PCT Day 79 : Elks, Lakes And The Snow Is Starting To Melt

June 22 (~09:20 – ~18:55)
Along Lava field – Mosquito Creek (23.0 mi / Total: 2219.1 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1119.1
Weather: Grey and overcast. The sun comes out briefly now and again. Wind at higher elevation, it’s quite chilly.

Today I definitely oversleep. I leave after 9 and the trail takes me through a different landscape. I meander through heaps of lava rock which reminds me of Iceland, even though here they’re covered in trees, which Iceland doesn’t have. Then it’s back to the forest – but it’s nice, I pass lakes and meadows and everything is fresh and beautiful. I see three elk during the day, one walking straight towards me on the trail until it spots me and runs away. They are huge, so big I first think they are wild horses, and they are very elegant.

The day is mostly overcast, and the few views I get are covered in clouds. I’m climbing up again, I’ve been climbing for days. Still, when it’s lunch and I’ve done ten miles it doesn’t feel like I have. This morning went by fast – perhaps it’s because of the changing views. When I sit down to eat the first people of the day pass me – a group without any packs at all. It’s always strange to think you’re walking around in the wilderness and suddenly day hikers pass. There must be a trailhead nearby, or a popular campground. I find that I’m close to Blue Lake, a gorgeous lake with ample campsites around.

As I set off and continue climbing, I’m apprehensive about the snow that’s supposed to be here. So far, nothing has appeared. I’m over 4500 feet, where the snow map showed a thin layer, but still, nothing. I pass more lakes and then, small snow patches. It’s clear the forest is going through the melt: everything is wet, and there are huge pools from recently thawed snow everywhere. The snow is retreating from the meadows and the forest floor is covered in a bed of small white flowers. Everything is blooming after the snow has gone. Everything is coming alive.

I feel relieved about the snow map being wrong, but as I get higher, and go over 5000 feet, the few snow patches get a little bigger and I take out my trekking poles to walk across faster. The snow is old though, and it’s easy to navigate. It’s nothing like the snow I’ve had.

Once I descend again the snow slowly disappears, and I’m back to the same forest views, although I get a few glimpses of the big snow covered mountains around. The mosquitoes come out as well, and when I sit down to eat the packet of ramen that have been cold soaking in the front pocket of my pack for the past hour, I get swarmed by them, the tiny ones, and they all sit on me and sting. I can barely get my things together and get away. I end up eating the noodles while I’m walking. Worse though, the ziplock bag must’ve leaked while it was in my pack’s pocket, as everything in it is soaked with noodle water. I’m going to have to try and clean that the best I can. Everything is wet and smells like chicken noodle soup, even though it was beef ramen.

I stumble through the final miles. I can’t rest because of the mosquitoes so I’ll just have to keep going. I’m tired, but luckily the snow didn’t slow me down, and I was able to do a good day. My last surprise is the smallest and cutest mouse I’ve ever seen, sitting right on trail in front of me. I squat down to take its picture, and it’s completely worth the mosquito bites I get in my face. When I walk on it finally runs away. Tomorrow I’ll be able to go into town. My first Washington experience.

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