Pct SOBO day 4 – puff puff and the nearly dead.

Hopkins lake – tent site 
17.1 miles. 3905ft up. 3878ft down. 

I had a very restless night. Everything hurt and every position was uncomfortable. I think maybe I had just been led down too long. I tried inflating and deflating my inflatables. It didn’t help. My feet were like ice cubes the whole night. 

Eventually morning came and I could see a slither of sunlight. I peeked out of my tent. Blue sky!!! Hoorah! 

My shins were also hurting in the night so I tried out my compression sleeves. We had a big climb up from the lake, and it was the first time I was in just my hiking clothes without the waterproofs, and I had my leggings pulled up. Beautiful weather and beautiful scenery. This is what we have been missing! 

The Grateful Red caught us up at the top of the climb. He was carrying a steel cup which someone had left behind. He thought it was one of us, it wasn’t. But unlike us – who just left it there – he continued to carry it with the hopes of reuniting it with its owner. I tested out a little project I want to do with him. I want to photograph people and do a little interview to gather a series of hiker profiles. He was happy to help…

The Grateful Red, 24, Victorville, California. 

Why are you hiking? Because I have nothing better to do. 

What advice can you give? Have fun and don’t take it too seriously. Don’t hike at night to avoid the rattle snakes and scorpions. They hunt at night. 

We kept marvelling at the views, the weather was perfect. Sunny but not too hot. We had a pleasant walk along the ridge line, I was enjoying walking with other people. We ran into Mad max (Aussie) and Aiden heading up to the monument. I didn’t interview them, sometimes I feel like it, sometimes I don’t. 

We met Pasatt also heading to the monument, he is from Singapore. He’s hiking for a children’s cancer charity. And we met a guy who didn’t want to speak. 

We stopped at Woody pass. Last time we were here visibility was about 50ft and it was raining. Now we got to see all around us. A guy with a kid and a dog came buy. They didn’t stop to speak. We have only seen one girl so far.

On our descent we met Sam (who looked about 18) and then we met Yard Sale who says ‘hey I know you, were you out here last year?’ And it turns out I had met him last year in Oregon. This year he is aiming for half way or more, and he was with Tracy who is aiming just to get to the monument in one piece I think! 

And of course if we have just been down that means we have to go back up. It was a long hot climb up to Rock Pass. I powered on up, I was feeling good. I waited for the others at the top, my head – especially my ears – were radiating heat and attracting the flies. 

Another climb means another descent and we went back into the forest. Although I managed to dry my socks about 90% by the fire last night my shoes were still soaking. They have been drying out a bit as I’ve been walking but not enough and my feet are still wet. I was getting a sore patch on my left ball. From experience I knew my feet had been wet too long and I was getting a deep wrinkle on my foot. Nothing I could do about it other than put dry shoes on, which wasn’t an option, so I just carried on. 

We caught up with each other at a water stop. Catwater had been thinking of a group name for us. We are now Puff Puff and the Nearly Dead. Here are the Nearly Dead:

I finally had a poo. First one in 3.5 days. Not at the water stop. That would be disgusting. 

We saw Devon, Stephen and Nate on their way to the monument who were super excited about everything. About a mile later we saw trail crew, a guy and a girl. I stopped to chat and gave them my statistics on the amount of fallen trees from Hopkins lake to the monument. The guy seemed genuinely pleased and thanked me for the useful information. I would have liked to chatted longer but I was being eaten alive by mozzies so I had to run on. 

Of course, you know what comes after a descent. Yep. An ascent. It had suddenly turned very muggy and humid. The mosquitos were relentless, I couldn’t even outrun them. There were some big, difficult to get over blowdowns in this section and slowing down to jump over them was not good for the mosquito problem. I got a shift on to try and get out of the forest. We could also hear the rumbles of thunder all the way up. Catwater and I made it to the top and got some water and the chance to drink it without being attacked. I have so many bites, mostly on my shoulders. We looked at the weather. It didn’t look good in the distance, we couldn’t tell if it was heading our way or we were walking towards it. Only 3.5 miles to camp to make a 16 mile day. 

The air was turning and it was not so muggy anymore, it was getting chilly, then the first few spots of rain came. We weren’t sure where the last water before camp was so 2 miles before I filled up with 2 litres so I had enough to cook with. Only 2 miles until camp. I lost all my energy, I felt like I was walking through molasses / treacle. And then it really started to rain. It didn’t look like a quick shower so I decided to plough on through to camp. But it was difficult, I was moving so slowly. The rain got heavier and heavier and I hid under a tree for a bit to let it pass. It eased up and I carried on. Only 1.4 miles to go. 

My shoes had nearly dried and I was trying to keep my feet dry, but the trail was now a series of giant puddles and rivers. And of course everything was wet. So my shoes are squelching again. Completely soaked through. I trudged on. A couple of big trees to climb over which is even harder in the wet. On the last one I fell over. Well, that’s it! I had a massive sense of humour failure. I was wet, cold, hungry and I didn’t want to be walking anymore. I was also thinking about how I was going to put up my tent in this rain. 
I found a tree to hide under, I put another layer on and my gloves and waterproof mits. That helped a little. I didn’t have my waterproof trousers on, and there was no point now, my leggings were already wet and muddy. 

Half a mile to the tent site. I was hoping to see Catwater there with her tent set up. I crawled the last half mile and my heart sank when I didn’t see a person or a tent. I knew she was in front of me, and I knew Dan and Jackie were behind me. The definitely hadn’t passed me. The tent sites we had counted on were a no go. They were flooded. 

I thought Catwater must have seen they were flooded and carried on, there was another campsite in a mile. I hope she’s there. I decided I would just pitch there anyway and that spurred me on to go a bit quicker. It came into sight and no sign of Catwater. Where could she be? 

I went to the tent site, a little off trail, and stood under some trees for a bit wondering what to do. I heard voices and 2 girls were heading north up the trail. I shouted to them. They tell me they have seen an Aussie, a Kiwi and a guy with a lot of red hair. No old woman with grey hair. I asked to pass on a message to my friends. Tell them I’m camped here and if I’m gone tomorrow I’ll meet them at Harts pass. Then rather disastrously for me they decided to come and camp with me. Now my message won’t be passed on, but I’m not camping alone which is a bonus. 

I can’t imagine she would have made Dan and Jackie go further than 16 miles so she must have taken shelter somewhere and I missed her. Hopefully they are all ok and camped somewhere behind me. 

I pitched my tent, fly first then the inner. Worked a treat. I was going to camp in the open, rather than under the trees as it’s easier to tell when it’s stopped raining. But I allowed the girls to convince me to go under the trees. ‘It will be less rainy’ they said. 

I took my time trying to get warm. I looked at my poor feet. As I thought, deep deep wrinkles that hurt and some weird rash thing on my heel. I’ve put socks and gloves on my feet to try and warm them up. The feeling is gradually coming back and I’m hoping the wrinkles are puffing out. 

So now I’m warming up, not so wet but still hungry. I cook inside my tent, but before I’ve set anything up so it can’t be too much of a disaster. I opt for a mountain house breakfast skillet – hash brown, egg, sausage and peppers. Vince gave me this and I’ve not been that enthused about eating it, not sure about freeze dried egg. It didn’t look that appetising, in fact it looked a bit like vomit, but it was surprisingly alright. It warmed me up. The problem with mountain house food – and noodles / mashed potato / any trail food – is that it’s lacking in anything crunchy. So I added Fritos to every mouthful just to get some crunch. I really want to stuff all the chocolate from my food bag in my mouth all at once, but we still have another 3 days on the trail to Stehekin. I am already dreaming about a real meal. 

Now the one time I really need to pee in the last 4 days is the time I really don’t want to get out of my tent. 

I can hear the two girls talking about how it’s stopped raining, but of course the big fat drops falling from the trees onto my tent make it sound like it’s still raining. Which is why I didn’t want to camp under the trees!!!

I plan to get an early start tomorrow to make sure I’m at Harts pass to meet up with the others. 

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I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Donate here.

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5 thoughts on “Pct SOBO day 4 – puff puff and the nearly dead.

  1. Alex,

    A friend in town(Cascade Locks ) sent me this website, and I found your blog embedded within it. I live above the PCT in a cabin and have taken in hikers over the years. This year I am working on a pilot podcast that invites hikers like yourself to tell their story. Let me know if you would like to provide some input regarding said podcast. Also, you can camp at our cabin if you feel so inclined,

    Send me an email at mattfitzoregon@gmail.com,
    Look forward to meeting you,
    Matt

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  2. Just a thought. It would be nice if at the beginning of your blog post you put the date(s) you are writing about and your stopping point. I lose track. I guess this is day 4, or July 19th, right? 🙂 Hopkins Lake is where you started from, but not quite sure where the campsite was where you stopped for the night. Small matter, but I am a linear thinker! LOL

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    1. I’m not putting dates so people (strangers) can’t track exactly where I am and come and find me! The day number is always in the title so you will have to apply some math to figure out where I am as you know my start date. On this one I can only call my stop point ‘tent site’ or ‘camp site’ because that’s what’s it’s labelled as on halfmile / Guthook

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  3. But of course. Better to be safe. A typical male thing for me not to consider the male stalker issue. Sorry, but I should have thought of that. Never had to worry about females stalking me! But then I did not blog either, so doubly safe on that score! 🙂

    Maybe for a campsite, just look at your halfmile App and list the northbound PCT mileage. Anyway, not that important, but I was curious, as I have only camped at three different locations on that section.

    Mile 2609.65 (Glacier Pass), Mile 2635.37 in the bowl amongst the trees south of Rock Pass and on the ridge at mile ~2642 between Woody and Hopkins Pass.

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