Saturday, September 3, 2016

Day 126 : Over Dutch Miller Gap

24 miles today
208 miles to go

Rain! Pretty much all night. I wake to the sound of rain on my tent. There's supposed to be a twenty five percent chance of rain. It's raining now, isn't that a one hundred percent chance? There's a great chance that it will rain today because it's already raining. How long will it rain? When will it stop? Will it start again? I don't know the answers to these questions. This campsite is in a meadow right by cold moving water. Condensation city! I wipe down the inside of my tent to soak up the condensation. My sleeping bag is still dry. I'm dry, for now. It's cold with a damp chill in the air. I need to keep my sleeping bag and clothes dry. That means pack them away and put on my wet clammy clothes that I was hiking in yesterday. Boo! Thinking about it turns out to be worse than actually putting them on. There's an initial cold shock but then they warm up and feel clammy. Yuck, at least I'm not cold. I eat breakfast in my clammy clothes. I watch them steam as vapor rises off my arms and legs. I keep wiping down the inside of my tent and with my pack towel and wringing it out on the ground outside my tent. My clothes are slowly drying as long as I stay in my tent. Or if it would stop raining.

Out into rain, mostly moist, not quite raining, yet I seem to be staying wet. Rain occasionally falls but the trees and bushes are soaked, passing through them splashes me with doses of cold water. Blueberry bushes everywhere . They line the trail. The bushes and trees are soaked with rain. They spray my pants legs with icy cold water that then runs down into my shoes. My shoes and socks are soaked. Sploosh, sploosh, sploosh go my feet. My shoes are wearing out. There are holes on the sides, water oozing out like the scuppers on a boat. The trail goes up higher. It climbs over Dutch Miller Gap. There are bushels of blueberries, big ones, I stop and graze briefly. Good ones! 

The rain turns to mist. Fog settles around me blocking my views. I climb until the trail levels out. Instead of rushing water there are standing pools in the meadow the trail is passing through. I think it's a meadow. No trees. Just low bushes, rocks, and pools of water. This must be Dutch Miller Gap. I wonder how it got its name. 

Downhill! Water flowing the same direction as I walk the trail steepens. The water raises its voice, from a happy gurgle to a roar. It's moved away from the trail so I can't see it. But I can hear it. Cascading water. Waterfalls. I passes below them, falling into blue pools in the rocks next to the trail. Steep switchbacks down, back and forth. Down, down, down.
Down to Ivanhoe lake. Deep and dark, mysterious in the mist. Waterfalls seem to be congregating from all sides. They are all meeting at the lake.

The clouds are thinning in the east, the end of the lake is to the east, that's where I go. To the outlet. The outlet is rushing. The trail is steep and muddy. Big rocks to climb down.
Fallen trees to climb over. Steep downhill switchbacks back and forth across a large open face. The sun peeks through the clouds. Then widens its gaze. I'm in the sunshine! I feels it's welcome warmth. Cloudy fingers push east as far as they can. The sun cuts off the clouds and melts them away. I reach the PCT. The trail widens and looks like it gets a lot more traffic. The PCT is a friend, it's nice to be back with my friend. Yes, some parts are more difficult than others, but the parameters are consistent. This rough and no rougher, this steep but no steeper. It feels good to be back walking on the PCT. The trail begins to climb. A long climb, lots of switchbacks. Higher and higher I go. The clouds billow and push across the sky above. The bushes along the trail are dryer. Others have already passed by and received the dousing of cold spray from the wet the branches. The morning passes as I climb, back and forth. I climb to Deep Lake passing more blueberries.

I stop for lunch at Deep Lake, lots of day hikers, I don't see any Thru hikers. The sun comes out, sort of warm. I sit on a rock and take off my shoes. I lay out my socks on the rock to dry. I eat my lunch in bare feet. My shoes have holes. Not good, but I'm close to the end. Will they last? Will the holes grow bigger? Will stuff start getting into my shoes? All questions to which  I don't know the answers. I put my shoes back on and graze for blueberries after lunch. Only big juicy ones that have been in the sun. They seem to be the sweetest. 

I start climbing up over Cathedral Pass. Rain is chasing me. The valley below where I had lunch is under a descending gray cloud of rain. The clouds pouring over the ridge to the west are thick and rain swollen. They want to soak the area I'm walking in. Walk faster, head north perhaps they won't catch me. It's starts spitting rain. I wear my poncho. The switchbacks take me north and south across the slope, when I head south I head into the rain. Then the trail turns and I walk out of it. Back and forth, rain and no rain. Always higher and higher. Up until Deep lake is a tiny blue spot in the trees below. I see it intermittently through the trees and most. Then it's gone, I pass over the saddle and down the other side. The wind, which had been hectoring me as I climb, drops off, the air warms slightly. One more ridge between me and the rain. The clouds though seem to be closing in again. More rain? I descend into the canyon. The signs says there is a dangerous ford ahead. Dangerous? First time I've seen a sign like that. I've crossed many a ford some of them I consider dangerous. Why does this one get a sign? Is it more dangerous than the others? What does danger even mean? I hike on watching for danger. Down, down to dangerous ford. A large path of boulders and rocks cross the trail, or rather the trail crosses them. A ginormous creek bed. Mostly dry. Is it raining or not? I can't tell. Do I leave my poncho on? I cross most of the rocks, no creek until the very end. A creek with green rocks. I climb up and over and across the creek without stepping on the green rocks, they were the slippery ones. Huh, dangerous because of slippery rocks. I avoid stepping on slippery ones, the ford is easy. Maybe it was dangerous for horses. Whatever. 

More traversing across a slope a little up a little down. Across a small saddle into a new drainage. More traversing. A large creek, get water for camp. A large camp that isn't as large as I imagined. Mostly sloped only a couple of decent tent spots. It starts to rain again. I set up my tent and climb inside. Out of my wet clothes into my dry ones. Cook dinner in my tent. Warm food! I can't imagine hiking without a stove. Of course those that I know that didn't hiked a lot faster, perhaps they've finished already, avoided rain and cold wet nights in a tent. Can I do this for another ten days? Will it rain until it snows? Will I get to see the sun before I leave Washington? I don't know. One day at a time. I lay in my warm sleeping bag. Dry and cozy. I drift off to sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Scott, it's Susan Cyr from CLC. I have followed your incredible journey from day one and am excited and also sad that is nearing the end...I will miss the stories. Kudos to Kelli and family for their support...she must be an amazing woman....I hope to get to talk to you about your amazing adventure.