OR Day 6: 9/5/2016

PCT Mile marker camped at 1782.4.  Miles Hiked today: 2 side trail back to PCT from Fish Lake, and 11.7 trail miles.  

I was in my tent last night at 7pm and it is 7am the next morning as I write this.  12 hours off my feet (except to pee 4 times) feels good.  Not sleeping well – not so good.  Oh well, unless it’s in a hotel room with a locked door, I sleep very lightly around strangers, even though the PCT campsite here at Fish Lake is nicely far away from the RVs.  I’m looking forward to using the real bathroom this morning too!  And not just to poop (which is awesome in and of itself) but also to change my clothes instead of awkwardly rolling around in my tent!  There is a bench in the shower area – bliss!  

When I couldn’t fall asleep early, I reset my phone’s alarm for 7:30.  The resort’s small short order restaurant opens at 9am, which is kinda late for breakfast for me in general but definitely when I’m on the trail.  Oh well, I’m working on going with the flow!  I love Bfast food, plus if I don’t I’ll be short a breakfast, so I’m staying and then hiking out.  I’ll see if I can make my target of 14 total miles to a water source by 7pm.  Hopefully by 6 :), even better by 5, but that might be in the realm of foolish dreaming!  I remember leaving Agua Dulce in the SoCal section at 3:45pm and still doing 10-11 miles! Granted, the sun was setting a bit later in May.  Oh, and I had a root canal redone literally 24 hours before.  Good times.  

TMI alert — Wow – my body’s sounds and smells out here are impressive.  Last night, within half a minute, I belched, farted, and coughed.  To say nothing of groaning as I rolled over trying to find a new comfy position since my arm was falling asleep.  

Waiting for breakfast – well, I didn’t dawdle packing up, but made sure my tent fly had time to dry (not much condensation this morning) and everything was back in its place – well except for my sleeping tights and puffy, as it’s too cold to take those off until I’m ready to hike.  Happily, the restaurant was already open at 8:30!  I was planning to sit outside looking pathetic, but the open sign was lit up and I saw folks so in I went!  Maybe I’ll get hiking by 9:30 – gotta use the bathroom one last time, wash the hands, then get the warm stuff stowed away.  

I was on the side trail back to the PCT at 9:20 – not bad!  

Once back on the PCT the only water source for the day was almost immediately after the scary crossing of highway 120 – wow, the cars were going fast!  I pretty much ran across when traffic let up enough.  At the gushing stream, it was still pretty chilly and so of course I dunked a foot in.  Oh well, the Altra trail runners dry quickly,  but instead of just oodles of dust I began collected mud on that shoe.  

Hikers seen: 6 day hikers, 2 backpackers (eating off the trail so we just waved to each other), 2 backpackers coming into Fish Lake as I was leaving -addenda: I met them properly later, Zigzag and Wolf Guide (?), both NOBOs doing 25-30 mile days.  Both nice guys, I took a short break with them at the only viewpoint all day – overlooking 4 mile lake.  

I had been warned by Many Breaks the other day about the blowdowns in this section.  My count so far at my second lunch break spot: 24.  Not a little number, but not totally egregious. I made up a “class” system to describe blowdowns as I was climbing ever upward over those miles:

Class 1:  the easiest, you simply step over.  No part of the tree should touch you unless you are being clumsy and trip.  Similarly, if other hikers have made an easy path around the blowdown.  

Class 2:  you make physical contact with the tree in order to get over it.  For me, this usually means sitting on it as I swing my legs over, hoping I’m not ripping my skirt in the process.  Or, you use the tree as balance as you duck underneath it.  Another example is an annoying, perhaps long, path around the tree, typically filled with scratchy plants and twigs and branches (established path not yet fully created perhaps).  

Class 1 followed by Class 2

Class 3:  packs are off at this point.  The tree is either very low or at such an angle that you need to shove or throw your pack over before you scramble clear.  Another example is a steep unclear path around the tree involving steep ascent/descent usually with some scrambling.   

Class 4: blowdowns that inspire  the “OMG, why am I doing this solo??” response.  An example might be on a steep ridge walk, a tree has washed out the trail completely.  To go into the washout looks….impossible without falling down the cliff – not a good thing.  An enterprising hiker has attached a rope to surrounding brush/trees, to help you get up and around the area.  That you have to take off your pack is a given, so you are worried both about yourself and losing your pack down a cliff.  Yes, this example is drawn from my experience on the PCT – oh Washingon Section K you were beautiful regardless.  

Bonus points!  Then there is the bonus category – usually from Class 2 or 3, you are on switchbacks and the tree is so flipping huge you have to cross it twice.  #%*#!  

Fun times!  Glad we’ve got that enumerated.  

Ok, final count at camp: 87 blowdowns in this 12 mile section – gah!! The majority were class 1, some class 2s.  It was obvious several blowdowns had recently been handled, but it was hard to tell when since the storms that brought down all of these.  I’m not sure how long this continues for, but I’m hoping not that much.  At least it is pretty much out of mosquito season.  Reading the comments on Guthook’s app, the blowdowns and mosquitos were a nasty combo last month and in July.  I saw a few mosquitos and got 1 bite, then I happily sprayed on my bug juice – only the second time I’ve had to do so, aren’t I glad I’m carrying a 4oz bottle of the stuff?  If it’s somehow preventing mosquitos from being around, no complaints here!  

I ended up getting in to camp just before 6, so made good time despite the blowdowns!  The climbs and descents were really really gentle today.  With only one view, it reminded me of hiking back east, well except for the huge Ponderosa pines and the dust everywhere!  

Well, no gear repairs yesterday so I thought my streak was broken.  Does it count since I had to do 2 sew jobs this evening?? I found a tiny hole in my sleeping rights this morning, who knows how long it’s been there. The other repair was my own fault (like the other ones weren’t?) – I tore part of one the outside side pockets on my skirt. *sigh*.  Too rough and just jerked it.  

I’m happy to be camping at water again, though “Christi’s spring was a pain to find the running water and not just a stagnant pool.  I wandered about and on my way back got off course a bit and finally found the side trail again.  A moment of panic – where am I??  I went cross country for a bit (we’re talking about 2-3 minutes) and considering the blowdowns (of course) I’m happy with only 2 scrapes.  Caused me to haul out the first aid kit and do an extra special baby wipe bath of my legs.  With all the dust out here, I’m quickly going thru baby wipes….tomorrow I’m going to camp at one of the last springs before a dry stretch (20 miles) before entering Crater Lake NP, and I’ll use a bandana to wipe down my arms, legs, and feet at least.  

My cough is doing one thing at least – it’s scaring off the deer that are wandering through my campsite!  I was hacking off and on all day today – getting somewhat concerned though I don’t think it’s any harder to breath.  The dust is crazy though – every footfall brings up clouds of it.  I looked at my headphones, which were white, and realized I’m probably breathing more of it than I originally thought.

Well, I’m certainly getting a first hand look at the solitude hiking out of thru hiker season brings.  Solo hike indeed, camping alone yet again, though I’m grateful I had Zigzag and Wolf Guide to chat with for a bit this afternoon.  It’s making me think seriously about the NoCal section next year and when I want to do it.  Hopefully I’ll keep running into other hikers, but there’s already been more thru’s than I expected, and especially NOBOs are running out of time for avoiding snow in the Northern Cascades.  The guys I met today, Zigzag started in June, and Wolf Guide started in May!  

Wow, it got super cold all of a sudden – 9:25pm and I just got back in my tent after hopefully the last pee for a few hours.  The sky is completely clear and the stars shining.  It’s so incredibly quiet I wish I could bottle it up for folks who need a bit more silence in their lives.  On come the down booties, and the sleeping bag liner.  Oh, I just checked, I am camped at 6,184 feet tonight – maybe that has something to do with it! 


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