Monday, November 17, 2014

Aug. 30: This day sucked.

 Everything about this day sucked, from the ugly burn area I woke up in, to the a-holes I camped next too, to the horrible, horrible fucking storm that caused multiple hikers (I was later told) to turn back due to severe hypothermia...

Journal Entry:  Aug 30, 7:41 am:  It's cold! Started raining early this morning, but now just fog, wind + ominous clouds.  It feels like fall... like Oregon.  I'm sitting in my tent drinking instant coffee + eating instant oatmeal.  Will have to summon motivation to pack and leave... Brrr!" 
 Sitting in my tent, eating oatmeal:  this was the warmest, driest and most comfortable I would be all day, but I didn't know it when I snapped this photo.  Also, this was the last food I would eat for 7 hours and 17.0 miles of really, really cold, wet, challenging hiking.  The risk of digging food out of my pack later in the day, in the wind and rain was too great:  my most important task for the day, I would learn, was keeping my down sleeping bag dry at all costs.  Getting into my pack to locate calories was just not worth the risk, and therefore I starved all day.  Stopping early was also not an option, as I was on a high ridge all day and the wind/sleet/rain was the most intense there.  Consulting my topo maps it was clear that I had to forge ahead, and that I would descend if I persisted.  I finally descended into a drainage near Milk Creek, a glacial stream that pours off the West side of Mt. Jefferson.  My decisions turned out to be solid gold.  I was rewarded with slightly less wind, though the rain was relentless and the temperature was near freezing.  I later learned that many, many hikers in this section, on this day, were hypothermic, and had to walk back to the highway to get help for themselves.  I was one of the few who managed to get through the storm alone and intact.  Yeah!

Probably the only good moment, and definitely the last happy moment of the day:  meeting Alaska Joe, a southbounder.  We stopped and chatted, and even had a long hug.  We were both struggling with the freezing cold wind and fog and general loneliness of this part of the trail...  Don't be fooled by the shorts and tee-shirt.  We both employed the same strategy:  keep the warm clothes dry for later and sacrifice a bit of body warmth by hiking in the fewest clothes possible.  Keep moving and hope for a little body heat from muscles burning fat.  You can tell by his clenched fists and my shaky camera that we are actually both freezing cold.  Crazy town.

Journal Entry: Aug. 30, 5:17pm.  Milk Creek/17.0 miles.  Fucking cold, rainy, foggy windy day!

"Didn't stop once:  Too cold, wet, borderline hypothermic + shivering all day.  Highlight was meeting Alaska Joe, southbound and we decided to hug-- a long embrace without our packs.  Crazy.  Worst moment was Shale Lake, top of a pass, super cold and windy.  Decided to keep going, down, hoping for less wind.  Successfully found Milk Creek and even a miracle 30 minutes of sun while I set up the tent and cooked.  Now, dark clouds again + I'm in my tent.  Few dry things, but my sleeping bag is okay, thank god.  I failed to waterproof my pack, thinking the clouds were innocent.  Ha!" 

No comments: