PCT Day 145, Double Flip and a Flop with a Hop, Day 64

Sept 4
Mile 986.9 to mile 967.5, 19.4 PCT miles + 0.8 to Benson Lake, 20.2 total
PCT miles: 1472.9
Running total: 1599.5
We started moving in the tent around 0530 & were on the trail before 640. Today was gonna be a tough one!

We started the day climbing up a total of 1010feet in 2.2 miles, then dropped down 200 feet lower than where we started, only to climb up again, the second climb 955 feet in 1.2 miles. These short climbs are total butt kickers!!! On our elevation profile they look like nothing compared to the passes we need to climb, but in reality they are significant climbs of sometimes 1000feet in a mile! Woof!

We had a few creek crossings in the morning, one of which required a leap of faith when I again found myself stranded on a sandbar- I took a two-step running jump across the last section of water and onto the steep slope of the shoreline- I had hoped that my momentum would allow me to continue up the slope, but once my feet touched the ground I found my body off balance and I wavered to and fro, unsure if I was gonna be backpedaling my way into a creek. Somehow I regained my balance and with a big step I made it up with dry feet! Again, Matt followed successfully, but he was a lot more graceful than I.

It completely blows my mind that when people crossed these creeks in mid-June, the water was waist to chest high and we have barely gotten our toes wet!!!
Our third climb of the day was up and over Seavey Pass, a nice, steady climb of 1200 feet in about 4 miles. The pass, sitting at 9131 feet, was one of the lowest passes we will be climbing.

Over the next three miles, while the dark clouds overhead started to spit on us, we descended down 1500 feet into a valley between Seavey Pass and our next climb, Benson Pass.

Before our final climb of our day, we decided to enjoy lunch at Benson Lake, as recommended by Mr. Llama Man & numerous PCT hikers. On our way off-trail to Benson Lake the rain began to fall heavier and the thunder rolled more frequently. I had suggested to Matt that we just set up our tent where we were to wait out the storm, but he had suggested we race to Benson Lake and set up the tent there, so we continued on…not a minute later Matt got stung by a bee. Fuccckkkk. This time the little bastard got Matt in the wrist, and immediately the bite area began to swell. {Over the course of lunch his hand proceeded to balloon up and almost looked like a 🥊.}

As soon as we arrived to the lake we found a site and set up our tent. Just as we jumped inside the sky completely fell on us- rain and hail pounded on our tent while the lightening flashed and thunder bellowed. We were SO thankful that we were under shelter for this storm, unlike the similar one we had in Oregon where all of our shit had been unpacked outside for lunch.

It seemed that every time the storm started to subside and we talked about packing up, seconds later it would begin pouring again, with an occasion roar of thunder. When I asked Matt if we should head up to the next pass in the current weather he stated, “I can’t get stung by a bee and struck by lightening on the same day!” OH MY GOD I could have killed him, tempting fate like that!! I could picture Mother Nature all like, “here, hold my beer…”
Our rain delay ended up lasting 2.5 hours, from 1:45 to 4:15ish.

We were back on the muddy trail by 4:30 and were almost immediately greeted by a creek crossing. Although not too deep, this one seemed impossible to cross without getting our feet wet. Since the water was clear and the creek bottom was sandy, we both just took off our shoes and walked across. While we were drying off our feet three SoBo hikers appeared separately- the first, after much deliberation, decided to try and cross a huge beaver-dam like structure and was successful. The next two did some crazy running and jumping, both successful. While normally I’d be mad/jealous that there were options that we didn’t explore and I COULD have crossed with dry feet, I had a strong hunch that neither Matt nor I would have been as successful with the SoBos’ tactics, so it was what it was.

We began our climb up to Benson Pass, which sits at 10108 feet. Our original plan was to climb up and over the pass and to camp on the descent somewhere, but since we had stopped early the day before, which added 4 miles to our day, and we had our rain delay this afternoon, it was a lot later than expected & we were quickly losing daylight. We agreed instead to shoot for a site halfway up the climb.

The climb consisted of an 1850foot gain in the first 3 miles, and then the trail dipped down slightly in a “u” shape before again climbing up another 908 feet in the last 3.2 miles. We ended up camping just 1 mile and about 650 feet shy of the pass, arriving to the tent-site just before 8 but in complete darkness. We quickly set up our tent, ate dinner, then went to bed- we had wanted to make it to Tuolumne Meadows the next day, 25 miles away.

Happiness is: staying dry in a storm…and those views!!

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