Day 138: (19 miles)
mile 2030.31 – 2049.3
Today was a magical day, even for a day filled with mostly uphill. It started with a 4 mile “easy” walk with rolling ups and downs passing lots of small clear ponds nestled on tiny meadows amongst the trees.
We dropped in elevation until Russell Creek which is supposed to be a treacherous crossing. While it was flowing strong, it did not require the removal of footwear, only the loosening of pack straps for the boulder hop across the creek. Up until this point, the trail has been bordered by wild mostly ripe huckleberries which we grazed on most of the morning. At Russell Creek however, we began to see wild blackberries and thistle berries, which I had to pass on as Paul was getting annoyed with my many stops to pick a handful at a time. Being a weekend, the trail was active with many backpackers and day hikers. We met a SOBO section hiker “Tim/Tom” who thru-hiked the PCT in 1977. We asked if he ever ran into the “Unfortunates” in 1977. He recalled the name, but had not met up with them.
Our journey today was mostly around the base of Mt. Jefferson, which is an impressive and beautiful snow and glacier studded mountain. In total, we climbed about 1600 feet over 8 miles. Dense forest with unscheduled springs seeping from the hillside made for green scenery.
From time to time, the forest opened up into picturesque meadows filled with vibrantly blooming flowers, nature’s bouquet, if you will.
It was surreal and we felt as though we though we had wandered into a page out of a National Geographic magazine. To experience sights, that we’ve only seen before in a two dimensional format and now in five dimensions is indescribable. It touches and fills you to your core. It becomes part of you, and you own those moments.
And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we enter Jefferson Park, a fantastic plateau or valley spread out beneath Mt. Jefferson that could be Tuolumne Meadow’s doppelganger. Pristine ponds, meandering streams, grassy meadows with colorful flowers resembling groomed gardens as far as the eye could see. If we were not thru hiking, we could have stayed a day or two basking in its wondrous beauty.
We climbed out of the valley and up to the top of the ridge line and surprisingly a snow field. There we ran into a family whose parent’s had just gotten married on the ridge line overlooking Jefferson Park. One of their daughter’s, a minister, had conducted the ceremony. When we initially met, Paul did his usual, “are you the guys with he beer?”, to which they replied, ” we actually have a beer left, would you like it?”. Why yes of course!
We are presented with an icy cold (even the mountains were blue) Coors Light. We talked for some time about hiking the PCT, to include some of our misadventures. As with all thru-hikers, time is miles, so we made our goodbyes and good lucks, and gave them a our blog card and slid across the snowfield…me grumbling all the way (I still hate walking on snow).
As we neared Breitenbush lake, we ran into more trail magic from Drop n’ Roll and DayBreak, who had thru-hiked the PCT in 2012, were cooking burgers and had an ice chest full of beers and sodas. They prepared cheese burgers with all the toppings and water melon too! We feasted as we melted into comfortable chairs and ate chocolate brownies for desert. Truthfully, we had seconds on almost everything, apologizing for our hiker hunger, which they fully understood. We had planned to do four more miles, but after the feeding frenzy we were only able to go 2 more miles… Of course!
We watched another awesome sunset before making camp and giving thanks for such a wonderful day.