OR Day 31: 9/30/2016

I didn’t think I’d be back here so soon….

Miles hiked today: 9.5, Cumulative Oregon section miles: 362

TMI alert: some medical misfortune being described ahead!

Morning thoughts:  Not the most restful nights sleep – the bee sting was super itchy and inflamed, making for quite a bit of discomfort and fidgeting.    Therefore I’m reasonably sure it rained only very briefly last night, and the second time could’ve simply been wind blowing drops off surrounding trees.  The wind has died down to nothing, and the sky was clear and full of stars when I got up to water the leaves at 4:30am.  Hopefully the weather holds the rest of today.  It’s 5:44am right now and I’m tired, but ready to get 9 miles down the trail to Olallie Lake and beyond.  

Evening/next day thoughts:  yea.  Soooooo….I got to Olallie Lake, but  no further.  As I changed into my hiking clothes in my tent this morning, I noticed the red area around the bee sting site had significantly spread and was inflamed.  Uh-oh.  

As I walked, Hemlock kept asking me “how’s it doing?  How are you feeling?” And my answers went from “I don’t know” to “It feels weird” to “My knee hurts”.  The pressure on my knee cap from the inflammation kept getting worse and worse, and I tried so hard to walk normally….but eventually I was hobbling a bit.  The last few miles were pretty uncomfortable.  But it was a lovely day!  Hemlock also did a great job at distracting me when I needed it most.  

Cold compress!

I knew I was going no further at Olallie Lake – now, the question was how to bail and get to a town with a doctor.  From a place so remote that there was no phone or cell signal.  Once again, my Delorme inReach paid for itself!  Dad to the rescue to do the calling for me.  

Hemlock and I made Plan B – she would hike on, I would get to town and see the doc, and then, fingers crossed, I would join her on Sunday or Monday for the last stretch of trail between Santiam and McKenzie pass, where I had hiked to northbound before going to Portland.  

Hemlock hikes on without me

Olallie Lake is gorgeous, and the folks who run it are friendly and had no problem with my loitering and taking over a sunny bench for the rest of the afternoon.  The stellar view of Mt Jefferson came and went – a storm she was a comin!  

View from my bench

Redness deepens and a blister starts to form

Xcab, a great Bend based small business which specializes in shuttles to remote trailheads for hikers and bikers, came to pick me up, and I was on my way to civilization by 6pm.  A 3 hour ride later (including a one lane gravel road for the first hour) saw me in Bend, inspecting the growing blister on the sting site.  

Happily, my driver advised me to stay in a hotel just 0.2 miles from an Urgent Care, so plans were made to go as soon as they opened at 8am.  Showered and laundry done, I took some more Benadryl, coated on the antihistamine cream, then fell into bed.  

Hikers encountered: none! 

Gear minutiae: I’m glad I’m in a hotel room tonight to dry out!  

Health update:  uhhhh….see above.  

OR Day 30: 9/29/2016

Happy Birthday Hemlock!

The birthday girl with her birthday pudding

Camped at PCT Mile Marker 2052.5, Trooper Spring

Miles hiked today: 17.6

Today was a day of forest walking – lovely but pretty uneventful as far as views are concerned.  A brief glimpse of Mt Jefferson and 3 Fingered Jack in the hazy distance in a brief burn area, and that was pretty much it.  It is nice to see what I’m hiking towards, but I figure you gotta have the days like today to really appreciate the grand epic days even more.  This morning in the chill air Hemlock and I were both glad to find a sunny break spot, even if it was under some power lines in a clear cut area.  The buzz buzz sound soon faded in the background, and day quickly warmed up from there.  

Autumn forest

At our late morning water source (the inaccurately named Warm Spring River – the water was ice cold and it was a creek at most) we met a solo thru hiker named Monarch.  As we had a longer sustained climb after the river, Hemlock hiked on ahead with Monarch, and I was glad she had some company.  I could hear their voices echo down the switchbacks, which was neat.  

Rock art near a mud puddle spring

I ended up taking a break with Monarch, so was able to chat with her too.  The climbing was nice and gradual, and I was happy I was able to stick to my 2mph pace (for the most part) – ahh, PCT grade I do appreciate you. The flying gnats that are still about (they bite but they don’t look like mosquitos?) swarm unpleasantly at times, but the real annoyance today was that I got my second bee sting of the trip. :(. At least it is on my right leg (first was on my left) so the legs can complain equally now!  I wasn’t really paying attention as I was talking with Monarch about the joys and literal pains of thru hiking, and essentially trapped a bee between my hand and leg as I was sitting cross legged eating second lunch.  Ouch!  It retaliated in quite effective format.  I was a bit grouchy for the rest of the hike this afternoon, but it went by quickly enough.  

Bee sting on my right knee – ouch!

Hemlock’s birthday is today, and we were treated to a beautiful sunset across the meadows here at camp.  Some gorgeous pink, gold, and salmon colors etched across the sky and the gathering clouds.  Trooper Spring here is an interesting water source – a deep but clear pool with some funk and pine needles on the surface but delightful all the same.  At some point a “dock” was built to allow access to the deeper part more easily.  

Hemlock at Trooper Spring

After arriving so early (a bit before 5pm), we leisurely set up camp, talking with some NOBOs as they arrived and then left, and ate dinner.  We had a great non-campfire discussion around the fire ring until the late hour of 7:50pm!  Oh, and I may have contributed some birthday pudding in there as well :).  

Hikers met: Monarch – SOBO flip flopper (she hiked north to Crater Lake then flipped up to Canada and has been hiking south back to CL.  2 SOBOs from Australia, and then in camp (they came to get water but left) – a NOBO thru hiker group of 3 guys and 1 gal, then another older guy arrived.  They looked so tired and done.  My guess for the # of folks we’d see today was 6, Hemlocks was 15.  At 8, I win!  

Gear minutiae: I lost my sole hair band 😦 though I hope to find it when it’s light out tomorrow morning.  I chose beige thread for sewing the holes in the shorties tonight.  4-5 more days of hiking, it can last that long!!  The silk hiking tights, on the other hand, are pretty much done for.  

Health update: chafing, bites, sting, and cough – oh, and an odd sort of bruised feeling in my right inner ankle that started yesterday or the day before.  A record night of pill taking – Allegra, ibuprofen, and Benadryl.  Ahh, and yes I do this to myself voluntarily.  

OR Day 29: 9/28/2016

Easiest hiking day on the PCT!  

Little Crater Lake – 45 feet deep and 34 degrees!

PCT Mileage Marker 2079.1, camped at Miller Trail Junction (near Clackamas Lake)

Miles hiked today: 18.8 + side trails to Crater Lake, Horse Camp, and Clackamas Lake – probably at least 1 more mile

Wow, today was a virtual stroll through the autumn woods – for nearly 20 miles.  In perfect weather – sunny and bright blue skies, a breeze at times, and otherwise hiking in the shaded forest anyhow.  No wonder thru hikers do 30 miles per day through Oregon, we meandered to see some awesome lakes, and lollygagged, took long breaks, and still made it to camp by 5:30pm.  The elevation change was minimal (about 1500 feet of climbing and around 2200 descending) and was so gradual, with rolling hills, that it really feels we were hiking flat trail all day.  In fact, we had lots of actual flat trail too – and wide, park-like trail versus the normal PCT grade.  

Anxiety strikes again at 1am – awoken by a coughing fit, I’m lying here worried about and scrutinizing every sound I’m hearing from the nearby roads.  Who is up at this hour?  Do they mean us harm if they find us?  Feeing vulnerable, blind in my tent in the dark, I burrow in my quilt to use the light from my phone as I don’t want to be visible.  I can’t hear anything now, my heart slowly starts to slow down.  Sleep?  Not possible quite yet.  It turns out that trucks sped by on the nearby highway, using engine brake to go around mountain curves, all night long.  Don’t truckers sleep?  

Despite the less than optimal sleeping conditions, Hemlock and I got going at our normal 7am start time.  No real sunrise overlook today, but it was so interesting seeing the sunlight try to penetrate the deep pine forest to where we were.  We lucked out big time with our break spots today – a picnic table at a major road crossing, then Little Crater Lake for lunch, and Timothy Lake in the afternoon.  

There was another ladder-like structure at the road crossing, and even taller than the one we camped by last night.  We were perplexed – what was it for?? Again no explanatory signage, and so our imaginations went wild making up scenarios.  They included: go-go dancing structure; a place for the folks who walk on stilts and hang the blue diamonds for the winter skiing paths to rest; an alien ship landing pad; a Pokemon Go location; and my personal favorite (Hemlock’s idea) permanent loom demonstration sites where little old ladies re-enact the Timberline Lodge WPA ladies making the rugs and draperies out of old CCC uniforms like back in the day!  2 silly hikers are we – there must be a logical (and apparently obvious?) explanation.

Hemlock swimming across Little Crater Lake

Hemlock, adventurous gal that she is, actually swam in 34 degree Little Crater Lake!  She came here as a kid, and family legend had her dad swimming across the lake – so of course she had to do the same.  I was posed to take pictures and in the back of my mind be ready for a possible rescue which thankfully wasn’t needed.  At 45 feet deep, it’s an amazing blue aquamarine color, and while much much smaller, a great cousin to Crater Lake.  Certainly it was less crowded!  Plus it had a bench!! It’s the simple things out here :).  

View from the bench at Little Crater Lake

Hiking around one side of Timothy Lake, I was delighted by the glimpses of the lake and the rapidly turning foliage of the undergrowth.  It smelled like fall!  My favorite season. We spent a long time at our break spot just looking at the lake and listening to the water lap on shore (and trying to ignore the construction vehicle sounds echoing across the lake from the National Forest campgrounds).  

Break spot view at Timothy Lake

Frankly, the only disappointment of the day was that the Horse Camp we were aiming for was essentially shut down for the season – we were able to use the pit toilets but water wasn’t on and no one was in evidence.  However, the trail junction to Clackamas Lake was less than a mile further, and we easily found a social trail down to the lake to get water. That spot even had a spring inlet so water was flowing (always preferred, less floaties).  

For the second night in a row, it was warm enough for us to stay out of our shelters/sleeping bags until 7:30pm, chatting and laughing.  You can’t say we didn’t make the most of the wonderful weather today! 

Hikers spotted:  16, which was closer to Hemlock’s guess of 20 to mine of 10.  5 of which were backpackers – a couple I think I met one evening before the Elk Lake Lodge turnoff (which they went on to) and Puck!  I met Puck at Maiden Peak Ski Shelter the day I hiked out of Shelter Cove.  It was the day I was suffering the worst with the blisters, and he was so encouraging.  I hope I was encouraging to him today, he looked so tired and kinda done in.  Otherwise, we met day hikers at Little Crater Lake and around Timothy Lake.  

Gear Minutiae:  one of my toe socks now has a hole :(.  I don’t actually want to sew it as I think it’ll chafe.  

Health update: have I mentioned with the increased temps since the weekend that it has equaled mosquitos again?  Of course, they’ve been chomping on me.  Mosquito buffet here.  A few of the bites are getting to the super itchy stage.  Otherwise, cough is about the same – a bit worse with the renewed dusty trail, but nothing horrific.  Some chafing still going on – nothing horrible, just annoying.  Even after the long day, feet and legs are feeling good, a little achy but that’s par for the course.  

OR Day 28: 9/27/2016

Nero out of Timberline Lodge

Morning view from the steps of Timberline Lodge – where we’re going (Mt Jefferson)

PCT Mile Marker 2089, Miles hiked today: 5.5, camped at Barlow Pass

Ahh, the decadence of staying at one of the gorgeous historic lodges – I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!  Timberline is a great place – a CCC era building made of wood, stone, and wrought iron.  Just amazing it is in the great shape that it is – less than 1% has been replaced, though features have been added, like the pool.   

View from the mezzanine – the stone fireplace goes down another level!

Coffee, tea, and a view of early morning Mt Hood before the buffet opened

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the breakfast buffet here at Timberline, and it didn’t disappoint!  Hemlock and I stuffed ourselves silly for over an hour before we finally finished.  Cheesy eggs, frittata, sausage, pancakes, fruit, and pastries – what I ate and that wasn’t everything, just yum. 

We had planned to do only a few miles today since yesterday was a full day of hiking for me and my legs are tired.  So, check out at 11am meant gathering resupply together, packing up, and even time for a short lay down on the bed.  The lodge is very hiker friendly and no one bats an eye at us loitering in the common area for several hours with our packs, making phone calls and doing internet tasks like backing up photos and blogging.  Hemlock decided to take a lodge tour, while I went upstairs to the Ramshead Bar for lunch on the mezzanine.  I’d been craving a good salad for days, and it and the lovely warm crusty bread certainly didn’t disappoint! 

I feel a little guilty (but not really) for not eating out of my very heavy food bag as once again I’m carrying extra so I don’t have to buy as much at Olallie Lake – a consequence of moving resupply points at the last minute — still very much worth it!

The weather coming up looks like it is turning, so I’d better soak up all this sun.  The wind has a chill again, goodbye Indian Summer.  

Hemlock’s alternate use for the umbrella – photography!

It’s not often I take a Nero like this – hiking few miles late in the day.  In fact, I can recall only one other time on the PCT, leaving Scissors Pass at 4pm to avoid the heat.  We cowboy camped on a ridge to watch the Blood Moon eclipse that night, which was awesome.  No astronomical events like that tonight, we just needed to hike a few miles to set us up for the week ahead, my final section back to Sisters OR.  It would be incredibly easy to get sucked into the vortex around Timberline Lodge – sooooo easy to stay for many days, what a great place.  

The hike today was literally a downhill stroll – we dropped to 4100 feet from just over 6000.  The top section was exposed and sandy, and I was glad we were SOBO as I wouldn’t have wanted to climb up all that sand!  

Sand in my shoe after the initial descent off Mt Hood

We then had some lovely forest walking for several miles, stopping midway to tank up with water to dry camp.  Here at Barlow Pass we’re close to a road, which is odd as when I’m solo I try to be a bit further into the woods.  However, no one has come by, and this seems like a decent location.  Can’t beat the picnic table, trash can, and clean port-a-John either!  

What is this for?? Let’s use if for food hanging!

Other than Hemlock getting stung (by a bee?) the day literally had no strife, only relaxation and a great mini hike.  Ahhhhhhh…….

Bets are that it will be foggy tomorrow morning – saw the valley covered this morning from the lodge, plus we coulda swore we saw some on the tallest pine trees in the distance as we enjoyed evening chatting at the picnic table.  It’s so warm we didn’t have to dive into our tents right after dinner!  

Gear minutiae: I chose the silver thread for this evening’s inevitable sewing repair on my shorties.  They just need to hold together for 6 more hiking days….

Health update:  legs and feet are happy again, cough is lingering but still much improved.  Chafing issue from last section is happily much improved thanks to Hemlock’s huge tube of Aquaphor – it’s great stuff, I wish I’d been able to find it in Sisters.  Never leave home without it!  

OR Day 27: 9/26/2016

Climbing Up Mt Hood

PCT Mile Marker 2094.5, Miles Hiked 12, Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge from the PCT

Only 12 miles today but with no gas in the engine (translation – I didn’t sleep well last night), climbing a total of 4400+ feet in elevation went super slooooooowly.  In the realm of 1mph for the AM climb.  Sigh.  On the other hand, the scenery continued to be spectacular today.

Mt Hood from my morning break spot

Anxiety can strike at the most inconvenient times and places.  For me, it was 12:30am after I got back into my tent after watering the leaves.  Instead of shutting my eyes and enjoying the warm night and sleep, I laid there worrying about all sorts of things, sparked off by the more immediate concern of the river ford first thing in the morning.  If only I could magically switch my brain off!  

I popped up awake and out of my tent at 5:45, and wasn’t really surprised to see Hemlock moving about as well (really, I saw her headlamp at that hour, not her!).  We were packed up and at the Muddy Creek by 7.  Skirt tucked up about my waist, and pack as waterproofed as possible, I waded in and was swiftly across – Hemlock encouraging me all the way.  The ford was really not a big deal – no surprise slippery rocks and water just above my knees at the deepest part.  

Hemlock and Pathfinder excited we made it across without taking a dunk in the very chilly water

From the other side of the river, the log tree “bridge” looked much less intimidating, but I’m still glad we chose the ford option as being safer for us.  

Scary Logs over swift moving Muddy Fork

After we got dried off and changed into dry socks, we happily set off down the scenic Ramona Falls alternate, which parallels the PCT for 2 miles.  We followed the babbling brook until the Falls, which surprised me how tall and impressive!  

Peaceful Ramona Creek

Ramona Falls

Within half a mile we had the only other ford in this section – of the Sandy River.  It ended up being a non issue as there was a reasonable log bridge across a much less deep creek.  A truly spectacular view of Mt Hood included!

Photo from Hemlock/Joan

Then….the climbing.  And more climbing.  And lovely autumn foliage along wonderfully constructed switchbacks.  And more climbing – up 2000 feet in 3.5 miles.  Not even AT-like but I was struggling.  I stopped and ate “I just need more calories/fuel!” but unfortunately not – the legs were just tired and just wouldn’t go any faster.  Oh well.  I immediately began thinking of and obsessing over contingency plans – I’d give Hemlock the reservation # for the Lodge so she could go ahead and check in, if I absolutely had to I had enough food and water to camp out, etc etc.  

Hiking down to the Zigzag River was a nice change of pace, but boy was the day heating up!  We had a great southern view of what I think is Mt Jefferson, and the views on the switchbacks during the climb of the remaining 3 miles were lovely.  Thankfully shaded 75% of the time, as it was hot in the sun, that’s for sure.  I’ve definitely been gulping down the Gatorade the past 3 days in the summer-like conditions.  

I made it to the Lodge just after 5 (when of course the store closed to pick up my resupply box), but checking in was swift and our “chalet” room of a bunk bed and shared bathrooms was perfect.  Frankly, I think we’re one of the only folks on this floor in this wing!  The bathrooms are great – there are several and each private with locks, shower and toilet.  Frankly, even more convenient than a motel room since we didn’t have to share just 1 bathroom!  We even have a sink in our room.  This must be a great set-up for folks coming to ski in the winter months.  

Room post pack explosion the next morning

I’m clean and my clothes are clean, and I’m sleeping in a bed tonight.  Bliss!  

Gear minutiae: it is so much easier, and much more pleasant, to sew clean shorties under a real light, sitting up.  Compared to laying in my tent, hoping I don’t puncture my inflatable sleeping pad with the needle, by the light of my headlamp.  

Health update:  cough is a bit worse again here at a dry 6000 feet, but nothing like it was.  It was practically gone in the moist, lower, air the past few days.  Blisters are almost nearly healed, and the larger shoes are most certainly the correct size.  Feet, except for the regular “you’re going how many miles today?”are doing much better.  Legs are a bit tired after the past few days but having a good night’s sleep and a Nero tomorrow out of here will undoubtedly help.  

OR Day 26: 9/25/2016

Hello Mt Hood!

First view of Mt Hood

PCT Mile Marker: 2106.53, camped just before Muddy Fork River, Miles Hiked today: 18.6

My longest day mileage wise on the trail this year – and boy did my feet know it on the 2.5 mile 1600 ft descent at the end of the day.  Tired and shaky enough that I took one long look at the Muddy Fork river crossing and said “no way I can do that tonight”.  Thankfully Hemlock immediately took me at my word and we backtracked 0.1 mile to a campsite.  There is a super scary (to someone afraid of heights and not confident about her balance) log crossing but after dinner Hemlock and I looked at our options again and decided to ford the river instead tomorrow morning.  It’ll be chilly for sure, but both of us liked that option far more than then the sketchy looking slippery logs. I’m so grateful I’m with Hemlock for this, as we’ve hiked together when each of us has freaked out about something.  Thankfully never at the same time!  

Good morning Big Red!

Can you spot all 3 Washington peaks in the distance?

What an incredibly nice day of hiking!  We started the day at a gorgeous overlook with a panorama shot of the Washington volcanos – Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, and even Mt Rainier in the hazy distance.  After an awesome ridge walk, we got a great first glimpse of Mt Hood from the trail. It was amazing how the mountain “grew” and grew the closer we came all day. 

Most of the morning was meandering gradually up and down through lovely woods and a few ridge walks.   We made such good time it was a no brainer to decide to camp where we are and not to lug water to dry camp up the last 1200 ft climb. Even that sustained climb was graded gently with switchbacks galore.  It did seem, though, that we climbed it simply to descend again. 

Hemlock taking flower photo

I was simply dripping with sweat all day today.  Warmer temps and lower elevations plus exertion equal me reaching for the Gatorade and my half bandana which serves as my face wiping rag.  Normally it’d be pretty damp camping as close as we are to a river, and it is somewhat, but the warm air temps are making this evening quite pleasant.  

Hemlock and I each guessed this morning how many people we would see – she was far closer at 20!  I only guessed 6. There were lots of backpackers and day hikers around with numerous trails in the area (Mt Hood Wilderness). 

I’m falling asleep writing this, so to bed I go!  A slope-y bed (not much flat here) but bed. 

Gear minutiae:  some minor sewing completed as per usual.  

Health update: cough has significant in its absence today!  Fingers crossed it remains that way.  Feet are getting happier, except with the long miles.  

OR Day 25: 9/24/2016

Waterfalls and gorges oh my!

Metlako Falls on the Eagle Creek Trail

PCT Mile Marker 2125.1, camped at Indian Springs at the junction of the PCT and Eagle Creek Alternate

Miles hiked: 15 (plus side trails to see waterfalls!) on Eagle Creek Alternate, and approximately 4000 feet of elevation gain

Ahh, a microwave made some nice warm oatmeal for a change this morning!  I was delighted to see clearing skies and feel warm temps – though that could’ve been due in part to being at 200 feet in elevation vs camping at 5 or 6 thousand ala the past few weeks!  

Looking into Washington from our motel room

Hemlock and I began our day of lollygagging section hiking by happily inspecting the interpretative signs at the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River.  We traversed the river trail (the old highway!) a few easy miles to the Eagle Creek Trailhead, chatting all the way.  Passing the campground, I was happy we’d moteled the night before, as it was damp and quite noisy next to the highway.  I was also delighted to see a bathroom and trash cans at the TH, so we happily took a break to utilize.

Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River – I walked across it 2 yeara ago when I hiked Washington

Then we began a truly lovely hike through the gorge.  This hike is renowned locally for its great waterfalls as well as being very busy, particularly on weekends.  Most PCT hikers take this alternate as it is far more scenic.

During a very gradual climb, we diverted onto side trails to visit Metlako Falls and Lower Punch Bowl Falls, both well worth the side trips. Bridges, rushing water, and an incredible rain forest-esq canopy and undergrowth was so incredibly different than the environment I’ve been used to.  Deciduous trees and shrubs!  Ferns!  Incredible moss!  

Hemlock at Lower Punch Bowl Falls

Stopping often, phone was in hand to take many photos.  One of the highlights for me was Tunnel Falls – an incredible feat of engineering where the trail goes behind a huge waterfall!  I’d seen many pictures before, but this is a place where you have to be there to get the true scale and experience.  Several other waterfalls were beyond Tunnel Falls, but what was notable was that the plethora of day hikers drastically went down.  Welcome back to backpacking territory.  

Entering the Tunnel – photo by Hemlock

Tunnel Falls – can you spot the tunnel?

A waterfall most day hikers don’t see as they turn around prior

The last 2 miles of the day once we started the Indian Spings Trail back up to the PCT, were by far the hardest for me, climbing 2000 feet in 2 miles. AT-type steepness there, and no switchbacks to speak of.  My nearly healed blisters protested, as did my lungs.  Needless to say, it took me a long time (think 1mph) – thankfully we had made good time the rest of the day and were still in camp by 6. Hemlock, by far a faster climber than I, had climbed ahead and sent encouragement to me via a NOBO hiker, so sweet of both of them!  Ahh, a key difference when hiking with someone :).  

Hemlock also got into the spirit of National Lands Day and collected used TP and a wooden spoon left behind by inconsiderate hikers.  Happily she met a couple day hiking near camp who took the trash out with them.  She’s a better woman than I!  Used TP in particular really grosses me out.  Plus, who does that??  Carry it out people!  It’s really not hard or gross.  

Hemlock kicking over rock stacks (not trail cairns) in the spirit of cleaning up the trail on National Lands Day

Camp tonight is an old campground, complete with a privy and picnic tables.  Both are highly appreciated, or will be in the morning.  It’s both odd and happy to be sharing camp again with someone – great in that wonderful company is so appreciated, odd because I’m used to camping and making whatever noise – zippers as I get out of my tent to pee, doing my roitisserie rolling, etc. Guess I need to learn to be a more considerate camp-mate again!  

Gear minutiae:  knock on wood, no repairs needed today!  I noticed my headlamp lamp was getting dim, so I replaced the battery but that’s standard maintenance!  

Health update:  my cough is significantly improved – probably due to the combo of having slept indoors for 3 nights and the air is so much more moist here.  Blisters are thankfully not worse after the unrelenting steep finish to the day.  I foolishly didn’t put on my rain pants for warmth when I got into camp, as I was still steamy from the climb, and now my bum and hips are chilled and taking a while to warm up. Probably actually getting out of my tent to pee will help the situation too.  I’d better so that STAT, I’m falling asleep at I write this!