Day 97: 7/14/14, PCT Mile 1071.7

Miles hiked: 16.7
Camped at: Lost Lake with Cat Burglar and Firestarter

Two items can get me to “put the pedal to the medal” and practically run down the trail for miles, which usually isn’t in my hiker vocabulary. The first, and by far the most enjoyable, is town motivation – see last Friday! The second happened today – the threat of lightening on an exposed ridgeline. During lunch it began to cloud over, and I began to hear thunder rumble in the distance. I eventually packed up as I was at a somewhat exposed area though in a valley. As it began to rain hard, with thunder seemingly overhead, and then hail (!) I hunkered down in a sheltered area and waited out the worst as I knew I had to climb to higher elevation next. The sun came out and as was well – I went on my merry way, encountered a friendly trail crew, and even thought to myself that it was getting hot again, as it had been almost unbearably in the morning along exposed ridgelines. As I climbed out of tree cover yet again, I was dismayed to eventually see clouds building again in the distance. I went up and up and up while the dark clouds came closer and closer and closer. I could hear the thunder echo along the mountains (neat when I’m not so exposed). Yikes, I was by far the tallest thing around in the scrub bush, sand, and wildflowers and the switchbacks seemed never ending as I kept one eye on the storm and the other on the path in front of me. I made it up and over the crest before it started to sprinkle again, but where were the trees?? It seemed like I also descended forever (though it was actually pretty quick despite wrestling with my umbrella in the wind gusts) before ducking into cover at treeline. Whew! Amazing what adrenaline can do – I barely noticed the last 800 feet of elevation gain on that climb.

I’m ashamed to admit I’m woefully out of practice setting up my tent in the rain, which I seemed to do so effortlessly last year on the AT. Ahh well, at least mopping up after I dove in wasn’t a big deal. Happily, I was worried about them being behind me and even more in the path of the storm, Firestarter and Car Burglar arrived about 15 mins after I did, also wide eyed from their sprint across the ridge. It rained steadily for over an hour, and the large size of my vestibule was never so appreciated as when I choose to cook in it like tonight. Hiker hunger doesn’t bow to the elements!

The morning’s hike, while feeling like another day considering the excitement of the afternoon, was very exposed and sandy, with lots of baby climbs and descents, and very very hot in the sun. Everyone seemed to be of the same opinion – it was like being back in the desert just with more water sources. Not my favorite when I’m sweating profusely before 7am, but Mr Gimpy 3.0 to the rescue yet again! My feet enjoyed a nice soak at lunch, before the weather got so interesting. Too bad it’s actually chilly now from the rain – the lake nearby might have been my first full immersion swim otherwise ;).

Stormy afternoon:

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Hail on the log I sat on to wait out the worst of the first storm:

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A hot sunny morning, desert-look-a-like:

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