a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
Miles 2434.8 to 2459.8. Alpine meadow camp to Lake Susan Jane camp.
05.30am. Time to get up. We are oh so tired. But it’s time to get back to civilization. It might still be possible to reach Stevens Pass/Skykomish tonight but then we would only have to pay for a night in a hotel, which we don’t want.
After we are done packing up I go get water at the nearby lake. The sky is full of stars, the moon is shining bright, I can see the outlines of the mountains surroundings us. Clouds of steam are emerging from the lake. The meadow is frozen. What a WOW moment.
We have to climb first. And the scenery around us is just so mindblowingly beautiful. Washington in nice weather - the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see. We eat our breakfast while our tent is drying. 10 more days of living this life. This simple life. This mentally and physically very challenging life. This very rewarding life. What are we going to miss the most?, we think. The tranquillity, Dario says.
After hiking up and down all morning we reach the Deception Lakes around noon and decide to have lunch there. This is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. I would love to go swimming, but the water is icy cold and we couldn’t really warm up again after. It’s here that we find out about an easy alternate you can take, cutting a mile off the PCT, but equally beautiful. We decide to do just that and don’t regret our decision. The alternate route first leads us uphill through dense forest and then emerges to this saddle with a stunning view. The way back down is a bit of a stumble. We have to climb over big rocks and are concentrating hard not to fall.
Dario comes up with a game. Let’s list all the nights where we stayed on the PCT since the beginning. It keeps us busy! Sometimes we have to think really hard about where we slept, but after piecing memories together we usually find out. We are in the midst of me explaining to Dario where we stayed that one night in the Sierra, when suddenly I hear movement. And vibration. There is something there behind that tree!!! It’s probably just a deer, Dario says, but I am not convinced. It feels larger, denser. We have meanwhile retreated a couples meters, but now I slowly go ahead again to peer through the undergrowth. A set of eyes. A face. IT IS A BEAR!!! And a rather big one! I yell to Dario to take some more steps back and walk over to him. The bear is right next to the trail and it’s not moving. What should we do? We start making some noise with our trekking poles, but he’s not really impressed by that. We start yelling and go closer again, when suddenly he breaks through the bushes and lands on the trail. Instead of running away, what a black bear is expected to do, he comes charging in our direction!!! But then quickly realizes his error. He probably thinks “oopsie, there’s people there”, and jumps on the other side of the trail. There is another tree there which he now jumps on to. And falls off of. It’s almost as if he’s a little embarrassed by his failed attempt to climb the tree. With his head bowed down he slowly starts to trot away on all fours. Picking berries on the way.
What a rush of adrenaline! What an amazing experience! Scary, but amazing! Now we are practically running down the trail. We are so pumped! And bump into Benjamin Button. We tell him all about our encounter and while he’s happy for us, he’s also a little envious and starts keeping his eyes out for another bear. Thanks to the adrenalin I am still hiking the fastest I’ve ever hiked. And even going uphill I don’t even seem to need much energy!
We reach our campsite at Lake Susan Jane by 8pm. We are now only 5 miles away from Stevens Pass from where we plan to hitch into Skykomish. Benjamin Button who is in a bit of a hurry and needs to reach the Canadian border around the 4th of October decides to skip the next 100-mile section from Stevens Pass to Skykomish. He will leave the trail in Stevens Pass tomorrow and try to reach Stehekin, the last resupply stop as soon as possible. We regret his decision but can of course totally understand where he’s coming from. Also we are all at the end of our physical powers by now. Mentally we are strong. We KNOW we can do it now that it’s less than two weeks away. But physically… our bodies are hurting. We are ready to be done.