We start out at Rock Creek, crawling from our tent into the cold. It’s so cold with the wind, before the sun sheds it’s rays on us we skip breakfast and coffee opting to have it further up trail. Lupine heads up the trail as I finish packing my bag.
In normal years, Rock Creek is one of the first river crossings that can be tricky due to rushing waters of snow melt. But this year is not normal. Snow pack is far, far below normal. I skip across the rocks with ease, admiring the golden brown rocks underneath the water.
Today we have several climbs, and descents, one right after the other. We first climb about 800 ft to Guyot Creek, then another 700 to Goyetz pass
We stop at Guyot Creek and refill our water and meet Daddy Long Legs, Rango, and a couple other hikers as they pass through. Most of the other hikers we meet are aiming to reach Tyndall Creek today, which is our plan as well. This will place us about 5 miles and 2,000 ft below Forester Pass, which is the highest pass of the PCT at 13,120 ft. We did the pass back in 2018 on our SEKI hike, and it was breathtaking, literally. You didn’t feel like you could get enough air. This time we’ll be going the opposite direction however. But, that’s for tomorrow. First I need to survive today.
We finish hiking to the top of Guyot pass, just shy of 11,000 ft and celebrate with some powdered Gatorade. My legs feel good this morning in the cool morning air. I’m able to easily power up the hill, but the miles ahead diminish my furvour.
From here we descend about 1,000 ft to Whitney Creek, before climbing almost 900. We will then descend about 300 ft just to climb back up another 600.
I lose myself in the scenery, bracing my core to protect my back. We walk through giant pine trees pushing out of sand. I feel like I’m walking the beach as my toes slip in the sand, losing some energy in the transfer from muscle to loose footing. When the ground levels out, or changes grade I feel tightness in my right leg, reminding me to listen. “We have hundreds of miles ahead” my body says, and I negotiate a couple minutes of break time, tossing my bag onto a trailside boulder. I stretch and drink some water, then down the trail I go.
At Whitney Creek we stop for lunch. We are running short of food so rations are not immense. We snack on rehydrated pinto bean flakes with cheese and salami. It tastes like the best thing I’ve ever eaten, I think as my body shuttles calories quickly to my muscles.
We sit on a stone protruding from the soil, overlooking a large meadow, with Whitney Creek flowing through the middle. Mt Whitney towers in the distance. I think of Sriracha and Chef, who were planning to hike to the top today, starting at around 4:00 am. The hike up and back is 16 miles. They then planned to hike several additional miles to catch up with us before Forester Pass. The thought makes me exhausted. That’s all after a 20 mile day, the previous day to reach where we sit now. I’m enjoying our leisurely pace and feel fortunate to soak in the scenery. I watch two tiny squirrels disapear into their tunnel.
From the meadow we now climb again. Up 500 ft, down 300 ft, up 300 ft, down 500 ft, up 1,000 ft. 8.4miles to go. 6 miles. 4 miles. My mind becomes dizzy with numbers as my body becomes fatigued. How many more miles to go? How much left of this climb? How many calories did I eat today? Not enough. How much further can these tired muscles go?
I’ve found myself recently counting in my head. It’s like I’m counting steps. I’m not sure why I do it. Maybe to keep my mind focused. I don’t even think I start at 1. I just randomly will find myself counting, 764, 765, 766. I’m not sure what’s the point. Last night I even found myself counting in bed when I couldn’t fall asleep. Certainly this sounds like madness, and I’m certain that it is. But what can I do about it, other than take another step? Walk another mile. Climb then descend another thousand.
When we finally arrived to Tyndall Creek I am exhausted. I cross the creek and climb upwards to where Lupine has already sat her bag in a campsite. I toss down my bag and lay sprawled out in the dirt, soaking in the sun. Finally, it feels good for my muscles to not contract. Ugh.. I sigh.
Tyndall Creek is magical. We were here in 2018 as well. It’s a little oasis of trees, and a creek running along the side. It’s like we’re on an island. I think of our little dogs at home, in our home on Whidbey Island.
We eat thai red curry quinoa with chicken and coconut. We eat it in the last remaining sun, before it goes behind the trees. We then dissapear into our tent at 7 pm, eager to lay down, and close our eyes. I think of my little dog friend Toby and how excited he gets for bed time, escorting us to bed when he knows it’s time. I feel like him now. I can’t wait to see him again, chaperoning the family to bed.