June 12, 2022
Campsite 2.3 miles from the PCT junction to Woods Creek at mile ~799.7
2.3 non-PCT miles
10.7 PCT miles
It’s so cold. It’s a shock after two days of heat down in Bishop. We leave camp around 7 and get back to the PCT, go a few more miles, and then take a coffee and second breakfast break, if only to get rid of some of the weight and to wake up from the chilly morning. It turns into a longer break than planned, obviously, but eventually we get packed up and moving again towards Glen Pass.
Glen, like Forester, is much less snowy than it was in 2017. The south side is completely snow-free. I struggle under the weight of my bear can, but it doesn’t take us too long to get to the top, all things considered. On the way down, we run into some snow patches. Again, it’s nothing like five years ago, but it’s a little slippy. I don’t put my microspikes on because it doesn’t look bad from the top, but I regret this when I’m most of the way down after I’ve slipped and fallen three times. It could have been way worse, but it’s annoying.
The real reward of finishing Glen Pass is Rae Lakes. These two lakes connected by a strait are mind-blowingly beautiful, with islands and a thin strip of land between them covered in trees. We stop right before the crossing for lunch, which is a turkey and cheese wrap, chip drink, and M&Ms. Afterwards, Jumbo and I fall asleep right in the sun. I wake up with a start and realize it’s 2:00. Mildly panicked, we pack up and carry on, but not before the lovely but very wet crossing.
The nice thing about Rae Lakes is that they are huge, and the scenery lasts for a long time as we walk. We notice fish at the edges of the water, a waterfall in the distance, people swimming down below. It’s flat for a while, and we take in the scenery, the marmots, and the sense of not going uphill.
As the trail starts to turn downwards towards Woods Creek, a nasty looking bank of clouds rolls in over the mountains and the wind picks up. It gets cold, despite the fact that we’re actively moving. There are big steps with scree all over them, and my feet are starting to hurt from the weight of my pack. It’s still beautiful down in this valley, and I am taking in the views as I move downwards, but I am feeling very, very tired. Dehydrated. Exhausted from this weight.
There are a series of creek crossings that I don’t remember clearly from the last time until I start them. On one, Catless finds a clever little route over a log, but I don’t trust it, so I get soaking wet. On another, there’s a gushing stream a few feet across that Catless and Jumbo are able to jump over, but I know I’d never make it, so I have to get my feet wet again. The combination of the weight of my pack, the fact that I haven’t had much to drink, the weather, and the wet feet really start to get me down. By the time we’re within a mile of camp, I’m not a happy camper.
A grouse startles me a little while later. It’s sitting in a tree, making a little sound, and there are chicks on the ground. It feels like a little reminder to be present, and I try to shift my sour mood. It sort of works for a bit, but then I take a pee break, and when I come back, my pack is completely covered in a cloud of mosquitoes. Hell no. Hard pass. At this point I’m really far behind Jumbo and Catless and lost in the swirling cloud of my wet, soggy, gray mood. My feet are killing me, despite the ibuprofen I took, and I just want to be done. I don’t want this to rub off on my tramily, so it’s probably a good thing that I’m behind. But then I walk a little further and Jumbo is waiting for me, and I feel a little surge of relief. We walk together and I tell him what’s wrong, and I feel a little better.
When we get to Woods Creek, I sit on top of the bear box and feel so happy that the weight is off my feet. Between the wind, the storm, and the uncertainty of campsites ahead, we decide just to stay here for the night. We were going to go two more miles, but I have a gut feeling that this is just the best place to stop, and I think I’m just done. Jumbo and I find a sheltered site down by the creek while Catless sets up near the bear box. We cook dinner together closer to the water—I treat myself to a very spicy chili—and then retreat to our tents.
I’m frustrated with my hiking today. I feel weak and cranky and tired of my own brain. I should be having the time of my life out here, but all I can think about is how heavy my pack is and how I just want to be comfortable. I think today is a reminder of the social media versus reality thing. You can make an experience look as pristine as you want, but anything meaningful is going to have gritty, dirty, difficult, painful parts. It is just unavoidable. Today is just one of those days. All I can do is go to sleep, try to get some rest, and wake up tomorrow with a fresh start attitude.