Day 159 – lessons in late season hiking

September 9, 2016

Wolf Creek (mile 1039.3) to bushcamp (mile 1066.8)

Miles: 27.5 (Andy walked 28.5)

Our total miles: 2425.4

When we woke up the cows were still asleep. We packed up in silence under the light of the LuminAID that Joanna graciously gave us. 

We are using our headlamps more now than ever before on this hike. It gets dark around 7:50 pm and light around 6:30 am. On a regular day this means we are packing, cooking and eating in the dark. 

We want to save our extra batteries for the SPOT so although a few extra onces, the luminAID is quite handy. Plus, it provides a nice ambience for dinner rather than blinding one another with our headlights.

The resupply boxes for this section were the first ones we put together (in March). Apparently we forgot to include colloidal silver. Talk about missing something when it’s gone! Using our filters with our SmartWater bottles is cumbersome so we just boil water for 5 minutes.

We were up and moving by 6:30am. We climbed up toward Asa Lake in the cool morning air. Climbing hills in the early morning is our favorite. Our bodies feel fresh and we sweat less.

We stopped for water at the Asa Lake outlet and saw our first mosquito after returning to the trail. The clear blue skies, lack of mosquitoes and easy stream crossings have reinforced that our “jump” was a good thing. 

Although we did not experience a “pure” northbound thru hike, we were fortunate to experience cooler temps and wildflowers in Northern California and amazing weather in Washington.

Maybe someday we will return and do a southbound PCT hike or another northbound hike. Only time will tell. Andy doesn’t worry about these things though. Everyone has their ideas of what they want their hike to be, and for Andy, enjoying it and hiking together is more important than anything else. 

We crested a saddle and dropped down toward Noble Lake. We admired the beauty of the yellow meadows and lake. 

We appreciate that we have had the opportunity to walk through the seasons. We witnessed the spring blooms in the dessert and now the yellowing and death of plants in the fall. 

We continued to descend, past strange volcanic rock formations and weathered yet beautiful trees. 

We look forward to learning more about the geology of this region in the future. It has intrigued us both. 

Eventually we popped out on Highway 4, very close to Ebbets Pass. Together we have been here before, but both times on bicycles. 

We walked 5 minutes up the road and took a picture at the sign to replicate the one we have holding up our road bikes.

It was fun to be in a familiar area but walking on unfamiliar trails. Andy has purposefully avoided hiking any part of the PCT to allow for this thru hike to be 90% new (except for his JMT hike in 2012 and a hike up Mt. Baden Powell when he lived in L.A.). 

Laurie, however, has hiked a lot in the Desolation Wilderness but never here. She has biked many of these roads but never hiked these trails.

Boy were we in for a surprise!

We hiked about a mile before we ran into a group of 5 older women. They were from Arnold, a nearby town, and they mentioned they come here often to hike. 

They were all very curious about our hike and our experience. One woman mentioned she wished she had done something like this in her youth.

It was a nice reminder to appreciate this opportunity and treasure what time is left. With less than 2 weeks left on the trail we have found our minds frequently wandering to thoughts about jobs, apartments, family and other obligations. 

We have to consciously bring ourselves back to the present moment.

Conversations like the one we had with these women help ground us in the now. We walked away truly present, attempting to soak in every sight, smell and sensation.

Perhaps this is good practice for two weeks from now, when we return to city life!

We continued on through open grassy meadows, past volcanic rock spires, past glistening blue lakes and small cool creeks – all so pretty.

We stopped for a late lunch by a creek. Laurie washed her legs and feet while Andy gathered water. Together we demolished a log of salami and half a bag of crackers.

Again, the food we were eating was from some of our initial boxes. At the time we packed them we were more focused on calories than weight. The bags of trail mix and salami are calorically dense but heavy.

We ate it all, deciding it was better to carry salami in our bellies than on Andy’s back. 

Around 6:15 we got to a dry creek bed. We had mixed up our water sources, thinking the reliable outlet to Tamarack Lake was after the seasonal stream. Turns out the puddles of water we had seen half a mile prior was the outlet. 

Rats!

It was getting late but we didn’t have enough water to cook dinner. After a moment of frustration we took off our packs and Andy ran back the half mile to gather water from the puddles.

In the meantime Laurie sat near the trail and worked on the blog. The sun was getting closer to the horizon and the wind whistled through the trees and plants. 

It was quiet and peaceful but Laurie couldn’t help but wonder what animals were around. We had heard stories about cougars stalking hikers and here she was sitting as prey.

After 20 minutes Laurie heard a familiar whistle. This is how we communicate when apart – by whistling (although neither of us are good whistlers and often make noise by sucking in rather than blowing out). She was relieved, ready to get to camp and make home.

With an hour until dark we hurriedly hiked uphill. The air was warm and the trail traveled in and out of trees. We lingered on granite slabs and watched as the sky turned colors.

We got to camp around 7:30 and cooked dinner. Andy laid his hiking shirt on branches to dry it as it was drenched in sweat. We enjoyed looking at the stars while eating.

Laurie was asleep before 9pm while Andy stayed up working on the blog and pictures. The temperature was dropping and he didn’t want to get out of the tent, but alas, he got up, brushed his teeth and hung the Ursacks in a tree. 

He drifted off to sleep to the hoo-ing of owls. 

Tonight we are grateful for sub alpine hiking and warm nights.

Autumn Leaves!! We first saw him in northern Oregon

Fashion forward Laurie

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2 thoughts on “Day 159 – lessons in late season hiking

  1. To blog at the end of a tireing day, everyday, I and I’m sure many others really appreciate you two doing this. The way you discribe the moments of your day gives me the feeling I’m actually there. My feet don’t hurt but I get tired and hungry right along with you. I probably gained a few pounds because you discribe it so we’ll. Anyways, Thank you Very much you two, keep on enjoying the moments of your day.
    “Just Bruce”

    Liked by 1 person

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