June 27, 2017
Mile 1101.3 – Mile 1112.34
Waking up this morning was not an easy feat. Our bodies were not prepared for the 5am alarm that awakened us, but we eventually (very slowly) managed to get up and ready to go. We traversed across the snow around Susie Lake, and soon had to cross over the lake outlet. Luckily, there was a log we could use to walk over the deepest part with the strongest flow, and then we just had to cross a short section that wasn’t even ankle deep. The water was freaking cold, but it was nothing compared to the creek crossings of the previous section.
We got occasional glimpses of dry trail, which continued all throughout the day. Soon, we began the climb up Dick’s Pass (and yes, the entire morning was obviously filled with dick jokes). The views all morning were absolutely beautiful. As we climbed, we got to see all the alpine lakes from above, surrounding by the snowy mountains. We somehow ended up on the other side of a large wall of rock from where the trail was, and had to find a route over top of it. We stopped on top for breakfast, with a totally incredible view, before continuing our ascent towards the pass.
The pass itself really wasn’t difficult, at least not in comparison to some of the things we experienced back in the Sierra. I actually had a lot of fun traversing the snowy slopes with my ice axe (it’s a lot more enjoyable when you can feel your hands and feet). The views as we climbed just kept getting more and more beautiful.
Cougar referred to the trail as the Pacific Crest Obstacle Course today, and there really is no better way to describe the day’s hike. We spent the entire day skirting around snowfields, scrambling over rocks and fallen logs, trying to avoid streams running through the trail, and gingerly crossing thin snow bridges. We also did a bunch of glissading on our way down from the pass, which is kind of terrifying but really fun. There was one that was particularly crazy, where we all watched in horror as Cougar appeared about to fly over a snow berm into the trees, only to flawlessly bank a turn and coast to a stop just before crashing into a rock at the bottom of the slope. We all followed suit, obviously, although Gummies and I used our ice axes to make our slides slightly more controlled.
The descent from the pass was quite steep, and we lost a lot of time carefully picking our way down. We still stopped for a two hour lunch break at the bottom though. Walking in the snow is seriously exhausting, so I think we deserved it. After lunch, we spent a lot of the afternoon navigating through snowy forest with little to no trail. We wound around Middle Velma Lake, which was beautiful, but when we had to cross the outlet, the bridge that was supposed to be in place was stranded in the middle of a large flowing stream. Luckily, there was a series of logs to cross. Log crossings kind of freak me out, but I always feel pretty badass after completing one successfully. Although, I did almost have a good fall off of this one, but managed to save myself. After that, we actually got to walk on dry trail for a while (and by dry I mean there was no snow… The trail was still a stream), which always feels amazing after walking on snow for a while. But of course, it couldn’t last long, and soon we were back in snowy forest.
We weren’t sure where we wanted to camp, but it was getting late, so we decided to take the first dry, flat patch of ground we came upon. And we ended up finding the perfect spot. The ground is nice and soft, meaning my tent pitch looks much less wonky than yesterday. We’re camped in a forest of tall conifers, with snow all around, and the sound of a rushing creek nearby. It’s quite beautiful. We made dinner, and I had the vegetarian curry ground “meat” and dried veggies that my parents sent me wrapped up in a tortilla, which was god damn glorious. I did manage to set my rain pants on fire while cooking though. Almost everything I own is now patched up from holes of various causes. I don’t know how I’m still alive out here, to be honest.
Tomorrow will probably be another day of hiking in snow, which I’m honestly fine with. I just wish we could make better time. I’m still so happy to be back out here, living in the woods. Life on the trail is simple, and good, and I’m so grateful that I get to experience it.