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Mrolph - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2008

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Martin "Lei Low" Rolph
City: Cameron Park
State: CA
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 12, 2008
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Thu, Aug 14th, 2008
Start: Sheep Lake
End: Buesch Lake
Daily Distance: 30.6
Trip Distance: 2,106.0
Entry Lat: 46.695285
Entry Lng: -121.398067

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 1,638
Journal Visits: 180,712
Guestbook Views: 5,607
Guestbook Entrys: 35

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Pacific Crest Trail Map

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Early morning in Goat Rocks

A Windy But Spectacular Day

I started hiking at 5:30 this morning. I had to use my headlamp for the first few minutes under the trees. I heard lots of grunting and thumping from the hillsides ahead. I strained to see what was making the noise, then I saw a group of very large, brown shapes bound across the trail…Elk! I had been seeing tracks since northern Oregon, and I thought I heard them in the brush a few days ago, but these were the first elk I’ve seen on the PCT. As it got lighter, I could see several groups of them across the hillside, probably about fifty in total.

There was some steep climbing through pretty, sub-alpine terrain in the hour before dawn. The sun was still not up when I made it to Cispus Pass. From the pass, the trail contoured around a large cirque with a great waterfall. Once around the corner, gentle climbing continued through fields of wonderful flowers, with carpets of brilliant blue lupine mixed with bright red paintbrush and white puffballs of bear grass. The pictures would have been better it I waited for the sun to poke up over the jagged ridge, but I had a deadline to make.

The trail crossed a ridge well above timberline then contoured over steep snow and scree above a small glacier. I could hardly believe this was the PCT and kept checking my map. Beyond the steep snow, I could see the trail snaking along a knife-edge ridge to the north. I started down the ridge and had to fight to keep my balance in very strong east winds. At least I was now had some sun to keep me warm. The scenery was fantastic as I crept along the narrow and loose trail.

Mt. Rainier jutted up over the end of the ridge to the north. As I reached the first clumps of low trees. I passed a small group of boy scouts huddling in the lee of a scraggly tree, waiting for their leader to catch up. The trail started a steep descent to the east passing through more flowery meadows. Once down low enough to be out of the strongest wind, I stopped at an icy stream to refill my water bottles.

The trail continued steeply down the hill and into deep forest. I passed a hiker carrying a huge pack. He was huffing and puffing pretty heavily and asked If I’d seen any scouts. I gave him the bad news that his troop was at least an hour of steep climbing up the trail.

I stopped for an early lunch in the valley bottom. Looking at the map, it seemed I should easily make it to White Pass before the store closed. There was some mostly level traversing through deep woods before starting a steep climb over the last ridge. As the trail climbed higher, good views back to Goat Rocks appeared. Near the top, the trail climbed above a great-looking alpine lake set in mixed forest and meadows.

Once over the top, I could see the tops of the chairlift for the White Pass ski resort. There was a mile of descending across open, sometimes rocky slopes to reach the lifts. The final descent through the trees seemed interminable. Eventually, I made it to Highway 12 (at about 2:30PM).

White Pass and the Kracker Barrel Store were an easy one-mile road walk to the west. The store isn’t much more than a gas station convenience store. Importantly for PCT hikers, however, they accept and hold resupply packages. As I walked up to the store, I spotted a hiker talking on the pay phone outside. It was San Gabriel! I didn’t expect to catch up with him.

Inside, I checked with the lady at the counter about my resupply box. She came up with two, one that I mailed to myself from Cascade Locks and one from Boulderbunny with some items I couldn’t find at the small grocery store (thank you Bb!). I bought some junk food and a deli sandwich to devour while I sorted out my food. I spent a few enjoyable hours at the Kracker Barrel store relaxing, eating and chatting with San Gabriel. There wasn’t any cell phone coverage, so I used the pay phone to call Bb.

At about 4:30PM, we decided it was time to head out and find a campsite. Once locating the trail heading north (it wasn’t obvious or signed well), we started up into William O Douglas Wilderness. It reminded me of central Oregon…low, heavily wooded hills, swampy shallow lakes, and tons of mosquitoes. There were two or three miles of easy climbing before we reached Buesch Lake and picked a nice, established site to pitch our tents.

That’s about all…it was a long day, but I think I made good progress.

Happy Trails,

Martin "Lei Low“

Entry 116 of 134
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Journal Photo

Tales From The Crest

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more:


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