Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back to the PCT day 5 - Jeff Creek to un-named lake

August 18th
Day 5
Jeff Creek to Un-named Lake
Trail mile 2038-2048 10 miles 
Jeff Creek to un-named lake

I told Aimless that intended to start hiking at 6:30 in the morning because I wilt in the heat and I wanted to make the 2,000 foot climb over the shoulder of Mount Jefferson before the worse heat of the day hit.  Aimless said that she was “on vacation” and she would start at 9:30.  My intention was to take a three hour siesta and during that time I thought that Aimless would catch up to me.  Just in case we did not meet up on the trail we agreed ahead of time to camp at a nameless lake at trail mile 2048.  We looked at our maps and decided that the un-named lake was Upper Lake, but we were wrong.  No matter, neither of us made to Upper Lake. 

Solorina crocea  found at about 4,000 feet in elevation
this lichen is new to me and might even be a little bit rare
Page 313 in Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest

I was on the trail at 6:30; the first water on the trail would be Russell Creek 1.5 miles from camp and then another creek 3 miles from camp.  It looked like there would be plenty of water on the trail, so I left camp with just one liter of water in my side pocket. 

Russel Creek

Before I knew it I had arrived at Russell Creek and what I saw surprised me.  The creek was flowing quite fast due to being on a very steep slope.  This was a milky white glacial creek too.  I was not sure how I was going to cross it; I also wondered how Aimless was going to cross.  I decided that the water looked too deep where the trail crosses the creek so I opted to go upstream until the creek split into a few braids and did not look so deep.  I did not try to keep my feet dry for the crossing.  Gingerly I stepped into the stream.  I could not see where my feet were going to land; there was no way to know just how deep the creek would be so I was a bit scared.  I kept three points on the ground at all times and slowly inched my way across the creek.  Whew!  I was glad when that was over.   

Looking back at Russell Creek after I crossed it
I wondered what Aimless would do at the creek.  How much creek crossing experience did she have?  Perhaps she would find other people to cross with.  I thought about waiting for her, but that would have meant waiting for three hours and then hiking up the hill in the worst heat of the day.    Well, she’ll either cross or she won’t, I thought to myself.  The situation seemed binary.  I wished that I knew how much experience she had with creeks.  She’s a little older than me and did not start hiking until I was in my 30’s so I felt that chances were good that she had experience with creek crossings. 

After taking a short break to drink water and wash my feet, I worked my way back down the far side of the river until I regained the trail.  Next my hike took me into Jefferson Park where I met a hiker named “Bookworm”.  I chatted with Bookworm for a bit and I told her that Aimless was behind me and that she had an ace bandage on one ankle but she wanted another one for her other ankle.  Bookworm said she was suffering from bad knees and hiking very slow so Aimless was sure to catch up to her and when she did catch up she would give her the ace bandage in her first aid kit. 

Wild flowers at Jefferson Park just before I met Bookworm
I continued through Jefferson Park marveling at the wild flower meadows and the views.  It was so pretty in Jefferson Park; I wished we had camped there instead of at Jeff Creek.  Once the trail left the park it began to climb.  We had a 2,000 foot climb today and the trail was going to takes up to almost 7,000 feet.    The climb was not too bad for me since I got it over before the worst heat of the day and I was buoyed by the views and by the music on my IPod.    The views of Mount Jefferson blew me away. I had a trancendent experience up there. 

At about 10:45 I reached the highpoint and headed down the other side of Mount Jefferson’s shoulder.  I thought about taking my Siesta there at the top, but the air was not yet hot and I don’t feel well at 7,000 feet, so I opted to go down a bit before I took my break. 

Near and just over the high point
There were a few small snowfields to cross on the north face of the shoulder and I wondered how much experience Aimless had with snow banks, I figured she would be safe crossing the snow banks but I wondered if she would be frightened by them.  I also wondered how much trouble she would have with her ankles on the snow banks.  I hoped that she caught up to book worm with her extra ace bandage before she hit the snow. 


I continued down until I reached a breezy pass at 6,100 feet.  The timing was perfect, it was high noon and this was a nice cool place to take a break.  I peeled off my wet socks and laid them on a cairn to dry.  I stayed there for almost three hours resting and eating and trying to sleep and asking passing thru-hikers if they had seen Aimless.   Strangely none of them had seen her. 

Admiring my blister during my break, it had already gone down some.
I treated it with mole foam with a hole cut in the center

Then Eric, the section hiker who had camped with us at Jeff Creek came up the trail.  He said that he had seen Aimless ½ mile past Russell Creek and he stopped her to tell her that he had found her trekking pole in Russell creek, so she was going to back track to get her pole.  I thought it was very odd that Aimless would have lost her pole in the creek and not known it.  The entire story seemed quite odd so I pressed Eric with more questions but he was tired and in a hurry so I never was totally satisfied with the answer. 

I was glad to know that Aimless had made it across the creek safely but I knew she was going to be running really late with having to backtrack.  I was looking forward to hearing from her and learning what had actually happened to her pole. 

At about 3pm I started my 4 mile hike down to the un-named lake.  I might have stayed and waited longer but I was out of water, so down I went in search of water.  It took a while before I found water and the temperature was quite high at this point.  I was hot and thirsty and tired.  The heat really hit me hard, I felt like crap.  Oh well, just 4 miles to the lake and I should get in early enough to rest and eat dinner before bed time. 

Saw Pikachu on the way to the lake

Pikachu lives here


Thru-hikers passed me by all day long, they hike much faster than me and they were hiking extra fast today because they were all headed to Ollalie Lake for resupply and beer.  Finally towards the end of my hiking day some of the thru-hikers that passed me said they had seen Aimless and she was way, way back behind them.  It seemed odd to me that she would be that slow, but I was almost to the lake and I was eager to rest my feet so I carried on down the trail until I reached the lake. 

Marchantia polymorpha liverwort near Breitenbus Lake
When I came out the the juntion of the PCT and the road to Breitenbush lake the way was unclear, but I did not care because I saw and outhouse.  Toilet magic!  Someone with trekking poles approached while I was on the throne, so I had to shut and lock the door real quick.  When I was done I discovered another lost hiker.  Together we found our way back to the trail.  Soon I saw another hiker who was wearing crocks and carrying a half gallon of water in net in a bottle in his hand.  He was almost as slow as I was.

At about 4pm I found the lake at at mile 2048 and then I found a campsite on the far shore and I took a quick dip in the lake so I could cool off.  I was so tired that I did not know what to do first, pitch the tent, cook dinner, and change my clothes, filter water, so many choices.  I opted to lay out my cellophane and sleeping pad and my sleeping bag and just sit.  That is what I did; I just sat there until I had to pee.  I even cooked dinner without getting up. 

Un-named lake at trail mile 2048

At about 7:30 I heard a voice calling out “Mossy Mom, are you there?” 

I called back “Aimless, is that you?”    I was so happy with the thought that she had finally caught up to me.  But it was not to be.  It was Bookworm who was calling my name.  She limped into my camp with her big heavy boots and told me that she had not seen Aimless all day long and they she had even spent a couple of hours waiting for her.    What on earth could this mean?   

Bookworm said that she heard from other hikers that Aimless had made it off the snow fields and that she was in “good spirits” and planned to stop at Brietenbush Lake Camp.  Ahhh, that eased my mind, she had made it through the creek and back to the creek for her pole and over the snow fields and she was doing well.  Maybe she would even make it to our un-named lake at mile 2048. 

Just before dusk a group of Europeans arrived and camped and swam on the far lake shore.
Bookworm stayed with me and fed me the most wonderful junk food. 

Night fell and Aimless did not arrive, so I knew she must be back at Brietenbush Lake Camp.    I cowboy camped on the lake shore and Bookworm hung her hammock in the bushes.  Bookworm was quite the character, filled with manic energy and with almost no sense of boundaries.  I enjoyed the company of Bookworm, but I could sense that one might easily feel totally overwhelmed by her given enough time. 

To tired to pitch my tarp

I knew that cowboy camping would mean getting my sleeping bag covered with condensation, but I did not care.  I was so tired and my sleeping bag is somewhat waterproof.

I got cold in the night so I made hot chocolate without getting up


Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 6:


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