Day 78 | mile 1615.1 - 1655.9 | 40.8 miles

Didn’t sleep well. The wind that I was counting on to combat mosquitoes died down as soon as I went to bed. And the mosquitoes came out in force. It also didn’t cool down much. So, all night long I was choosing between sweating into my sleeping bag or being eaten by mosquitoes. Really should’ve put up the tent last night.

Klamath mountains for breakfast! (Guys, I’ve been wrongly referring to these mountains as the Cascades. Just read my PCT book on this section and I’ve in fact left the Cascade mountain range when the trail went west.) Man, these mountains make me feel like I’m out of shape. Is that possible? I feel like I was flying up passes in the Sierra. Are these harder? Did I get weaker?

It was slow going because 1) I was out of breath; 2) I kept stopping to take pictures. I started hiking at 5:30, so I got to see the most beautiful sunrise sky. Everything was cast in pink light.

Got up to the top of the pass to see jagged mountains around a perfectly still lake. I took so many pictures and none of them really capture how beautiful Marble Wilderness is.

Finally stopped for breakfast at 9. It was already hot and humid. Collecting water at the creek it smelled just like my mom’s parents’ “banya”. Maybe something about wood rotting in the creek? It smelled good.

You know what doesn’t smell good? Me - as evidenced by a swarm of flies circling me. I had mashed potatoes with 3(!) cheese sticks and salmon followed by a cheese pastry.

Every time I rinse out the pot and drink the slightly potatoey/fishy water, I see my eyes reflecting back at me in the water and I think about what I’ve become.

Unchained came up the trail just as I was packing up to leave. I still had 31 miles to cover, so I moved on.

Put my headphones in a little early today. Usually, I wait until noon. I really wanted to listen to The Wall by Pink Floyd but it never finished downloading. Re-listened to Taylor Swift’s new album instead.

I don’t know what possessed me, but I downloaded The Essential John Denver in Etna. I only know one John Denver song - Country Roads. It’s very uncharacteristic for me, but I like it out here.

Met 3 section hikers by a lake. One of them is GoalTech. He carries treats for PCT hikers and gave me a choice between chips, Cheetos, 3 caramels, coffee packet. I went for the caramels. Thanks, GoalTech!

Listened to Kropp och Själ about food and diets. Just as Kropp och Själ ended, it started to rain. It was overcast all day, but given that it hasn’t rained in the 78 days I’ve been on the PCT, I was shocked and a little giddy. I pulled out the rain jacket I’ve been carrying since Campo. It was hot, but the sound rain made on my hood was cozy.

Today was the usual up and down with a 20 mile descent into Seiad Valley at the end. I was doing pretty well on time when I started the downhill section. Cruising while listening to The Better Angels of Our Nature. And then... I hit the berries. 

I just couldn’t pass up on all the deliciousness even though I knew I had to keep moving. All the people I had passed today passed me now as I was stuffing my face with tiny strawberries and blackberries. I admire their resolve. Or maybe they didn’t see them? I don’t understand.

I spent a good hour on half a mile of trail, then picked up the pace a bit but still stopped when a juicy berry would catch my eye. The berries were everywhere for 10 miles or so.

I wasn’t sure I’d go all the way to Seiad Valley today. The last camping opportunity is 6 miles south of Seiad. And the last 6 miles are a road walk into town. I got to the campsite at 7:30. It was very buggy, so I decided to push on into town.

I was hoping to call Alex once I was on the road, but no dice. It was boring and flat. I put away my trekking poles and typed the journal while I walked.

The road goes along the river to the bridge, then backtracks into town. From my PCT book: “The alternative—to build a bridge suitable for both foot and horse traffic over the Klamath River—was deemed too expensive. Therefore, the trail uses the highway bridge already in place. The land on either side of the river is privately owned, so hikers walk on the road for 5 miles, cross on the bridge, and then turn around 180 degrees and walk 2 miles back to rejoin the trail.” I am really really proud of myself for sticking to the road and not going down to the river and trying to ford it to get to town faster. It was a really frustrating 4 miles, but at least I knew I was safe.

Got to this tiny town at 9:30. It was dark and I had to strain my eyes to make out signs. Found the RV park and some people who were still awake. Got water, made camp, even got the WiFi password. Called Alex. He told me all about his work happenings while I washed the grime (and poison oak) off my feet and legs. It was so nice to chat instead of typing 160 character messages about logistics.

I ate my lasagna dinner pouch in record time. Sleep at 12. So tired and sore.