Monday July 26, 2021. 18.5 miles hiked. PCT SOBO mile 376.3.
I wake early in the tent city and bide my time until Kracker Barrel opens at 8, at which point I charge my phone, have a breakfast sandwich and hot chocolate, mill about, and have phone chats and hiker hangs. So many sobos show up today! They DO exist. Around 10:45 I suppose I’ll hike out. I could stick around and have pizza lunch but I figure I’ll leave before the day gets to warm. Adios to my new nobo friends. Maybe I’ll see ya down the old dusty trail sobos. Back on trail.
I’d been warned of bad bugs for the first 12 miles, but it’s nothing compared to the mosquito hell north of White Pass. Plus my new deet is keeping the buggies at bay. Hike up then down then up. Snack, snack, snack. Water, water. Handful of people go by including nobo Presto who I chat with for a bit. I have good energy until about 5pm when I start slowing down. I’m entering the lovely alpine Goat Rocks area, trail gets steeper, views get better.
I stop for beans & rice dinner and am torn. Do I camp near here for a 15 mile day or do I keep going across the Knife Edge plus several snow crossings for an 18-19 mile day and camp in the heart of Goat Rocks beauty? Several hours of daylight left. I inquire with other hikers about the difficulty and get one “it’s real tough” and one “it’s not so bad”. What the hell, I’ll do it. The mountains will be nice in the waning light. The Knife Edge may be scary, but it’ll be over soon.
I pass my last campsite and am committed. I climb higher, it gets prettier. And much more exposed. The trail hugs mountains and cliffs with a long steep drop to the right, sometimes left, sometimes both. For miles. Scary. Occasional wind gusts too. I wish I had horse blinders. I’d love to take pictures but refuse to lose focus beyond the few steps at my feet. I occasionally catch a glimpse ahead to see where the trail goes, only to freak out and mutter expletives, so I stop looking ahead. Focus. You’re doing great! You are so strong! Lots of positive self talk gets me through it. One other hiker passes me up there. One snow crossing. Then another. I’m in the home stretch. I take the lower “stock” route versus the higher longer and steeper Old Snowy alternate.
Several sweaty miles later I cross my last shallow snowfield and find myself safe at an epically amazing campsite just after 8. So many tenting options too! Views of Rainier, Adams, St Helens, Goat Lake, and Goat Rocks. Waning, golden light. So many pinks and purples in the sky. I change into dry clothes, set up shelter, grab water, and take many pictures until it’s bedtime.