Today's miles: 24
Total miles: 2277
It was too cold to get up at our usual 6:00 am alarm, so the eight of us slept in another hour until the sun hit our tents. I packed up and got ready, postponing putting on my shoes as long as I could. They hadn't dried even a little bit last night, and since it was so cold, putting them on was like dunking my feet in ice water buckets. I jumped around to stay warm and began hiking as quickly as I could, trying to dry my shoes out as soon as possible. It took a few miles to get used to it, and a few more to warm up.
We were hiking through forested areas for most of the day, and once again the terrain wasn't too bad. Every now and again we would climb to a beautiful lookout and enjoy the majestic views of Adams and Rainier. I met a southbounder who had started in Snoqualmie Pass (about 7 days away) and told me I was the 139th thru-hiker he had passed so far. Considering there were over 1,000 people who started this trail in April and May, it was shocking that there were so few left.
I hiked with Treekiller for most of the day, taking breaks every seven miles or so. We were road walking for a while, which was boring, and then came across what we thought was the "last water source in fifteen miles", so we stopped with Wocka, Giddyup, Sansei and Rotisserie to have lunch and fill up our water containers. Rotisserie, Sansei and I caught up on almost two months of adventures we had missed, telling old stories, and reminiscing about the Sierras. It was fun being around them again. Sansei and I started telling that's what she said! jokes again and Rotisserie asked for my latest trail ditties that I made up and sang while walking. After lunch I walked with them for a while, keeping up a steady conversation as we cruised along at three miles an hour. As it turned out, our maps were incorrect about our fifteen mile dry spell, and we ran into streams and runoff from the recent rainstorm every few miles.
Around late afternoon Sansei, Rotisserie, Treekiller and I took a long dinner break. We had decided this morning to stop at a campsite twenty miles away, so we were in no rush today, which was delightful. Wocka and Giddyup were still ahead of us, so we hoped they would stake out a campsite for us. As nice as it was to camp in big groups as we had been doing, it made campsite choices very difficult. There wasn't always a spot that could accommodate seventeen hikers.
Unfortunately, when we reached twenty miles, there wasn't a campsite to be seen, just forest and thick underbrush. Frustrated, we checked our maps and found that the next spot was only four miles further, but we had to gain 2,000 ft of elevation to get there. Since we had been taking our time, it was already 6:00 when we started the climb. Everyone was exhausted, and Treekiller was cranky, but we didn't have much of an option. I took a shot of caffeine and pounded up the mountain, putting miles behind me as quickly as I could. The views from the top, especially at sunset, were beautiful. We paused to look out at Mt. Adams dominating the skyline, and heard far below someone calling out to us: "Ca-caw! Ca-caw! Ca-caw!"
The crow sound was our usual call-and-repeat noise we made to each other on trail, so we could find each other. This time it sounded like Sneaks, who was probably catching up to us after leaving Trout Lake.
"Ca-caw! Ca-caw!" we called back, our voices echoing over the hills.
I reached our campsite just as it grew dark, a small space beside Walput Creek. Wocka and Giddyup already had their tent pitched there, and Treekiller, Rotisserie, Sansei and I managed to wedge ours in, too. There was space further past where Running Commentary, Haggis, Kitty and the others were camped.
We looked over the maps for tomorrow before bed. We were only 27 miles from White Pass, but the next 20 miles went through Goat Rocks Wilderness, which we heard was both stunningly beautiful and incredibly difficult. We weren't sure we could make the whole trek in one day, but we were still on time to meet Sunshine and Katie in White Pass the following morning. I went to bed thrilled about tomorrow: Goat Rocks was a landscape I have been wanting to backpack for some time, and I knew it was one of the more beautiful places on the PCT, a hiker's heaven. I could barely sleep with excitement.