7/9/17 – One Thousand Miles
Miles: 1,571.28 to 1,591.47
Total miles hiked: 1,007.61
The highlight of today was Russian Wilderness. We had quite some climb to get there and when we first started I did not feel really much energy. It worried me a little because today was all about climbing.
My energy level increased after our first snack break. Between tortillas and spam, I consumed 600 calories and it did the trick. The timing was good too, the big climb started just after that break.
Climbing was much steeper today than usually. PCT generally gains about 200 – 300 feet a mile, today the numbers varied between 450 – 650 feet per mile.
From a group of south bounders we found out that there were two bad snow patched before reaching Etna. The first one we would deal with today. It was a steep remnant of a snow field that covered the trail in two sections, about 20 feet each. In the past it seemed to be possible to walk across; however, the middle section collapsed and getting down of the first part would be difficult. So we climbed on rocks above, it was not difficult except for one move. The second part was easier yet, the boulder field bellow the snow provided a very easy path around the patch.
Shortly after conquering the snow, we finally entered Russian Wilderness. It was time to celebrate for Dave and I since within three tenth of a mile into this wilderness, we reached our 1,000 mile mark. The exact spot was on a narrow cliffy trail and so we celebrated little bit later
Russian Wilderness, or at least the small part we saw had some amazing views which were clouded a bit due to smoke from a wildfire nearby but the vistas were still very enjoyable.
The trail did not see a maintenance crew yet this year and so we had to step over fallen trees, and boulder blocking part of the narrow trail, but slowly and surely we made our miles.
The last five miles were exhausting. Four of them went steeply up through a burn area. It was hot and my feet started to hurt. The views from the top were great and included layers of mountain ridges as well as a view of the valley.
More up followed through the burn and then finally a drop to Payne Lake which turned out to be a very pretty alpine lake, crowded with people, mostly weekenders and short term backpackers who came to enjoy few days exploring the area. We met some very nice people and learned about a BigFoot Trail, and other lakes nearby, and also got recommendation for a brewery in Etna.
But first we have to get there. In our way are 5.5 miles and one sketchy snow patch. But that’s a story for tomorrow.