Date: Friday, 07 July 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Mile 1612.6, 6516 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Cold Spring Creek at Mile 1639.0, 3244 ft
Daily Miles: 26.4 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 1098.7
Weather: Warm and sunny
Breakfast: Pop tarts
Dinner: Four cheese mashed potato with salmon chunks
Aches: Feet very tired
Highlight: The expected snow turned out to be less treacherous than anticipated. Although care was needed to negotiate quite a few steeply sloping and icy snow banks and chutes, and it was very time-consuming, I didn’t feel the need to don my crampons or take out my ice axe.
Lowlight: Lost the tip off one of my trekking poles
Pictures: Click here
After a good night’s sleep and anticipating some slow snow travel, I was up and on the trail by 5:50am. Almost immediately, there was a long climb up a snow-filled bowl to a saddle and the trail became hard to follow. Eventually, I lost it and climbed steeply cross-country until I worked out where it was using my GPS. It had taken about 45 minutes to cover half a mile. It could be a long slow day!
After that patch of snow, however, the trail was relatively snow-free for the rest of the morning as it followed a high ridge northwards, generally on the high contours and oscillating between 6000 ft and 7000 ft. There was still a smell of smoke from the wildfire seen yesterday, but that faded as the day wore on. Late morning, I encountered a trail maintenance crew, the first I have seen on my hike, and made a point of thanking them for their work. The trail is quite a feat of engineering in many places as it clings to the top of steep slopes and cliffs, not to mention the other maintenance tasks such as clearing deadfalls, of which there are many, and repairing erosion.
A little further on I took a very pleasant break at Paradise Lake, surrounded by mountains and snow patches. Super peaceful and rejuvenating. Early afternoon, as the trail approached the white limestone massif of Marble Mountain, it swung around the north side of a ridge and suddenly there was a lot of snow for a mile or so. Using the edges of my boots and my trekking poles, I managed to negotiate the obstacles OK, but lost time when I lost the trail and had to find it using my GPS. It took about an hour to cover the mile, but if that was the bad snow I had been warned about, then I was happy.
After looping round the base of Marble Mountain, the trail headed north, and after a few miles, began to lose altitude. As usual, the scenery was fantastic with views to mountains near and far, and the trail crossing high meadows and through pine forests. Wildflowers were abundant.
I had planned to collect water from a particular stream with about three miles to go to my target campsite, but the stream was practically dry and it would have taken a very long time to collect sufficient water. Given there had been plenty of undocumented streams up to that point, I decided to continue on in the hope that another stream would be found, but it proved to be a bad decision. It took a very long time to find water, and then a very long time after that to find somewhere to put up my tent along what had become an overgrown trail along a steeply sloping mountainside. The upshot was that I did not find a spot to stop until just after 8:00pm, and more than 26 miles for the day. I set up camp, washed, ate and was in my tent an hour later, exhausted.
On the plus side, I now only have about 15 miles to go to Seiad Valley, where I will stay tomorrow night, and should get there before 2:00pm when the cafe closes (the store is open to 8:00pm).