Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 77 (8/2) A-Y-C-E! (to the tune of YMCA)

So I'm not too proud of how the first half of this day went. I woke up at 6:00, but rolled over and before I knew it I was still packing up camp at 9am! We'll chalk that one up to sleeping in the last couple days while in town. Then it was only three miles to the road, where I took a slight detour to Annie's restaurant. I hadn't planned on making this stop, but when I ran into Rockdancer he happened to mention the most magical for letter acronym know to thru-hikers. AYCE: All You Can Eat. So  it turns out Annie's is a buffet style AYCE, and there is just no way I could pass that up. Its practically a rule on the trail that I had to stop. On the way in I met Sasha who started at Yosemite and plans to finish at Canada. Also there was Beacon, a veteran of the Continental Divide Trail. For some reason he decided to start with the hardest trail first and work his way back from there.

We arrived around 10:30, which was terrible timing as breakfast was over and lunch didn't start til 11:30. We weren't interested in the omelets only option during this time slot, so we waited. Finally the clock hit that wondrous time and the eating began. First, to be healthy, a plate full of salad, followed by Hawaiian pork, scalloped potatoes, chicken & rice, and pizza. All washed down with apple cobbler and two generous servings of ice cream. Had I eaten any more they would've had to roll me out of there. It was 1:30 before I finally put my pack back on, and I had still only made 3 miles. Time to book it, right?

I wish it worked that way. I doesn't the next few hours on and off snow fields, but mostly on them. This wasn't like navigating snow in the Sierras where you could see the pass miles away and just make a bee-line for it. This was Oregon forests, where the only thing you can see is trees. Route finding is a bit more  challenging, but there are a few easy guidelines to follow. (Credit to Malto for several of these) First, the trail is generally worn down below the level of the rest of the forest. This means the snow was deepest over the trail and will melt the slowest. Therefore, if you see a snow bank, that could very well be the trail. By the same token, water seeks low points, so if you see or hear a small creek running, that could very possibly be the trail. Obviously there are no trees standing on the trail, but a long time ago they discovered the answer to the question "If a tree falls in the first and nobody sees it fall, where does it land?" That ones easy - the trail. Generally crews are god about clearing downed trees - once the snow is gone. Therefore if you see a downed tree, it very possibly means the trail is right there. Finding footsteps on the snow is generally a mixed bag - sometimes it means you're right on track, if the owner of those footsteps knew where they were. But more often than not it just means you're only as far off track as the last guy, not much consolation. With all this navigational uncertainty its a shock I made as much progress as I did. I guess the big thing was to crank out miles  as fast as possible while on dry trail to make up for the slow going through the long snowy sections. 15 miles today was not sufficient, but I'm confident without the distraction of food I'll be in much better shape tomorrow.

Miles Today: 15
Trip Mileage: 1028
PCT Mile Marker: 1817

Photo: The Oregon desert - pumice soil that sucks up water leaving long stretched without access to surface water.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the postcard,
    we got it today. I just caught up on your last few journals. Can't wait to hear all about it when you get back.