Day 97 – the mental game

July 9, 2016

Bushcamp (mile 1786.9) to bushcamp (mile 1809.6)

Miles: 23.7 (22.7 PCT miles + 1 mile after taking wrong turn)

Total miles walked: 1403.3

The rain continued throughout the night. When our alarm clock went off at 5am we did not want to move. We had all agreed to be hiking by 6 unless it was raining.

It was raining.

We talked to one another through our tents and pushed our departure back to 6:30am. It’s really hard to motivate and get out of a cozy sleeping bag when you have to put on wet clothes, wet socks, wet shoes and wet rain gear…. and then carry a wet tent.

The sky was gray and gloomy when we started walking. From the get go we were climbing over logs. Our already wet feet were now cold from the wet plants.

It wasn’t fun. We were cold and wet and we had a long day of hiking ahead of us. This is where thru hiking becomes a mental game. It is a challenge to find the beauty despite the discomfort. We both had to dig deep within ourselves to find a smile.

“The wetness is only temporary” Laurie kept reminding herself.

The hardest part was dreading walking in the rain for another day and getting into a wet tent with damp sleeping bags. We didn’t know what the day would bring- more rain, sun? Only time would tell and in the meantime we continued to slosh down the trail.

At one point Laurie stopped to pee. It was pouring and as soon as she dropped her pants the mosquitoes swarmed. Dirty water ran down her legs from her raincoat soaking her underwear. This was her low point of the day.

“If it continues to rain day after day, I am going home” stated Laurie.

“I totally understand.” Replied Andy. “I will have my dad ship me my solo tent.”

Andy later shared that he has enjoyed the challenges of the last few days. This is what Mother Nature gave us and we deal. It feels satisfying to know that we are able to cover the miles with smiles on our faces despite the wet weather and blow downs.

The herd may not have to deal with these conditions. Andy takes satisfaction in knowing that he is working hard and is able to continue north, despite the challenges.

The rain was a constant drizzle for the first few hours. Around 10:30 the sky lightened and a little bit of sun peaked through.

“Come on sun” we chanted looking up at the sky pleadingly.

Around 11 am we reached the high point of the day, near Devils Peak. The clouds were starting to lift and we had a view of a lake across the valley.

“Look, we can actually see things again!” Exclaimed Andy enthusiastically.

The sun popped in and out of the clouds as we descended. We encountered some snow but nothing compared to the Sierras. We took our time and got down with only 1 slip. It was actually fun to be back on the white stuff.

Once back on dirt trail we saw a nice campsite and stopped with the intention of drying out the rain fly. As soon as we stretched it out, the sky clouded over. We packed up the sopping wet fly and continued down the trail.

Around 12:30 at one of the last creeks before Crater Lake, still 20 miles away, we heard voices. Speed and another couple were sitting on a log eating lunch while they dried out their tents. We joined the lunch party after stretching out our tent, fly and Tyvek groundsheet.

We hung out for about 30 minutes, attempting to dry ourselves and our gear in the occasional bouts of sunshine.

Laurie sat on a rock with her palms facing towards the sky, letting the warmth of the sun rays penetrate her hands and gloves. It felt magical.

Around 1 pm we packed everything up and continued down the hill. Thankfully the sun continued to peer through the clouds.

We continued to climb over, under and around trees all day. The only real break was when we were close to Devils Peak walking on shale. In the morning especially, it was hard to find a groove when we had to stop every 10 yards to get over a hurdle.

We walked through a large burn area with thousands of small fir trees. It felt like we were walking through a Christmas tree farm.

By late afternoon Andy was so used to walking over logs that he nonchalantly led us over a pile of logs across the trail. Laurie was staring at the ground, listening to a podcast and blindly followed.

It wasn’t until we came to a junction that we realized we were not on the right trail. A sign for the PCT pointed back in the direction we had come. Rats.

Andy was beating himself up because the detour cost us 1 mile, more time and more effort. This is the first time we have taken a wrong turn this whole hike. Andy wanted to get to camp before the rain and walking too quickly and not paying attention led to his mistake. We turned around and retraced our steps.

By the time we got to camp our clothes were dry. Our socks and shoes were still damp and quite stinky but SO much better than the night before.

We ate dinner sitting outside with Speed. Such a treat and something we didn’t think was possible given the mozzies yesterday. It quickly got cold but thankfully because of the drop in temperature, there were very few mosquitoes.

Around 8 pm we crawled into our tent and sleeping bags. Tonight may be one of the coldest nights on trail, at least in a long time. We hope it doesn’t rain!

Tomorrow we will meet Joanna, Laurie’s Godmother, where hwy 62 intersects the PCT. We are excited to see her and explore Crater Lake. None of us have been there before.

Our bodies are excited for a break. In less than a month we have walked over 500 miles with no rest days.

Now, it is time for bed. Tomorrow has another 5 am wake up call. Sigh.

Tonight we are grateful for sunshine to dry our tent and a stove with which we make warm meals.










The sun! Finally, the sun!!

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