Monday, November 17, 2014

Sept. 15, Goat Rocks to White Pass: 16 miles.

 Mt. Raineer in the distance...
 Looking back for one last look at Goat Rocks...
 I woke before dawn in my tent, high up on the ridge in Goat Rocks Wilderness.  I didn't journal on my last day on the trail (shame!) so I will recount it from memory.  I laid awake in my tent until there was enough light to break camp, probably about 5:45 am.  I was sad about being done, and yet ecstatic about my view upon waking.  The morning light and all of the peace of being high in the mountains alone was absolutely the best.  I finished my last part of the knife-like ridge descent and gathered water in this perfect alpine stream:  pure snow melt, no need to filter.  I drank heartily, having just come from a night of dry camping and a pretty harrowing hike the day before.

I passed the camps of all of my friends and they were mostly still sleeping.  Surprisingly, Shepherd was awake (he is known on the trail for sleeping until 10am) and greeted me with a hearty "good morning!" as I passed his campsite.  Doc and Snake charmer were asleep, and I couldn't tell where anyone else was camping, but all the other tents were still and quiet and I was super happy to have the morning and the trail all to myself.

I stopped at 9am to make coffee and breakfast.  There was a serious inversion going on, and I found it much colder down in the forest than it had been up on the ridge.  I pulled out my down jacket and clung to a sunbeam as I sipped my instant coffee and ate the last of my mashed potatoes.  I was very, very low on food and had just enough to get to White Pass.  I had been hungry for days, and had to ration my food at a time when nights were freezing, the elevation gains and losses were grand, and I was already nutrient deprived from 2 months on the trail.  That being said, Shepherd had given me some Ramen noodles and a protein bar the previous day, so I was feeling a little better, but it was still hard being hungry all the time.

All the boys passed me on my breakfast stop and I thought I wouldn't see them again, but caught up with them after going to Hidden Spring for water and lunch.  Snake Charmer waited for me at Shoe Lake trail junction, and our last mountain pass, and we hiked the last 10 miles together into White Pass. We talked about how to incorporate our new peace and simplicity into "real life" and what our strategies would be, knowing full well that we would struggle with re-integration into the world out there.
 We arrived in White Pass before all of the others and decided to scope out a cool campground for my last night-- something that would allow for a fire, a handful of hikers, and some noise.  We found it, and proceeded to rally a small group for just that.  Of course, we first had our fill of corn dogs, chicken fingers, wings, beer, nachos, french fries, and coke-cola at the White Pass service station before gathering friends, food, beer and marshmallows and wandering off to celebrate my final night of camping on the PCT.

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