Day 8 (63 Total)
Red’s Meadow to Deer Creek, 5.5 miles (southbound)
946.1 Total PCT Miles
It was a short first day on trail, as Savannah and I stopped hiking by 3pm. Between the long day(s) leading up to getting here – planning, changing permits, driving, busing, earthquakes, shuttles, motion sickness after the shuttle, the list goes on – I think we’re both happy to keep the mileage very low today.
We spend some time hiking in silence, other times discussing the patterns in our lives both good and bad and why we think we have them, or return to them. Last week a woman told me before I hiked over Forester Pass to think on what things I could do without once I’m out of the mountains, so that’s been interesting to mull over as well.
And then, soon enough, after a steady but gentle afternoon of hiking uphill, we are at Deer Creek where we decide to stay tonight. So we hang out, eat an early dinner, actually stretch, filter water. All day it’s been humid with lingering thunderheads and heat seeming to radiate from the plants that lined the trail…but so far no rain. Usually I wouldn’t be that excited to be camped by so many people but after the bear situation I’m not as bothered by it, at least in this section.
My bear can has been the ideal place for stickers – shoutout to Mark at Twin Cities Running Co! When I was on the PCT in 2019 he sent a sweet care package and helped me when I needed to replace my shoes, and the stickers are some of my favorites. (I have a “0.0miles” sticker on the other side of the bear can from Mark that gets a lot of laughs. Who needs to brag about “26.2” or “13.1” when I can have “0.0”?!)
We are planning an early start tomorrow and I think I’ll feel rested. I’m weirdly tired for having hiked such a short day – but again, I think it’s more so tired from the effort it takes to just GET to the trailheads out here. This trip feels like it has been forever in the making and it’s such a good feeling to have had things eventually fall into place. After a number of days off, too, it is really nice to be back on trail. I’m back to the simplicity of walking, eating, sleeping, and drinking water. Also pooping. We’re basically like hiking babies out here.
Day 9 (64 Total)
Deer Creek to Silver Pass Lake, 16.6 miles (southbound)
962.7 Total PCT Miles
We are hiking by 6:30am, perfectly timed. The morning is gorgeous–cool and sunny and clear. This time of day really is my favorite and best for hiking, and this morning is no different. Savannah and I cruise along until we get to a lake for lunch. And thus kicks off my string of swimming every day in the mountains. Alpine lakes, rivers, streams, wherever I can. Today, it’s the lake, and it doesn’t even feel cold. Maybe because it’s been so hot out.
In all honesty, the after lunch hiking was a slog. It was up up up then down down down, and still so incredibly hot out. Plus, the first of the black flies and mosquitoes have shown up, and they are quite obnoxious. I swat half heartedly at the flies, and rage-swat the mosquitos from my shoulders. It’s not long before my hiking shirt has stained remnants of dead mosquitos on the shoulders. Halfway up the climb, a ranger stops us to check permits. It’s not that big of a deal, but he did happen to stop us on in the middle of a hard climb at the buggiest possible spot. ~Nice~
At the next lake, we pass the trio of dudes we’ve been leapfrogging with for the past day. Savannah and I told them we were giving them a group trail name of Hyperlite Savages because they all have matching Hyperlite backpacks and they didn’t stop at a water source so we assume they’re savage. Later on we jokingly wonder if we should rescind the Savage part of their name because we haven’t seen them since we passed them at the lake. May they hike in peace.
Onwards we go until Silver Pass Lake where we camp for the night. I filter a ton of water then go for a swim (again). There is no one else there, and it’s my own personal alpine beach day down on the sandy shore.
As we’re cooking dinner, we notice the mountains in the south fading into smoke and haze. It’s probably nothing – we both know how much smoke can travel, and it’s been super windy, but we send out some messages on our gps devices anyway just asking our people at home to double check. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the immediate area which is a relief. I know I’ll sleep better knowing the faint smoke I’m smelling isn’t from something that close.
Day 10 (65 Total)
Silver Pass Lake to Bear Creek, 15.5 miles (southbound)
978.2 Total PCT Miles
I wake to the sound of a rock fall and try to orient myself in my tent as my brain works through whether or not I should be worried. Shortly though I remember where I’m camped, and that I’m not (really) in any fall line.
It’s another gorgeous morning, and surprisingly warm. In fact, it never really cooled off that much last night either. Kind of weird to be up past 10,000ft and not be cold, but at least it’s not as hazy as it was when we went to bed last night.
From the lake, we begin our descent down. So much rock! So much water! This section is pretty incredible, it’s like every twist and turn of the trail brings a completely new and beautiful view.
After descending all morning, I listen to music for the first time on trail this month. We have a four mile ascent, and between the heat and the bugs and the elevation gain, I find myself wanting a little boost. The music itself helps, but also just not having to listen to my own breathing as I hike uphill is kind of nice.
In the end, the climbing actually goes by pretty fast and we stop for lunch at the top. We’re sitting on the side of the trail in the shade, munching on food and talking about our miles for the next few days. Every time we stop we seem to yard sale in some capacity, things spreading out around us on the ground or my foamie. Something like 12 rain drops hit while we’re sprawled on the ground, but thankfully nothing else. As we sit, a number of hikers going the other way pass – I think my favorite duo is a dad with his young daughter. She’s maybe 10 years old, and despite the big climb they just came up she is smiling and chatty and happy. It’s fun to see. In fact, it’s fun to see all the girl groups and female hikers of all ages out here.
Soon enough though it’s time to descend again. As we go down, we pass a pack mule team which includes a man riding a horse who says “get me off this thing!” He’s swaying all over the place on his horse and I’m like dude, engage your core!! He looks like he is having the absolute worst time of his life.
With about two miles left we stop for a break along the winding, rushing creek we’ve been walking by, and I go in for a quick swim. My compromise lately is that if I don’t get my hair wet, I can swim later in the day. It’s refreshing; mood altering. My legs were caked in dust and I was hot and sweaty- so the relief lasts for about a mile until I am hot and sweaty again and being attacked by mosquitoes but what can you do.
A few more rock hops across streams later and we are at our campsite for the night. We’re by Bear Creek, and I’m just going to ignore the name and assume we won’t see any bears (and we don’t). Upon first arrival, there’s enough mosquitos to make me want to inject Deet straight into my bloodstream, but once we cool down, put some bug spray on our legs, and have some layers on, they’re not too bad. As we cook, the haze and clouds begin to clear and it’s the clearest and most comfortable it’s been all day.
We’re camped near a father-daughter-son in law trio, and it still feels good to be around people at night. Plus, they seem like really great people and connecting even briefly is enjoyable. We’ve got some big days ahead but are feeling good, and stoked to be here!