Day 113: Sunday, August 25

In a shelter at Breitenbush Lake Campground (2047.1), walked 22.0 miles today

It rained off and on starting around midnight last night, but I was well situated so everything was pretty dry when I packed up. (If only I could be saying the same now at the end of the day.) The morning was on the easier end ... It was cloudy and cool but not raining, the trail went mostly downhill, and I had good company in the form of Pete, an older gentleman from Portland (originally I thought he said Poland because he has a holdover British accent and I figured he was just a Polish guy speaking good British English, but then when I asked what part of Poland he said, "Beaverton"). Pete and I hiked a few miles behind four guys from Gresham who were coming down from summitting Mt. Jefferson. They had overnighted without sleeping pads and were unfamiliar with the PCT, despite walking on it, but they were nice to talk to. Pete and I split off around Milk Creek, at the beginning of a 2500-foot ascent, and that's when things got exciting.

One wave of heavy rain slowly took over and lasted about 45 minutes as I was starting the climb ... Trees sheltered the trail most of the way at that elevation, so I would've been okay except that the trail was overgrown, so I got soaked through from being in constant contact with all the wet brush, which is always somehow ice cold even if the rain isn't. That wave ceased and some blue sky even poked through, so I was optimistic regarding the rest of the afternoon. Made a character-building ford of Russell Creek, the color of milk and swollen quite a bit from the rainstorm, then delayered and kept climbing. Just as I started to get nice and high up on the shoulder of Jefferson, in the part that doesn't have very many trees and is totally exposed to the west, clouds rolled back in, except I was in them at this point, and rain started again, with thunder and lightning for good measure. I was hoping, baselessly, that the second wave wouldn't be as bad as the first, but I was very wrong ... I got annihilated. The very top of the climb was on a high, thin ridge and then it descended over treeless lava fields, and right about then the rain and wind and soupy fog was at its peak, so it was ridiculously fun but at the same time not a little scary because I got very cold and wet and the trail wasn't easy to follow in those conditions, and it even went under snow for the first time since the Tahoe area. After a mile or so of descending I got down under tree cover, and the rain concurrently subsided, but I was soaked and decided to cut the day shorter than planned and see what the alleged "shelters" at Breitenbush Lake were all about.

They turned out to be nothing special, but nonetheless adequate for my purposes of hanging stuff up to "dry" and being out of the rain. Spit Walker, Broken Toe and a chap named Sherpa C were already here ... Broken Toe walked back out just as the third round of maelstrom was starting around 6pm, but the other two and I said, approximately, "Fuck that noise" and got settled in for the night. Had a good time eating and shooting the crap under the shelter for a few hours before bed, just like old AT times. If tomorrow's any nicer when I wake up I'll be on the on the road early, but if the weather stays like this it could be a somewhat delayed start. Spit Walker and I both agreed that, after today, we are taking advantage of any nice days in the future and walking as far and fast as we can when the weather's good.