PCT Day 97: Big Lounge Energy

July 24, 2022

Deadfall Lakes at mile 1536.8 to Scott Mountain Campground at mile 1560.3

23.5 miles

I wake up when the soft pink light starts growing brighter. It’s 5:30, kind of late for us to wake up, but no one is moving. I turn to my side and look down at the lake. Oh, it is such a beautiful morning. The mood from last night, the sense that this is all going too fast and I have to enjoy it, is still with me. I’m next to a lake, and when you wake up next to a beautiful lake, you have to make coffee and savor it. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.

So I sit in my silly little tent enjoying my silly little instant coffee and eating my silly little oatmeal cold soaked out of the packet. It’s divine. Then I eventually start moving and get packed up with plenty of time to spare before Tribute finishes his bar and Jumbo is done tending to his infected blister on his pinky toe.

It’s beautiful this morning. I follow a ridge with windflowers and springs galore to my right and sweeping views to my left. It’s so flat for the first three miles. I’ve seen on Guthook that there’s a trailhead with a new forest service privy coming up soon, and it doesn’t take long for me to get there, set up, make another pot of coffee, and make use of said very new toilet. It’s the little things. While I’m making the coffee, I catch up with Mosey, who’s chilling there. We haven’t seen her since the Sierras! It’s fun to compare experiences over the past few hundred miles.

Jumbo and Tribute roll up five minutes after me. They have a quick snack and then keep moving. I follow after a while and catch up at a water source three miles later. The forest is so lush today. There are grasses and pine trees and creeks and it’s just lovely. We sit for another long minute at the water, then do about three more miles. It’s only 11:15 again, but this spot is so pleasant, so grassy and cool, and my stomach is screaming at me already, so I just decide it’s lunch time. It’s the last of my turkey on a wrap today. I’m a little concerned that I didn’t pack enough food, but hey ho.

After lunch Jumbo gives me more Yorkshire tea and milk, which I consume in a fit of pleasure while lounging against my pack. We’re all lounging, actually. Hard. I point this out, and Jumbo says, “Big lounge energy.” I’ve loved the lounging these past couple of days, even if it means we’ve been moving slowly and getting to camp later.

I take a photo of Jumbo lounging in front of me and try to show it to him so he can see how ridiculous he looks, but I end up dropping the phone right on his face. He dramatically claps his hand over his eye and asks, “Am I bruising yet?” I apologize profusely, laughing. This is all witnessed by Rolls and Royce, who we saw for the first time in a long time yesterday and who just rolled (hah) up. They’re cool folks and it’s fun to be hiking around them again.

The break ends regretfully when the sun starts moving and makes our beautiful shade disappear. I feel like I should have more energy as I start walking again, especially since today is so flat and pleasant, but I’m just dead. I’m three ibuprofen deep already and my Achilles, arch, and now left shin are absolutely not having a good time. Plus, it’s hot and exposed. Ugh. Will we ever be able to have a day where miles come easy again?

We stop at a little trickling spring and collect water, taking another unintentionally long break, and then keep moving through the baking sun. When I pass Jumbo, all we do is grunt at each other. At one point I nearly walk right past Tribute without even seeing him, and when he moves his head, I yell in alarm, and he cracks up. I’m so out of it.

The afternoon pretty much goes on like this. I trudge until I need a break and then plop down in the shade. Then I work the energy back up to keep going, and plop down again. I have service at one point, so I add more photos and videos to my Instagram story and text-whine at my mom that I’m hot and possibly have an eye infection. I stop whining after Tribute and Jumbo pass me again, then I keep moving.

I’m planning on stopping at the next water source for dinner. As I’m making my way over a rocky ridge, though, I see J’s trekking poles in an arrowhead shape, and follow the point to see them sitting in the shade on some rocks. They’re dinnering now, so I join them, using some water that Tribute kindly donates to me because I don’t have enough. My Spanish rice Knorr rice side is underwhelming and souplike, but it nourishes me fine, I guess.

Can’t get enough of these pitcher plants!

We slowly trudge through the last five miles, stopping at a small creek for water. I filter two liters and then squirt some water through my filter and into my eye, hoping that will flush it out a little. It’s still kind of itchy and crusty today, but I’m hoping it was just something minor because this whole glasses during the day thing? It sucks.

There are two downhill miles left. I think I can squeeze out a little cheese. I put on some fast-paced music and gun it for a mile, then get tired and switch back to my book. It’s getting really good now! It’s a proper whodunnit at this point and I am dying to find out the perpetrator. Soon I’m at the road. We were going to go another mile and a half but we are all so exhausted that I cannot imagine going another step. We’ll get up early and do those miles tomorrow. We set up our tents on a less-than-great slopey site, use the nearby pit toilet, and hunker down to sleep before a big-ish day tomorrow. My new shoes are so close! I am so ready for them.

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