You know you have a truly great hiking buddy when you are lost in the snow 10 miles from any roads or people, no sign of any trails, and everytime you look at your partner, she is smiling. This is what I had today, a large helping of team work, with a side of encouragement, and for dessert a beautiful experience.
We hiked a section of the PCT in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The trail we had planned was 16.8 miles, but we ended up doing 22.5 miles, with moderate elevation changes. We got to see, and run around on, a bunch of frozen lakes along the way. such as Blue lake, sheep lake, tombstone lake Junction lake, and a ton of others.
When Jessica and I hike I almost always let her lead, not because her navigational instincts are way better than mine, but because her pace syncs up perfect with me. However it doesn’t come without its pitfalls. I mean that literally. she got to test out the conditions of the ice and snow before I had too, which meant a lot of slipping for her and none for me. She stayed on her feet the whole hike though execpt once when out of the blue her leg broke a 2 foot deep hole into a creek. The crazy part was we couldn’t hear or see the rushing water until she busted up the ice. Kind of scary, but she was 100% AOK, which is good because we were still one our way out.
We origionally planned on Turning around at Junction lake, but we forgot to look at our GPS and kept going all the way to Bear lake. At Bear Lake we saw a trail on the map, but since it was unmarked and the only footprints we saw were Elk and Coyote, we were forced to make our own trail, through 4 miles of frozen wilderness. We trucked a long bobbing and weaving like drunks, looking for paths through trees and frozen over meadows until we finally found a sign with human footprints. We followed them and shared a few more laughs. And when the sun came down we had done 9 hours of hiking with 20 minutes for lunch. We made it back to the truch and drove into the most beautiful sunset.
I didn’t want this day to end.