July 12, 2022
Williams Cabin Site at mile 1292.7 to Little Cub Spring at mile 1315.8
In a rare turn of events, I’m the first one up. I get everything packed and then enjoy a leisurely peanut butter and honey wrap with a cup of hot tea while the boys start moving. Somehow, I’m still the last one ready to go. The universe is unfair.
We still have a fair amount of this climb left, and it is not messing around. There are some really steep Pennsylvania-style parts of this hill and it is not fun. It’s also still a burn zone and it’s already stinking hot at 6:30 in the morning and I can tell that I’m just not going to have a good time. I start out with T and J but fall behind when I go to get water. We meet up again briefly at another water source, but it’s largely me alone in the sticky morning.
I cross Chips Creek on a huge new footbridge, then wander through a nice little meadow. At the end of the meadow is a sign indicating that we are officially, geologically speaking, in the Cascade range. So cool! We’re just now officially out of the Sierras and into the last range of mountains that we’ll follow for the rest of the PCT.
I only have couple of miles left of the climb, but I’m so tired and hot. I basically chug water all the way up. I stop for a quick photo of the 1300 mile marker. They’re just racking up now! I still can’t really believe we’ve actually walked this far.
The hill finally ends a short while later and I find Jumbo sitting on a rock. Woo hoo, snack time! We talk for a while about music, the new Alt-J album, and what some of our top 10 songs of the PCT would be. Tribute joins us shortly after that and we take our time sitting there and relaxing after that long hot slog.
We get water from Frog Spring, which reminds me of the day out of Tehachapi when we stopped at the water source with the trough where a ton of frogs were living.
“I think today’s subtitle is going to be ‘Frog Water Part 2,’” I say, thinking aloud.
“Frog Water Part 2: The Refrogening,” Tribute proposes.
I crack up. Done.
The next few miles are a blur. It’s all hot and dry and ashy and meh. We find what looks to be a fire hose chilling by the side of the trail. What story does this tell about this part of the massive Dixie Fire? Were they trying to fight it here and gave up? It’s a bit eerie.
We stop for lunch once we hit 11 miles and find some actual shade under some actual living trees that aren’t burnt to a charcoal crisp. It’s a long, luxurious lunch. I’m getting inspired by Tribute’s next-level wraps, and today I have a tortilla with mayo from a packet I packed out from the Red Moose, lemon pepper tuna, pepper jack cheese, and chip drink. It tastes so good. I never used to be big on mayo, but I think my tastes are changing because this is absolutely divine. (Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry for putting you through a sentence that involves the concept of mayonnaise.)
After I finish eating, I brew a cup of coffee and sip it slowly. Jumbo takes a cat nap while Tribute half sits and half lies down, looking like the picture of chill ease. Now this is a break.
We eventually get moving again, but we stop not long after at a water source. It’s a beautiful, gushing pipe spring with a trough, and I dunk multiple pieces of clothing in it and then put them back on, feeling the frigid water wash over me. This isn’t the only delight at the spring—Mouse is down there! She’s one of the step family, and we haven’t seen her or the rest of that group since just before Bishop! We hug and she catches us up on how her hike is going. She says Stinger, Fits, and Spice are just behind. Meanwhile, Andy is in Guatemala for a week due to his complicated ESTA visa situation. Everyone’s a little spread out now, but it’s cool to see these folks again and to know that they’re around us!
After the water, Tribute, Jumbo, and I walk together for a bit. I’m strongest goose, but I don’t feel very strong. The forest goes from mildly crispy to very, very dead. We’re talking black trees, no needles, no sign of life anywhere. The dust being kicked up by our feet is creating a veritable cloud. I start to feel really lightheaded and have to sit down on a rock. I guzzle water and shove some candy in my gullet, then take some deep breaths. This combination seems to help, but I’m not having a great time for the rest of the day. There are some lovely views of Lassen and I enjoy my music once the climbing is done, but I feel very, very over this burn area and I want to be asleep.
We take a short break a couple of miles before camp because we have the time. Jumbo, whose shins are still a little sore, puts his feet up. Meanwhile Tribute and I eat snacks and feel tired. We continue, sometimes together and sometimes separately. I hit my head going under an enormous blowdown tree and am officially over today.
Finally, we reach the spring where we plan to camp. Exhausted, not really talking, we trudge 0.3 miles downhill to the water, then crawl back up. The mosquitoes don’t seem bad so we set up a cowboy camping sardine row and cook dinner. But when we get into bed, we realize that we’ve made a terrible mistake because the whining cloud comes for us immediately after we get horizontal. I deal with this by retreating deep into my sleeping bag, but I wake up in the middle of the night sweating like a pig and have to rummage around in my pack for my head net so I can stick my face outside my quilt without getting eaten alive. Then the moon is too bright. Jumbo starts doing weird things with his hands in his sleep in between snores. And then there’s a mouse running around between Tribute and me. I am so cranky and I just want one good night of rest. Dear burn zone and mosquitoes: Please end. Love, me.