Location- Side of trail
Distance Traveled Today- 18.9 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 389.2 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s 70s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 3
Hunger/craving- getting higher
Today was a great day for me; it was the first day of this journey that I actually felt like I was hiking and getting my ass kicked. I became slightly more fond of the PCT because of it. Up until today, I could have likened the physical difficulty of this trail to walking around the mall, hundreds of times, with a heat lamp over my head. Today there was struggle, there were obstacles, and there were things for me to set my will against, besides my dog’s willing, or unwillingness to hike.
It may sound corny, but I feel that a person can have a bond with a trail. I feel an incredible bond with the Appalachian Trail. I left a lot of blood, sweat, and proverbial tears on that trail, as it beat me down, day in and day out; and I loved it for that.
I’ve felt no bond for this trail so far, but I felt the start of one today. Sure it’s a gorgeous trail, but it hasn’t been a “hike,” it’s been more of a stroll. I haven’t felt like I’ve earned the gorgeous sights I’ve seen out here; they’ve just kind of been “presented” to me. Every little thing I saw on the AT, I had to work my ass off for, and that made every little thing I saw out there…special.
Today was special. The obstacle of the day was the behemoth, Mount Baden Powell, named after the founder of the boy scouts. Topping out at over 9,000 feet, we had a nearly 3,000 foot climb over the course of about four miles to reach the summit. Honestly, it was switch back hell. Back and forth, back and forth, for mile, after mile, after mile. These switchbacks actually had some inclination to them, and for the first time on this hike, I had to give pause to catch my breath.
Katana owned the entire climb, as well as the rest of the day. Nothing but a few “under the arm” carries, to get her past some nasty jagged rocks.
The best part about the climb up Baden Powell, was undoubtedly the snow packs that still resided in the last thousand feet or so. Many of them were covering up the trail, and were to steep and slick to traverse without the proper hardware. We were forced to trail blaze straight up the mountain at times, as well as climb over and along some of the snow packs.
Katana loved the snow packs. She could run straight up them without hesitating. It seemed the thinner the air got, the more energetic she became; now it was my turn to feed off of her energy.
We reached the top after nearly two hours of struggling up steep embankment, and slipping countless times on the snow packs. The view…staggering. We laid up there for more than an hour, in the shade of one of the oldest pine trees in the world, “Wally Waldron,” at more than 1,500 years of age.
The rest of the day was spent hiking along the tops and sides of ridges and mountains, climbing and descending; Katana eating it all up as we went. We were in no hurry as we tackled one last fairly challenging 1,000 foot climb, reaching the top just as the sun was setting.
The descent to where we planned to stop was fairly rocky, with large chunks of broken granite carpeting the trail. As a reward for being such an excellent hiker today, I carried little dog the last mile down to camp, in an effort to save her paws any unnecessary wear and tear.
I truly enjoyed the challenges of today, and I’m ecstatic that Katana met them with such enthusiasm as well. I can only hope there will be many more to come, because I’m digging these endorphins again…