Mile reached: 2442.6 (+28.1)
High: I finally caught the “Super Siblings”.
Low: It was so humid and hot that it sucked the life out of us.
Since we were camping in such an obviously popular campsite, I decided to leave my food bag outside of my tent lest rodents chew through it to get to the bag. I don’t know if that was a good idea, because in the middle of the night I could hear mice scurrying about. They were certainly intrepid, because no amount of moving about or shaking my bag would scare them away. Eventually, I had to hang it up out of their reach. When I checked it in the morning, they had burrowed a hole through the middle of it and stolen all of my almonds! Thankfully, they left the Mac and Cheese alone.
As usual, “Gandalf” was up and out of camp at least 30 minutes before myself. We had agreed to get started at dawn in a vain attempt to avoid the heat of the day. Within a mile or two from camp, I ran into a young female thru-hiker that I didn’t recognize but thought she could be Olga. Nonetheless, I said hi and smiled as I passed her. An hour and 2,000+ vertical feet later, I caught “Gandalf” and mentioned the thru-hiker. For a second, he thought it might be “Himalaya”, one of the “Super Siblings” whom I had been chasing since Truckee, but they always hike together. Mystery unanswered we continued on and proceeded to bitch about how stupidly the trail was routed. The PCT aggressively climbed up this ridge and dropped all the way down immediately on the other side. Looking at both the map and terrain, there were other trails that avoided this entirely pointless climb. What possible justification could there be for choosing this path? That mystery also remained unanswered.
With lots of hemming and hawing I convinced “Gandalf” that we needed to do the third large climb so that we could get to Stevens Pass at a reasonable hour the following day. Thus, we pressed on through what was quickly becoming suffocating heat. On the bright side, at the bottom of the valley near Waptus Lake there were some ripe berries to munch on. Much to my surprise as I was snacking on berries, I spotted “Extra Miles” just ahead plopped down on a log in utter dejection. She was having a tough time and was further demoralized by how slowly she was going, but she was convinced that she would do the miles she needed and make it. “Gandalf” and I passed her but agreed to stop for lunch at a lake halfway up the third climb.
Before too long, I pulled ahead and suffered through the climb. There were sections without forest canopy and the heat was intense, but there was no alternative. After what seemed like an eon, I arrived at the designated lunch side, which was thankfully shaded. Even the host of flies was preferable to continuing to hike in the sun. Before too long “Gandalf” arrived along with strongly worded feelings about the day thus far, and some time after him “Extra Miles” appeared too. Eventually, a duo came into our line of sight. Immediately, “Gandalf” recognized them as the “Super Siblings”, whom he hadn’t seen since Northern California. The woman I had seen in the morning was indeed “Himalaya”. They joined us for what was left of our lengthy lunch, and “Stay Puft”, who had been hiking with them since Kennedy Meadows, caught up as well. In the late afternoon, we set out to finish what was left of the climb and drop down the backside to a campsite. “Extra Miles”, however, would need to push further to remain on schedule.
She left maybe an hour before us, but both “Gandalf” and I caught her not far down on the backside. With the climb over the going was reasonably easy. Though, there was one moderately dangerous creek crossing that wasn’t obvious where to cross. I waited to motion “Gandalf” to the correct area, and then we both waited for “Extra Miles”. She insisted that she would still do all of her scheduled miles. But a mile and change later, the two of us set up camp, and she declared that she would go no further as well. We all socialized for a bit over dinner, and there was a lengthy discussion about skipping miles by taking a side trail to highway 2. However, none of us could bear to stay up and quickly went to sleep pushing the rest of the discussion to the following day.