PCT Day 142 Hardest Day on the PCT

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im so cold, wet and tired
 6th September 2015

Mileage 22.5

Bushcamp (2522.3) to Vista Creek (2544.8)

Miles to Canada 115.4 (185km)

I wasn’t sure if it rained overnight as I slept so well. Within the first couple of miles I looked up at the surrounding mountains and saw a fresh layer of snow. After crossing Kennedy Creek on a very wonky bridge the first climb started. It wasn’t long before I hit patches of snow, then what seemed like a snowfield. The cold on my feet was intense. Every time snow hit my shoes it melted it’s way inside to give my feet a constant ice bath. My gloves were soaked. I was cold but still I continued. I constantly assessed and reassessed my situation, my body and the weather. I was thankful for one thing, no wind. If there was I would have set up camp and waited. I was following three other footprints, I didn’t know who they belonged to. At least I’m not alone, even though I am.

I crested the first 4000 feet climb in cloudy, cold weather. My spirits were low. I was tired. More tired than usual. I’d eaten more than 2000 calories of food before midday in an effort to stay warm and keep the supply of energy needed for the climbs, but I was only halfway done for the day. I was in such pain and low spirits I took out my camera to take a photo. I wanted to remember the painful times just as much as the joyous times. My hands were so frozen I could not close them properly. I as took the camera out I lacked the strength to grip the camera. I dropped it into the snow. I shall remember that painful photo for a long time. Washington can be brutal.

I had to descend 4000 feet then climb another 4000 feet. This PCT hiking is not all fun and fantastic scenery, it must be earned. 

The second climb was just as brutal minus the snow. I ran into a couple of PCT hikers who heard about the PCT reopening between Stevens pass and Stehiken. They decided to head southbound, not wanting to leave any part of the PCT unhiked. They were surprised to only see three other hikers in all the previous days. Where was everyone? Did they skip sections? Quit? Wait out the rain and snow in their tents? Suddenly I felt very alone.

I reached camp as it was getting dark. An 11 hour hike that included 8101 feet (2469m) of climbing which is the most I’ve ever climbed in one day with a full backpack. Just a brutal day, I’m exhausted. 

a screen short of all the seitchbacks for the second climb of the day
thats the PCT right in front of me
top of the second 4000 ft pass, very tired

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