August 14 (~07:50 – ~20:25)
After Butt Mountain Trail junction – after Chips Creek (23.4 mi / Total: 1297.3 mi)
Total PCT miles: 2070.3
Weather: It goes from warm to hot hot hot.
I’m so comfortable in my quilt that I don’t bother to get up. Let’s just lie here for a while. It’s soft and fluffy and it’s warm out, not like yesterday when I camped next to the icy creek.
I let the morning sun creep in and admire my little view. The deer never bothered me, although I heard a few roaming about. I pack up and follow the ridge, there are big clumps of crazy rock emerging from the mountain, the trail curling around all of them. I dip in and out of the forest – it’s a good morning. The trail will go downhill more than it will go uphill today, and I’m excited about this. I’ll try and get as close to Belden as possible today, a resort conveniently right on trail, so I can make a quick visit tomorrow.
I have an early first break today. I need to go off trail 0.3 miles to get to a water source – most of them are far away today, and I hide my pack in the bushes while I run down. It’s so much easier like this, I wish I could be this lightweight all the time. I would fly through if I was, the trail would be so painless.
The morning continues, meandering upwards, a little more up now, slowly, then down again, fast. It gets hot, suddenly it’s all too much and of course, I’m going up again, the up is always fighting me. I lie on a downed tree in the shade somewhere, conscious of almost falling asleep, then drag myself to the first water source that’s actually on trail – well, a few yards off, a spring with water gushing from a pipe that’s so cold it hurts my teeth. It’s amazing.
When I see two girls resting next to a road I ask them how they’re holding up, if it’s just me struggling with these temperatures – it’s not, it took them all day to climb out of Belden, they say. This heat isn’t just in my mind. I keep climbing up to the high point, the landscape a mess of everything – downed trees and wild flowers and Christmas trees and rocks, and that sun right in my eyes the entire way up, yet another thing I don’t like about going southbound.
At the top I eat the last of my cereal, probably an entire box’ worth and then it’s 7, and it’s time to go. I follow the sandy path as it carves into a hillside, slanted and then through a field of flowers and an elvish landscape of rock and a curving trail around a small creek. I set up my tent not in the spots that I pass because the forest is too dark, but next to the trail and next to the creek, where the trees are a little thinner. It’s dark already and I listen to the heavy bustle of the creek all night.