170829 – Long day, helped by little critters

Day:  128
Date:  Tuesday, 29 August 2017
Start:  Camped by the trail at Mile 2592.4, 6155 ft
Finish:  Harts Pass Campground at Mile 2619.5, 6188 ft
Daily Miles:  27.1 PCT 
Total PCT Miles:  2079.2
Weather:  Warm with hazy sunshine
Accommodation:  Tent
     Breakfast:  Muesli
     Lunch:  Gorp 
     Dinner:  Rehydrated sweet and sour pork with rice
Aches:  Left heel very sore all day, and the hint of a toothache.
Highlight:  The first couple of hours hiking as I crossed several passes and traversed high slopes as the sun rose through the orange smoke haze and illuminated the steep surounding rocky mountains was spectacular.
Lowlight:  I didn’t enjoy the 2500 ft climb in the early afternoon up an unnamed mountain via Glacier Pass.  The first part of the climb passed through large areas of scrub that overgrew the trail (very unpleasant under a hot sun) and the last part was neverending switchback hell.
Pictures:  Click here

Position:  Click here.
Map:  Click here for Google Map

My head didn’t hit the pillow until 10:30pm last night after a long hard day, and I anticipated sleeping until 5:30am.  However, around 4:00am I was woken by the sound of something chewing on something nearby. I know some hikers have had rodents (chipmunks?) chew holes in their tents looking for food in some of the more frequented campsites, and that was my fear, though I have never had food in the tent.  There was also a chance they were chewing a hole in my rucksack which was outside and nearby, but I couldn’t identify where the action was happening.  It stopped, of course, when I began looking around, but then I had trouble going back to sleep because I was listening for it to happen again.  At 4:30am, I gave up and got up, and was hiking by soon after 5:30am with the “stretch goal” of reaching Harts Pass, 27 miles away, given my early start.

I was hoping the trail wouldn’t be too taxing, and for the first few hours, when it hovered around the 6500 ft mark as it crossed some passes and traversed some high slopes, I was making good time as well as enjoying the spectacular views in the early light, even though marred by the heavy smoke haze.

It then began a long descent down the Methow River valley through pleasant forest, but once the trail crossed the river things became harder.  The trail had more rocks and it passed through scrub country with the track often ovèrgrown up to head height which made for unpleasant hiking.  Then followed a long ascent (see above) to regain all of the altitude lost.  There were benefits, because there was a cooling breeze higher up and no scrub.  Just bare mountains and great views, apart from the haze.

I loaded up with water at a spring with six miles to go to Harts Pass, and then plodded on, wishing the day was over.  Eventually I got there, at around 7:15pm, and was rewarded with a proper campground with picnic tables and a pit toilet.  Luxury!  Of course, I was a bit late to savour the luxuries for long, but did appreciate them.

Harts Pass is the last point of road access to the PCT before it reaches Canada, and its the point to which hikers return if they don’t want to go into Canada after reaching the border finish point of the PCT.

I’m extremely tired tonight, and doubt I will hear any little critters if they are about.

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