a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
Miles 2413.8 to 2434.8. Creek camp to Alpine meadow camp.
It got really late last night when we finally fell asleep and therefore we allow ourselves a little sleep in until 6.30am. Everyone else is still here as well. When I look out the tent I see another hiker camped right next to us. He was cowboycamping! In these temperatures! Sleeping without a tent in these conditions is reckless in my opinion. He can’t have stayed warm enough! And his sleeping bag must be downright wet now, what with all the condensation. He must have arrived really late as we both didn’t hear a thing and went to bed late last night. His name is DirtyFabio, he is from Israel and we have never seen him before. He asks us for some tape for his knee which has apparently been hurting for a while. Luckily we still have some of Tanja’s and can cut some for him.
When we are all packed we try to cross the river. It’s not wide, but on the first look I don’t see anywhere we would cross it. I pick one spot and go ahead, but for some reason I am really anxious. The rocks are quite slippery. And then it happens. I slip and lose my balance! And somehow can regain balance in the last second and stay put on the rock. Wow, that was frightening. The water would be ice cold, everything would be wet. I am really shaking now with the adrenaline sensation in my body. Dario now takes over and crosses first, lending me a hand so I can cross safely too. I really don’t need an adventure like this at 7am, thank you very much!
We are now on Big Bro’s and Benjamin Button’s side of the river and find out that they both had taken the wrong turn at the section last night as well. And BigBro ran into Benjamin Button as the latter had already turned around, realising his mistake. Hiking in the dark, one has to be extra careful!
We leave camp before the others and attack the first 6-mile climb of the day. As the woods start to become sparse we are rewarded with some pretty amazing views. We know of a pond on top of the mountain and decide we’ll have breakfast there. It’s another beautiful sunny day and our breakfast spot turns out to be a new favorite spot. We can dry all our stuff, get water from the pond which is big and transparent enough to be called a lake in my opinion and make breakfast. We stay there for a while. Eventually Big Bro and Benjamin Button join us in our breakfast party, and later a stunning butterfly with which we end up taking a row of photos. We imagine how perfect it would be if we could stay here all day. But Canada is calling, and we must go. By now everyone else - DirtyFabio, Starburst and Poodlebee - have passed us. We let the other two go ahead and form the end of the line.
Now we are facing a 6-mile downhill section where we end up running into all the other hikers again. My feet really start hurting as we are hiking on many little rocks which are making the ground uneven. Thus we take a lot of breaks and end up being the last ones in the line again. We take another extended break down at a large river where everyone else is taking a break too. Here we find out that it’s actually DirtyFabio’s birthday today. We have some wine, he’s got some rum. We celebrate a little bit. Then we inform BigBro that we have decided to slow down a little bit. We are in no rush after all. My host mum Kim can’t pick us up until the 8th of October and if we keep going in this pace we will reach Canada on the 6th, with BigBro. We then would have to pay for another two nights at a hotel which we don’t really want to. It just doesn’t make sense moneywise, but also considering that slowing down would actually be more enjoyable for us. He completely understands. We will most likely see him once more at Stevens Pass, when we will arrive and he will be about to leave. So we don’t say our goodbyes just yet.
After everyone’s left we also decide - with a heavy heart - to get going again. It’s really tough making big miles in Washington. I am feeling drained and sluggish. Maybe my body is starting to break down, realising it’s coming to an end.
After 21 miles we reach our campsite. We will share it with Benjamin Button tonight. Everyone else has pushed on some more. But oh is this a beautiful campsite! It’s already dusk again, but there is a lake we can see not far from here because we’re on a flat plateau. After setting up the tent and our usual tasks - making dinner and writing down notes about the day - we snuggle into our bags and watch another Netflix episode. We are relieved that we talked to BigBro today. Now we have the completely realistic goal of reaching Canada on the 7th or 8th of October. 11 days from now. Less than 200 miles to the Canadian border. It’s getting real.