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Will - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2009

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City: Berkeley
State: CA
Begins: Jul 6, 2009
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Tue, Jul 7th, 2009
End: Porcupine Lake
Daily Distance: 16.7
Trip Distance: 29.7
Hours Hiked: 11.75
Min Elevation: 5620
Max Elevation: 7220
Entry Lat: 41.365988
Entry Lng: -122.640381
Min Temp: 0
Breaks: 5
People Met: 1

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 563
Journal Visits: 14,388
Guestbook Views: 1,868
Guestbook Entrys: 31

Pacific Crest Trail Map

Day 2 - Forested Sadle to Porcupine Lake

Today was a little hairy. It started off well enough - I washed out my other pair of socks in a creek and climbed the trail to another forested saddle. A look to my right through the trees and boom! there was Mt. Shasta. I let out a whoop - I was startled to see it so close. It seemed like a model artificially superimposed on the scene. I also knew that view of Shasta = cell phone reception, and I was very excited to call Kim. My phone didn't work at that spot, but a mile or so up the trail I was able to connect. She was great (good job interview), I was great (talking to her and making it through day 1), the view was great (Shasta towering over the forested peaks) - it was, in a word, pretty good.

Then things took a turn. The barometer on my watch had been predicting rain since last night, which I had disregarded because A) it's usually dry here here in the summer and B), I was pretty sure it didn't work very well and was understating atmospheric pressure. Then I found myself on the top of a crest, with miles of highly exposed trail on rocky peaks ahead. I looked down at the little rain icon on my watch, looked up at the dark, menacing clouds above and decided it was time to trust my barometer. I picked up my pace in an effort to get off the ridge as quickly as possible. When I saw the trail continuing on for miles ahead, I decided to find a sheltered spot for lunch, eventually (after dismissing 10 or so spots due to trees, metallic looks rocks (ok, that might have been a little too paranoid) and lack of overhang) settling on a spot with a little rock crevice lined by shrubs. No, I was not struck by lightning, but when you're the tallest thing on a ridge and you're carrying two aluminum hiking poles, you can get a little nervous.

We ran into more serious trouble later. At 4:45 or so, I set off up the trail while Chris sat down for a break. I was pleased to finish the 0.8 mile stretch in a little more than 15 minutes, for a nice 3 miles/hour pace. At that speed, we would have no trouble reaching our camp at beautiful Porcupine Lake (accurately described as an "absolute gem" by the guide book - a "seep" lake (no inlet or outlet) at 7,000+ feet surrounded by towering walls on two sides) 5 miles away by 7:00 or so.

I waited for half an hour before I started back for Chris. This must have been the first really serious issue with his knee, because taking an hour to do less than a mile on pretty level ground is taking a really long time.

I lent Chris my hiking poles and told him to keep up with me, since I need one for the support on my sweet, sweet tarptent. Those menacing clouds eventually produced a light rain, so we put on our rain coats. Vigorous exercise in waterproof clothing makes you sweat, and with the sun dropping behind our east facing ridge, we were suddenly cold and wet. Our guide at the Philmont Scout Ranch (also the last time I went backpacking before this trip - 1998) said to me "You can be cold, and you can be wet, but you can't be cold AND wet." We were both in danger of becoming hypothermic. I put on my fleece cap, but it didn't warm me up. Chris suggest we eat some trail mix, and I took off my sweaty synthetic hiking T-shirt and put on my warm, insulating jacket. I felt Chris' forehead and cheeks and instructed him to cinch his hood.

Chris was moving very slowly and taking frequent breaks, so I did my best to play cheerleader and urge him up the hill. We eventually hit Toad Lake, a quarter mile past the spur trail to Porcupine lake, and realized we had gone too far. It was elation when we backtracked and found the duct (a man-made pile of rocks to mark a trail) and again when we found the lake. We had may 10 more minutes of dusk before it was dark.

It was probably not an extremely dangerous situation (if Chris had been truly hypothermic, I would have stopped immediately, pitched a tent, and put him in a sleeping bag), but hiking in the last minutes of light with no water (I had half a liter, Chris had none, not finding your campsite and having a borderline hypothermic friend was very worrisome, and maybe even a little hairy.

Laurie, a middle aged solo hiker, was also camped by the lake, and it was a great boost to see her and know that we were safe. Even my dehydrated "Spaghetti with meat sauce" tasted great - if you're a fan of Spaghetti-Os but would rather have them with 2 inch noodles, little meat cubes, and 50% of your daily sodium, I suggest you check them out

Entry 4 of 30
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Lucretia Walks Into The Woods



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