Mile 2393.1 to mile 2417.7 (24.6 miles, 39.6 km)
I couldn’t resist the temptation of a cooked breakfast this morning and hung about for the Pancake House, attached to the Summit Inn Hotel, to open at 7am. For $15 a hiker can’t go wrong with the I90 Special and coffee. Brought out on two plates it comprises 2 strips of bacon, 2 eggs cooked to your liking, 2 sausages, potato hash and two plump pancakes with cream and lashings of maple syrup. A great start to a hiking day.
Loosing a couple of hours of prime hiking time I was checked out and on the trail by 8am to get in a massive climb up while the cool morning air still hung about.
The first ascent up from the highway was a rooty, rocky affair, putting any gym stair master to shame as it climbed up through a maze of switchbacks. My pace was slow and steady, each foot placement considered and deliberate.
I’m so very tired. My body knows the end is close and is starting to break down. Well maybe it was always broken and I’m just feeling it a whole lot more. Sore feet, tight muscles, body weight down to the lowest in who knows how long, the list of little niggles is adding up. Taking a Nero yesterday was just what I needed. It was great to be able to kick back and relax for most of the day yesterday. I’m much more upbeat today.
Reaching a high ridge it is evident that the fire smoke has eased up a little for the first time in weeks and there are actually views to be had. Breathtaking views. Steep granite spires form wide cirques above clear emerald blue lakes. I’ve entered the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
With a fully ladened pack I was bugged by pack straps cutting deep into my fat depleted, scrawny upper body. There is no adjustment left in my hip belt straps to take the weight off and it’s a matter of just embracing the suck.
While it’s sounds like my body is not doing too well I’m actually in peak physical condition. It’s just that the continued day in day out hiking without much of a break is taking its toll. I fly up steep hills much to the disgust of weekend warriors as I cruise pass and can dig deep for long hours. I am a lean, mean, mountain crushing machine.
There were heaps day/weekend hikers out and about today. I tend to catch them on the climbs. I approach pretty quick but don’t like to be rude by calling trail on them from behind, preferring instead to hang back and go at their pace until they notice I’m there and can find space to let me pass.
One encounter stood out today. I caught up to a women with a enormous pack, kettle strapped to the outside swinging with every foot step and bear spray at the ready on her hip. I caught her easily on a climb but she failed to hear or notice me at all. That’s fine. I slowed up and followed behind. After a few minutes I started to tap my poles on rocks but she still didn’t notice me. I coughed and she still didn’t hear me. It was only when reaching a rocky section where she stopped to catch breath that the crunches underfoot right behind her, alerted her to my presence. Spinning around on the spot, completely alarmed and surprised she was reaching for the bear spray. She got a bit of a fright but we both survived.
The afternoon was crazy steep up and downs for hours. Switchback after switchback. I walked to 7pm and had enough, calling it quits mid way up a major climb. I have a small camp right on the edge of the trail with an amazing vista from my tent door, overlooking tall peaks with glacier like snow clinging to the upper reaches and feeding huge waterfalls I hear churning down the cliff faces.