to take a break. I realized that except for the five minutes I took to sit down and take a rock out of my shoe, I had hiked 19 miles without taking a break! Woof!
It was after 7 when we started the climb, this one a little under 2000feet in 4 miles- I estimated that it would take me about 2 hours. Since it was close to Mountain Lion Time(they typically hunt from dusk to dawn) we decided to stick together with me leading the way.
Guyssss, it felt so steep!!! Matt and I both were struggling!! And it didn’t help that I think I swallowed a spider web and felt like there was a web in my throat the entire time! No matter how much I gagged and coughed, it was stuck there- eww.
I felt like no matter how steep the path was, we never gained any significant elevation- we always had at least 1000 feet more to climb even though we had fewer miles left, which meant that the miles got steeper…ugh
At one point I stopped, turned to Matthew and said, “this is hard.” He agreed.
I ended up drinking an entire liter of water- I NEVER drink that much at one time (except after really salty burritos, apparently)! And I definitely underestimated how much water I would need, so I only had 1/2 liter for dinner and to get to the next water source, which was 7 miles from our campsite. (There WAS a spring at the top of the climb but we had heard it was dry so we knew not to depend on it, but I know that others had depended on it and it really screwed them up. What?!? Are we in the desert again?!? We need to worry about water again?!)
While the water carry reminded me of the desert, the scenery did not. We hiked in a rain forest / jungle all day!
At times I felt like I was walking through the Neverland depicted in the movie Hook and half-expected the flowers to start sneezing on me- it was that magical! With the random patches of snow, beautiful blue water ponds, rocky peaks, and an overall fairyland atmosphere, I am convinced that Neverland was based off of Washington State. I kept a look out for the Lost Boys, who would most definitely get along with thru-hikers- we share a lot of the same qualities and their names even sound like trail names!! (Pockets, Too Small, Don’t Ask, No Nap, Rufiooooo- omg I wish that that was my trail name!!)
Other parts of the day I could have sworn that I walked into the set of a Disney movie- it wouldn’t have shocked me to see Simba, Timon, and Pumba dancing across a log, or to see a friendly black panther stroll past. I also imagined that I’d see a big-ass python or anaconda lurking in the trees by the creeks….long days and miles + unreal scenery definitely gets the imagination going!!
Once we neared the top of our climb and neared our planned tentsite, we left the protection of the trees and bushwacked through shoulder-height overgrown trail- I had my eyes glued to the app map, convinced that there was no way in hell a tent site could be nearby. Sure enough the trail opened up a tiny bit and there was a small opening for a few tents.
We found one tent already set up, leaving only one site big enough for our mansion tent- but the other person had hung their food bag from the tree like 1 foot from our site. It was already 8:50 by the time we arrived, we were exhausted, and the next site was a few miles away- we couldn’t be too picky. We set up our tent and crawled inside- I snacked a bit more while Matthew made himself dinner. Around 10pm we jumped outside to hang our food before going to bed…we had a short 15 miles to go to get to Oregon!!