PCT Day 68: A Thousand Miles

June 25, 2022

Kerrick Creek at mile 979.8 to campsite at mile 1003.8

24 miles

When my alarm rings at 5, I only snooze it once. If I get up now, I think, I could make some coffee! I run to the bushes to pee and then dive back into my tent, set up my stove, and boil water. I don’t even hear Jumbo or Tribute moving until I’m stirring in the coffee. I pull the cup back into my mosquito-free haven and about melt at the taste and feeling of warm caffeinated beverage on my tongue. I eat two bars because I have tons of them and I’m starving now, it seems. I do a little wiggle of delight as I sip my brew and feel such happiness drawn from this tiny pleasure. Yesterday sucked. I’m not exactly thrilled about hiking again today. But at least I have sugar and protein and caffeine in my veins right now. And as I remind myself of the enormous privilege it is to be out here and how lucky I am to be surrounded by nature (except mosquitoes, fuck those evil bastards), I start to feel a little more ready to face the day.

It’s two hills back to back to start, and they are brutal. It’s straight up and straight back down. Excuse me, I thought I signed up for nice tread and switchbacks? This is the PCT, not the AT. But honestly, I’m not that mad about the first climb because there are wildflowers everywhere. There’s paintbrush, my familiar friend. There are pink and purple and yellow flowers. There are even succulents blooming on the rocks! I am so delighted by all this plant life that I don’t really pay much attention to the climb, and soon I’m at the top and turning down again. It’s a rocky, muddy, punishing downhill that goes on for way too long.

At the bottom of the descent, I meet up with J and T for a small crossing, then we navigate some intense downed trees, get lost, and eventually find the trail again and turn uphill. This climb, too, is rocky and pointless and annoying. I get frustrated that it’s taking me so long, so I put in uphill music (King Gizzard this time, standard) and rocket upwards. We call this Pulling a Jimmy because it’s a method that Jumbo uses to get over hills when he’s low on energy. It’s nice because it makes the hill over faster and makes me feel powerful, but it also drains me a bit. There’s another terrible rocky downhill and a creek crossing and I have to sit down after that. But mosquitoes chase me away while I eat my clif bar, so I keep going.

Around the corner, I find Jumbo and Tribute sitting on a rock that juts out into a lake. Jumbo is watching the dragonflies. There are hundreds of them, maybe thousands. Oddly, the mosquitoes aren’t too bad here, so I sit for a minute and munch on some snacks.

We hike together for a while after that. It’s a nice change from being alone all day yesterday. There’s a wide, shallow creek crossing where we stop for water, then the start of a very gradual climb to Dorothy Lake Pass. I return to my audiobook for a while. I’m almost done with this one now, too. I drift away until we stop for a quick lunch on a rock. Then it’s go time again.

The trail is gentle for the next six or so miles. It’s vaguely uphill, but it’s not noticeable; it feels flat to me. There are lush forests and then a huge meadow with snow-dotted mountains surrounding it. Turns out, we’re still in Sierra land. I’m loving it. There’s a thunderstorm rumbling in the distance, but it’s not close or severe enough to worry about, I don’t think. It’s turning the world gray and drizzly, England style. My audiobook ends with a sad, dramatic finish and I switch to music. Tribute catches up and we hike over the pass and downwards.

There’s a pretty sketchy river crossing after that. The rocks are slippery, the area surrounding them is deep, and there’s a small cascade right downstream. Not my favorite. But I make it across. I have a burst of energy after that, so I zoom downhill and run into Jumbo just as he starts to munch on a clif bar. The mosquitoes are next level here, though, and we can’t keep still. Once J is finished, we continue together to our big milestone of the day: the 1,000 mile marker!

Halfway there, Tribute realizes he’s left his trekking poles back at the snack spot. He curses and says he’ll go back for them after we get to the mile marker. We come around the corner and see the huge 1,000 written in rocks and framed by four logs. I can’t believe I’ve walked this far with my feet! We take the usual photos, except this time we’re swatting away mosquitoes the whole time. Tribute runs back for his poles, and I eat some snacks in the meantime.

When he returns, we continue hiking downwards to camp. Jumbo explains to me again why he loves Paddington 2, then we talk more about movies and why Cedric Diggory’s death in the Goblet of Fire was so devastating despite his being a minor character. We have a couple of creek crossings, then we wind up at our campsite for the night. We set up in a triangle, the Triplex, except I kind of ruin it because I’m trying to avoid a slope so it’s kind of a Struggle Triplex. We cook dinners in our tents because mosquitoes. I’m tired, but I feel pretty good considering how far we went today. In any case, I feel much better than I did yesterday, which feels like a win.

3 thoughts on “PCT Day 68: A Thousand Miles

  1. mattloaf1

    Congrats on reaching 1,000!

    I try and read one PCT blog each season and yours is the best so far. Feels like I’m along for the ride. Keep up the great work, it’s appreciated for those of us that live vicariously!

    Liked by 2 people

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