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BassBoneBob - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2018

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BassBoneBob
City: Grand Rapids
State: Michigan
Country: USA
Begins: May 23, 2018
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sat, Jun 9th, 2018
Start: Campsite at mile 1844
End: Diamond Lake Resort
Daily Distance: 17
Trip Distance: 276.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 165
Journal Visits: 3,639
Guestbook Views: 44
Guestbook Entrys: 6

Journal Plan

Pacific Crest Trail Map

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Day 18 - From Winter Oblivion, to a Warm Bed

I heard the rhythmical pattering of rain on my tent all night long, but it
never sounded heavy. I was warm, dry, and comfortable in my nylon bedroom
under the protective boughs of several tall hemlock trees. The sound of
raindrops on the tent may be soothing for sleep, but packing up wet gear in
the cold rain is an unpleasant process. When I sat up, unzipped the rainfly
and stuck my head outside I saw nothing but white... snow was everywhere!

On last year's hike my friend Peter told about how you can take your tent
down under the rainfly in order to stay dry in the process. I layed there
thinking, looking up at all the clips and trying to come up with a
strategy... and it worked! I managed to put everything in my pack (except
the rainfly) in the dry environs under the rainfly. The only tricky part
was when I realized that I was still zipped inside the collapsed tent that
was now draped all around me, so I had to carefully find the door, unzip,
and climb out of it. After everything was loaded in my pack I put on my
rain gear and climbed out into the elements, proud of my still dry, loaded
pack. The only thing left to do was take down the soggy rainfly, put it in
a stuff sack and strap it to the pack.

After the lengthy pack up procedure I finally departed the campsite at 7:15
a.m. in a steady snowfall. It was 3.7 miles to a road crossing, then about
18 miles up to Mt Theilson pass at 7333 ft climbing still further to
Oregon's highest point of the PCT at 7572 ft., then mostly downhill ro a
campsite near a lake at 6100ft. Along the way I was watching for Riley's
footprints but saw nothing. A mile after the road crossing I sat on a large
log to take my scheduled coffee break. The skys were brightening and
patches of blue began appearing. I became optimistic that the snowstorm had
passed on, but knew I would encounter snowpack on my route. It had snowed
about 2 inches, but looking at the topography map it was unclear just how
much winter pack snow there would be, it depended on how much of the trail
was facing north, away from the sun, or protected by treecover. The
emerging blue sky gave me hope, so I hiked upward. But as predicted, the
snowfall depth gradually increased and the temperature was dropping as I
got higher on the mountain. I began to completely loose sight of the trail,
but could still follow it. When I came to an opening in the trees I could
see far to the west down to Diamond Lake, a huge natural lake, lit up by
the sun. It was a dramatic view from the black and white winter scene
around me to the colorful greens and blues of the sky and valley below.
Looking to the east was Mt Theilson, also known to resemble Mt Doom from
The Lord of the Rings drawings by Tolkien... but not on this day, the
summit was lost in the brisk moving clouds. After a few pictures I kept
moving just to stay warm and as the trail headed east, I was now on the
exposed northface of the mountain. In addition to what was now a foot of
new snow on top, there was a huge snowpack crossing the trail in front of
me. The footing was secure so I slowly trudged my way through the deep snow
and huddled behind a couple big trees as the colder winds were picking up.
Looking back to the vast valley to the west I could see more clouds
billowing larger. I looked at my map, then up to obscured Mt Theilson, back
to my map, then up ahead where the buried trail appeared to lead towards
the pass... it began snowing again... I was alone and feeling a chill at my
core.

The PCT presents a wonderful trail that was never meant to be easy.
Everyone that hikes this trail faces hardships, challenges, and difficult
hiking conditions. I have had plenty of personal challenges already, have
learned multiple new skills on a daily basis, especially this year, and my
confidence has grown immensely. I am also very aware of a phenomenon called
"summit fever," mostly affecting mountain climbers so obsessed with
reaching a summit they take dangerous risks and sometimes die trying. I
took one more look at my map to see that there was no "bailout road" ahead
of me for 22 miles. I was at trail mile 1853.1, exactly 5.3 miles from the
road crossing that I passed over 2 hours ago. A clear head and common sense
prevailed over the nagging feeling that I could still make it through, so I
turned around, following my own footsteps, now being obscured by the new
falling snow and got moving again. Once I let go of those hard earned
hiking goals, I made quick work of getting off of the mountain but not yet
out of the cold. It's pretty amazing the way the body heat itself back up.
Any of you runners out there would know that when you go running in the
cold elements it doesn't take long for you to get overheated and have to
start peeling some clothing off.

When I finally made it out to the road, route 138, I begin hitch hiking
towards Diamond Lake Resort, about 10 miles away and a couple thousand feet
lower in elevation. The road was like a wind tunnel, the only opening cut
through two stands of trees. The snow was blowing in my face at what seemed
like blizard conditions.
I stood there at the side of the road with my thumb raised, looking
desperately into the eyes of each driver as car after car after car went
speeding past without even slowing down. My hitchhiking luck had finally
come to an end at the worst possible time. There were long stretches of
time when no cars went past, so I huddled next to some trees at the side of
the road and waited there to get out of the wind. When I saw a car coming I
hurried out to the edge of the road and stuck out my thumb with no luck. A
while later I saw some headlights in the distance and looked out to see a
Cruise America rental motorhome coming towards me. I hopelessly thought "no
way are they going to stop and pick me up," but I went out anyway stuck up
my thumb and low and behold, they pulled over. It was a very nice young
couple from the Netherlands who had been traveling for a few weeks to some
of the biggest national parks out west. Tim and Louisa were headed for
Crater Lake NP but camping at The Diamond Lake Resort! It is a sprawling
camping, hotel, and cabin resort known to be friendly to PCT hikers. It
would also be my first time sleeping in a real bed since Etna back on day 5
& 6. As soon as I got in my little room I turned up the heat, took off my
wet shoes, unloaded my pack and hung everything up all over the room. Then
peeled off my wet clothing and took a long, hot shower. Warmth had returned
to my core, so I ventured across the snowy parking lot to the restaurant
for a hot dinner. Inside the lodge, built in 1929 was a huge fireplace 8
feet wide and 5 feet tall. It was pushing intense warmth into the room and
I paused for a moment to soak it all in. When I was seated in the
restaurant, who should also be sitting there but Riley! He had been there
since this morning, hitching from the road. In retrospect, it is what I
should have done, except I have the memories of a brutal, winter attempt up
a mountain, and many fabulous photos of the PCT showing a fiendish force...
and I lived to tell about it!

For more pictures and videos go to my Instagram page: @bassbonehiker

*(COUNTER-clockwise. Valid values: 90, 180, 270)*

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Pacific Crest Trail 2018

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: www.pcta.org

 

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