87. July 6: Mile 1203.48 Campsite to Mile 1221.46 Campsite
Having hope and managing expectations can be easily confused. You can have hope that you’ll win the lottery, but it’s highly unlikely that you will. If expectations were managed you would not have gotten your hopes up. Today started out fairly snow free. Hiking was pretty easy and we were making miles pretty good. Even when we had snow we were moving swiftly. At lunch we had already done ten miles and by our estimations we’d do nearly 20 by the time we got to camp. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Let me back up, though, because something very important happened: I got to drink beer before 7:00 AM for the second time in less than a week. Someone had dumped several cans of PBR alongside the trail for some trail magic. It was glorious. Room temperature cheap beer for breakfast is certainly one of the most sublime indulgences I have ever experienced.
After lunch there was a large snow field that was fairly flat followed by a long dry climb. Glowworm and I were again able to crush some miles and our hopes of a 20 mile day were on track. Here’s the thing about the area and conditions we’re in right now. Everything can change really quick. We should have known this, but our hopes had gotten too high. Right after the climb was a relatively short, but steep snow traverse that we had to pull our ice axes out for. On the map it looked like the trail went around the edge of the hillside and since it was all steep and snowy we opted to climb up and over. This turned out to be a horribly bad idea. The other side was steep with loose rocks and was probably even more sketchy than traversing the snow and certainly didn’t save any time. I scraped up my shin and slid on loose boulders as we scrambled down the hillside to the trail. Another stupid decision on my part.
The trail didn’t get any better though. Since it was almost 5:00 we decided to camp in 2.25 miles, but little did we know those miles would be the slowest of the day. We had to traverse several steep snow fields that looked like they were the remnants of avalanches. In fact, it looked like the whole area had been ravaged by avalanches this winter. Lots of fallen trees and random boulders on top of snow along with forest debris everywhere. Even when the trail was dry it was slow going due to having to navigate around logs and branches. The going was really that much harder physically as much as it was draining mentally. All I wanted was to get to camp and eat dinner, but the trail was doing everything it could to delay that. A couple hours later we finally traipsed into camp exhausted. We didn’t even finish setting up camp before making dinner we were that hungry. Really hoping tomorrow goes better. Then again, if I were to manage my expectations properly, then I’d know that it’ll still be painfully frustrating with the amount if snow we still have to deal with.