PCT SOBO DAY 42 – enough of the dust already

Six horse Spring – tent site 
32.5 miles. 3767ft up. 3604ft down. 

Well my nice little relaxing afternoon turned into a very unsettled night. I fell asleep around 9pm and woke up feeling refreshed. I looked at the clock. It said 22:47. I hadn’t even been asleep for two hours! As it got dark the wind got up. I felt pleased that I had put the fly on my tent as it stopped some of the draft and held my tent down, but on the other hand there was all the flapping. The wind came in big gusts, first through the tops of the trees then whirling around the tent. I woke up so many times. I was also really uncomfortable. My legs were really painful and every time I ended up on my side I would wake with pains in my hips. Plus I had set up on a slope so I was bunched up near the bottom of the tent. 

A couple of people went by after dark by the light of their head lights. One person went down the to spring. No way you would get me going down there after dark! There are two people out there now heading south, both trying to set unsupported speed records. One girl – Pop Tart, and a guy – Scott Williamson – who is a bit of a PCT veteran, having done a yoyo in one season (Mexico to Canada and back to Mexico). I keep expecting them to pass me in the night. To beat the record they will have to do more than 50 miles a day for 51 days (I think the current recorded is 52 days and however many hours). No thank you. 

So eventually morning came and I reluctantly packed up. It was still cold and windy. I was not feeling it today. I had planned a big day but right at the start I realised I may have to reassess that. My mind was ok but it was struggling to make my body work. Putting one foot in front of the other was a task. I put my head down and got on with it. The wind continued to blow and pine needles regularly rained down on me. After a couple of hours it warmed up, as has been the pattern for a few days now. Emerging from the forest for a moment onto a small ridge meant I got cell service. Not really enough to do anything but it allowed me to see there were no major disasters. 


I still felt like I was crawling along and up ahead was a climb up to the highest point in Oregon and Washington. I plodded along, it was nice to be out of the trees for a bit. When I got there I checked my GPS for the first time. I had done 11 miles in 4 hours. Well that’s really not that bad! I sat down and treated myself to my cake. 

Maybe I can make the miles today. When you’ve reached the highest point on the pct in Oregon there’s only one way for you to go and that’s down! A nice 6 miles of downhill to Thielsen creek. There were a bunch of nobos there. They were sat on the north side of the creek and I went to sit on the south. I ate my cookies and filled up my water. I made sure I drank half a litre before I left as I know I’m not drinking enough. 


One of the group of nobos it turns out is actually a SOBO, just doing Oregon. He had a massive camera and asked if he could take my picture. I don’t want to see that picture! 

Drinking all that water was a big mistake, I needed to wee about 5 times in quick succession and got the fear that I would be losing all my electrolytes. There was another uphill towards Mt Thielsen, I get out of the trees for a bit and saw some decent views, and then the day was gentle downhill and fairly flatish. Time to get a move on! Once I had managed to stop weeing so much I caught up the camera guy and overtook him. I was flying on this downhill. I came across a guy who was giving me a load of advice about the trail and he asked if I had done any long distance hiking before and I lied. I said no. I don’t know why, well I do know why, I didn’t want him to feel embarrassed. I immediately regretted lying, but these situations are just so awkward. Anyway, he told me there was a water cache at the road. I have been carrying 2 litres for miles because I thought it was the last water until tomorrow. Oh well. 


I carry on along the trail which is fairly flat. Occasionally there would be a log to cross and when you walk along the flat for a long time it becomes really difficult to lift your leg into any different position. 
I made it to the road and there was a big cache there. I didn’t need any water so I didn’t take any. I got there at 3:40 having done 25 miles. This was my first camping option, but it was still so early I may as well carry on the 7 miles to the next camp spot. 


I was making good progress, but a couple of miles in I needed to sit down and get rid of some of the build up of dirt in my shoes and socks. I had descended quite a lot since the cold windy ridge from this morning and it had gotten quite warm. I removed the lumps of dirt from the inner soles of my shoes and from between my toes and replaced my socks with an equally disgusting pair albeit not quite so sweaty. I am absolutely filthy. The dust – did I mention the dust? – is everywhere. And I have callouses on my hands from my trekking poles!


I had seen a pretty constant stream of nobos today (I started to dread seeing people come towards me because as they passed I would be caught up in a cloud of their dust), with the same brief conversations as we passed each other, but the next one I saw stopped in front of me and said ‘are you puff puff?’ I always find this a bit weird. I have no idea who these people are but they know me, or at least they think they do. A Croatian guy (Tesla?) who followed my blog last year who was really nice. He said it really helped him prepare which was nice. We chatted for a while and then I had to move on. I still had 4 more miles to go. 


The first 3 miles flew by, I met a guy from North Wales and had a chat, and then the last mile was such a drag. The dust was really beginning to get to me now. I could feel it in my lungs making it difficult to breathe and it was all up my nose and coating my eyes. I could feel a huge irritating bogey up my nose and I had nothing to blow it on. Time to retry the snot rocket. I covered one nostril and blew. Semi successful. The bogey was gone but the snot residue now down my cheek had to be wiped on my sleeve. I considered going another half a mile to meet up with the rim trail but no, I was done after 32.5 miles. I didn’t have another half in me. It was 7:10 and I wanted to eat and get set up before dark. 


I found the flat tent site and set my pack down. And with in 2 seconds I was swarmed by mosquitos. Safely in my tent I could hear and see them buzzing about outside. I would wait until it was dark to wee. 

I was hungry and although my diet of chocolate, cake, cookies and candy had served me well throughout the day I was craving something salty. So I ate my first packet of ramen, and I’m carrying about 5 packets of the bloomin things. And they were really salty. My lips are sore from the dust, they get so dry I find myself constantly licking them. The salty ramen made them more sore. I also ate tomorrow’s cookie rations. 

I feel good for making the miles today, and although my legs and feet are zinging, they aren’t  zinging as badly as they have done before. I mostly attribute that to a nice pine needle cushioned trail. 

2 boys and a dog come into my camp site after dark.  

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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 42 – enough of the dust already

  1. When I travel through the that section and dusty trails I always have two bandanas sewn together. I wrap it around my face, nose and mouth covered and hike. It’s under my visor. If there is water I soak it and wear it and that is even better for catching dust.
    I did Oregon last year and it was scarey dry then also.

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  2. Yup, it was Tesla 🙂 You can follow me on http://www.nikolahorvat.com
    Only in croatian language with tons of photos, but will translate when I come back home. Now at Snoqualmie. I hope you are doing well 🙂 I had some naaaaasty storms last few days. Saved by amazing trail angels, fire, hot chocholate and hot beef stew. Trail angels amaze me…….

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  3. Amazed to see that water cache still there, but then again, it was there early in June when I drove by the area this year with Sue just traill checking! Some very dedicated Angels keeping it supplied. BTW, I don’t recall the dust being that bad. Maybe the wind was blowing it away from me.

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