PCT SOBO DAY 72 – deer hunter 

Tent site – ebbetts pass
21.9 miles. 4129ft up. 4269ft down. 

I was warm enough, I don’t think it got below freezing even though we were up high. But of course it was cold in the morning, I think that’s just the way it’s going to be now. 

I was sluggish in my packing up this morning, Catwater hiked on ahead of me, but I didn’t have any urgency. We had the same mileage as yesterday and we were starting an hour and a half earlier. So I had all my layers on and the only things that were cold were my fingers and face. I stowed my poles, shoved my hands in my pockets and put my head down. 


I ate my cereal bar and the wrapper slipped out my fingers and then got taken away by the wind. I ran after it and stumbled and fell over. A great morning this is turning out to be!

Only about half a mile from where we were camped I saw 3 trucks parked. One of them was red which I think we passed about a mile away coming into camp yesterday. I had a moments panic that I had gone the wrong way so had to check the GPS, even though I knew I hadn’t. 


I then saw a hunter, with his bright orange hat and bag he asked me if I had seen any deer. Not for a few days I told him. What I was thinking was ‘good’ but what I said was ‘good luck’ and carried on. The wind was cold but I was too hot in all my layers so I took my down jacket off and left my waterproofs on. Days like these are when I’m glad I’m carrying decent gortex waterproofs. They may be on the heavier side but they are excellent at keeping out the wind. I come across another hunter. His outfit is outstanding. Dressed head to toe in fleecy camouflage material. I stopped and chatted to him for a while. He was telling me his wildlife stories and he said he rarely shoots anything but he’s got some great photographs. So leave the gun at home and take up photography instead?! 


The trails is exposed and windy and it hurts my face, without my hood offering great protection I would have been pretty miserable. I see two more hunters. But I genuinely haven’t seen any deer for days, nor have I seen any signs of deer, no tracks. And nor have the hunters by the sounds of it. But they are all friendly so far and I don’t hear any shots all day. For a moment though I do get a bit concerned about the colour of my waterproof clothing, dark blue and green, and I fear I may get shot. But I think the hunters may struggle to mistake me for a deer (which is all they are allowed to shoot). I feel much more comfortable in my bright Orange when I finally get the chance to delayer later on. 


We run into a game warden and he asks us about the people we have seen this morning. I guess you need a permit to hunt so he was on the lookout for them. At the moment the hunters far outnumber the deer so they shouldn’t be too hard for him to find. 

We stopped to delayer as we got into the trees and the sun eventually brought some warmth. I carried on on the trail as it curved its way around the forest and stopped by a creek and waited for Catwater. She said she imagined she was snowboarding along the trail – that gives you an idea of how twisty and turny it was. I tried to eat the cherry pie I had been carrying since Sierra City. It was disgusting. I managed about 2 bites before resigning it to my trash bag. 


I had made the mistake of putting some taco rice into a ziplock which had now been in my food bag for 5 days, and the smell and flavour had now permeated everything. My cliff bar tasted like taco rice. My sour patch kids tasted like taco rice. My cheese crackers tasted like taco rice. GROSS. 

The trail climbs through the trees and over the top of the hill we are greeted with spectacular views, it seems like you can see for miles and miles. The trail winds around the side of the hills, you can see it stretching out before you. At one point the trail changes from granite rock into lava rock and you can see the two sides of the valley clashing with each other. Granite on the left, lava on the right. I sit by a creek and think about eating something but I get a tiny bit of cell service and get distracted. There are some comments on Facebook on the PCT SOBO page made by some armchair hikers which infuriate me and when Catwater catches me up I have a big old rant about it. 


As the trail climbs up again I can see three hunters in their camouflage gear ahead of me. As we climb up the switchbacks I am sure they have seen me, but when I get to the top of the hill they are sat by a rock and as I walk by one of them jumps. ‘I didn’t realise you were there’ one of them said. I though you were supposed to be hunters!! Stealthy. Observant. I could have hunted you three easily. I feel like the deer are safe. 


I regret not getting water at the last creek, all the streams are dry and the last water half a mile before camp is a very green looking pond. I hate pond water. 


We get to Ebbetts pass early, about 5pm. We can’t go any further because I’m meeting my PCT pal Fancypants here tomorrow morning. He is bringing his bear canister for me to borrow, along with a resupply and my long legs. What a gem. 

I’m in a bit of a funny mood, and it’s too cold to be outside, so I’m in my tent by 5:10pm. Sleep clothes on, inflatables inflated and cosy in my sleeping bag. Catwater camps quite far away from me, too far for conversation so I listen to a bit of my audiobook while I eat my dinner. I only got one litre of the gross pond water so I had a cookless dinner of string cheese and Cheeto wraps, with chips ahoy cookies and the rest of the bag of Cheetos.

Three hunters walk by looking pretty dejected. Seen today. Hunters: 10. Deer: 0. I guess they haven’t seen any deer either. 

The bruises on my legs were still painful today but the pain in my shoulder had almost gone away. But I do have a whole host of other niggles. My nose is super sore where it’s been running constantly and I’ve been wiping it on my glove. My lips are really sore. My fingers have become really dry and I have 4 of those cuticle cracks which are agony when you catch them on something. My stomach is working overtime to produce the most revolting gasses, so I’m lying in my sleeping bag basically giving myself a DutchOoven and nearly being sick at the smells at a very consistent one (big one) every five minutes. I really do need to reassess what I’m eating because it’s really not doing me any favours. It may sound ridiculous but it’s making me feel quite unwell. 

Well, at least I will be warm tonight with all this hot air. 


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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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2 thoughts on “PCT SOBO DAY 72 – deer hunter 

  1. Hello Alex….this is such a small world! My good friends Betsy and Don from here in Carson Valley were hiking the trail near silver lake outside of Quincy and are pretty sure they ran into you and catwater….I was telling them how much I enjoy following your travels with your blog and they said that they had come upon you first on the trail and a little later another older hiker! Amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. @Veb47… Don’t you love those coincidences!

    Alex… There was a big herd of deer that crossed the trail in front of me on the trail above upper Blue Lake. So, see why the hunters come. Fortunately not hunting season last year at that time, but had an uncomfortable hour or so on the trail south of the Blue Lake Road. There was some heavy gun fire of several hundred rounds, more than just a hunter’s rife, and it made me very uncomfortable when walking through that lakes area.

    I was looking at your pictures this morning, and notice you don’t mention or show any of the mountain ridges formed from lava upthrusts that were along the trail north of Ebbetts Pass. I know you can’t show everything in a blog, but I remember being really struck by them. Do you recall this?

    I had to go back into my files to take a look, and see I took a LOT of pictures. I have one little video where I comment that taking pictures is interfering with my walking! But I was really struck with the area. Maybe you notice it more walking northbound, then you do southbound. I

    Some really neat formations along the ridge…

    Like

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