Day 87: It’s Worse

Mile reached: 1935.3 (+28.7 + 5.4 bonus)

High: I tagged Maiden Peak and enjoyed expansive views.

Low: The bloodsuckers

Everyone else was rustling around early in the morning, but I did my best to sleep through it. The restaurant didn’t open until 7 am, and there was no way I was leaving before having a meal. Shortly after it opened, I wandered over and found “Skipper” and “Extra Miles” still around. “Gandalf” and “Sherlock Holmes” had left at least an hour earlier thinking that they would push some miles. “Watson” and “Dunks” were going to wait around until lunch and do a light day since their plan was to do the 24 hour challenge (how many miles can you do in one day?) the following day. So, after enjoying an excellent breakfast burrito I set out alone.

The morning was occupied with a climb around the western slopes of Maiden Peak, which happened to be a P2k. Since it was the weekend, there were tons of backpackers, but they were all congregated around a few lakes. Eventually, I reached a shelter, which forced me to make a decision. Namely, I had to decide if I wanted to climb Maiden Peak. I did and was willing to lose ground on those ahead of me.

I encountered a really cool shelter maintained by a local ski club.

Unfortunately, the PCT doesn’t get that close to the summit. I saw a trail on the map and followed it. Though, it turned out to be a ski trail, so there were plenty of obstacles to hop over. However, the climb was worth it! There were great views in all directions! The caveat was that it did chew up a good portion of the day, and it was well into the afternoon when I started doing significant trail miles.

Just shy of the summit of Maiden Peak
The view to the east, where I bet there are a lot of mosquitoes
South Sister dominating the skyline to the north

I was light on water, and the trail was relatively dry throughout the afternoon. The best water source was a lake 0.3 mi off trail, but since I had already done so many bonus miles I just suffered. Eventually, I came across a lake that was visible from the trail and stopped there to reload on water. “Shybear”, who I hadn’t seen for days, showed up, and kept talking about how he’d been hoping for trail magic all day. A few minutes after leaving the lake, I ran across coolers for trail magic next to a dirt road, but they were both empty. Oh, the trail was going to be cruel to “Shybear” and get his hopes up before crushing them.

Fortunately, I hit the open terrain later in the day, so I was spared from the sun.
There was a substantial burn section, but it looked years old.

In the evening, the trail gently ascended through terrain filled with stagnant ponds. There were so many mosquitoes! I had to periodically run, even uphill, when a swarm started to accumulate behind me. I finally reached the pond that “Gandalf” and “Sherlock Holmes” said they would camp at. But, the water was terrible and they were not there. There was one more pond ahead, though a recent comment indicated that the mosquitoes were “biblical”. Since it was hard to imagine how much worse it could be than where I was, I hiked the mile or so and set up camp just off the trail battling mosquitoes the entire time.

There were so many stagnant ponds in the evening.

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