May 24 (~08:45 – ~20:10)
Kangaroo Spring – after Alex Hole Spring (17.7 mi / Total: 1683.5 mi)
Total PCT miles: 865.7
Weather: Weather: Sunny. It gets warmer throughout the day, but in the evening it’s chilly again.
I wake up with the sun and it feels incredible. When I go outside I’m stunned: my campsite is dazzling. When I set up in the dark last night, I had no idea I was surrounded by such pure beauty: white snow, big rock faces and fresh, green trees.
When I get ready in my tent I suddenly see ticks running around me. They’re in my sleeping bag, on my skin, and I try to rid of them, except for the one monster that is already attached to me, it’s head inside my flesh while its legs are dangling about. I flashback to yesterday, when I sat in the grass for a quick break. They must crawled on me then. This one has grown big already, it must’ve been attached since then. I want it out. I grab the best thing I have: nail clippers, and try and latch on to it carefully, and fail. I pull but the head is still stuck inside of me. I can’t believe every time I flip up the trail, something goes wrong. I try not to feel like I’m not supposed to be here anymore.
Luckily the snow isn’t too bad when I head off, and I follow the footsteps that are already there, which makes everything a lot easier. It’s gorgeous here as well. Although I started late, I take my time. I wanted to do long days but it’s just not happening with this snow. It’s annoying, but I’m also happy that despite everything, I get to walk in the sun today. Finally.
The day moves along at high elevation, and there is a lot of uphill. It’s tiring, I definitely underestimated the amount of ascend today. I walk slower and slower, until I spot some male deer just before another patch of snow, and I decide to take a break. I’ve been without snow for a few miles now, and when I head off after lunch, I’m climbing higher and higher and the snow comes back again.
Then I see people for the first time – a group heading southbound. They ask if I’m a PCT hiker, people always think I’m a day hiker, and tell me about the conditions ahead. There’s a lot of snow, apparently all the way up to Ashland, and the entire group seems quite depressed about it. So much for trying to flip up to a section with less snow. At this rate I’m going to run out of snow-free areas to complete before the snow melts. On top of the oncoming snow, they tell me another storm is forecasted for tomorrow evening. Not long after I meet another hiker who tells me he’s booked a ticket to Barcelona. Everyone seems to be defeated by the snow.
It doesn’t take long until all I see is snow. I was in a good mood this morning, but now I start to feel a little sad about the whole thing as well. I thought I was doing okay – the snow today isn’t ideal but it’s old snow and it comes in patches, so it’s okay to deal with. But slowly it turns to more – more snow, and longer stretches of it. I follow all the footsteps, everyone opting for the dirt road instead of the trail because the PCT is swallowed by a wall of snow and drifts and the road runs parallel to it. While it’s also covered in snow, it’s much easier to navigate.
As the evening draws close, more southbound hikers approach. They recognise me before I recognise them – it’s Nick and StinkyCheese! They’re walking with another girl I haven’t met before, she thought I was a day hiker because I’m so clean. Nick and StinkyCheese started on the same day, and I haven’t seen them since the desert. They’re also having a hard time, and tell me the trail is covered in snow, almost all the way to Ashland. They only managed to walk seven miles today. I planned to make it to Ashland in two days, some 40 miles ahead, but now that might not be possible. They’re thinking of giving up as well. Everyone seems to be giving up.
When I say goodbye I have a few more miles to go. I’m on the edge of where the snow becomes omnipresent, but I need a little more water and hope to reach Alex Hole Stream a little further up, hesitantly skipping out on a beautiful clear campsite overlooking the mountains beyond. When I reach the site of the stream I find it unreachable, covered in snow down a steep mountainside, leaving me no choice but to keep going without extra water. I continue as the snow thickens and the trees thin, and settle for the last bare spot next to a tree.