Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 42: July 5, 2012

July 5, 2012.

Day: 42   Daily Miles: 35   Total Miles: 1847.25   Hours Hiking: 16.5   7:00am-11:30pm

Listen to the audio journal above or Download July 5th Audio File Here

Day 42

Through a burned area about 15 miles before Crater Lake.
July 5th. I sit here on the rim of Crater Lake, looking down as a slowly setting sun behind me casting shadows across the lake onto Wizard Island. It's about 7pm, it's a really picturesque day. Big puffy clouds in the background. Beautiful and clear all the way across the lake. The golden light streaming across the grass next to me, the dead tree on the point next to me as well. Wizard Island overlook is off to my left, to the north and the hiker PCT on the rim trail is the absolute epitome of hard. It is so choked with snow and unmarked and hidden and steep and erratic that it....well the whole day has been covered in snow, and I have definitely hit way more..5 times at least, 10 times probably at least, more snow in the last 20 miles than I have had the whole entire time along the rest of the trip. It it makes for slower going, that's for sure, and most of it I have hit in the flats, which I know that's going to change once I move on a little bit into the mountains. So, right now is the first time I'm seriously considering stopping. Before it's a daily struggle, and in the end I always have the motivation to keep going. And right now, with the prospect of having Oregon choked with snow, and Washington, because they both had abundant snow years, and even late snows. I'm here now and I know that my mileage per day is going to suffer, and at the same time, if I reduce, say to even just 40 miles a day, I'll still beat the record but at the same time, that's not really what I'm going for. I feel like I've done all this work so far...and in the one hand, yeah, it's wasted if I don't finish, but at the same time, you know, I feel like, if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right. Finishing about a day and a half early and doing 10x more work for the record, I'm not sure it means that much to me. I mean I've already had thoughts of stopping just because I'm unhappy and I'm over it. And this, just makes things worse. I've sat here for about 25 minutes. I have another, ohh, 6 miles to go along the rim.
Fresh bear prints on the snow.
I have no idea if it gets better. I hope it gets better. If it doesn’t I'm going to road walk, because it is absolutely horrific. I would much rather be on the equestrian PCT right now - going mostly flat and hitting snow drifts versus these gigantic walls.... many of them are corniced...tough snow on this steep slope on a trail that basically just bobs up and down and is really hard to follow. So, it's um, yeah... it's kind of one of those points, those pivotal moments where I want to keep going. I know there is going to be more snow. I know it's doable, but at the same time is it worth the effort? Currently, I am at least 4 days ahead of the record and today I might not even make 30 miles because I resupplied and I have this horrific trail situation, truly. And I know from here on out it's just going to be a daily battle to even try and make the miles. If it was clear, I don't think I would stop, I would definitely finish and accomplish what I set out to accomplish. I mean I already feel like I've accomplished what I personally wanted - doing really well up until this point, testing what my physical and mental endurances are. And, having done that, I don't think that 20 more days of pounding through snow is going to prove that anymore to me, besides the fact that I am a masochist and that *laughs* I actually...I don't know...that doesn't truly prove anything more to me. Like, the record in itself, all depends on weather and conditions. I mean if it was clear, that's why southbound is 'so much better' of a way to do it. At least for trail conditions, because you leave when the snow is gone and the Sierras are totally clear. But this is slightly unexpected. I had warning about it, but it is much worse than it had ever seemed to be. A majority of today wasn't that bad. I was only probably an hour and a half behind, but this trail...I came up from the equestrian PCT on the hiker PCT and 1.5 miles of it was snow. I mean there was no trail. I'm glad I have a GPS, or otherwise I wouldn't have found the trail, and actually I met two people that were trying to hike up the trail to the rim road - a father and son, and they were coming back down because they said they had lost the trail. Well I was like ' I have a GPS' and they asked if they
Where's the trail...under the snow!
could follow and I was like 'sure thing!'. So I lead the way for two other people to get up, that's how hard the trail is, because there is no trail. We're probably the 3rd 4th and 5th people to do it this year, and it's completely covered. At many points today, I hit the same thing. You're in trees and you go about 20 ft from the last place you saw the trail...and it's all snow and you don't know which way it goes. You have an idea, but the snow just stretches on and on, and you can't tell. The trees are pretty equally spaced, there are no marks, so it's very frustrating...and you's... it's the extra push to say 'why am I actually doing this?' I mean if it's just a trail to follow and hike all day long that's doable. This is a whole different ballgame entirely. So I feel like I've going to push on and if it stays similar, then I'm going to quit, just because I really feel there is no point to push on and really beat myself up and go through the hoops just to barely scrape by with the record. I mean after all, the record was the goal in which to judge myself with and thus far I've bested the record by a good deal. Granted, it's not the full record, but allowing for trail conditions, it would be nearly impossible I think to actually do it completely at this point in time due to the conditions. So, it just comes to a balance..... and there are sooo many mosquitoes up here, I don't understand this. There's no standing water besides the lake and the lake is like 500 ft below me and yet there is a cloud of mosquitoes constantly following me. That adds to it too, just the general nuisance. I haven't had it this bad since the Tuolumne area. I can see Mt. Thielsen barely, just sticking up over the ridge through a little saddle off to my left, to the north. Tomorrow, if everything goes as planned, I'd hit the highest point in Oregon and Washington. If
Crater lake in all it's glory. Still so much snow.
that's not covered in snow, I don't what is... So it's.... I looked at the map, and there is a good section down around 5,500 ft, but even then, I know from last night that there were snow patches, not nearly as difficult, but when you go up on Mt Adams, I believe is next, so you go up Thielsen, up Adams to the sisters, which all of those are at 6000 ft, which I was at all day today and was in tons of snow. And if you're in the trees...being Oregon, they are dense trees... and so the snow can't melt out, unless it's really clear. Even on the east or west slopes, I had bunches and bunches of snow that wasn't melted. So, it's going to be extremely tough and the overall result will be less than I want...and if that's not reason to quit.. It's not particularly a great reason to quit, just because things get tough and you quit but when you're going for a speed record, if you can't make what you're going for, why keep putting the effort into it? If I was doing this as a normal thru-hike I could take days off, I could go slow. Even if I go slower now, I have to rearrange my whole food scheduling, because right now I think I have it set for a 46-47 mile a day pace. So if I only make 40's everyday, I'm going to be short at least half a day when I get down and around to my next resupplies, and that's a problem, especially when you get to places like Big Lake Youth Camp, which is my next resupply, there's no store, and it's too late to have extra stuff sent. So I'm stranded, especially since I can't hitch to anywhere. So it's a bunch of logistical things that also add in. That's my thought. I gotta get going to see if I can get the hell off of this rim walk before it gets dark, or at least find a really really awesome campsite and make my day short, a really short day. That way, if I do get off trail, at least I'll have one good beautiful morning, something really spectacular to remember and end my trip by. It's been a good ride, so we'll see how it turns out. I gotta get hiking. Alright....damn.........

July 5, Day 42. I went only 35 miles to trail mile 1846.25 around somewhere about 5 miles away from Highway 138, I believe that's the highway number that goes to Diamond Lake, after the junction with the equestrian and hiker PCT routes off the Crater Lake Highway. Somewhere in the flats, in the lodgepoles and giant mosquito town. That point was 0573881 E 4764520 N. Ummm, shiiiittt.... yesterday... Not a great day, as you can tell by the miles. It started out OK. I mean it started out with snow drifts, which I expected...but slowly as I moved towards Crater Lake...I had 18 miles or so to get to the turnoff for Annie Springs...the individual snow drifts started turning into larger and large snow patches, until when I was about 4 miles out, they were starting to become on solid large patch among the trees. Which. you know, if, say, you're in the high Sierra, and there's no trees around, it's not so big a deal, because you know generally that you need to head uphill or downhill or you get a bearing form you map and you head towards a certain direction. But when you're in the trees and little hills, you might find a little section of trail, you'll follow it, then you'll walk about 20 ft onto the snow and then the trail could go any-which-way. So I really had to try and follow my GPS, which just meant winding around a bit and it just slowed my progress down. I believe the 18  miles too me about an extra 1.5-2 hours to complete.
Helllooo Crater Lake!
So, at the end of the day, it's almost 6 miles that I lost really quickly. Then I did a resupply at Mazama Village store. And that went pretty quick. I bought some cookies, some chips, soda, and other little odds and ends. Then I went over to the restaurant to find out that they have gotten rid of the all-you-can-eat buffet and not it's just an all-you-can-eat salad bar... :( plus restaurant. I had to wait on like a reservation list to get a seat and was like ' really? it's not even busy!' Then, it took forever to get food served, but that was OK because all the while I was busying myself with packing my resupply, so it wasn't soo bad. I just got a cheeseburger with onion rings. So that was alright, it wasn't the best. I headed back out with a heavy pack. I think I have more or less 4 days plus extra food in my pack. Because from the store it's up to the rim, it's a dry stretch, so I had to carry a lot of water, but I didn't carry it until I got to the turn off. Hiking to the hiker PCT turnoff wasn't so bad, just larger snow drifts. I filled up my water at the bottom at one of the creeks, because once you get on top, there is no running water for 25 miles until you get to Thielsen Creek, way over on Mt. Thielsen. So I headed up, patchy snow, patchy snow. Then I met a father and son, who were coming down the trail and they were like 'hey, do you know how to get to the top? Basically we lost the trail - it got super snowy and we couldn't figure it out and we'd like to go up instead of backtrack'. I said I had my GPS and that we'll figure it out, so they tagged along. We got a little further and low and behold, it turns into complete snow, no trail to be found. We proceeded for 1-1.5 miles uphill steeply through snow until the Crater Lake Highway rim road. So that was the first taste of not fun. Then, after that, you hit the little village up there and there's sidewalk and tourists everywhere taking pictures. I followed the sidewalk....the trail is NOT marked at ALL. It's really ambiguous. So you kind of just walk along and then there's this trail that kind of follows right next to the rim from viewpoint to viewpoint. So that's the trail and I take it and it
Route finding...I'm more or less on trail.
turns out to be this steep, terrible trail with no marking and these cliff like snow drifts set right on the edge of the Crater Lake rim. So that was painful and terrible, having to climb up and over, around and on super steep snow. That lasted for a good probably mile or so before you get over towards Wizard Island Lookout, and then I guess it's the old road that the trail kind of takes over. But the old road being flat has been totally covered with snow. So it goes from steep snow drifts to one big giant continuous snowfield on an angle for sure, not flat by any means for pretty much the rest of the way...all the way until the trail junction. So I spent probably about a good 90% of the time while up on the rim on snow. The snowfield weren't the worst, but at the same time, not being on normal walking trail tread I was probably going only 2mph and slipping and having to expend a lot more energy to walk across this snow, then I would have had to have if I had take the equestrian, which would have just been snow patches and or possibly dirt trail. So that took me a lot longer. Because of all the snow, I sat down and had to really think {the previous recording} - if this continues I'm stopping because I've done the math and I can beat the record even with lower miles, but it's not beating the record how I want to beat the record {not beating it with my full potential}. Before this day, I was up at least 4 days on the current record, and even if I hit 40 mile days for the remainder, I'd beat the record by a day and a half, which is a lot, but at the same time, it's not what I could do, and that really bums me out. So, that's if I can do 40's.
Mt. Thielsen - be there tomorrow.
We'll see how the snow goes...a 40 in snow is still a really long day, especially when you have to battle it all day. So it gets dark. The sunset was really nice being up high, you get to see all the shades of orange and the mountain ranges stretching off to the west, silhouetted in purple. It was windy. I was just about 2-2.5 miles away from the trail junction and the tracks I had been following disappeared. Where the hell the trail went because very ambiguous, thank god I have a GPS. So I started to forge new trail in the twilight, in the dusk. The moon hadn't come up yet, so I was out there with my flashlight...and finally, I mean the snow still didn't let up until I did get to the trail junction, and then there was patches, and then once you finally get down a little lower, low enough, most of it disappeared.... I've actually just gotten back into it this morning here, about 3-4 miles from Highway 138.... For a good while there it disappeared entirely. I camped on trail. I stopped right around 11:30pm. I was trying to make up a few more miles. It was a pretty shitty day to say the least. When I don't get my miles that really hurts and then on top of that is the notion that there's all this snow, and there is going to be more snow and that it will be doable, and yet it will be that much more work on top of all the extra work I've already done and have to do still. So, normally, a normal thru-hike this wouldn't be a problem, you'd just take days off, cool. I can't, this sucks. We'll see how it goes. I figured I've got 3 days worth of food, so I'll see where that gets me, and if I feel like I don't want to do this anymore I'll quit. I mean there's really nothing else to it. It's either I keep going or I quit. So, we'll see how it goes and I'll see what I decide, but either way, I've got to keep moving today.
Snow crossing at sunset on the Crater Lake Rim. It's about to get cold!