Miles: 14.7 (and the pedometers vote is for 19.5)
Total trip miles: 771.5
Well I don't have rain, hail or giant clouds to blame this morning. At 6 I just didn't want to move and Nightcrawler was still sound asleep. At 7 it was still freezing out (shocker we camped well over 12000 ft) and everything was soaked with condensation. Needless to say we had yet another late start and weren't moving until almost 9.
The day started with us trying to follow trail but just continuously postholing down the mountain. Traversing down to Squaw Pass took forever through the trees and snow and we finally just put snowshoes on desperately hoping that might help.
We crossed the pass and started climbing straight back up in the snow. Steep and trail less of course. We crossed squaw creek at the top, thankfully more creek sized than its giant counterpart we had passed in the valley below. Then it was a slow trek across a basin, luckily only postholing about half the time.
We rounded the edge of the mountain and took off our snowshoes off for the first time in at least 3 hours. Still snowy, just a steep traverse to play on. Ice axe and microspikes on and away we went. Partway across Nightcrawler who was leading the way asked if we just wanted to glissade down and hike back up to the trail. The snow was super soft and postholing up to your waist while traversing steep slopes isn't fun or safe. So glissade it was.
The climb up wasn't bad, we even found yet another elk track to help us not bushwack too much.
Back on track we passed by more lakes and post holed our way back towards the divide, we even were occasionally on trail. And then we actually were on trail, beautiful dirt trail as we climbed.
More climbing on the divide then down across another basin and right back up again. We saw the first human footprints we'd seen since we started this section but then they disappeared. So no new people yet.
We headed down the divide across deep soft snow. Thankfully you only sank about half the time. I hate postholing in snowshoes.
Down and down we want, the trail a solid creek when it wasn't snow then turning to marsh. We pushed on, one last climb and then all downhill.
The first bit had the expected snowy blowdowns but then it became glorious dirt trail for maybe 3 miles. It was the first time this entire section my brain was able to shut off and I could just cruise. It was amazing, and a much needed boost. This is a really hard section and it's nice to be reminded that the rest of this hike will not be scary endless snow.
We ended up at a meadow, watching elk graze and the sun set. There was a surprise extra deep creek winding its way across too. Neither of us wanted to end the day with a swim so after a few circles we managed to get across without too much hassle. Then just a bit farther to the nicest campsite tucked into the trees. Clearly well used its awesome.
We have a little over 28 miles to Stony Pass and Silverton. It's taking us probably 2 days longer than we had planned but slowly and steadily we're getting there.