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PCT 2015 Day 50: Pinchot

  • Start: 794.3
  • End: 811.7
  • Miles: 17.4
  • Camp: South Fork Kings River

Today managed to be 17 miles despite feeling like a sluggish kind of day. A slow morning downhill was marked only by breakfast on the banks of the Kings River, whose canyon gives the National Park its name. We paused by a suspension bridge, amongst a group of hikers just packing up for the morning. A ranger was hanging out by the bridge checking permits and food storage intentions. We asked what would happen if he came across someone without a permit, and he gave us a bunch of options including insisting they hike straight out of the park, telling them to go to a permit station to get a permit that day, or calling a law enforcement ranger. Apparently there are different types of ranger. He said the law enforcement rangers carry weapons and often try to hike into the park with their bulletproof jackets. He laughed at this, saying they didn’t make it too far. I can’t imagine carrying all my gear as the rangers we’ve met so far do as well as carrying several pounds of arms and vest. We are almost certainly too deep into the wilderness to encounter the law enforcement type of ranger at this point.

The afternoon saw the trail wind uphill gradually, following the creek initially and frustratingly losing height just after we gained it. We passed the 800 mile marker early in the uphill section, which feels like an accomplishment. We should pass the 900 marker too before the next town stop.

As the afternoon got hotter, I took the opportunity to sit for a while with my feet in a small creek as I filtered my water and washed my clothes. It’s been nice to be passing enough water often enough to wash out the stinky items regularly!

The highest point of Pinchot Pass again showed us beautiful views over lakes which we would pass on the descent. Sitting with a snack in the cradle of a mountain pass is hard to beat. We set off on the descent with only a few miles left to the campsite we had chosen, but it felt a long trip down. However the lake which had appeared so far in the distance from the pass came and went quickly and I was reminded that I have no sense of scale or time in this place. It’s meaningless in a way. Here, I just am.

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