June 5, 2017: Hiked Miles 815.6 to 831.0 (15.4 total)
Luckily we had a very warm night last night not sleeping in the snow. It actually got a little too warm for me. My calves got so sunburnt yesterday. I now officially have the silliest tan lines ever because of my knee braces. I woke up in the middle of the night and my calves were on fire! I took both pairs of my socks off and pulled my pants up to my knees. I guess it was better than being cold.
I woke up a lot in the early morning and my awesome (not awesone) internal alarm clock woke me up a few minutes before the actual alarm went off. I layed there for a bit thinking about this climb we were about to do and convinced myself that everything was going to be fine so we might as well just get it over with so I could stop thinking about it.
We were excited that our tent and sleeping bags had stayed dry for once. One less thing to dry out at lunchtime. We ate and packed up and finally had nothing else to do but climb the thing.
We camped right at the base so we were able to start our climb before the sun hit the slope which makes climbing a million times easier so you don’t slip. That’s the last thing you want to do on a straight up and down 600 foot slope. We chose the route that looked safest and shortest and lucked out having decent footsteps in most of it. I had a routine of taking two steps, plunging my ice ax into the snow above and in front of me, two more steps, ice ax, on and on. This seemed like a pretty safe way to climb to me but it started to take forever and really wear on my already burning legs. Plus, I would plunge my ice ax in so far to feel secure that it was hard to pull out when I got ahead of it and started to make we worry that pulling it out would set me off balance and make me slip. Finally I decided that my footsteps were good enough and I was confident in myself to stay calm and make it up this hill, so I started climbing a little faster and just used my ice ax as a guide instead of relying on it for every step. This helped me stand up straighter and feel more balanced. And move a lot quicker. I slowly started catching up to Colton and was so surprised to look up and see him standing right above me on the top.
Right before I reached the top the sun hit me and everything seemed perfect. Climbing onto the peak was the best feeling in the world. Colton opened his arms and we squeezed each other as hard as we could, stoked on what we had just accomplished.
The sun hadn’t hit this side yet so it was too dangerous to glisade down, but luckily we found some footsteps and slowly made our way down. It was a little steep and scary but we made it just fine. We walked along the frozen snow for awhile, happy that we had got the hardest part of our day over with… such a silly thing to think. We started making our way down a deep canyon with a raging river below. The canyon got pretty steep in a few spots and we had to rock hop and make detours on and off the trail to avoid the disintegrating snow slopes into the river and the steep snow covered trail up above.
But that would be too easy of course for PCT standards. The trail started to become covered in slushy snow, creeks, downed trees, and rocks from avalanches over the winter. It felt like an obstacle course and we were not the winners.
We hiked until we found a nice lunch spot with room to dry our wet clothes. I was so hungry and tired by this point after everything we had been through today that sitting down and eating surrounded by a thrashed forest in the middle of nowhere felt like I was in paradise. It’s funny how much your expectations change out here of what you need to be happy. We took a long lunch and I laughed about how Colton had been trying so hard in the desert to get out of the hiker bubble and now we were going on day 3 of not seeing another person. Laying in the sun, in the middle of nowhere, with your best friend, and nothing else around was such a relaxing feeling.
We finally pulled ourselves off the warm ground and finished our day. Which was another obstacle course with more snow to break through and more water to walk though. I don’t even know why we tried to dry our socks and shoes. They were soaked in minutes. After what felt like forever we made it to our campsite for the night and lucked out finding a dry area up on some rocks above the trail. We could hear a rushing river below us and a gushing waterfall on one side of us.
We ate dinner and planned out our last big pass we have to climb tomorrow before we head into Bishop for a resupply and to join ranks with humanity again. After not seeing anyone for a few days and not having cell service for a week, we joked about how anything in the world could have been happening the past week and we would never know. It’s half a joke, half kinda scary. I think tomorrow will be even weirder than normal to be back in civilization after being so isolated.
Our pass tomorrow is an 11.7-mile side trail off the PCT to get to South Lake where we will hopefully hitch into Bishop. The trail is steep and we can already see a lot of switchbacks from our camping site. We don’t know what to expect, but nothing would surprise me anymore. Every day our here is a surprise. It never gets easy, you just get better at it and do more things you never thought you could do and appreciate everything so much more. And somehow that makes everything just perfect.