170824 – Switchbacks

Day:  123
Date:  Thursday, 24 August 2017
Start:  Camped by the trail at Mile 2502.9, 5525 ft  
Finish:  Camped by the trail at Mile 2526.2, 5522 ft
Daily Miles:  23.3 PCT 
Total PCT Miles:  1985.9
Weather:  Cool and overcast in the morning and partly sunny in the afternoon.
Accommodation:  Tent
Nutrition:
     Breakfast:  Muesli
     Lunch:  Gorp
     Dinner:  Rehydrated sweet and sour pork.
Aches:  Nothing new
Highlight:  The first few hours of walking through gloomy fairytale old growth forest on pine-needle covered trail past moss-covered boulders and fallen trees was magical.
Lowlight:  The seemingly never-ending switchbacking 3000 ft descent to Milk Creek late in the afternoon, knowing that it was going to be a late night and that every foot I dropped was a foot I would have to regain before I could camp, was mental and physical torture.
Pictures:  Click here when they can be uploaded which may not be until September 1st because of low Wi-Fi bandwidth and no mobile phone coverage.

Position:  Click here when they can be uploaded which may not be until September 1st because of low Wi-Fi bandwidth and no mobile phone coverage.
Map:  Click here for Google Map
Journal:

The day started well, with the first hours spent hiking through lovely old growth forest (see above) and the added bonus that two creek fords warned about in the trail guide were not as bad as anticipated.  In both cases, I didn’t have to wade across and managed to keep my feet dry.

However, after my breakfast break life became a lot harder as the trail worked its way around the western and northern sides of Glacier Peak and crossed several ridges running down from the mountain.  Each ridge crossing involved a steep switchbacking ascent followed by a similar descent and it was hard and slow work.   The trail was overgrown in places and a lot of large trees were down across the path.  At the higher altitudes, the scenery was exceptional, with glaciers visible on the peak, and as usual, mountains near and far, and forested valleys in between.

The slow trail made my goal of of 22+ miles for the day look optimistic, but I knew that if I had a shorter day, I would be making it hard to reach Stehekin, my next resupply point and zero day, by Saturday evening as planned.  I reached the raging Milk Creek at 6:00pm after a long and tortuous switchbacking descent (see above) and had the option of camping there, or continuing on, knowing that the next place to camp was four miles further on and 3000 ft higher.  Much as I wanted to stop, I knew I would regret it tomorrow so continued on.  A little over two hours of plodding later, I found somewhere to camp near the top of the climb and quickly set up camp as darkness fell.  It got cold quickly and I think there will be a heavy dew.

Now that I’m camped and tucked into my sleeping bag, I’m much happier.  It was a long day, and despite the fantastic scenery, I am exhausted and dreaming of getting to Canada.

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