PCT Day 93 : Why Is Washington So Creepy?

July 6 (~08:25 – ~19:30)
After Deep Lake – Hope Lakes (20.4 mi / Total: 2456.4 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1356.4
Weather: It rained a little overnight and the day starts quite chilly, but sunny with clouds. As I move through the mountains it gets more foggy.

The day begins with some great views. It’s cold and cloudy but Waptus Lake lies beautifully in the valley, and alongside the mountainous backdrop, it makes this morning’s ascend a treat.

Once I reach the top, the moodiness of the day continues. Grey, low-hanging clouds, sharp rocky trails with sheer drops and steep climbs. There’s something about today that influences my mood, something a little sad, or a little daunting. I find myself thinking about the hikers who have gone missing in this area, always in late October, always when the weather turns. As I climb up I look down at the void below, all rock with thick bush as the bottom, and it would be so easy to disappear here forever. When I get lower I push through the maze of overgrowth again, which could equally hide anything, and it spooks me a little, I just can’t let it go. This terrain can kill the unlucky.

I’m not quite sure why I let it get to me so much, why this sadness has descended on me, but then I realise it’s not just the terrain itself – I’m also hungry, very hungry. My recent resupplies have been poor, my food has been low in quality. I’ve been snacking on crackers which doesn’t fill me at all. I’m running on empty once again. I feel as though my hiker hunger has tripled, I need so much more, so much more than I could ever possibly carry.

On top of that I haven’t had any entertainment to take my mind off hiking. I wasn’t able to connect to any decent WiFi in Snoqualmie and I couldn’t download anything from Netflix – I don’t have any Star Trek episodes left to watch in the evenings. It may sound silly but I’ve quite enjoyed getting engrossed in a completely different world, so I’m not just stuck hiking during the day and thinking about hiking at night. With nothing to distract me, Washington’s creepy side has taken hold of me, and these last few days I haven’t been able to shake it off.

Then something else goes wrong. I’ve decided to stick to my new stretching regime, but shortly after a quick session the outside of my right knee starts to hurt – badly. The pain doesn’t ease, it just gets worse and worse, and any downhill is a killer. I can’t believe I may have just stretched myself into an injury.

At least I’ve been seeing more people. The stream of southbounders doesn’t help me make friends but it’s nice to know I’m not alone on these trails. I also run into Smiles and Crunchmaster as they southbound Washington, and it’s nice to catch up with some other early-starters. At least some people I know, and who’ve had similar experiences on this trail.

I don’t make it too far today. Upping my mileage in Washington seems to have been a distant dream, it’s more difficult than I’d anticipated. The ascends are so long, so steep, an the descends are the same. Visually it’s been a beautiful day, views and lakes and mountains of rock ever-changing, but everything is slow. I find a camp spot close to Hope Lakes, which leaves me just 8 miles to walk to Stevens Pass tomorrow morning. I’ll be able to hitch into Leavenworth, and I can’t wait for it. I’ll finally be able to visit a proper grocery store, and there’s even a health store nearby. I’ll be able to get some quality food again, and I already know I’ll feel so much better because of it.

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