July 2, 2017
Total daily miles: 23.7 miles
Total PCT miles: 1043.7 miles
Start: mile 1427.9
End: mile 1450.6
Total elevation gain/loss: 4013.1/3171.9 ft
We started the morning hiking in trees and heavy brush again. The brush really slows me down and disrupts my hiking rhythm — especially the bushes with thorns!
As I made my way through the forest, I heard a loud noise on the hill above the trail. There was a large black bear (that was actually black!) tearing away at a cut stump in search of grubs. He didn’t seem to notice my presence (or at least didn’t seem to care) and I stayed quiet so that I could watch him longer and snap a couple pictures. I know that you’re supposed to make noise to alert the bear, but I didn’t want to scare off the first bear I’ve seen on the PCT! Eventually he walked off, tearing at a couple more stumps as he made his way back into the forest. By the time Michael showed up, the bear was long gone.
Our first water source for the morning was off trail a little ways at a small spring. I chatted with Fluffy and Peanut a bit about the bear that I’d seen, gathered my water, and then continued on. I had a couple nice views, but the rest of the morning was mainly small ascents and descents through the forest.
I stopped along a dirt road for lunch and laid down on our ground sheet to wait for Michael. As Peanut passed, she mentioned that she also saw a bear just a bit back. Not three minutes later and I looked over and saw a big, brown colored black bear lumbering by. This time, the encounter was much scarier for me because I was laying down, my shoes off, eating peanut M&Ms, with my food scattered around the tarp. This time, I stayed silent (and probably held my breath) because I was hoping the bear wouldn’t notice me and would continue in his way. I did not want to share my lunch or have a bear encounter with my food scattered about. The bear continued on his way without looking over at me and I began to breathe again. Poor Michael showed up about 5 minutes later, having missed his second bear of the day.
I have to admit that what we did next seems a little stupid in retrospect (but then again, it seemed stupid at the time as well). We were tired and hungry, the tyvek was already out, as was our food. So we decided to stop to eat lunch in the spot where I’d seen the bear a few minutes early. Our tuna lunch. I insisted that we talk loudly while eating to scare away he Bear if it decided to come back. I’m sure it was far away by then, but I feared that it would come back when it smelled our tuna. Luckily, we were able to eat in peace, although we didn’t stick around to relax after eating!
Our afternoon water source was also off trail. It was starting to get super hot and the water was ice cold. My finger actually felt numb after I finished washing my socks! It was 10 miles until the next water source, which would make for a 27 mile day for us. I didn’t feel up to committing to such a long day given the hour and heat, so we loaded up with enough water to dry camp.
This afternoon was a bit of a struggle for me. I felt strong at first, but then my stomach started to hurt (hunger?) and my joints were sore. I just wasn’t feeling in top form and was glad that we’d collected the extra water instead of committing to more miles. I actually had to stop for a couple short breathers– something I never do — but it felt necessary if I was going to continue on. We had a tiny bit of snow in patches, but nothing major or that slowed us down much.
For the second night in a row, we stopped to camp along old dirt road (although this one hadn’t been used in a long time). The bugs held off enough that we could eat outside, but they still did their best to remind us of their presence.
After seeing two bears in the same day, I’ll probably be imagining bears are outside our tent all night! Who would have thought that after going through multiple bear can zones I’d see my first bears here?! Or maybe we should worry about rattlesnakes… Michael heard one down the road when he went to go pee? Or I could just sleep, that’s much easier!
Elizabeth: sore joints and right heel
Michael: not seeing bears