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PCT 2015 Day 63: Feeling Strong

  • Start: 972.8
  • End: 990.0
  • Miles: 17.2
  • Camp: By Falls Creek

I woke up early to chattering squirrels in our tiny campsite. It makes a wonderful contrast with cars, sirens and shouting!  

Lion King stopped by as we were packing up our camp. We met him first when he was helping out at the hostel in Big Bear but he is now section hiking southbound. We gave him DEET to replace the bottle he had lost on his hike down, knowing how bad the skeeters are in the section he was about to head into.

Today was my first real taste of PUDs. For any Yorkshire folk thinking this sounds like something delicious; think again. A PUD is a Pointless Up and Down. The tag line for the PCT should be “not the way I thought we were going” for the number of times the trail goes in a counterintuitive direction. Today mostly up, when the net effect is down. Bah.

The climb up to Seavey Pass was relatively steep but not conventional. Most of the passes have grand views of far-off mountains. Seavey Pass has a collection of beautiful ponds and lakes but no really defined pass. It was only once I’d gotten about 50 yards downhill that I figured I must have passed the top. The downhill section made me understand why people say this section is the hardest physically. Not only are there many short steep climbs, but the downhills are challenging and there is no respite.

We hit a creek where we stopped for water. It is meant to be fast flowing and a tough ford but not this year. The rocks below the surface poked out enough for us to rock hop without even getting our feet wet. We immediate began a short steep uphill, 700ft in just over a mile. I made it in one go, taking 20 minutes over it and being several minutes in front of the guys. The downhill section wasn’t nearly so fast, but my knees didn’t particularly complain. I think they are getting used to hiking every day and not bothering to complain as they know it doesn’t work. 

This section has had lots of butterflies everywhere, and apart from the deer looks a lot like the high desert. There are lizards and even some manzanita bushes too. I’m glad to report that the cheeseburger bird (the mountain chickadee whose call sounds like “cheeseburger”) has stuck with us through this section too.

We faced another challenging climb after lunch, one mile slightly less steep than the previous climb and one mile slightly more steep. Again I felt good and powered up the hill, stopping only to watch the deer and the pika I saw on the way up. A rather unfortunate false summit got my hopes up, but once I got to it I realised the trail hadn’t moved to the other side of the mountain, so I couldn’t possibly be at the top. 

The final downhill of the day took us to a wide creek where I took a hiker bath. A ranger checked our permits just as we were heading off, and we asked about potential camping spots. He said we would have a lot of options so we just headed up the creek until we hit about 17 miles on the day and found a great spot practically overlooking a waterfall. 

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