Miles walked: 19.6
Getting out of my sleeping bag was a real challenge. I have been sleeping relatively well lately. I guess when your last zero day was twenty days ago, the body takes whatever rest it can get. I finally started hiking at my latest starting time yet, 7:15 am.
The day started with a steep descent on a rocky trail. When I arrived at a sign for Benson Lake, I just continued figuring the PCT goes by this lake. I was in a thick forest and the trail was lined with tall wet grass. “Car wash grass” we used to call this on the Colorado Trail. While walking I noticed the muddy trail didn’t have familiar footprints that I’m accustomed to seeing. After a quick check of Guthook, I realized I went wrong at the sign. That’s OK, it’s nice to start the day with some bonus miles.
I was also slowed by several creek crossings. Some required good balance on logs, rocks, beaver dams, or some combination of all these. Other creeks required me to change shoes. I found that I’m a happier guy with dry feet, so I’ve been opting to swap into my Crocs when fording creeks.
I began a 1500 foot climb up Seavy Pass. I was stopping often just to admire the scenic lakes, rock formations, and views across the valley.
There were only a couple patches of snow, which made me happy. I surprised a couple deer right next to the trail, but they knew I was not a threat and after saying hello to me with a stare, they went back to munching on bushes.
At the top of Seavy Pass, it was 10:45 am, and I had only covered five miles thus far. I still had two more steep climbs and a couple of tricky fords to do.
Kerrick Creek was the first of the tricky fords. I arrived at this creek about 12:15 pm and oddly enough I had not yet seen another northbound hiker yet. I crossed by myself in a quick current, with water levels reaching my upper thigh. The current was strong, but slower than Bear Creek where it had been about the same water level.
After the ford, I stopped for a lunch break. In the sun, I laid out my tent, sleeping bag, underwear, and socks which were recently laundered in Kerrick Creek.
I sat and ate and didn’t really think about much. I just listened to birds and tried to make ants recognize that my legs are officially a “no ant zone”.
After eating as much as possible from my bear can, I packed up everything and began my second climb of the day which was steep but only gained 800 feet or so. I flew up this trail powered by a bunch of calories from lunch.
Before I knew it, I was back down the other side and fording a creek in Stubblefield Canyon. The most recent reports had said this was a chest deep ford. I crossed at 3:00 pm and it was only knee high. A few hours of anxiety for nothing.
My third climb gained another 1400 feet or so. This part of my day is where I’ve seen the most wildflowers thus far. It’s nothing compared to the endless wildflowers on the CT, but it was a nice change.
I was back in limp and hobble mode. And this time the pain seemed worse that previous times.
The trail then dropped my gimpy ass into pond and lake hell. I mean, this place is probably awesome in other circumstances, but not today.
Wilma (aka Wilmer) Lake, the nearby ponds and the surrounding area were overflowing and water encroached the trail and completely covered it in a few places. The water however was avoidable.
What wasn’t avoidable were the hoards of mosquitoes. The best defense against mosquitoes is to not stop and hike fast. I was walking slowly and gently to avoid more pain in my ankle. Therefore I got eaten alive. I had basically bathed in deet and that helped slightly, but then I’d ford a creek and my legs were again fresh meat. I hopped on one leg and crutched along with my trekking poles for a bit because my ankle was so sore. When I stopped to get water from a stream, the mosquito hoard engulfed me. I hobbled in a circle to keep them at bay while I whipped up an Aqua Mira concoction to treat my water.
I didn’t intend to camp where I did, but my ankle was failing to move anymore. After setting up my tent and cooking dinner, I could barely walk from where I ate back to my tent.