Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are We Having Fun Yet? (Part 2 PCT Section K)

Assessing the damage in the morning light, it did seem Heather's chances at any warmth for the coming nights were slim to none. "Let's ask Woodstock what he would do" was her solution, and it seemed a good one. This is when he told us about slipping while crossing a high running stream and going under. Everything sopping wet, he thought he truly might succumb to hypothermia that night, and didn't know how he would have made it if the clouds had not parted, allowing him to make a fire and dry his stuff. So he scoffed a little at our "her bag is soaked" evaluation. "It's a little damp" was his conclusion, "you just need to break midday and set it out in the sun a couple hours." Easy for him to say; the PCT thru hikers are walking machines and get almost three times as many miles in as many hours as I can. Two hour breaks are not in the cards for those of us with speed issues.  
Glasses Lake
Heather with Heather Lake. Had to do it.
I let Heather know she was not obligated in any way to stay with me. I didn't mind being alone a couple days...if you call having dozens of hikers passing you a day alone. But Cynthia, who tends to be a bit of a worrier, was having none of that, and offered her bag as a replacement. Heather was still on the fence when one of her trekking poles wouldn't lock. "Maybe it's a sign?" she pondered, but ultimately decided no divine intervention was at work; she would figure it out eventually, or just use the one pole and all would be fine. 

So we said our goodbyes and parted ways, and within the hour Heather had broken out her stash of duct tape and had two functioning poles again. I told her I wanted to give her the nickname "MacGyver", which she was into; but later I would find how truly difficult it is to come up with an original trail name. Plus I don't know how many miles you have to do before you "qualify" for one, so for now we are still just Heather and Kelly. (I do know the "someone else has to give it to you" rule, but that is as far as my trail name knowledge extends. All the thru hikers had one, of course)
Day two was supposed to be an easy 9 miles to Pear Lake, which we needed because we knew we'd get a late start with the other gals leaving...but I did not expect it to take us a full 9 hours to get there. (Take a two hour break? Yeah, right!) Heather was so excited to show me a "Pear Lake" sign as she exclaimed, "We made it!" It broke my heart to point to the little arrow pointing to the trail heading up. That last mile seemed like an eternity.

Packed up at Pear Lake and ready to roll
The wind was whipping across the lake when we finally arrived just before dark, and you could smell that rain was on it's way. We boiled the water for Heather's nalgene bottle and prayed it would be enough to keep her warm. I don't think it ever was...although, she's not dead, so it was good enough. ;) But she did warn me, if she got too cold or hungry, I might be sorry she came. I'm still alive too, so again, it was all good. 
Are we having fun yet?
Yes, we woke to rain, and had nothing but rain the entire day. I totally should have put more water repellent on my very worn out boots, because they failed miserably at being anything other than little sponges. Despite it being a long, wet, 11 mile day, we were in mostly good spirits. Regardless of the weather, it was beautiful; and thankfully not as difficult as the prior day, so we made good time and got to Lake Sally Ann well before dark. Best of all, we had a brief reprieve from the rain and had just enough time to get everything set up before the real storm hit. 
SOOO happy to see Lake Sally Ann

Enjoying the last of our Fireball and playing cards while we listened to the gusts of wind and rain hit the tent was immensely satisfying to me. I felt like I was cheating I should be suffering, but it was fun and therefore a big "f### you" to Mother Nature. Thankfully she wan't too angry with my arrogance, and we were blessed with a beautiful sunrise in the morning that looked like a promise of better weather ahead. 

And it was. In fact, it was so much better--so beautiful, so wonderfully gratifying and enjoyable, that I may declare it the best hiking day of my life. It was almost my longest day of the trip at 13 miles (next day was slightly longer at 14) but just about every mile of it made my jaw drop. Sometimes I feel like I am the luckiest person alive. To say I am grateful does not seem enough. 

A sweet spot at Reflection Pond

This day was also the "crux" of the "mother plan"...the day the planets needed to align so that everyone's day went smoothly and no catastrophe messed with the two groups meeting up. Next post. 
Next post? When is this going to end! ha ha.

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