94. July 13: Mile 1297.98 Campsite to Mile 1311.99 Campsite
The forests of Northern California are full of foul beasts. I’m sure J.K. Rowling had them in mind when sure wrote about the Forbidden Forest along the edge of the grounds of Hogwarts. Some say there are colossal bipedal humanoid creatures that roam these mountains. They are said to be be incredibly elusive, but they consistently have attacked mankind for thousands of years.
Many are skeptics, though. They call it hogwash, or a myth, or silliness. Yes, you are likely to be one of the nay sayers. But I am here to say that these beasts are real. This afternoon as Glowworm and I were hiking we heard a sound. A blood curdling sound. It sounded like a combination of a wolf howling at the moon and a lion roaring across his pride. We moved swiftly desperately trying to run away before the creature could thrash our bodies around and devour us into a bloody pulp.
Okay, it wasn’t a Sasquatch. They were cows. A ton of cows, actually. We never really saw them, but we heard them mooing from all sides of us. We have heard from other hikers and our trail information that they’re in this area, but it was still a bit odd to hear cow sounds coming from a dense pine forest in Northern California.
I’m not going to bore you to tears with useless anecdotes about walking and eating and walking and eating, etc, etc, but I what was interesting (well, maybe not interesting, but important) was at lunch Glowworm and I had to sit down and do some maths.
So the short of it is, Glowworm has until October 11 to be in the U.S. until she has to return to Canada. The main reason is 6 months is the max you can stay as a Canadian without a full visa. There’s a couple other reasons too, but regardless, October 11 is the last day she can be here so if she (we) are going to finish all 2650 miles of this trail we’re going to have to do it before then.
Alright, so do some math with me ( don’t bother double checking my work, because it’s probably wrong). We’ll be leaving Chester after visiting my parents on July 17. If we were to average 25 miles a day (which is a lot, but certainly doable if we aren’t totally fucking lazy like we have been) then it would take us 54 days to get to the northern terminus in Canada (mile 2650 in Canada – mile 1329 in Chester = 1321 miles / 25 = 53.84 days). We estimate that we will stop in 15 towns to resupply. Five of those towns we will likely take zeros which are a full day of no miles hiked adding five days to the 54 (54 days + 5 days = 59 days). Ten of those towns we’re hoping to only do a nearo which is a partial day into town to save money and time so let’s say that we’ll only do 12.5 miles on those days. That would add another five days making for a total of 64 days to Canada (59 days + 5 days = 64 days). This would give us an ETA of September 19 to Canada. Keep in mind, though, that we could lower the amount of zeros we take if we can just suck it up and we’ll also likely hike further than 12.5 miles on nearo days, but for the sake of estimating we’ll stick with that.
Okay, you still with me? If not, give up now because the maths and I aren’t very good friends let alone trying to explain it. So anyone, if you’ve been following my hike you will know (or maybe, not sure how if I explicitly stated it or not) that I skipped 324.2 miles from the Mt. Whitney trail junction to Echo Lake near South Lake Tahoe after I got air lifted. Glowworm continued on to Bishop with our friends Cougar and Dr. McDirty which an additional 25 miles or so (Glowworm hit her personal 1000 mile mark today, by the way). So to complete the trail we will need to do this 300+ mile section after we get to Canada. Yes, this is all at high altitude. Yes, I am aware I nearly died from being at high altitude. Yes, I will be going back. Yes, I will be safe. I am finishing what I started and will be completing the trail upon arriving at the campsite I was airlifted from after summiting Mt. Whitney.
So let’s give ourselves a week to get from Vancouver which is pretty much the only town/city close to Manning Park and then make our way back to South Lake Tahoe/Echo Lake to resume our hike on what would be September 26. Due to summiting Whitney and taking Whitney Portal into Lone Pine to get off the trail, the distance we’d have to do through the Sierras would have to be around 345 miles. Because mountains have a tendency to be steeper than not mountains we’re going to estimate we’d be doing 20 mile days instead of 25. That would make for a 17 day stint in the Sierras (345 miles/ 20 miles a day = 17.25 days). We anticipate resupplying in six towns and since the section would be so short (relatively speaking) we’re going to estimate only doing nearos in those towns adding three extra days making for a total of 20 days to Lone Pine from Echo Lake. This would mean that by this rough simulation we’d be done on October 16.
As I’m sure you can see, October 16 is after October 11. So let’s go back and see where we can cut time. Let’s say we only take three zeros instead of five, which is very doable if we have any bit of integrity. We can also cut time by doing more miles on nearo days which might amount to one day to be safe. In addition we probably won’t spend a whole week going from Vancouver to Tahoe so maybe four days (one for leaving the trail, one for Vancouver, one for Seattle, and one for Tahoe). That would give us a full week of extra time meaning we’d be done on October 9 which would be just in time before Grandpa Trump grabs Glowworm by the ears and hurls her across the border and into the land of exceptionally polite and rather cold people.
Regardless, we’re going to cut it pretty close and it will be a mad dash to be able to make it happen, but at least we know it’s doable. A couple of options if we wind up going slower than we hope is we could skip Whitney altogether since that’s not technically part of the trail. If that doesn’t grant enough time then we could end our trip at Kearsarge Pass where Glowworm got off at in the Sierras. I would still miss the 25 or so miles in between, but I was already planning on skipping that if we hadn’t decided to skip the Sierras. Worst case scenario would be just getting as far as we can in the Sierras and leaving the rest for another year or coming back to do the 300 mile long John Muir Trail which is more or leas the Sierra portion of the PCT. Either way, we have finally put a number on it and we know what the goal is and how to achieve it. Here’s to trying to make it happen.