Pacific Crest Trail

Glacier Peak Wilderness and marmots galore

Day 127

I slept well until my alarm jolted me back into this world. I had put an emergency blanket under my sleeping pad and that seemed to have added some heat. I did still briefly wake up and had to put on my down jacket, though. Unsurprisingly, my tent was a bit damp from a heavy dew fall, but all my stuff was dry, luckily.

The sky was blue when the sun finally peaked up over the mountain east of me, and while it had become slightly more smoky, it was by no means bad. I was thus still able to enjoy the surrounding nature, which was quite nice, but it seemed like a lesser version of yesterday’s. Also, a bunch of clouds soon blew in and stole the sunlight.

I had considered a swim today, but it simply wasn’t warm enough. Instead I made foraging blueberries today’s extracurricular activity. That was a quite delicious choice as there were so many ripe ones near the trail. In the ens I curbed my eating as I thought overeating could give stomach problems.

Around noon I passed the 2500 mile marker, and I had lunch next to a pond with some decent views. From then on the trail chose to stay up high for a while instead of just going up and down one mountain after another. Nice!

Walking along the ridge it soon seemed like I had gotten to marmot home country as the place was swarming with them. I think I saw thirty to forty today, which is more than I have seen on all the other days combined. These mountain beavers, which is a term no one seems to use for marmots despite a slight resemblance between the species, didn’t seem that scared of humans and often hang out in groups. Some of these hilltop otters, another term not usually used for marmots, had dug their hole directly on the trail. One marmot in particular was sitting halfway into its hole looking at me and with several dozens of rocks strewn across the trail. I childlessly imagined it saying “It was like that when I got here”. In reality it was trying to say: “What you lookin’ at?”

Later in the afternoon while I was still walking along the ridge, more clouds gathered, the wind picked up and the temperature fell. It looked like a storm was brewing. At that point I started feeling somewhat vulnerable and insignificant in part because of this but also because I had been walking alone for hours. The eight people I’d seen were all southbound and I passed them early in the day. Also, the landscape made me feel small and the trail was somewhat washed out with a steep and long drop off. Not long after that the trail crossed a pass into another valley which made me feel even smaller. It seemed like a glacier once had been here but had completely melted leaving an enormous hollow behind. Huge rocks were strewn all over it and small patches of snow from last winter still remained, though none of them on trail. It was just infinitesimal me the brutal forces of nature, and a bunch of marmots.

The trail slowly led me down slowly the enormous valley in a highly meandering manner. I put on Justice‘s debut album to get me going a bit faster, but it seemed oddly out of place, so instead I put on the soundtrack from Koyaanisqatsi where the opening song seemed sufficiently grand and wide spaced.

After a while the trail got below the timberline, but kept on descending further for quite some time. I thought about which impression the valley I came down from would have on others. Some would barely notice it, as their main goal would be getting to the Canadian border, which I guess that there nothing wrong about. I just think that people, myself included as I am a “people”, shouldn’t go through life focused only on goals and not on trying to enjoy the process as well. I also thought how glad I was that I had chosen to hike the Pacific Crest Trail even though it is somewhat in the way of my career goals. Also, I wouldn’t have done it if I’d just followed the societally normal path. We should always make conscious choices in our lives to find what makes most sense for ourselves and brings us in particular the most joy instead of what is just the norm. To quote Pink Floyds brilliant song “Time”: “You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. / And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. / No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

Later I met the a couple of hikers with a dog. They beat me to moving to the side to let the other party pass, but of course the dog didn’t understand. It was wearing a west with a handle, so one of the hikers just lifted it like a shopping bag and put it down next to them. The dog looked like it understand how it was being moved, though. It looked so funny that I couldn’t help laughing. The hikers could almost see the fun in it.

I took a pre dinner break to eat some ramen and put on Justice again. Jeez, that album is already more than ten years old. As I got all the way diwn the valley the trail actually turned into a str a couple of times. The water was just there in the middle where it was flowing abnormally slowly. After getting across a larger stream I got to a nice campsite and pitched my tent, expectedly as the only hiker. Going through the schedule for tomorrow, I unfortunately realized that I had made a typo for today’s plan, so instead of gaining on the overall plan, I got one mile further behind bringing the total to four miles, which, admittedly isn’t bad, but to make a timeline I should preferably have been ahead. Another thing also brought my mood a bit down. I had had signs of the bursitis returning since Snoqualmie Pass, and it seemed like it was getting worse as I now also had symptoms in the evening where it previously only had been in the morning. I didn’t see the namesake “Glacier Peak”, but I think it was the mountain top that I’d previously seen from Grizzly Peak.

This day’s miles: 2487-2511

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