PCT Day 78 : Forests And Ascends

June 21 (~08:15 – ~18:30)
Dirt road after Rock Creek Road – along Lava field (23.2 mi / Total: 2196.1 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1096.1
Weather: Chilly, overcast.

Ever since I went off trail I’ve struggled to get up on time. When my alarm goes off at 6 I’m just too comfortable in my warm quilt to move, so I snooze, and snooze again.

When I leave only one of the two other hikers is up, but they only have another ten miles to walk, and that’s the end of their short adventure. I wish them well and continue my way, swiftly walking the meandering trail through the same forest I’ve been walking through for the last few days.

I’ve been thinking more of how to finish hiking this beast of a PCT this year, and with the snowy forecast for northern Washington, it seems to make more sense to keep going north, and possibly hike all of Washington northbound. It does mean I’d encounter snow in some of the prettiest areas, which I may have to walk around. I’d miss out on places such as Goat Rocks Wilderness if I do that. I’d consider flipping up, but it almost seems too problematic to try – the trail here is a lot more remote and Washington doesn’t seem to have the public transport I’ve encountered along the rest of the trail. It would be a pain to hitch back to these stretches. Either way, if I keep on walking it also means I won’t be able to go to a few shops before continuing the hike. I’d have to keep wearing this horribly smelly shirt, and I’ll run out of protein powder. I guess I won’t be sitting in coffee shops sipping lattes for a week.

Just before lunch I run into the South African sitting in the middle of a bridge. I tell him I might be doing the same thing he is – walk northbound to Canada. We might be able to do the snowy bits coming up together, although I have a feeling he’ll be doing slightly shorter days, as he doesn’t have the pressure of finishing the hike before a certain date. It not until after I leave that I realise we haven’t even introduced ourselves. I have no idea what his name is.

Then I’m off again, and like yesterday, nothing much happens. The forest is much the same. The views get more sporadic, although there are more flowers in all colours. There’s one surprise though: trail magic. I find a cooler filled with all sorts of things close to a road, and can’t help but take two items, and apple and an orange.

After this the trail goes mostly up, and all afternoon I have to climb, switchback after switchback, although somehow the trail still feels easy. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t hot, or because the forest ground is pleasant to walk on. Whenever it gets rocky it feels like a lot more effort.

Now and again the forest is dark and a little eerie, then it’s romantic and mossy again. I get an amazing unexpected view onto Mt Adams and then the trail levels, and I’m ready to camp. The monotony is getting to me, my feet hurt, I want to stop. I walk, dawdle, try and speed up again. I’ve lost my pace. I miss two campsites and water because there are already people there, with fires, and I’m not sure if they are thruhikers so I keep on walking, grab water from a piped spring and find a little unofficial spot next to the trail, on higher ground next to a hill of lava rocks. The spot is unexpectedly cute. Tomorrow I will have to go through some snow, but my campsite should place me in a good location to get me through it during the day. I hope it’s not too bad.

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