Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 78 (8/3) Time to Find That Groove

I was determined to make up for lost time from yesterday, so I was on the right track when I woke up at 6am. That didn't last long as I climbed back into my sleeping bag for another two hours. When I finally left camp around 9, I was already miles behind where I should be. For this plan to work, I need to be doing about 22 miles a day, and I haven't gotten there yet in the first two days southbounding.

Fortunately it appears I got through the worst of the snow yesterday, and I only had a few sections to deal with through the morning. The big concern today though was water. This is a dry section (and I thought Oregon was all wet and rainy!), and I have no desire to face dehydration again. When the first creek I came to was dry, I assumed the worst about the upcoming creeks and detoured down to Middle Lake to fill up. Of course this meant being swarmed by mosquitos, so I took care of filling up as fast as possible - I probably escaped with a dozen bites. Turns out the next two creeks were flowing, but I was still glad to play it safe on this one for the sake of having enough water.

Shortly thereafter I ran into Don't Panic and Wing It, and we shared trail intel on what we had each just passed.  My next obstacle would be the snowy northern face of Devil's Peak which these two had happily just slid down. The mile of snowy ascent consumed over an hour, plus when I got cell service at the top I said goodbye to another 30 minutes. Twelve miles done by 4pm... Not good. I picked up my pace and rapidly moved past Lucifer Peak (I wonder why all the devil names for peaks?), and down Shale Butte. Somewhere in there I stopped for dinner, but wasn't hungry enough to eat more than half of it. Instead of saving it for later I opted for a walking dinner, taking a bite or two anytime I felt I could use it. I think this was a positive as it kept nge moving without cutting dinner short. At the bottom of the descent after Luther Peak I came to the perfect camp site, and gladly planted myself right there. It was only 17 miles for the day, but at least we're moving in the right direction and getting closer to that critical number.

The real cool thing to see today was a clear, close view of Mt McLaughlin, which I'll be walking past tomorrow. The north face is still snow covered and I wonder if any of that snow is a permanent glacier. Devils Peak did  have great views, and I was able to see way south to Mt Shasta, near my end point, and to the north Mt Theilsen, and Llao Rock over Crater Lake, near where I started. So from this vantage point I could see at least 350 miles of trail which blew me away a little bit. Maybe not quite the same top-of-the-world feeling I had at Mount Whitney or on Muir Pass, but pretty amazing nonetheless. Just one of the many reasons I'm having a blast out on this hike.

Miles Today: 17
Trip Mileage: 1045
PCT Mile Marker: 1800

Photo: Distant Mt. McLaughlin - my challenge for tomorrow

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