August 28, 2016, Mile 2592: The Final Section

At a campsite, mile 2592

Today I finished Section K, and began hiking Section L…the last on the PCT. Excitement!

The trail headed mostly north, and then began a parallel course with Highway 20, the North Cascades Highway. It was pretty loud, and rather jarring; I hadn’t seen traffic in over a week.

I finally reached Rainy Pass, crossed the highway, and BOOM! I was in Section L. I walked along the long trailhead parking lot, passing several groups of people who were finishing their day and weekend trips.

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A group of people in their 30s were hanging out, drinking beer and talking about their multi-day trip. I said, “How’s it going?” They answered, “Great…how about you?”

My reply was, “Fantastic! I’m heading to Canada!”. And they responded with, “Whoa! Here, have a beer!” I responded enthusiastically, joined the circle, and quaffed an IPA. Yes!

So I have officially yogi’d my first beer (pats self on back). To yogi means to get food, drink, whatever, simply by virtue of what you’re doing or what you might need (or by semi-subtle begging). Think Yogi Bear, only with a pack.

After gratefully finishing my beer, I went to the trailhead. Somebody had left several dozen apples, clearly meant for PCT hikers. I grabbed a handful and loaded them into my pack. My plan was to have one a day over the next few days…and it was wonderful.

I signed the registry, with both my regular and trail names, and noticed that my friend Jessi had signed in just a few hours before. I was doubtful that I’d catch her, with my slower-than-average pace, but time would tell.

I had one more bit of yogi-ing today: a Swiss couple who shared not only a couple of treats from home, but an incredibly fresh chocolate chip cookie from a local bakery. Such goodness!

It’s been hard to read the water supply lately. The weather hasn’t been scorching hot, but there’s only been a bit of rain. Both of my PCT apps list seasonal streams, which may or may not be running. I need to bring about 2.5 L to any dry camp, with an absolute minimum of 1 L. This of course depends on the availability of the water immediately after the camp, plus the weather, distance, and elevation gain to the water. After you do this awhile, you get good at making educated guesses, but it’s not foolproof. So if you’re like me, and have a hard and fast minimum, you often end up schlepping more than you need.

Such was the case today. Porcupine Creek, two miles and 800 feet before my destination, was listed as the last reliable stream for many miles, including over two exposed passes with very steep traverses. I filled up with 4 L, knowing that I could share out the water if needed, but couldn’t risk doing the exposed areas while dehydrated.

porcupine-creek

Of course because I was prepared it was unnecessary. I showed up at camp with probably 1.5 L too much. Such is life.

I shared a camp with JIF. He’s in charge of trail maintenance in So Cal, and I met him in Stehekin.  JIF stands for Joe’s Invisible Friend, Joe being Joe Anderson, a well-known trail angel in Californa. JIF had some great ideas he shared with me, including the trick of using a garbage bag to inflate a mattress. He said he’d had great luck with it, so I’m planning on trying it at home. He also gave me some excellent beta on the JMT, especially in terms of talus slopes. Next year’s proposed destination is the Sierra, so this was great information to have.

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