Friday, August 31, 2012

31 August - Day 130 - Up onto Mt Adams

From Road 23 (Mile 2237.5) to Lava Rock Spring (Mile 2257.9)

Total PCT Miles today: 20.4

Pan here.

The day started out comfy & cozy, got really majestic, then devolved into a long dusty, sandy slog on trails until we set up camp as the light failed. Back to comfy and cozy, then. :-)

We woke at Kelly's B&B, got our packs packed with the new food and supplies, then went downstairs for a lovely breakfast of eggs, sausages, fresh fruit, and huckleberry pancakes with jam and syrup. One Pole was staying at the B&B, too, and we chatted with him. He has decided to quit the trail. We hear every few days, it seems, of someone deciding to leave the PCT.

We hopped into our Trail Angel's SUV (I phoned him the night before-- think of it: in a tiny town this size, they have a list of more than dozen different Trail Angels willing to transport PCT hikers to and from the trailhead!!! Amazing!) and away he took us the 13 miles back to our trailhead.

The trail quickly ascended onto the flanks of the impressive glacier-clad Mt Adams, and the views just became more spectacular. The sides of these big volcanoes get summer pretty late in the season -- the snows haven't been gone long now-- so the flowers have to do double-time to grow, bloom, pollinate, seed, and go dormant again (or re-seed). So although all around Mt Adams the plant world is in late summer/early autumn, here on Adams's sides, it's high summer again, with fragrant lupine, paintbrush, valerian, phlox, buttercups, penstemon, bistort and towering corn-husk lilies. And, naturally, mosquitoes. The lively creeks and flowering subalpine meadows of Adams were such a joy. To the west loomed huge, squat Mt St Helen's. To the north-northwest, vast and towering Rainier covered in vast glaciers just kept pulling at our attention. It's vast! Off to the south, we could see the receding pinnacle of Mt Hood. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Adams.

The day stayed fair, and the air cool. As evening came on and we hiked on and on in dusty horse-pounded trails, we had to focus on staying the course. Our feet hurt now, it seems, more and more for longer each day. We get hungry quickly - but can't barely stand the food in our packs. We joke uproariously at the pains and aches and difficulties. And that sure helps us cope with what is, frankly, the most difficult endeavor any of us has tried or imagined. Very very hard. We held up the map of the whole PCT today on the trail to get a sense of just how far we've come. After a few moments of considered silence, one of us said quietly: "Only someone out of their $&@¥ mind would do such a thing." "Absolutely bonkers," one of us agreed. "It's the sane ones who quit." (and so the conversation went ... ) we then agreed that unreasonable achievement must be the result of unreasonable dedication, then toasted our lunacy with tequila. Nuts.

But, despite the kvetching, at least half the day we spent in the "wow" and "oh boy" mode ... Which makes this a good day.

Camped tonight above a gorgeous spring dammed up where it emerges from a high-piled lava field. Ramen supper. Tequila courtesy of Dionysus. A few mozzies courtesy of Adams. And cold air pushing us quickly into tents, long underwear, wool socks, and down sleeping bags. Cold tonight! g'night!

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