PCT SOBO DAY 17 – fallen trees and loose rocks

Tent site – ridge lake
A tough 22.1 miles. 6628ft up. 6602ft down 

I didn’t sleep well. It was very windy (outside) and I was having weird dreams. I dreamt that my pregnant friend became so massive she became a tourist attraction! 

I packed up quickly as I was feeling a call of nature that wouldn’t wait. It was one of those not liquid not solid types of movements. Now that’s out hopefully the terrible wind will stop. 

As I was getting my bag stuffed I noticed a mountain house wrapper stuffed under some rocks. This makes me so mad!! Why do people think it’s a good idea to put their rubbish under a rock?? Why can’t they put it in their bag and carry it out the same way they carried it in. What is leaving it there saving them? Half an ounce?! So I picked it up and added it to my rubbish bag to get rid of when I get to town. 

It was a little cloudy this morning and lovely and cool, but at least I could see because last year I was up here with the horizontal rain. The descent is through a burn area and there are a few fallen trees to navigate. Nothing too bad. The views are wonderful. 

I found a new use for my hitchhiking bandana. Bandana. Sign. Fly swat. Sweat rag and now a nipple cover! So. Many. Uses. 

I continued to descend deeper into the forest and the path is full of rocks and tree roots. Intense levels of concentration are applied, but I still trip around 100 times. Thankfully I manage to save myself from falling every time but there is always extra pressure on the ankles and knees. I have a few fallen trees to get over.

It has been quite rough for a downhill and I take a break at the river, I’m half a mile in credit for my 2mph schedule. I notice right next to the bridge is a wad of toilet paper. What is wrong with people?! 

I stuff some Fritos down me and hike on. Not long after I pass by last years camp (where I lay until 11am until the rain stopped!) and remember the river crossing. The bridge got washed away and last year I managed to hop across the rocks until I slipped on the last one and got my feet wet. This year there was no chance of hopping across the rocks. The water was to high and too fast so I waded across. After spending some time drying and putting my shoes back on my half mile credit had gone. Time to get moving up the big climb. 

The clouds had gone and it was humid again, not as bad as it has been though. It’s an exposed climb as all the trees are burnt and dead. The stumps are surrounded by purple wildflowers. I remember there being a few blowdowns but there were a lot of blowdowns which seriously slowed me down. I’m sure a lot of these are fresh. 

I passed one guy. ‘Morning’ I said. ‘I wish someone had told me that this trail has been abandoned’ he said. Ok then ‘happy trails’ I said and hurried by. Yeah there are a few trees to climb over but the trail has hardly been abandoned. What did he want in the wilderness, a paved trail? 
The trail carried on like this for half the climb. I moved out of the way to let people by, most people are in groups and as a solo person you feel like it’s you that has to move. I saw a couple of people cutting of the switchbacks. The third bad practice I have witnessed on the trail today!

I saw 53 people pass me today, plus 4 dogs. I estimate that around 3 were thru-hiking. Around 4 people stood aside to let me past, in all other cases I moved – of those cases around a quarter said thank you. Come on America, where are your manners?! I also saw 2 people going south. A nice man out for the weekend who I leapfrogged with for a bit, and a guy called David who I first met back on my second day at Woody pass. That’s number 3 I’ve caught up with.

I fill up with delicious ice cold spring water, there are a few streams to cross but thankfully there are bridges over the bigger waterfalls. 

I stop half way up and sit in the shade and finish off my Fritos and eat one of the 4 packets of tuna I’m still carrying! I don’t stay for long as I still have 1000ft to climb up. The blowdowns get better but the rocks and tree roots are still there. The higher I climb the more amazing the views, views of Spectacle Lake with the mountains the backdrop. 

The rest of the day should consist of rolling downs and ups with a couple of rocky sections. What I hadn’t remembered (or maybe I had blocked the pain out of my memory) was that it was all rocky. Loose rocks, that turned into bigger loose rocks which turned into boulders. It’s so difficult to walk on, and the steep drop off on the side doesn’t make it any easier. The rocks just didn’t let up and it made progress slow and my feet and ankles were getting punished. 
The views were amazing but the rocks were relentless. Every step hurt. With 4 miles to go I ran in to David — the SOBO I met at Woody pass. He still has his guitar with him. I let him carry on, he was a little elusive about his camping intentions. 

With 2.5 miles to go I think about calling it a day. My feet are so so sore. I sit and take off my shoes and give them a rub. I’m not sure if it will help or not but it’s worth a try. It helps a little and I decide to push on. It’s only 5pm so I have plenty of time. 

I practically crawl my way over the rocks. I get a half mile grace and the trail is smooth and spongy, before turning back to rocks. It felt like I would never get to the camp site but after 12 hours of walking I finally made it. 

I was wondering around looking for the camp spots and a guy appears. ‘Hi are you looking for the tent site?’ I ask ‘Yeah it’s just down here’ he replies. ‘Cool thanks, are you heading north or south?’ I ask. ‘North, I am so ready to camp, I have gone further than I intended today’ he says. ‘Oh how far have you come?’ I say. ‘4 and a half miles’ Four and a half miles?? Are you kidding me. Ask me. Just ask me how far I walked today!! (He never asked). 

There is a bit of a wind at camp which means there aren’t so many mosquitos. Still too many for me to cook outside though. Actually I don’t cook, I decide to eat some more tuna because it’s the heaviest thing I’m carrying. And I have a hot chocolate, the last of my Cadbury and read some of my book. 

Everything hurts. My back – the lumps aren’t as bad but there are now cuts from my bag, my feet and ankles are throbbing and my shoulders hurt from so much stabilising myself and dragging myself uphill. 

I reluctantly leave the tent to wee and clean my teeth. It’s gone from blue sky to completely cloud covered. There is someone camped near me but I have no idea who it is. 

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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 17 – fallen trees and loose rocks

  1. Puff Puff,

    This is ‘Ian’s Father’. I met you on the trail as we were returning from ‘tagging’ the Canadian border. My name is Bruce, by the way (sorry I didn’t properly introduce myself, but I was trying to keep the focus on Ian). I enjoyed your story the you shared with us there on the trail (I tell it to almost everyone: that had walk it North bound and couldn’t stop thinking about it!), and I’ve gotta share with you, I’m really enjoying your writings and pictures from here, back in the state of Iowa. You write beautifully and combined with your photography I’m getting a sense of the trail and your adventure. Thank you so much!

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      1. Hi Puff-puff,
        Yes, Ian is still on the trail. He made it through Washington, spent a few days in Portland and then climbed on a bus to restart the PCT in California. There’s a group of SOBOs who did the same. Their motivation is concern about the snow in the Sierra’s and fires. I don’t know if this is an over reaction or
        Valid concern.

        Ian is currently in Etna. He said he saw no fire but smoke was in the air. The fires were to his east, pushed by easterly winds.

        Again, I always look forward to your postings. I read them because they are always well written, full of information, and have wonderfully composed pictures. And, all done without a single ‘English’ spelling, like colour. (LOL! As I said to you on the trail, the UK is a wonderful country, despite Brexit!)

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      2. Oh cool. He is just behind me then. I made it to Ashland then jumped ahead to Etna a few days ago to avoid the fire. It’s quite significant in size now, about 23k acres and the trail is very smokey in places.

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  2. Yes, that section is rocky. I remember running into other Sobo hikers complaining about it, but the views made me forget it. Spectacle Lake, 3/4 a mile off trail, was a nice camping spot going north last year.

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