Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Day 123 : Rain! Huckleberries And Christmas Trees

26 miles today
280 miles to go

I awake as it starts to get bright. Breakfast routine in the wee morning light. I love heating my water for coffee. The heat from the stove warms the air in my tent. It's cozy and comfortable as I eat my morning’s granola. I pack quickly, the fog and clouds of last night have dissipated and the sky looks clear and blue. Northwest weather is a mysterious thing. I hike north, the trail has lots of straight line trail where I really feel like I am making progress. My shoes are wet from the dew on the bushes and grasses lining the trail. I think this is the first time this trip that this has happened. I stop at a spring to get water. I meet Scabs who's hiking with Candyman, Terminator, Two Pack, and someone else. They all stayed in the shelter last night. I camped close to the shelter but didn't want to be too close. She said there were mice running around on the inside. I know how that is, that's why I didn't camp close to it. The next water is in twelve miles that should be easy in this weather. I drink a liter and leave the half liter in my pack at a half liter. I doubt I'll drink all of it before the next water. 

I am hiking under a clear blue sky. It looks like it did a few days ago except it's a lot cooler now. I keep taking my smartwool top off and putting it back on again. It's too hot to wear climbing hills but feels warm and comfortable going down. I cross over to a west facing slope and see the weather I didn't see earlier. The western horizon is stacked high with dark gray clouds. They are brushing up against Mt Rainier to the south and the look like they have moved quite a ways further inland to the north. Since I'm heading north it doesn't take much imagination to see that at some point today I'll be in the clouds. Will it rain? I don't know, maybe. 

I reach the next water with The General and Flora. Candyman sits at the trail junction. He tells me the water is cold and great. I walk down to the water with my pack even though most people leave their pack at the PCT and just take their water bottles. I sit by the rushing water and eat my lunch. I love this sound. I get another liter of water which I drink with my lunch. I still have almost half a liter in my pack. I won't add any to it, what I have should be enough. I climb back up to the PCT. I find the Terminator, Candyman, Two Pack and a couple of others. Flora and the General sit a little further off. Lots of people up here. I chat for a few minutes then head off north. Only seven more miles to camp. At least where I hope to camp. At an abandoned road past the next water source. 

The sky has changed. I no longer see my shadow. The sky has gone from a slight bluish tint to a gray color. I climb higher and higher I climb right into the clouds. It starts to rain. I moved my poncho to an outer pocket on my pack this morning because the forecast said rain today. I put my poncho on for the first time all trip. It's warm and cozy inside and it covers my pack too, so my pack doesn't get wet. At a spring I get a liter and three quarters more water, enough to camp. I do this without taking off my poncho or pack. It's still raining so my plan is to carry the water to my campsite and filter it there. I climb a couple hundred yards to the campsite on the abandoned road. It looks really hard. I try poking it with my trekking pole. Hard as a rock. It would be hard to put stakes into this soil. I decide to keep hiking. I have enough water to camp wherever I want. I hike on and on through a Christmas tree sized forest. Lots of short trees on a slope. No places to camp. On and on in the drizzly rain. The trail is slickery mud. The trail is steep. First up, then down. Huckleberries, giant huckleberries line the trail. So many I could fill a gallon bag and make seventy bucks in Trout Lake. “Come on, what happened to the forest?” I pout. I want to camp in a real forest with big trees over my head. Not these miniature trees. I want a clear flat spot, not huckleberry bushes which among other things are probably attractive to bears right now. Down, down, down, the trees get bigger the lower I go. I finally make it to the next campsites down in a saddle. I find a really nice site off the trail. I set up and put my stuff inside. I'm wet but warm. I packed my stuff in my trash compactor bag that I've been carrying since Cajon Pass. If I can stay warm, my clothes should dry pretty fast. I sit in my tent and cook dinner. I am comfortable and warm. It's a little surprising to me how good I feel. After dinner I transition to sleep mode and climb into my dry warm sleeping bag. I listen to the sound of the rain on my tent as I lay inside warm and dry. I try to imagine how I'll exit my tent without getting wet in the morning. Oh well, that's tomorrow's problem. I drift off to sleep listening to the pitter-patter on rain on my tent.

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