August 30 (~08:10 – ~20:10)
Dorothy Lake – Seavey Pass (21.1 mi / Total: 975.7 mi)
Total PCT miles: 2379.3
Weather: Sunny, and very hot as the day furthers!
I rise when the sun hits my tent, and I continue along the rocky path past the glimmering lake, bright and peaceful in the morning light. It’s an easy morning. Ten miles of level trail, through meadows, some forest, the only frustration coming from the sections of rocks, where I’m jumping from one side to the other, unable to keep a pace, all the muscles in my legs tight and overworked. Some of the trail is muddy or covered in water, and it gets a little tiresome to walk through.
I follow Falls Creek all morning until I have to ford it – a high, swift one in the early season during the snowmelt, one to watch out for. But before I set eyes on the actual crossing, I climb down to the river and rest on top of the smooth boulders right next to the water, and take a break. This is a wonderful place to be, and I wish I could sit back here all day. But I can’t, of course. Thruhiking is not where you get to lounge around for too long. I have three climbs to look forward to this afternoon, the last one up to Seavey Pass, if I make it.
When I reach my first Sierra river crossing I’m happy to see there isn’t much left of the raging torrent at all – it’s just an ankle deep creek with little current. There are three others when I cross, a German father and two teenage daughters, and their packs look awfully heavy. They take off their shoes for the crossing to ford barefooted, which is generally a horrible idea – so much more chance of injury. I pass them, quickly walk through with my shoes on, and continue to the first uphill straight away.
I first pass several beautiful lakes on the way up, and then it starts, the steep ascend up the rocky trail through the forest, steps cut out of stone, everything steep and slow. When I reach the top I exclaim, one down! Until I realise I’m not there yet, I have just a little higher to go.
When I do descend I do so in a stunning landscape of granite mountains, everything rock, everything large, light, it’s all just impossibly remarkable. I jump from one stone to the next and enter a dark forest, before climbing up again, and it’s the same story. I sit on the rocks at the top of ascend number two and then it’s 5 pm and I need to go because I still have Seavey Pass to get over, and it’s another 5 miles.
The last uphill is more varied, it’s not steep all the way but it follows a river uphill, and the elevation keeps changing. It’s a dance while the sun disappears behind the mountaintops. Light’s faded when I reach the tentsites on top, just before the pass, a sandy spot with ample rocks and a lake just before it, which wasn’t on my map. I thought I was going to be able to get here by 6 or 7 but of course I didn’t, my legs are still too tired to keep a pace, but despite the late hour I’m happy I made it here. This is where I needed to be.