Tuesday, October 6, 2015

There Will Be Tears (Section J of the PCT-Part 3)

Heading out from Deep Lake I pondered that this coming night would mark us being over half way done, because it would be evening  number 4 out of 6 frigid sleeps. But sitting down to write this and doing a little math, I discovered our Escondido Ridge camp (which I pronounce differently every time I say it) was pretty much exactly our half way point of 33 miles.
4 days to complete 33 miles...and now there would be only 3 to finish another 33. This would help account for why days 5 and 6 felt so hellish, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, because day 4 was probably my favorite. With the sun in the sky, and a very long stretch of golden and red maple filled easy forest walking, all was right with the world. The push up the ridge had a gorgeous view and was not nearly as difficult as we had anticipated, even though we had to carry all our water up to the dry camp.  

So many Maples!

 Amazing view of Waptus Lake as you head up
We were in a bit of a race with the only other pair going southbound to get to the best spot.(we met them at Deep Lake. Hello Angela and Christie if you ever stumble upon this!) Was there a best spot? Didn't matter...we were still going to get there first! (for those of you reading this to get info about this hike, there is an unmarked camp spot at mile #2421. As you can see from the pictures, it is clearly the best. ;)) We were barely set up when the other gals passed. If this was the last spot on the ridge, then they would have 9 miles to get to the next one. (there is one more, but we just didn't know for sure at the time if this was the one shown on the map or not) We were not willing to take that risk, but they were, and so they got another mile on us that day and we never saw them again. (making me the "slowest hiker" grand champion!!!)
I win!!!

Goodnight moon!

Hello day 5
Day 5 marked the beginning of our obsession with miles. How many have we gone, how many do we have left...I really need to bite the bullet and just buy an odometer, because I really suck at reading maps. Leigh had printed the "Halfmile's PCT" maps for section J (all 8 of them) which we referred to constantly; but although they include extensive notes, most the time we were scratching our heads. What the hell are those little blue diamonds for? It would seem logical that they mark every "halfmile" (hence the name)...but no. Then we thought that somehow they corresponded to the diamond markers we would randomly see nailed to trees, but that didn't pan out either. It's still an unsolved mystery; one which I am very open to being enlightened to. 
What the hell?
At around 6 o'clock, we were both feeling we should have gotten to our Spectacle Lake destination already, so with frustration Leigh looked back at me and said, "I'm really tempted to get the map out...but what does it matter?" And she was right. There was nothing to do but keep going.
Leigh confessed she got through the day by fantasizing about how she'd be able to clean up a little at this supposedly most splendid of all the lakes, but time was not on our side as we reached the turn off down to the lake. Our dreams of having any daylight left were squashed as we scrambled our way down. "You better write about this in that blog of yours" was all she could say about that dreadful half mile trail.  
This is actually from an earlier "obstacle course"
section of the trail, left behind by this year's fire
I don't know if it was because we were so tired, or because it was starting to get dark, or because the Blood Moon was coming, but that stupid trail seemed impossibly hard to follow. (or maybe it's just a really crappy trail?) And in this giant area, not a campsite could be found. It felt eerie. This is where my second set of tears came. Leigh and I had separated so I could get water, then I couldn't find her...it was just one of those nights. Thankfully, I only have two more sets of tears to come. Stay tuned. 
Damn you Spectacle Lake!


  1. The silver diamond marks a study area.

    1. Actually, I have learned that those diamonds are just old PCT markers. And the diamonds on the half mile maps have to do with the APP, which maybe someday I'll download if I ever get a decent phone. ;)