PCT Days 147 - 153
Crossed over the iconic Bridge of the Gods - spanning the Columbia River, and then climbed from Sea Level up to 4,000 odd feet.
Tented up 19 miles later, only to be joined by my fellow European, Best Buy, who I’d previously camped with way back in the desert at mile 200 or so!
“We started this as an adventure, but now it’s becoming a race - that’s because of our visa. That’s affecting our morale, you know," Best Buy observed. He’s so right - we’ve lost control of our time. We laugh about the South-bounders, who we are meeting now almost daily. They have muscle, they’ve extra weight, they’re still springy of step - in contrast to us: we’re both like stick insects. Very worn out stick insects!
Quite a boring day really - everything aches from yesterday’s uphilling, and I expect I will ache even more tomorrow having done 7,000 more feet of uphilling. Only managed 21 miles because I started late this morning - mind you, even if I’d started at dawn, I doubt I would have walked anymore - I’m two-thirds of my way up a very steep mountain and very much in collapsed mode. These no scenery to speak of - it’s all dense woodland, and very much like you’d see in England - it just goes on for longer. Much longer!
It’s odd having to remind myself I’m in my last 28 days, less really. I shall miss this horribly when it’s gone, but I shan’t miss the big mile days that much…
Today’s exciting moment was using a pit toilet. There really isn’t much going on as it’s still very dense woodland, and little by way of views. The pictures you're seeing don't necessarily relate to the day!
The rest of the day was laborious: hot and sweaty. For some reason my rucksack feels heavy all the time. Supposedly I only have four days of food in there - but it’s diabolical right now. I have increased my calorie-intake so I suppose that’s what is accounting for it. It hasn’t helped boost my mileage though: a mere twenty-two today.
Anyway, I’m adjacent to a lake tonight that is full to the brim of tadpoles. And mosquitoes. And flies. And people oddly.
In an ordinary year, lots and lots of people would be finishing by around this time - but this is no ordinary year, and the ‘bubble’, such as it is, is two days behind me. I’m camping alone tonight, which has been a rare thing lately - although there’s a rodent that keeps dashing out from under a log. I worry for my food and tent…
Dinner of Ramen noodles once again. Burnt my right thumb, nearly lost all my noodles (thankfully it was just a few) and yet again made a hash of putting up my tent. It’s having observers that does it every time!
Today has had a little bit of everything - a steep climb, a long descent, a heavily forested area, followed by a burn area, burning sunshine, and rain, meadowlands with billowing flowers, then yet more fields of lava turds, and back to fir forestry, with some more rain. Oh, and two fast flowing river crossings, a ton of mosquitoes and the sound of gunshots in the near distance. Just another day on the PCT.
Mostly walked in forest all day - tons of mosquitoes making it miserable. I did cover myself in Deet, but it didn’t work so well. I also forgot to put sunscreen on so now I have red, lumpy arms.
Greeted a couple coming down hill this morning, as I was staggering uphill. It was a welcome relief to see someone so early - it means they’ve cleared the trail going forward of cobwebs, and I have for them!
The first up in the morning, which is often the PCT hiker rather than the section-hiker, have the hideous task of walking through all the cobwebs laid across the trail overnight. It leaves one’s arms and face a sticky mess, and they tickle.
Sometimes I walk along waving my hiking poles in the air ahead of me like some demented jamboree leader. But then my arms tire and that’s that.
Sleeping on top of a very windy mountain tonight as I’m going to walk ‘The Knife’s Edge’ tomorrow. Apparently it’s pretty scary…
And so to The Knife’s Edge - it was, as expected, a pretty straightforward, except for the dodgy bits, walk along the ridge of a mountain range. In parts some of the very gravelly/sandy bits had eroded - meaning one bad foot placement would see me glissade painfully down the side of the mountain to splat in a rocky mess at the bottom. In other parts there were still long patches of snow with one slip plunging me down into a barely thawed lake. And with the most spectacular views trying to ensure I misplaced my feet, it was a wonder I made it across at all.
However, I knew I had nineteen miles and a half to get to White’s Pass, which is my next resupply stop, and that I had to get there well in advance of six o’clock if I was going to get my shopping done today, and hopefully a hot meal. I hauled my arse as fast as it would go, which isn’t actually that fast, and somehow managed to get to what I thought was my destination by 5pm. Alas, there was still another half a mile to walk, so I missed out on hot, fresh pizza by minutes. They very kindly agreed to reheat one of their frozen ones for me - which was nice enough, but not quite the full pizza delight.
And tonight, after a day of breath-taking scenery, I am camping in a parking lot - still it has a portaloo!