Sunday 14th August
Start: Deep Lake, mile 2432
End: Bushcamp, mile 2450.7
When the alarm went off at the all new early time of 5am this morning it was still pretty dark. The idea was to beat the heat. But there was a snag. As amateur campers we didn’t realise that when erecting a tent on a lakeside plot one should use the waterproof tarp to prevent condensation. Hence, we packed up a wet tent and sleeping bags, adding yet more weight to our bags!
It was much cooler than yesterday as we immediately began our first ascent up Cathedral Rock. The switchbacks gave us views of our campspot fading away far below. The pinnacle of Cathedral Rock got closer and closer. Not far up the trail I had a personal issue – heat rash caused yesterday was giving me chaff up my skirt. The only solution was to go commando! Guess it will save on washing.
At the end of the descent into a steep valley, we tackled a particularly challenging ford crossing. Signs had warned of a dangerous ford from a couple of miles back. The water was thundering all the way from the top of the mountain into the creek below. It would have been dangerous to ford it because of he flow. Luckily we were able to get creative with a number of boulders and deadwood to slowly hop across.
Upon finally reaching Deception Lake outlet, we came across Dan who was filtering water. Conrad hung a clothesline and the sleeping bags went up to dry. Feet went in the creek to cool off. Sadly we finished the last of the Pringles. Today we are really mindful of staying hydrated, so we downed all that we could and carried heavy loads – all this climbing in the sun is thirsty work!
After lunch we had a hot climb up Surprise Mountain (surprise – it’s steep!) in the afternoon sun. It felt brutal, but the views across showed a spectacular mix of alpine forest, unforgiving craggy rock drops, and a carved out lake perched up high in the distance.
Over Piper Pass and Glacier Lake appeared below us. The very rocky black and white granite path led us down steep switchbacks, making my knees shudder. Another climb followed, this time up Thunder Mountain, which had the steepest gradients we have faced so far, and right at the end of the day! It nearly finished me off. I was staggering up, barely conscious.
We made camp at around 6:30pm next to a small stream, a few miles short of where we intended. Above us squeaking marmots are making a racket. After we arrived another 2 solo male section hikers set up camps nearby and chatted. Plus we met a young girl named Flower who is attempting to break the south-bound PCT record for fastest unassisted hike. Basically she will reach Mexico in less time than Conrad and I hiked the smallest 2 states! She is averaging 45 miles a day. I cannot comprehend this.