At a campsite, mile 2631
This morning, I hiked out of the Guard Station, climbing the ridge to Slate Peak. This is the actual trailhead, and sports an old radio tower as well as the trail register.
From there, I entered the Pasayten Wilderness: the last National Forest boundary before the border.
Less than a mile later, I ran into two women leaving their campsite. I let them go first, but suddenly asked, “Jessi?” It was my friend! She had joined hiking forces with another woman (Denise), and we had a great reunion. Turns out Jessi has a faster pace, but prefers less miles in a day, which is how I caught up with her. We chatted for awhile, and then the two of them headed up the trail.
Jessi had mentioned that she and Denise were hiking with an informal group. I met up with them further down the trail, at a lunch and water stop. There was also a group of day hikers, so it was quite the scene. I’m used to hiking solo, or perhaps hanging out briefly at a campsite with other hikers. This was a bit overwhelming.
My leg was giving me more grief, so my pace was slower. I focused on going forward, rather than stopping to look around. The clouds were thickening, so apparently I didn’t miss much. Keep walking.
I eventually caught up with the backpacking group at Shaw Creek 2630. They had decided to go to a large campsite just a mile up the trail, and I decided that that would work for me too. I got there late afternoon, and set up camp quickly against the coming rain.
I also messaged Steve a few times. I had planned on finishing on Friday 9/2, but I didn’t know what my pace would look like. So on the surface of things, it looked like it would be best if I stuck with the group and did things at their pace and with their priorities, to make sure that I actually made it. Their next day’s goal was 2643, which was quite a bit shy of what I wanted to do. They were going to take three days instead of two, and they were functioning differently than I did as a solo. Not bad, just different. And I wasn’t sure what to do.