Day 107 | mile 2482.6 - 2520.6 | 38.0 miles
The worst/wettest/most exhausting day of my life.
Up at 5:45 to fog/mist.
I really don’t want to recount today’s events. It went from bad to better to bad to worst. Hard climbs. Lots of wet thorny bushes overgrowing onto the trail.
As you walk through, all the rain water these overgrown plants collected on their leaves ends up on you. The branches slap you in the face, the water goes down your neck, drips down your back, your legs, your shoes. My feet were wet most of the day.
I glimpsed the sun in the afternoon. In an (uncharacteristic for me) optimistic move, I put on sunscreen. Also washed my socks and strapped them to my bag to dry in the sun. I was hoping to dry my stuff in the little bit of sun, but it started raining as soon as I opened my bag. I ate lunch in my rain jacket.
On top of everything, I was starving. I was 3 bars deep by 10 am. I didn’t eat dinner last night because it wasn’t a big mileage day and I had a burger and ice cream. I thought I would save the dinner in case everyone is right and I couldn’t do this section in 3 days. It was a mistake.
Passed a trail crew.
From Red’s Pass I could see a great view of storm clouds just north. And that’s where I was going.
The rain got worse and worse. The trail was a muddy mess. The blowdowns got more frequent. And then the worst happened: my phone stopped working.
I was listening to The Everything Store when it abruptly stopped. I looked at the screen. It had classic signs of water damage: faded and repeating pixels, and it felt really hot. My phone is my only map. I quickly messaged Alex that my phone is water damaged and I might not be able to message soon. Then powered it off.
I asked every SOBO I met if they saw any NOBOs. Somebody described Jolly, Lightning, Red Cross, and Frick. They’re 4 hours ahead of me. Fuck. I wanted to find someone to stick with. I didn’t feel safe being out here in the rain, fog, impending dark, and no map.
Finally caught up to JP, the German guy a couple of people described to me. I hadn’t met him before and he didn’t seem too keen on me breathing down his neck. I don’t blame him. He seemed to be having the worst day also.
When I met him, he said he wanted to make it up over Fire Creek pass. It was 7:45 when he bailed and said he is not going further. He told me it was still almost 6 miles to Mica Lake. I had a decision to make.
I decided to push on. I don’t know what it’s going to take for me to decide to stop early. I am incapable of amending my ridiculous mileage expectations. Not even when it’s obviously the wrong choice.
(Stopped taking pictures at this point because I was scared for my camera.)
I hiked. I talked to myself. I ran. I made it over Fire Creek pass after sunset. It wasn’t clear which way the PCT went after the pass. I couldn’t make out the sign in the dark. I didn’t want to stop and open up my backpack in the rain to get my headlamp. I picked the way that seemed to make the most sense. Once I started doubting myself, I pulled out my phone and tried to power it on. It turned on, but once I opened the Guthooks app, it turned off. Fuck!
I wanted to make it to Mica Lake, about a mile after the pass. But I couldn’t see any lake near the trail and I was sure I had gone a mile. At this point, I really wasn’t sure I was on the right trail. I told myself I was going to fill up water at the next creek, set up my tent, eat, and figure out where the hell I was in the morning.
Filled up one bottle at a spring. Reached for the other bottle with the filter on it. Uh oh. The filter is gone. It must’ve fallen out when I was crawling under one of the blowdowns or bushwhacking. I don’t really care about the filter itself. I’ve barely filtered any water after the desert. But now I had a bottle without a cap. I had to carry it in my frozen hands.
I turned the corner and saw a lake. That must be Mica Lake. Passed a tent. A human! I didn’t want to go a step further. Just wanted to set up my tent and try to get warm. It was kind of rocky (not idea for my tent setup) and the wind was blowing pretty hard. I found a just barely big enough sheltered spot.
I had a hard time unbuckling my bag to open it. Had to use both hands for each buckle. My fingers were frozen and not cooperating. Got inside trying to brush off as much water off my skin as possible. You could wring out my clothes. They were soaked. I didn’t because I didn’t have any energy. I also made the mistake of bringing in my backpack into the tent. The hip belt padding was leaving water everywhere.
I made lasagna. Hesitantly pulled out my sleeping bag to assess the damage. It was wet. Not completely, but certain spots were just soaked. The collar, especially. I put on my long sleeve, gloves, my puffy, sleep socks, and put my legs in the sleeping bag. My legs were twitching trying to get warm. It was the worst.
I tried turning on my phone again. It turned on, but the screen was clearly water damaged. At least I could see where I was and message Alex.
Passed out after eating dinner. No pillow because I’m wearing all the clothes that are not wet. I hardly care because I am completely exhausted.