Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 8 - White Pass bound.

Yesterday was a nero. Which means, in the language of distance hikers, a day in town where you have only walked a few miles along the trail. I walked 5 in the morning then went to town and stayed the night. Today will be a zero because even though I'll go back to the trail I probably won't walk any forward miles on the trail. So, zero = no miles walked in the direction of travel, nero means only a few miles walked. Every culture has it's own lingo...

I'm soon to be out of Trout Lake The Town and at the trailhead. A local man named Doug picks up and delivers hikers to the trails and he'll pick us up at the store at 5 pm. Chinese Rock will walk till dark but I think I'm just going to stay put til zero-dark-thirty tomorrow morning. It's too hot to walk in this heat. I hope it's cooler up at altitude. 
This is example of the planning I sometimes do in a section where water sources and campsites might not be as frequent. It's only a projection though since I don't know what things look like on the ground. What I do know though is this next section includes the Goat Rocks Wilderness, one of the most scenic areas of the whole trail. There's a lot of up and down involved and lots exposure to the sun...fewer trees. And maybe fewer mosquitos! One can hope. I'll try to do the area justice with my little phone camera but I fear it won't be a good representation. However you'll get the idea. 

As usual, no guarentees of posts due to possible lack of reception but I'll be back in reception land by the 5th. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 7 - Trout Lake - The Town

It's 100 billion degrees in the sun here in Trout Lake, WA. Well, close to that anyway. It wasn't that hot this morning at 5:30 am when I tiptoed past the Boy Scouts and back onto the trail. My pack was light though and I had breakfast on my mind so the 5 miles to the road to town seemed pretty easy. 

Lo and behold when I came down the hill and saw the road to town, I also saw a vehicle, apparently offloading some northbound PCT hikers. What luck! There I was, 13 miles from town and no wheels of my own, but a kind soul named Dan was there with his pooch and a truck, offering me a ride to Trout Lake. 
Dan is a river guide, when he isn't ferrying PCT hikers about and we had rivers in common to talk about.  Scary rapids like Crystal on the Grand Canyon. Gives me the willies to think of it. Anyhoo he dropped me off at the store...
...where I asked about renting a room for the night. Nope, all full. Called the motel, nope all full. Called the B&B and they had a room for me. A nice big room with breakfast in the morning, showers and laundry service. And the town swimming hole off the back yard. Oh, and a bathing suit to borrow. Sweet. 

So off I went with my pack and resupply box picked up from the store about a block and a half over to...
...where I moved into my spacious room with a bath down the hall. A real B&B that way. 

Right now I'm sitting on the porch at the store drinking a beer and watching the people come and go. And thumb typing here. Slowly. I'll hang here till tomorrow afternoon when I'll head back to the trail to spend the night before heading back into the wilds for 5 more days. Goat Rocks Wilderness is in my future!

Day 6 - Trout Lake Creek

It might seem obvious but it's much easier to walk flattish to downhill than it is to walk uphill. That is, I'm able to maintain a good pace (for me) even over a lot of miles. As an example I left camp at 5:45 am and rolled into my lunch spot just before noon - 11.5 miles done! This makes me cheerful. I may hike another 5 before the day is over. 

Another thing that should have been obvious is that camping on a lake is guarenteed to gather a lot of condensation in the tent, and everything else. 
Forethought would let me know I should have packed my tent on the outside of my pack this morning but no - I wasn't thinking clearly at 5:30 when I was loading my pack. At lunch I decided to haul out the tent to dry, and it's a good thing I did because it had leaked onto my clothes bag and had soaked one part of my sleeping bag. Fortunately was a bright, sunny day with not too much humidity so an hour in the sun did the trick. Must remember, must remember...

Met three thru hikers just before camp tonight. Warrior, who is walking in support of the Wounded Warriors project, Raven (who I think I met way back in early April) and Rags who has a contagious laugh. I'll probably see them tomorrow in Trout Lake. 

The couple I've been leap frogging with every day have trail names. They are Trinity and Plague, apparently characters in a movie. The last time I saw them today they had dropped their packs and were in a field next to the trail gathering and eating wild strawberries. Yummy. I had just put my pack back on from lunch and wanted to make tracks so I didn't join them, though I did bend over and snag one. Sweet!

Speaking of wild food I'm now in Huckleberry territory and had my first taste today. They aren't quite ripe yet but will be soon. They look like a bit like blueberries but are more tart. 
When I arrived at my intended campsite at 3:45 pm, after a 16.5 mile day, I was disappointed to see it full, or apparently full. Turns out there is a Boy Scout troop from Oregon City who does 100 miles of the PCT every year and they are on day 3 of a 10 day trip. There are 6 boys and 3 adults, all with their own tents. They were gracious and invited me to come in and search for a spot, which I did. I ended up eating dinner with them and Stan, the leader, gave me a fork. Easier to eat spaghetti with a fork than ones hands. One of the young men, Sam, asked if he could do a good deed  (yes, he said that) by filling up my water carrier for me, which was funny as well as sweet. Of course I said yes. I have a hunch I'll see them again before they finish as they are only hiking 10 miles a day. All the leader guys were interested in my gear so I showed them my pack and tent. Gear heads know how to find one another. 

One more thing. I saw this beautiful flower for the first time today, in areas where snow had recently melted. Anybody know what the name is of this beauty? Snowdrop perhaps?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 5 - Junction Lake aka Mosquito Hell

There was a beautiful spring two miles into this mornings hike. Fresh, clear and cold. This is the kind of source I feel confident drinking without treating...
The day was relatively easy, especially in comparison to yesterday. My legs weren't sore, which was a big surprise considering how uncomfortable I was when I went to bed. I thought for sure I'd be hobbled but not so. Yea! I guess I'm getting my hiking legs back. 

I hiked 14 miles today and will have another 14 or so to do the next day. Why so many? Wellll, it seems I may have miscalculate a tad bit on my snack foods and I've had to cut back on my intake during the day. I still have all the needed meals through tomorrow and half of the next day I just don't have the in between stuff. I mean, a two ounce packet of tuna is good and all but ya kinda need something else to go with it. So I need to get out by mid-day the next day before I run totally out. 

So that's one reason. A second one became clear to me when I went to cook dinner tonight. Hey, where's my spoon? I had it at lunch...hummm. Nope, no spoon. And I don't carry a spare (this will change) so how the heck can I cook, and more importantly eat dinner?
Tent stake doing double duty, though not at the same time. But, but, how do I eat it? Well, I thought of scooping it up with a credit card but I didn't know if that would somehow hurt the card. Eureka! I have hands! In many cultures people eat all their food with their fingers so I figure I was honoring those cultures. As well as eating. 
Works pretty good with Mac and cheese. Cereal? Geeze, I don't know. Stay tuned. 

In reference to the title of this missive? My luck has run out. There has been a mosquito bloom, so I've spent most of the day today trying to avoid being someone else's lunch and I don't imagine it will be getting much better anytime soon. Oh well, it's still way better than sitting in traffic somewhere. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 4 - Un-named spring - mile 2202

So when they say rain forest they mean everything is moist and green and lush because it's damp. Right? Whether it's from rain or fog or rivers/creeks, the whole place is humidity city.

Well, that goes for people and gear too!  I rinsed out a couple of items yesterday afternoon and this morning they were just as wet as when I put them out to dry. Wild. Just so you know, this not a complaint, I'm just noticing and experiencing it on a personal, rather than in an abstract way. It's always good to get down and dirty with these things. 

I made it to my lunch spot before noon today, 9.5 miles so far. That's with 1,000 feet of elevation gain in the last 3 miles. Tough but the trail is in great shape... well graded and mostly in the shade. Thank goodness for that since it's supposed to be 90 degrees today. Phew! The only downside to my lunch event today was the Mosquitos. The little buggers are out and about today which made eating lunch a challenge. 
Thirteen miles put me in the middle of a dense forest and what with the heat and humidity I decided to make my way over to the next watering hole/spring. This was a 16.85 mile push and I was glad I took it easy yesterday. It's gonna be comical to see me getting out of the tent in the morning. Crawling is more like it. 

I met more thru hikers today, two coming from Canada. They left July 2nd and managed some dangerous snow conditions. Sounded scary to me! I also met section hikers, a couple from Colorado who also are trying to get to Canada. They are camped at this same place tonight. I also met a gent named White Hatter, a section hiker who is almost done with the trail. He said something interesting, "At 65 I'm just happy to be able to be out here."  Humph. I'm not that far behind him. 
Mt. Adams I believe. 

Day 3 - Trout Creek

Another day of morning climbing and afternoon downhill. I started climbing in dense forest on a creek and as soon as I crossed the creek and rounded a hill there was silence. Not the usual silence that we think of but the kind that makes one stop and take notice. The birds were silent, probably still sleeping, no matter what the saying tells us. No insects buzzing or critters scurrying amongst the underbrush. The trees and moss and rotting life probably absorb what small critter activities were going on. It's pretty amazing to be witness to the absence of sound. I love it! 

Another glorious day in the woods. My legs are feeling the unaccustomed activity but even with that I managed to get to a campsite on Trout Creek before 2 pm. Ten miles done but the daily goal is for 13 miles. Of course that is what is witten on paper and if I went the extra miles I'd be camped between two roads, one of them paved and busy. What to do? What to do? I say put up the tent in this glorious spot and take a nap!

After a little lay down I gathered my maps, elevation profiles and food resources and after much head scratching and counting on fingers and toes, I decided I could stay here tonight and still get to my resupply on time. Yea! It will mean some dry campsites but I'm used to that. 

It seems odd to me that there are so few backpackers out on the trail. The first night one passed by about dusk. Yesterday I saw no one but two couples who also came into camp at dusk and today I saw one thru hiker going north and one gal heading south. Not much traffic up here in Washington. Surprising since it's a weekend and urban areas aren't that far off. Oh well, good thing I like my own company.
Bridge over sleepy waters
I see some fishin holes out there...
Dinner - Tom Ka Gai. 

Day 2 - Rock Creek

I could get used to this leisurely pace. Walk for an hour, take a break for 10 or 15 minutes then walk for another hour.  Repeat as necessary. Granted I'm not trying to do big miles but I still got to my projected lunch spot just after noon. 

Most of the first nine miles of the day were climbing miles. Not super steep but enough to know I haven't been climbing lately. By late afternoon it was downhill, sometimes pretty dang downhill. By the time I hobbled in to camp my left knee was complaining and I was ready to drop the pack and make camp. It was just after 5 pm and by 6:30 I had eaten dinner, filtered water and set up the tent. 

It's now 7 and I'm in for the night. Charging the phone, stretching and applying aspercream where needed...

The flowers today were fantabulous! I'm going to add images here, not because they are good images but so you can get a hint of the eye candy I got to have today. 

And last but not least, my view to the south all day. 
Mount Hood I presume. 

PS - I hope my spot is working. Both nights I've been under dense tree cover with no real open areas around. Rain forest and all...