Date: Wednesday, 30 August 2017
Start: Harts Pass Campground at Mile 2619.5, 6188 ft
Finish: Camped by Hopkins Lake near Mile 2643.7, 6254 ft
Daily Miles: 24.2 PCT, 0.1 to lake
Total PCT Miles: 2103.4
Weather: Mild and sunny with some haze
Dinner: Rehydrated teriyaki chicken with rice and vegetables
Aches: Left heel not quite as sore, but now have a definite toothache.
Highlight: The last hour or two hiking at near 7000 ft along Lakeview Ridge as the sun set with spectacular views to the east and west over endless mountains was very special.
Lowlight: What I thought might be the hint of a toothache, became more painful today and is something I will have to address somehow during the five days I will have off to get back down to the High Sierras from Canada. Unfortunately, the five days includes a long weekend in the US and Canada, which will make finding a willing dentist more difficult.
Pictures: Click here
I slept well and was hiking by 6:30am on a day which seemed a little cooler with less smoke haze. My goal for the day was to reach Hopkins Lake, 24 miles away, which would leave just over 6 miles to the Canadian border and the official northern terminus of the PCT, and 15 miles to the Manning Park resort where I will finish hiking this section. That means I could be there for lunch tomorrow, an exciting thought.
As I climbed out of Harts Pass at the start of the day’s hike, and entered the Pasayten Wilderness, the terrain seemed gentler than the previous two days with a mix of grassland and pine forest, though there were still plenty of mountains around. I was optimistic that the hiking would be easier, but perhaps that optimism was partly fuelled by the knowledge that after tomorrow I would have five days off. The trail was actually easier, with gentler grades and less rocks, and I did make good progress. There was less smoke haze and the air felt fresher, which also helped.
Like yesterday, as the trail headed northwards, it crossed a series of high passes and traversed many high slopes. But unlike yesterday, the views were clear and I really enjoyed the scale of the surrounding mountains. Sadly, smoke could be seen pluming from a wildfire on the next mountain range to the east, and by the end of the day, there was a huge cloud billowing far into the sky. It’s hard to understand how such a fire started today when there were no storms overnight and campfires are prohibited.
There were some nice forest sections but mostly the trail stayed high and in the open. In midafternoon there were some solid climbs on rocky trail, but the elevation stayed between 5000 ft and 7000 ft all day, so there were no huge ascents. The last part of the day was particularly beautiful (see above) before the trail descended steeply to pass near Hopkins Lake to which I detoured to camp for the night, stopping a little before 7:00pm and happy with my day. There was a cold wind blowing across the lake and it was nice to get into the tent after dinner. I’m looking forward to reaching Canada tomorrow.