I wake up groggy. I sip my coffee silently, I eat my breakfast noodles silently. We discuss summiting Old Snowy, try to decide if it’s worth it to take the steep alternate. We’re not sure now, so agree to decide when we get there. There’s positives and negatives to both options.
I have the best pooping spot I’ve had on trail so far I think, it’s private and sandy, easy to dig a cat hole in. I can tell the day is going to be hot because at seven AM, I am warm. I want to motivate to walk as far as I can before it’s actually hot.
First, there is sun dappled forest. It’s gentle climb on gentle tread and I feel happy there in the shade of pine trees. With time, the climb goes rocky and exposed, and then it goes steep. There’s beautiful fresh snow melt water everywhere, and I greedily drink as I go to try to regulate my temperature and even out my breath as I ascend. I lose morale, I go really slow. Bogwitch and Carrot are far ahead and I try to be gentle with myself. It’s hot, exposed and steep. It’s ok if it’s hard.
At the junction for the alternate, Carrot says she surveyed at least five shell shocked north bounders who described the snow fields past the knife’s edge as dangerous ice, a single misstep offering the potential to really injure a hiker. Old snowy may be steep, but is snow free. We decide to climb.
Bogwitch and Carrot get ahead, and I climb slowly, put on a podcast and try to pretend I’m not suffering as much as I am. At the top there is the option to go up to the eroded summit, but there’s also the option to go back down to the PCT without climbing further. Carrot and Bogwitch are headed toward the summit. They left me a note and when I get to it, they are just ahead. Carrot said that they were going to the top, I could come if I wanted and suddenly I feel very very alone. It’s okay with me if I need to go slow, but I hate feeling like I’m chasing people who don’t want to wait for me. I feel abandoned and salty, the most petulant child version of myself. I follow them toward the summit for a little while, and when they say they’re coming back down, I turn on my heels and descend before I even make it to the top. I’m telling myself that my pace is a drag on everyone else. I’m telling myself my friends don’t care if I’m around.
Bogwitch and Carrot stop for lunch at the junction and I am too upset to join. I hike down the hill, leaving the alternate and rejoining the traditional PCT. I am so mad at myself today, so frustrated that I’m not as fast as the people around me.
Carrot finds me and we talk. I tell her my feelings and she hears me out, we hug in a moss patch next to a stream. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy Goat Rocks as much as I wanted to. Some say this is their favorite stretch of the whole PCT, and here I am sulking. I guess our brains don’t always do what we want them to, though. (Do they ever do what we want them to?!) What can you do?
Eventually, the terrain chills. There are still some exposed patches but there is also shady forest, incredible wild flowers and Mt. Adams in the distance. I go back to my podcast and try to pick up the pace – we have seven more miles and now that it’s cooling off, I’m getting a second wind.
Four miles later, I run into Carrot going Northbound and am momentarily confused. She says she’s looking for a campsite, Bogwitch’s foot hurts, we should probably camp early. Not a single one of us is bummed. It’s been so hot, we’re all exhausted. We find a nice flat alcove in the forest, cram all three of us into one little site. We eat as much as we can, again I get to finish Carrot’s dinner, and at last- we sleep.
📍 This section of the Pacific Crest Trail is on unceded Yakama land.