Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 76: Happy 4th!

7/4: Blue Mtn Summit - Leroy Smith Shelter
Mile: 1243.5 - 1272.9 (29.4 miles)

A few years ago a hiker wrote about the overwhelming fear mongering and the vortex of fear along the PCT (snow, dry stretches etc.) I'm constantly told how impossible things will be and I can't even count the number of times I've been told I'm never going to make over the last few years. I don't really appreciate being constantly told how miserable my day is going to be. Negativity isn't my favorite way to face hard stretches.

With all that in mind I didn't wake up excited today. I've been hearing about how horrid this section will be for awhile and the fear mongering is rampant. You know "after 309 the rocks are so bad you can only go a mile an hour," there's no shade for miles at the old superfund site, it's so rocky it's really bouldering not hiking, no water for miles, it's all contaminated and on and on. Like most trail gossip I try to just smile and nod and wait to form my own opinions. But it's hard not to get a little caught up in it all when you hear things like knifes edge, bear rocks, superfund site and 15 and 20 mile dry stretches.

The day starts hot but it's awfully pretty.

The rocks start early and definitely require some scrambling.

The knifes edge isn't as bad as I feared and soon enough it's just smaller rocks to contend with and I find my first Fourth of July trail magic.

These lovely ladies come out every year and I get a second breakfast of hot dogs and soda and homemade brownies. Not a bad start.

The trail gets nicer and as it pops out into the sun I find gloriously ripe blueberries. It's hard to want to hike when everything tastes so good. But the sun is so hot I don't linger too long.

The ridge line feels magical this morning. It feels more open than usual and is full of ferns, grass and green.

I manage to startle a baby bear and then take a break from the heat at a shelter before starting to head down from the ridge. I hike with two triple crowners out for a short weekend hike. It's fun, we were all on the PCT together but didn't know each other. It's a great time and after crossing a giant river and a highway we're at the base of Lehigh mountain and the start of the superfund site that the trail heads through.

There's more trail magic and hikers but it's mostly negative talk about how awful the upcoming section is so I don't linger.

I head up alone but there are lots of folks nearby. I forget to take pictures but it's all great views and large boulders once the trail leaves the tree line. I've heard this site has been worked on for awhile now and the vegetation is really coming back. Its contaminated somehow though since we aren't supposed to drink the water up here.

Not quite the top butter trail rounds the mountain and the rocks get smaller, no more hand of hand style climbing.

Once up and over its old road. Grassy and covered in flowers and berries. It's peaceful and lovely and all the other hikers disappear and I get it all to myself.

The miles move slowly but are mostly just rolling climbs. A few rocky sections but that's pretty expected lately. There's one more trail magic cooler that really is magic. The ice isn't melted and I get the very last Popsicle, it's possibly the best popsicle I have ever eaten. Did I mention it's still far too hot?

The rolling ridge line starts to feel long but I'm trying to get to the shelter because it has a spring. My feet are tired and at one point I just sit down tired and beat debating stopping for the night. But it's been a dry 17 miles and cold water sounds worth it.

It starts to rain and I hobble over endless small rocks to finally get to the shelter. It's slightly off trail and the trees make it much darker than it should be at 8pm. I'm met with more negative "oh no the waters dry, and over half a mile straight downhill." I didn't just bust my butt to hear that so off I go. It is steel but fresh and cold and only 0.3 miles down. It's fully dark by the time I'm setting my tent up in the now drizzling rain but I have water and a flat spot. There are at least 20 people camped here and I'm only 20 miles to town, I can only hear the fireworks as I'm currently in a giant cloud but earplugs are wonderful and it's going to be a good night.

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