Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 58, You drive me crazy

Daily mileage: 25.4
Mile 972.7-998.1

I've been told that at a certain point the PCT is more of a mental game than a physical. I don't know about other hikers but my butt still gets kicked on a daily basis. But today the mental was 10 times harder than the physical. Now it wasn't the heavy pack, long miles, surprise blowdowns, getting lost, or realizing I'm a little light on food. Nope all those things are true but it was the mosquitoes that got to me.

Today started off as usual, up and packed with no issues, although I was really not looking forward to getting up. Maybe my subconscious was telling me something... Within the first ten minutes we hit a jungle gym of blowdowns, unexpected since I think we are away from the storm path. So I'm guessing these were just normal downed trees from winter that the trail crews haven't gotten to yet. Climbing up to Seavey Pass it started to get bad.
Seavey pass was full of false summits, lots of lakes and no big open views. An odd pass compared to what I've gotten used to.

You couldn't stop without being swarmed so you sort of hop around waving your body parts and try not to walk to slowly. Turns out this was true almost all day. My morning was spent climbing and descending and climbing again but honestly all I really focused on was how I could not stop. They were so bad that I was doing a sort of constant rotating slapping of my legs, hands, and face. These were some crazy blood sucking beasts, they would go for you while you were walking but the swarm if you slowed or stopped was obscene. It makes for an incredibly tiring hike never being able to stop. Not to mention you make mistakes. After the pass I slowly headed down and followed a river for a bit, more downed trees but all passable. More climbing and contouring and then I headed down and got to the big creek in Stubblefield Canyon and totally lost the trail. Frustrated I tried to look at a map but had literally 12 mosquitoes on just one hand so I desperately waded across the river hoping this was where I crossed. Long story short I had a lot of trouble finding the trail and crossed twice more out of confusion before finally figuring it out. I was being swarmed even while crossing a rushing river and the self pity was starting to get overwhelming. More climbing, although no pass this time. Hard to even take photos without being attacked, but every once in awhile there was a heavenly breeze.

More hours on the trail and I felt like I was losing it. I just wanted to stop but it was unbearable being attacked.

At Wilma Lake I finally broke, sitting down overwhelmed and close to tears. That long without stopping, not a good idea. My brain finally clicked as I was swarmed and I finally thought to put on my pants and my headnet. Turns out being hot was a totally worthy trade off as my hands became my only truly exposed body part. Just wish I hadn't waited until 2 pm.
The looming thunderstorm finally kicked in and I happily trotted along all bug geared out. Found the guys where we had a short kind of odd siesta in the rain. But hey at this point any break was fantastic even if it was cold and clammy. Then it was 8 more miles until quitting time. 8 miles of river meadow, boggy ground and more swarming mosquitoes. But while still annoying, they were much more tolerable. So much more enjoyable. That didn't mean I wasn't dragging something awful when I finally got to Dorothy Pass, our stop for the night. But the views sure did help.

The incredibly long meadow

Dorothy Lake

Looking out over the pass towards tomorrow

Mentally exhausted I am in love with our view tonight but there is zero chance that I am starting tomorrow in shorts.

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