Day 79 | mile 1655.9 - 1687.8 | 31.9 miles

Bleh. Third consecutive bad night’s sleep. Hot, humid, buggy, road noise, snoring camping companions. Of course, I was too lazy to set up my tent last night. (Also, I’m avoiding paying the $15 fee to camp at this RV park, so I’m trying to be neither seen nor heard by cowboy-ing.) I was sweating into my bag most of the night. Finally, I pulled on my wind layers as bug protection and threw my bag to the side. Much better, but still... sticky.

Up at 5 to make sure I’m packed up before the RV park manager comes around. I sound like such a cheap fuck. $15 to camp next to a highway just seems a little ridiculous. If I was staying longer and using the shower and laundry facilities, I would’ve paid.

The cafe opens at 7, so I had a lot of time to waste. I washed my socks in the sink. It always amazes me how much dirt my socks can hold. Ate pre-breakfast oatmeal. Some people I camped with are just starting their hike today, so they had too much food. I got pretzels, half a bag of Milano cookies, and a Milky Way bar.

Went to the cafe at 7 and sat at the table with the outlet. I am a pro at locating outlets now. I told the waitress I’m expecting 3 friends (the people who gave me food), but I’m not waiting for them to order. Good thing I didn’t because they rolled up at 8:20. I really should’ve been hiking by then.

I got a breakfast burrito. Duh. It was a disappointment. I couldn’t even eat the second half. I think it’s the first time on the PCT that I’ve left food on the plate. The cheese was obviously fake cheese and the eggs were overcooked.

There is a notoriously long and hot climb out of Seiad Valley, so I really needed to get going. But I was catching up with Alex, reading the PCT book, then chatting with my new friends. I thought they were feeling the same time pressure, but it turns out they were hitching to the top of the climb! Agh. When I found that out, I packed up and started hiking.

Hopped up on 4 cups of coffee, I started the climb at 9:45. Late. It’s 11 miles straight uphill. I told myself I wouldn’t stop until I was at the top. It’s a crazy feeling when your legs feel like they can’t make another step, but you make them keep going anyway. At one point I actually realized I was smiling. Mind over body.

I did stop once before the climb was over. Couldn’t resist taking a picture of Seiad Valley. Once at the top, I took a picture, put on Planet Money, and cruised.

Met a guy named Cartographer. He was playing a harmonica and had a dog. He gave me a creepy vibe so I wanted to just wave and keep moving. He wanted to chat. I noticed he had multiple knives on his belt and his pack. *shudder* We talked for a few minutes, I acted relaxed and confident, didn’t break eye contact. I said I had to keep moving, but then he wanted to come closer and show me something on his paper map. Agh. Miles after we parted, I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t following me. His pack was too heavy to keep up with me anyway. I mean, harmonica?

This stretch is super dry. Most water sources are off-trail. I carried 2 liters from Seiad. Stopped at a precious spring to have lunch at 2. Ate an English muffin with leftover salmon and cheese and an apple. My sandwich was not good, made worse by the flies circling it. The apple saved it.

A cute older couple came by - Kerry and Dean of Washington state. They are SOBOing Oregon. Kerry worked at IBM and Microsoft as a software engineer. And nobody cared about what Dean did. :)

I passed a couple more people who camped at the RV park with me this morning but were smarter and started way earlier - Pecorino and Cruise. Also passed the trio I had breakfast with.

After the initial (long) climb to 5,000 ft, there was another pass to climb. This one I wasn’t mentally prepared for and damn, it killed me. I was cussing so much. And loud. Passed another guy, but I was too pissed to ask for his name.

I really wanted to make it to the border today, but I did some math after the climb and realized it wasn’t in the cards. And I didn’t want to pass it in the dark. Decided on a camp 3-ish miles before the border.

Listened to The Better Angels of Our Nature. It was the human rights chapter and it was so so good. One of the things he discussed was evolutionary reasons for infanticide. Fascinating!

It was dark when I finished. I had a really hard time finding the tent site. It was near one of the many logging roads. I circled the area over and over with my headlamp on, making sure this was the flattest spot. Finally made camp and ate Beef Stroganoff dinner at 10.

I was in a densely wooded area all alone. It was a little creepy since you couldn’t see far even with a headlamp. I tried to write about the day on my phone but all these giant moths kept confusing the light on my phone with the moon. Classic moths. I didn’t like it, so I turned off my phone and went to sleep.

Tons of ants all around. I kept picking them from my body under my quilt. Of course I didn’t set up my $500 tent. Are you silly?