Slept surprisingly well and was awoken by my alarm at five am intending to get a lot of miles in today. The weather was exactly as last night, which is to say that it was overcast but not misty or raining. It had, however, been dripping a bit during the night as evidenced by the dry spot left behind by my tent.
First thing on the agenda was an 2400 feet ascent (700 m), which revealed some of the beauty of the surrounding valleys despite low visibility and an overcast sky. This is apparently one of the most beautiful sections of the entire trail, so it is kind of a bummer that we are missing out. Having had the ability to enjoy so much of the remaining trail is something that I am very thankful for, though. A light rain/drizzling started. Many of the other people were wearing full rain gear, but I didn’t wear any as I was moving quickly and the sweating would get me equally wet. It wasn’t long before the trail went all the way down the next valley and back up a comparably high pass. It seemed like the whole day would be spent on switchbacks. During the long ascent I got in the aforementioned unfortunate situation where I had to dig a cat hole while stuck in a long stretch with nowhere to do so due to the steepness. I eventually got to the top and took care of things, though I was disappointed in my bowels as this was the second hoke that I had to dig. While taking care of things I got seriously cold. The temperature had dropped as the trail ascended, it was raining more intensely up there, and it was very foggy (or perhaps rather, I was in a cloud). I thought that I would get warm again after I started walking. I was wrong. Took of my pack and got my rain clothes on. After a while of walking in that I felt much better. I have a rain skirt with me instead of rain pants to save weight and because it breathes more easily than pants. It was a first for me as a man to now have to pull up my skirt whenever I had to cross a downed tree. Ha ha.
My feet were keeping relatively dry the first nine hours or so, but as expected they eventually got soaked despite the GoreTex. I thought that it was nice that I had spare socks to put on tomorrow. Then I thought, oh shoot, I had been keeping them at the net on the outside of the pack for easy access, so they must be soaked. When I looked at them, though, they were magically still dry, as they were hiding beneath the “belly” of my backpack.
When I got down from the second high mountain crossing it seemed as if the clouds weren’t following me down there, and the rain almost subsided. I could then see new skies forming from the damp forest across the valley.
Shortly after was a water crossing, which I was a bit worried about as I thought that the rain might have increased the flow, and it was roaring far before I could see it. The first I saw of was also intimidatingly rapid, and the creek seemed to have cut a huge valley out of the mountain side. When I finally got to where the trail crossed the stream, the latter luckily had split into multiple tributaries, though I could only see the first one. After navigating and scrambling across the river bed aided by cairns, I eventually made it all the way. Didn’t even get my feet wet, or rather, wetter.
A bit after the crossing the visibility dropped markedly as the rain started again. I came by where RapidRabit had said he planned camping, and indeed he was there. None of the nearby sites seemed nice, though so I hiked on and eventually found a better one.
While still warm from the hiking I had my cold soaked food. Cold soaking is not as much fun when you are cold and soaked. Ha. I should probably not have chosen to continue to cold soak here in Washington. Anyways, I then pitched my tent. Quickly, it became apparent just how much easier things had been while it wasn’t raining. My backpack itself was quite wet. Some things were soaked, some were damp, and some were dry. I tried to store things with the same level of wetness together so nothing would get wetter. Electronics was also a concern, where I dried my camera and phone off with a small towel, just to be sure and put it in its own plastic bag. It would surely be hard to keep everything from becoming slightly wet of it rained multiple days in a row. Problems and worries aside, I wrote my diary entry while listening to Pink Floyds “Dark Side of the Moon” and in fact felt somewhat cosy, or as we say in Danish “hygge”, as I laid there with the music and the rain outside in the background. I did hope, though, that the weather would be better tomorrow. The thick clouds meant that it had been quite dark all day. It was as the day had gotten stuck just before the sun would have started to color the skies and then at the end of the day got stuck and went back into night. Perpetual twilight! It also felt like I had spent the whole day walking up and down never ending switchbacks.
This day’s miles: 2415-2443