Day 118: From Hot to Cold

August 13, 2017

Total daily miles: 26.7 miles

Total PCT miles: 1846.4

Start: mile 2226.5

End: mile 2253.3

Total elevation gain/loss: 4163.4/2944.9 ft

We woke up this morning to the sound of a light rain.  I’d been expecting some rain on this section, but I had hoped that the light rain a day ago was going to be it.  Since the rain didn’t sound heavy and we weren’t sure how long it would last, we decided to just suck it up and get hiking.  We were camped underneath a tree last night and it looks like if we’d just camped a few feet over we might have stayed completely dry!  As it was, we were able to get packed up without too much of our stuff getting wet.

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The wet underbrush created a car-wash effect. It wasn’t long before my legs (and therefore my shoes) were wet.

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The weather throughout the morning felt like a mix between a heavy fog and light rain (with a couple times in which the rain came down a bit heavier).  Basically, it was really damp.  I kept my camera packed away in my bag for much of the morning, so I only ended up with a few photos (my waterproof case on my phone means that I don’t have to worry too much about the rain but it also results in bad photos).  While the rain wasn’t bad, between the damp and the cold it was a fairly miserable morning.  The kind of morning where I can’t stop or I’d get too cold, but I also didn’t want to put on additional layers because I want to keep them dry.  Definitely the kind of morning that doesn’t qualify as “fun” but is part of the thru-hiking deal.  I guess this is what I get for complaining about how hot it has been the last few days.

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Our first eight miles today were a steady climb of over 2000 feet.  Much of that time was spent walking through a burn zone.  This got us out of the green tunnel, but because of the low clouds and rain we didn’t get any views.  It also meant that when there was rain, it was difficult to find a spot that would provide any protection.  Finally, just before lunch the sun started to come out.  I found a spot in a clearing full of boulders where we could put all of our gear out to dry (and luckily the rocks weren’t super wet like most of the area we were hiking through).  Our timing was perfect.  We were able to warm up a bit and get everything dried off just before the clouds came rolling back in.

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View from our lunch spot. We managed to get everything packed up before the clouds moved back in!

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A peek at Mt. Adams!

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Can you make out Michael down trail?

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After lunch, we hit a large unnamed creek.  Reports from hikers in front of us described thigh-high crossings in fast-moving water.  Not fun at all.  When I arrived, I could see a group of hikers crossing on a sketchy set of logs that were piled together.  They assisted one of the women across with a rope that they held on either side.  From the looks of it, the rope didn’t seem to actually provide much assistance.  The logs themselves looked wet (partially submerged at one point) and wobbly, like they could potentially wash away in the fast current.  I walked up and down along the shore for a bit while I waited for Michael to see if there was a better crossing, even if it meant getting my feet wet. 

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Unfortunately, the water was very silty and it was very difficult to tell how deep the water was at any given point (and it looked like it could potentially be very deep).  Despite my hesitation about the logs, we decided to go for it (it had supported the prior group of hikers after all).  Thank goodness for hiking poles, because they certainly make crossings like this easier for me.  We made it across without incident, but given the final leap we both took I am certainly glad that I didn’t have to approach that crossing going southbound!

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We had a big descent through the trees this afternoon, although the trail opened up a few times around some lovely ponds/lakes.  The effect of this morning’s storm was apparent.  It was somewhat warm this afternoon, but not the same sweat-inducing weather that we’ve had the last few days.  I’m still waiting for the wonderful Washington hiking that we’ve been promised since this afternoon felt like more of the same hiking that we experienced in Oregon.

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We’ve been seeing a lot of weekend backpackers out in this section.  It seems like it’s been more weekenders than thru-hikers.  This is always especially apparent in the afternoon because starting at around 3pm (sometimes earlier) they have already set up camp and are out relaxing.  Not a problem, except for the fact that it’s a little stressful to find that all of the nice campsites that we’re passing in the afternoon are already taken!  Given the high amount of underbrush in this area, it also seems like there are limited opportunities to stealth camp at spots that aren’t listed in Guthooks.  One thing I’ve learned though is that the weekend hikers tend to congregate at the good water sources, so getting a dry camping spot later in the evening tends to be a lot easier.

I put that theory to the test today and we aimed for a camping spot near a “stagnant pond” (after filling up my bottles at the prior stream in preparation for a 10-mile dry stretch in the morning).  It worked!  After passing lots of occupied sites throughout the afternoon, we found a spot that was completely abandoned!  Or at least, it was abandoned until Hot Thumbs rolled up and joined us at around 8pm.  Dry camping for the win!

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It is definitely colder this evening.  For the first time in awhile, I immediately changed from my hiking clothes to my woolies after arriving at camp.  I’ll take it though — I like when it’s a bit chilly at night so that I can cuddle up in my sleeping bag!

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: sore left shoulder

Michael: sore left big toe.

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