Pct day 59: the day everything was awful

July 20

Crabtree Meadow- Tydell Creek (767-775)

I was very sore this morning and had to wait for the Ibuprofen to kick in before leaving my tent. It took me a long time to get going. The sky seemed suspiciously dark. I strategically packed my rain gear at the top of my backpack.

When big fat rain clouds started gathering, I thought I was being so clever by putting on my jacket and pack cover before the rain started falling. Then the sprinkles turned into real rain. By the time it dawned on me that I should be wearing my rain pants too, my pants were already soaked through. Other hikers were bare-legged and wearing ponchos. Was that better? 

I came to a rain-swollen stream. The best place I could find to cross involved some bushwhacking. Halfway across I realized that a poncho would have been immediately tangled in all the foliage I’d just climbed over. Keeping my feet out of the water was impossible. The only way to cross was to step on the rocks least submerged. 

One hiker I saw was trying to hide from the rain under a flapping rainfly. Another girl was setting up her tent. Maybe I should do that. But I was already soaked, why get my tent all wet too? 

I stopped under the thick branches of a tree. Not helpful, being still just made me chill. I kept walking. The trees ended and I stomped across a plain of rocks. Did I really want to keep walking towards Forester Pass in this rain? It’s 13,000 feet. It could be snowing up there. I’d probably get struck by lightning.

I came to a much bigger stream. Maybe it looked more like a river. I couldn’t see a way across but then some other hikers appeared. “We scouted all over the place! This is the best place to get across!” They shouted over the storm. It looked terrifying but doable. I figured I’d better go quick before I thought about it too much. I plunged straight in. The current was strong but not higher than my calves. Just one bit at the end looked too deep to walk through. I pulled myself up on some rocks to crawl over the wave at the end. 

When I climbed out on the opposite bank, I couldn’t believe what I’d just done. Also, I was finished. Water was pouring out of my clothes. I saw a bear box and decided I would camp there. The rain let up slightly. Maybe I could dry off, if the sun came out. I strung up a hopeful clothesline and took off my socks. Then the clouds opened up again. Oops. Why hadn’t I put up my tent when I’d had the chance?

I pulled my groundcloth over my head. Lightning and thunder boomed right above my head. I listened to a murder podcast and tried to zone out. Every time I peeked out from my tarp I could see the sites I’d been considering getting more and more flooded.  Good thing I hadn’t put up my tent! When the rain finally slacked, I picked a different site. Gravelly and slanted but at least not a puddle. I staked out my guy lines, trying to set the rain fly tight. Inside, everything felt moist. Keeping wet and dry separate was impossible. I was cold. My feet were clammy. 

Just get through this one night. Everything will be fine in the morning. The sun will rise again. I told myself this over and over, even though it seemed like I’d never be warm and dry again. Hail pattered down. All my battery packs were run down.

2 thoughts on “Pct day 59: the day everything was awful

  1. Hi Gretchen,
    If you get a chance watch this. it is the New Zealand way of crossing rivers. It works. Just get over the yankie problem about cuddling up close to strangers. In colonial days drowning was known as the NZ disease.
    I attended a Mountain safety river course. A group of us crossed a waist deep fast river linked up like this. At one point the shortest were actually off the ground but the strength of the group and the current carried us over. Even a pair of linked up people actually go better than one alone. I have often linked up with my partner cos what is easy for him at 6’2 is not so nice for 5’7.
    All the best Fiona

    Liked by 1 person

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