PCT Day 82 : Out Of The Forest And Into Goat Rocks!

June 25 (~08:20 – ~18:40)
Killen Creek – Walupt Creek (24.2 mi / Total: 2269.2 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1169.2
Weather: Chilly. Mostly overcast with a little sun now and again. It rains lightly several times throughout the day.

I didn’t realise that I’d camped at the end of the snow. I cross just the smallest patch across the trail and then I’m able to collapse my poles and walk without. The meadow is beautiful though. A little morning sunlight brought it to life. Still it’s chilly as I walk on, back into the Washington forest, as I forgot my gloves in my sleeping bag – I often leave them there overnight to make sure they are dry in the morning.

After one splendid view of Mt Rainier, the day moves through the forest. First, an easy descend, and then it’s back to going up, which somehow, never ends. The forest switches from romantic to dark, and more unexpected snow patches appear, but the worst thing is that the mosquitoes are back. I can’t rest, or stand still, or I’m swarmed by them. I sit down for a ten minute lunch, eat a sandwich and then make another to eat on the way – once the mosquitoes find me, there’s no stopping them.

It makes the day more difficult. Shortly after lunch everything begins to drag. My feet hurt, my legs are tired and I’m hugely bored. I haven’t seen any other hikers, and I’m still following the two footsteps in the snow. It’s a little disconcerting.

I get so low on energy that I consider just setting up my tent and lying in it for a few hours – safe from the mosquitoes, and I might feel better to continue hiking for a few more hours. But I’m surrounded by snow, and I trudge onward, waiting for a change. Then suddenly I’m awarded with some views – just enough to lift my spirits and keep me going for a while longer. I’ve entered Goat Rocks Wilderness now, and these are my first views onto the mountains I’ll be ascending in the next few days. These are the mountains I’ve worried about. Again, there seems to be less snow than I’d expected, but you can never tell from such a distance, and it doesn’t mean the snow there isn’t sketchy. I try to figure out where the trail runs, and if it would go through the thick snow around those peaks. There’s no way to tell. I can’t wait to be through.

I can tell I’ve entered a new area though. I can see the difference in quality: the trees are green and perfect, and everything is fresh and bright, even in the grey weather. Goat Rocks definitely stands out.

Before I know it I’m back in the forest, slowly moving towards that range of mountains that I’ll be ascending and passing in the next days. I planned to camp at the foot of the range, at the start of the snow – but it’s still early, only 4:30, and despite my desire to stop walking, there’s no snow, and it makes more sense to keep going for another 5 miles, to position myself closer to the possible sketchy snow tomorrow. It’d give me more time to hike through it, or bail out, if needed.

So I keep on going. I climb up, follow the steep sidles to higher elevation and watch the mountains I just came from get smaller in the distance. The views are beautiful, and they are only supposed to get better, if I manage to get there. More snow appears just before camp and I can help but worry. I really hope I’ll get through all right.

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