Thursday 28th July
Start: Panther Creek Bushcamp, mile 2180
End: Blue Lake Bushcamp, mile 2202.8
When the alarm went off at 5:30 today I was ready. I knew we had a dreaded 6000 foot climb from the very start. We wanted to beat the heat. To add to the slog, it was also 11 miles to the first water source, so we were carrying 2 litres each and hoping it would suffice.
Whilst getting some last water at the creek we said goodbye to Steve. He would be travelling much faster than us, so I doubted we would see him again. He has just 9 days left until he gets a ride off the trail, so he was motivated to put in some big miles. I am always sad to say goodbye to people on the trail. And Steve was very easy to hang around with – such a happy optimist, which is refreshing for the two of us! At the creek I also managed to slip and plant a whole foot in the water. Great. I guess I will be hiking with a soggy foot today!
Climbing up Gobblers Knob, I was concentrating on keeping my oatmeal down. It was steep, even with endless switchbacks. To occupy and motivate my mind I started processing some stats. I knew that at some point today we would reach our personal PCT halfway point (471 miles), so I firstly calculated that. I then worked out that it has taken us 32 hiking days (a few nero days included) to get this far. That would not do from here to Canada. When we left Cascade Locks 2 days ago I made the aim that we would not have to camp for more than 25 more nights. Success of this target will depend on two things:
- How much we can crank up the daily miles
- Availability of rooms on town zero days
A fellow hiker had remarked to us yesterday that he was really enjoying Washington so far. This made me laugh as I thought about it whilst struggling up a massive hill over-heating. I came to the conclusion that I too would be enjoying it if I was hiking all day in a stoned haze! Instead I can’t help but focus on my personal pain, and torture myself thinking about all the conveniences that I miss. Like proper food. A shower. A bed. And family. Complaining like this makes me ponder – what are we even doing out here? We are not outdoorsy people! We could be enjoying our US summer!
Following a climb around Big Huckleberry Mountain, we made it to Crest Horse camp 15 miles in. It was so hot that we just collapsed onto a picnic table and sat there. This was a rustic camp with no water. We clearly didn’t have enough water to not feel awful. So we sat, hoping it would cool down. It didn’t. We had to make the next water source at Green Lake. We trudged on.
When we arrived there it was more of a green pond than a lake, and swarming with mosquitos. We sat in the dirt for lack of a log and filtered questionable water to cook dinner. Mac ‘n’ cheese is becoming very old. We were both highly irritable, certainly not at our best. Tensions were high. The final 5 miles up Berry Mountain were still very hot. I came close to revisiting my dinner.
When we finally arrived at Blue Lake, the sun was low over the mountains, and my feet were so cramped that it felt like I was walking with stones in my shoes. We were ready to collapse. Much to our surprise we spotted Dan’s tent. Camping is only allowed at designated spots around the lake, and thanks to a very boisterous group of unsupervised Boy Scouts we had no option other than to set up inches away from Dan.
Another record day complete. 23 hard miles. I’m going to fall asleep high on painkillers, listening to the buzzing of mosquitos hoping that tomorrow would be a better day!