Day 56: Saturday, June 29

Tenting near Falls Creek (PCT mi 993.6), walked 20.1 miles today

Woke up and promptly sat in my tent for at least a half hour doing nothing but eating. Normally I eat a small amount for breakfast either just before I leave or on the go, but today I wanted to get 10 miles' worth of calories down in case the bugs were so bad I couldn't stop for a break. They were still awful outside the tent when I packed up, but kind of torpid from the cool temperatures and therefore not very bitey. Trail immediately took me straight fuckin uphill, then straight fuckin downhill for the first 5 miles. Ran into a dude named Redbeard who is interesting for two reasons: one, that he can glide at least 4mph uphill, and two, he did some of the PCT in 2011 and had to stop in the middle with the exact same injury I probably had, the tibia stress fracture, and like me on the AT in 2011, only picked up the trail 100s of miles ahead after a few weeks' rest. We commiserated, then he glided off and I never saw him again. Stupid fast people.

Ran into Hitch and No Day in one of the less brutal sections of trail in the morning, hiked with them a bit. Talked with Hitch about the similarities between Sinhala and Hindi, among other things ... She's actually been to Sri Lanka, which makes her one of 3 Americans I've met outside of the ISLE program to have done so. Lost them going up another shittastically steep climb-descent-climb-descent section, met back up only after I took a long break lying down and possibly napping underneath a tree high up on a rock with no mosquitos. We had all wanted to do 23 to the same spot for tonight, but things started to slow down in the afternoon for no particular reason and it became clear after awhile, to me at least, that we weren't going to make it.

The bugs started to reach insane levels in the afternoon ... When the trail went low, it basically went through a marsh and then paralleled this Falls Creek on a gentle ascent, but everything beside the creek is also boggy and stagnant, and the creek itself is wide and slow for large sections. Walked with my head net on for the last 5 miles almost continuously, despite the heat (again it seemed about 90 today, even at 9k feet of altitude) ... I threw in the towel early, around 7:30 and 3 miles short of the goal, when I saw a good camp spot, because I was tired of walking in the mosquito cloud, but the number of bugs at this site was even worse than anywhere else so far. When I got my tent set up and did my dive-in-zip-up routine, literally 50 mosquitos made it in with me. It's usually a few minutes' work, but this time I had to spend 15 minutes clapping all of them. From the tent, flagged down Hitch and No Day when they walked by. They also stopped here, we want to get up super early tomorrow and make Sonora Pass/Bridgeport by the afternoon.