2428.4 to mile 2450.3, 21.9 PCT miles +.8 miles backtracking for less wet, mosquito-y hell, 22.7 total miles
PCT miles: 919
Running total: 1023.6
Matt’s alarms started going off around 0530 yet I found it impossible to wake up and get moving. (mom, think back to high school days and having to drive me to school ’cause I missed the bus…again.)
By the time we packed up and started walking it was 805! Oops!
Allstar, whom we met in Trout Lake when we were going SoBo, passed us as we started- damn he is speedy!
Today we had two big climbs to look forward to, our first having 2300 elevation gain in 7 miles- so not steep, just constant. Partway up, around 1100, we stopped for water and decided to take a quick second breakfast literally sitting in the middle of the trail.
A little after our break Matt stopped and said, “this just isn’t fun anymore.” He again wasn’t feeling well. I, too, wasn’t having fun- Matt feeling like shit worried me, the bugs were driving me insane, and I missed the camaraderie of our trail family. Like I had been concerned about, the trail has lost a little bit of the magic since our return…
I was pretty bummed on our climb until I came up with a crazy idea. I was nervous to bring it up to Matt, especially with him not feeling well, but it turns out he had had the same idea! The rest of climb was quite pleasant- Matt was feeling better, the views were incredible, life was good!
AND THEN we had another descent of 1700 feet in less than 4 miles. Matt’s knee hurt if he went too slow and my shin and knee hurt if I went too fast, so Matt went ahead and we agreed to meet up at the bottom at the “cascading stream.”
Holy cascading stream!!
We spent a few minutes mapping out our best option to cross with dry feet by finding cairns (piles of rocks) that previous hikers had left to suggest the best rock hopping options- it was like a scavenger hunt!! While some rocks were wobbly, we more or less followed the cairns and were successful in keeping our feet dry!
Once on the other side we sat down for lunch- it was my favorite lunch spot in Washington! No bugs and great views.
Immediately after lunch we had our second climb: 600 foot gain in 1.4 miles, 2 miles of minimal gains and losses, and then a 1500 foot gain in 3.5 miles.
It was getting late (almost 7:30!?), so I was getting anxious to get to camp. We came to one potential site that I thought was in ultimate mountain lion zone, AND we still had energy to push on, so we passed it up. Our goal was to make it another 1-1.5 miles down the descent to one of two potential tent areas. The descent was terribly slow due to the super rocky terrain- and damn, when you step on one of those rocks wrong it hurts like hell!! Ouch!
We eventually made it down to the first camping option- a bunch of tents were already set up and I didn’t think it was TOO buggy, but Matt had hoped to camp by the lake so again we pressed on for another 0.4 miles. GUYS, other than the thought of having to leave trail when Matt got hurt, NOTHING has made me cry on-trail- but holy hell was I close tonight! First, we had to climb down a steep only semi-maintained trail to the tent-sites. Whatever, it’s nothing we haven’t done. But then, the only tent-site left was on a soggy island surrounded by stagnant puddles- the ideal breeding zone for mosquitos- and I’m convinced that they were multiplying exponentially by the second. I was tired and frustrated and defeated. I threw a mini fit, angry that I had let Matt convince me to hike on from the previous site. Thank goodness Matt didn’t like the idea of camping on near-swamp like conditions and agreed it would be better to backtrack.
When we returned to the previous site we set up camp and again “enjoyed” a meal in swarms of mosquitos- I ate a poptart as it was the highest calorie food I could eat in the least amount of time.
Our bug nets have truly been life savers, but today I somehow managed to get one mosquito in my eye and another in my nose. I also found a crusty, decaying mosquito in my hair. I hate this. There is no rainbow or bright side to this and trust me, I’ve been looking!
Oh, today we met another guy who had a mouse chew threw his tent! And we heard a few stories of mice crawling on faces and over and under tents. I’m dying. Fair warning, if a mouse gets in our tent and crawls on my face I’m quitting this hike.
Milestone: we hit 900 miles AND we have completed over 1/3 of the trail!