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PCT 2015 Day 109: Of shoes and terrifying bugs

  • Start: 1,848.9
  • End: 1,876.6
  • Miles: 27.7
  • Camp: Before Windigo Pass

Yeah! New shooooooz! So shiny and so comfy. 28 miles of whiz 🙂 It made such a difference not only at the end of the day with the fatigue but also at the start of the day, avoiding hamburger feet when navigating the rocky parts of the trail.

The smoke was thick over the valley this morning, and we caught glimpses of it as we climbed the hill. Previously it could have passed for dense mist or low cloud but today it was unambiguously billowing smoke from a fire several miles away. Although I couldn’t see the fire itself (thankfully) I knew exactly why the highways and trail had been closed.

The trail turned away from the fire near Mt Thielsen, but the smoke continued to line the valley floor. Now though I could see out towards the hills we will be climbing in the next few days. They are densely forested whichever way I look, although gently rolling which should allow for faster progress. Thielsen Creek provided the first water of the day, and tasted so good that I have high hopes for the days ahead.

At lunch Cobain and Dragonfly showed up, Dragonfly limping along a couple of minutes behind Cobain. She is suffering with blisters caused by her new shoes being too small for her. I gave her a blister plaster but I think her blister might be too large already to make a difference.

The trail was marked with the Oregon/Washington high point (in elevation terms) today too. Not so high in the context of the trail, though, only 7.5k feet. But a small milestone nevertheless. It’s all downhill from here, right??

We called it a night at a small campsite looking out towards the other side of the valley. We had thought about getting another 2-3 miles to the trail junction with the alternate route we will take tomorrow, but it was late enough and I was hungry enough to want dinner immediately. Unfortunately the campsite was home to several huge wasp-like bugs we identified as bald-faced hornets. They loved Chug’s yellow tent, so I assume they were looking for nectar or wood, but they still buzzed around us crashing into our faces, and each other, until the evening grew cold. I hated them, but laziness took over and I retreated inside rather than pack up and move on.

One of the things I notice on the day after leaving town is the amount of static electricity I can create with all of my hiking gear. It’s all super light and synthetic so it’s perfect for the job really. I only notice it after leaving town because my hair is clean enough to stick out scarecrow-style when I peel my sweater away from my sleep clothes before bedding down for the evening. It’s most disturbing when it’s dark by the time I get into my sleeping bag, because I can see all the sparks flying between the fabrics. 

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