Mile 2498 to mile 2531
The rain starts at 3:30 a.m.- it’s light though, nothing too bad. And it’s warm. I put down my ground sheet but I can’t fall back asleep, I’m worried about water and all the ways it can get into my shelter. I finally drift off and wake at 5:30. Time to hike.
We’ve got 33 miles with 9 thousand feet of elevation gain today. Guthrie does the math and announces that that’s the same as going over Forester, Mather and Pinchot pass in the same day. But we’re hardcore, so we’re doing it. I’m not sure why we want to get through Washington so fast, but I just do what the group does. The alternative would be to fall behind and finish with people I don’t really know. It’s too late for that. I got into this mess, so I’ve got to see it through to the end.
The clouds dissapate but the fires, apparently, are still burning, and the air is hot, muggy and full of smoke. “Chafe weather,” as we call it, aka thunderstorm weather. There’s a slow climb, pushing through undergrowth and then a descent into low, lush forest, bands of yellow light across the mossy ground. I crash and take a break, sitting on the ground eating dark chocolate and jerky, trying to rally. So many climbs today but in this forest there is no time, I just want to lay down and sleep and sleep and sleep. I’m at the back now, I’ll walk alone for the rest of the day. Might as well make peace with it.
Rushing stream crossings on slippery logs, climbing up into alpine meadows that look like Alaska, the smoke making everything soft and yellow. Glacier peak all white and hazy, the slopes of the ridges velvety and green. One of the most beautiful sections we’ve seen, hands down. I feel elated but also tired, the trail is arduous and steep. Up the mountain and down. Up the mountain and down. Fat marmots everywhere, one of them whistles close to me and it’s deafening, I didn’t know they could be so loud. A couple of sketchy snow traverses, kicking steps into the soft-slick snow, trying not to look down. In the evening I’m rushing over the mountain, trying to get to camp before dark. I catch Krispies a half mile before Mica lake. Friend! At the lake we find our friends in a cluster of tents, everyone sitting on the ground in the gloaming, eating their dinners. The lake itself is frozen, covered in a white scrim of snow. I make my cold lentil soup and then crawl into my shelter, put on all my layers against the wind off the lake. I’m exhausted. A little rain is falling, but not too much. I drift off.
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