September 9, 2022
Campsite at mile 2481.2 to Reflection Pond at mile 2501.2
It’s smoky when we wake up, even smokier than it was last night. We can barely make out the outlines of trees in the distance, and if there are other mountain ranges out there, we can’t see them. It’s just a thick, vague blob of smoke. But what else is there to do other than hike until we can’t anymore? So hike it is.
We start the day downhill, then climb up a mile to a lovely lake with clear water. Jumbo and I rock hop out into it so we can get a better view of the whole lake. The sky is still really smoky, so smoky that we’re wearing our buffs over our faces as we walk. We have our Five Mile Coffee a little while after that. It’s become so sacred, these little breaks.
As we’re going downhill after that, we pass Fits coming the other way. It turns out that she was sick, possibly with noro, and she’s heading back to Stevens Pass instead of trying to make it all the way to the next stop. She’ll hitch to Stehekin and join the rest of her tramily there. As we talk, we’re also joined by Smiley, who is pushing a couple of big days to meet up with his tramily. I love these reunions!
We stop for lunch around the nine mile mark, at a lovely campsite next to a creek. Spice, Stinger, and Mouse see us and come to join. It’s cool how we keep running into the same people all along the PCT. I can’t believe we met them around mile 300 and are still on the same trail, hiking around them. We really take our time with this lunch, eating, then drinking several hot drinks, then having a little lie-down.
There’s a climb after that, and although I felt pretty good this morning, now I feel exhausted and so low-energy that I am dragging myself along the ridge. It seems like the smoke might be clearing up a little, and I can actually see to the surrounding mountains.
There’s a beautiful lake where a bunch of people are clustered on the grass, Jumbo among them. He gives me the rest of the water from his CNOC and I sit there drinking and eating, trying to will some energy back into my body. Smiley says he’s found an alternate trail that will cut of 20 miles, helping him get to his tramily more quickly. So I’m not really sure if we’ll see him again, considering that he’s much faster and doing a similar alternate finish as us.
I alternate between walking alone and walking with Jumbo for a few miles. When I’m alone, no music really sticks. I just feel so bad, so lethargic. The trail goes down, then up along a ridge, and then there’s a water source where Jumbo is filtering, and the sunset is really starting now. Jumbo points to a rock number on the ground. 2500. The 2500 mile mark. It never ceases to amaze me that if you have enough time, enough grit, and enough money, you can walk this far with your own feet.
As we approach our campsite, we hear whistles and beeps and look for marmots and pikas. Then it’s a steep uphill to Reflection Pond, where all of a sudden, the wind is overpowering. It’s like that crazy night in the desert the day before Ridgecrest. Jumbo and I huddle into a cowboy spot in some trees. Using my sit pad as a wind screen, I make another Peak Refuel chicken coconut curry, hands-down my favorite meal on this trail. It tastes warm and savory and so delicious.
Then I brush my teeth, bundle up, and hunker down for a cold night.