Day 59: It Gets Better

June 15, 2017

Total daily miles: 17.5 miles

Total PCT miles: 834.7 miles

Start: West Branch of Beartrap Creek (mile 1224.1)

End: mile 1241.6

Total elevation gain/loss: 3001.6/3971.1 ft

Finally a good hiking day!  It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve walked this far (or seen this much dry trail).  I’ll take it!

We awoke to a dry tent (score!) and another deer sighting.  This time the deers stayed further away, although I suspect that they invaded our camp site as soon as we’d walked off.

We hit snow pretty quickly this morning and donned our microspikes.  We were treated to firm, crunchy snow again, so it was fairly easy to cover and we made good time for the first couple miles.  Of course, that couldn’t last too long.  That would be too easy!

Walking through these trees when there is snow on the ground presents quite the challenge.

We hit a series of long traverses.  They were an exhausting couple of miles to cover, but unlike yesterday, the snow was firm and we could make the crossings without too much fear of sliding down the mountain.  It probably helped that we’d leap-frogged with Maximus this morning and so we had an additional set of tracks to follow across the traverses.  We’d cross a traverse, have a bit of clear pathway for a minute, and then cross another traverse.  Rinse and repeat.  The section took forever and by the end my upper body felt completely worn out.  It takes a lot of firmly stake down my pole and whippet with each step!

It’s hard being short on these traverses.  The footprints that I’m trying to follow are too far apart!

The snow cleared for a while as we neared our highest elevation point for the day — probably because we were walking along the ridge line and the western facing side of the mountain.  It’s amazing what a difference that makes.  For a few miles we went back and forth between dirt and snow, but it was fairly easy to navigate.  Of course, there were lots of blow downs!  Just to make sure that the snowless trail isn’t too easy.

We managed to cover about 7.5 miles before lunch.  Not the best, but we stopped with the knowledge that we should almost be out of the snow.  We also didn’t have to yard sale our stuff, so we could actually relax for a bit!  By lunch we’d seen three people — Maximus, Another One, and someone whose name I didn’t catch.  Not exactly Southern California, but a busy trail compared to the last few days!

Clear trail!

And it’s covered in snow again.

I still used my spikes for awhile after lunch for additional support, but we only had a couple more miles of trail with snow patches.  By mile 1234 or so we were more or less out of the snow.  Victory!  Honestly, it was a huge relief.  It was a hot day, so I even got to take off my leggings.  I felt so free.  I could walk at a decent pace and feel the air on my legs.  Because we didn’t have any route finding or potentially dangerous traverses, Michael and I could walk separately again.  I even got to put my headphones on for a bit!  There were still lots of downed trees and tremendously overgrown brush, but I’ll take that over heavy snow on steep traverses!

We actually have to pay attention to the water report again now that we’re out of the snow.  There was several miles between sources, but the seasonal stream that we were counting on was flowing well.

We’re camped tonight on what looks like an old logging road that parallels the trail.  The spot would be pretty nice except there are tons of bugs!  I quickly put on my base layer to cover my body and even had to dig out my head net.  We scarfed down dinner and then retreated to the safety of our tent.

The old logging road we camped on.  I forgot to take a picture when our tent was up (I was too busy trying to escape the mosquitos).

It looks like we’ve just entered a long section of the trail below 6000 feet.  I’m hoping that means no snow tomorrow and a good mileage day!  That would be a big morale boost.  As it is, it’s nice to have been able to put in more miles this afternoon and get a section of snow under our belts with no major mishaps.  A little clear trail didn’t hurt either!

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: continued sore bump on head and bruises from yesterday’s fall.

Michael: various bruises and sore back.

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