Day 3

Trail Miles 7.25

Actual Miles Hiked 12.58

It was a long, cold night. I woke up cold over and over, but it somehow felt too difficult to put on my down jacket or my fleece pants. Somehow, willing myself back to sleep seemed a better plan.

I walked without snowshoes for about 500 feet right out of camp. We snaked through the trees and came out of the tree line into a wide meadow. I was in the shadow of the forest on a small incline when I started to slide.

Snow that melted yesterday had frozen overnight. Aidan marched right along in his snowshoes and I could hear him talking but he was getting further away. I stared at my shoes as they slowly slipped down the hill. I put out my poles but that didn’t help a bit. I couldn’t take another step, and I couldn’t stay where I was. Aidan looked back at me.

As I tried to scramble across the ice, Aidan said I looked like a dog trying to get traction on a hardwood floor.

I managed to stay upright and finally glided to a stop in a spot where I could get my snowshoes off my pack and back onto my feet.

The snow was magical, treacherous, heart-pounding, taxing.

I unknowingly stepped on a tree that was under the snow, and knocked the remaining snow from its horizontal winter sleep.  Free from its burden, it flung itself ten feet upright into the air, combing my backside on its way up. Six inches from injury.

The snow a stark and lonely white against the evergreen trees with the sky bluer than the ocean. The world completely silent.

The sun melted cups into the snow. We walked through fields of suncups, slipping with every step.

The trail became a steep slope, with deep snow ten to fifteen feet, and my little heart was terrified. We crawled along the mountainside, sometimes on our hands and knees, or balanced on a knife edge of snow more narrow than one snowshoe. More threatening tree wells, opening their black throats.  Waiting for a human treat.

Where is the trail?

No one is out here. Because this is unhikeable.

The moss grew in rings on the trees. It was so easy to get disoriented. We were glad for GPS and a fantastic solar charger. But we were out of water.

Tons of snow with no water. We thought we may have to use our stove to melt the snow, but that thought was also a bit uncomfortable. We needed the fuel for dinners. The spring we were looking for had 15 feet of snow on top of it.

We kept going.

Straight up-three feet later-straight down. Repeat Five Hundred Million Times. Reminded me of biking Texas Hill Country. My Fitbit said we were at 12.38 miles of actual walking, though our trail miles weren’t nearly that high. How did the infamous PCT hikers “Trauma” and “Pepper” manage this in the winter last year?  They’re superhuman, obviously. We are mere mortals.

There were bear tracks in the snow. We pushed on. The other side of the ridge and down a bit, we found a trickle of water coming from under the snowpack in a muddy bare patch of earth. We thought we would camp there if necessary. We moved on just a bit further off trail and found heaven.

A perfectly dry, perfectly level patch of old logging road. After scouting around for a while in the snow, I saw a shimmer and shouted WATER! It was a small flow, but clean and fresh and cold. Water.

We drank hot cocoa with cinnamon whiskey, ate dinner, and fell into a happy sleep coma.


butch · June 8, 2016 at 9:13 am

I love living vacuously thru your adventures……Godspeed

kheimiller · June 7, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I feel cold just reading that and it’s 110 degrees here right now.

Beautiful imagery, though.

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