|Amanda drops me off at the trailhead, knowing we|
may not see each other again until Canada!
But the rain still soaked me through, and I pretty much hiked with hardly a rest. It was too cold to stop. I caught up with Rising Sun and M (Em?--not really sure how he would spell his name) at a bucket of trail magic a couple of hours into my hike. I knew someone (or someones) wasn't far ahead of me because I could see fresh footprints as the rain started. The prints were dry, but the ground around it was damp from rain. So I knew they were ahead, and finally caught up with them at a food cache. I'd never met them before, and Rising Sun seemed stunned that I was wearing nothing but a short-sleeved shirt, asking if I was cold. "Yes! That's why I can't stop for long! As long as I'm hiking hard, I'm fine!" =)
|Look at that beard growing in!|
And, I really, really wanted to reach Junction Lake. Today was the last day of the Hike-a-Thon. The evening before, I was studying maps and trying to figure out where I would likely get to this evening. Normally, I'm not one to plan so far in advance, but I'd been keeping a mileage log of my hike for the Hike-a-Thon, and I was going to leave the paperwork with Amanda to turn in for me. I still had to hike, after all! But what do I put for August 31st? It would have been nice if I could call Amanda at the end of the day, tell her how far I had hiked, and she could fill out the rest of the form for me, but cell phone coverage out here was not exactly reliable. So I made an educated guess to how far I'd likely hike: Junction Lake.
|There weren't many views along this section of trail.|
Too many darned trees. But the trail was fairly
easy, so at least it had that much going for it. *shrug*
The trail soon passed another lake, with tents scattered all about. I was a little surprised at the number of people camping in such miserable weather in the backcountry, and on a weekday no less! I was closing in on Junction Lake, though--I figured it was only another mile or two ahead--and hoped it wouldn't be quite so busy with people.
The trail went past a large group of people under a tarp, seemingly cooking dinner, and I couldn't help but notice the hexagonal-shaped structure it had. It looked familiar to me. I'd seen that tarp setup before, when I did some volunteer work for the WTA a couple of summers before. I took a closer look inside the tarp, trying to verify my suspicions, and saw bear boxes designed to be carried by horses. I haven't seen these things very often. In fact, the only time I'd ever seen them before was when I did volunteer work with the WTA. They loaded them up with food, hung one off each side of the horse, and packed them up there. We'd also use them as stools while eating or cooking. And these people had those exact same bear boxes. I was pretty sure this was a WTA work party!
|The flash on my camera really makes those|
raindrops "pop," don't you think?
They almost seemed surprised that I even knew what a WTA work party was, but yes, they were a WTA work party. "Oh, man, I just LOVE you guys!" =)
I didn't recognize anyone at this work party (drats!), but I introduced myself anyhow and told them I'd done a couple of those week-long work parties in the past. The regulars there asked about where I had worked and who I had worked with, so we started swapping war stories. I may not have known anyone from this work party, but we did know some of the same people which was just as fun to talk about. =)
The leader of the expedition, Taylor, said that they had some extra food for dinner if I wanted to stop. Oh my God it was tempting! But I told them I wanted to get to Junction Lake for the Hike-a-Thon--to raise money FOR THEM!!!! =) Already gave the mileage reports to Amanda, already on its way to WTA headquarters in Seattle, and so I really wanted to get to Junction Lake.
They looked around at each other, until one of them told me, "You're at Junction Lake!"
|What a miserable, wet, downpour.|
I was hating life at this point!
But I reached Junction Lake! And there I found a WTA work party offering me real food, and hot food! Sweet! "I love you guys!"
By now, I had been stopped for about five minutes, and was getting so cold my teeth were chattering. I could barely talk without stuttering. Now that I had reached camp for the night, I needed to get out of those wet, cold clothes ASAP. I swapped out my shirt for a dry one, threw on my fleece layer, and a shell over that. It would take awhile to warm up again, but nothing that a hot meal can't cure. =)
They suggested I set up my tarp before it got too dark, and I agreed wholeheartedly with that suggestion. Problem was, they took all of the campsites in the area for themselves, but one of them offered to share a space with me. He marched me off to the location, and I set up my tarp. I left my backpack back at their kitchen, only bringing the tarp to set up.
|One of the road crossings along the trail.|
And the whole group of them could only manage to wolf down about 3/4 of the pie, and looked about ready to throw the rest of it away. They had too much food with them--it seems that a couple of people dropped out of the trip at the last minute--so a lot of their food was going to waste.
"Give it to me," I told them. "I can eat the rest."
They didn't think it was possible, but wanted to watch me try. =) It's only a 1/4 of the pie, but that was practically the size of most full-sized pies. I'll admit, I had my doubts if I could eat it all, but I was certainly willing to try, and I was pretty sure I could make room for most of it.
They gave me the bottle of whipped cream, and I piled that up high, then dug in. If it wasn't for the rain, this could very well have been my best evening ever on the trail! =)
The first part of the pie I ate pretty quickly, but I started slowing down considerably after that. I kept eating, but considerably slower. Eventually, most of the party started going off to their respective tents for the night, and I chatted a bit with Taylor who dreamed of someday doing his own thru-hike. "Don't do it, man! This is what you become!" I told him, jokingly, and shoved another fork of pie in my mouth.
Then Taylor was going to head off to bed, and I didn't want to stand around eating pie by myself, so I finally cried uncle and threw the rest of it away. It was mostly crust, and not even enough for one serving anyhow. But technically, I failed in my mission to eat the whole thing. But damn, it felt good to try! =)
|That's a heck of a lot of apple pie for one|
person to eat.... but I was willing to try!
I figured out where I went wrong, though, threw down my ground sheet, pulled out my sleeping bag, and went to sleep. It was a miserable day of hiking, but what a fantastic group of people to meet up with at the end of the day!
If you're interested in reading about those work parties I did with the WTA, they're still online. The first was Mount Adams and the other was in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I haven't been back to either of those locations since I did those work parties, but the PCT runs past both of them, and I was anxious to see how they looked all this time later. =)