Sleeping in the Brown Mountain Shelter (PCT mi 1773.4), walked 23? miles today
As I was sleeping last night, a woman named Anish (her real name is apparently Heather) was finalizing her demolition of the PCT speed record for an unsupported thru-hike. She got to the Canadian border at 11:30 pm last night, finishing in 61 days, 17 hours and change, which is almost a 3-day improvement on Scott Williamson's old record of 64 days, 11 hours, which I think is still mentioned somewhere in my FAQ page. There is also a dude named Josh who is going for a speed record who is/was on pace to finish today, but Josh is lamer than Anish for two reasons: a) his hike was supported, meaning he never had to carry much on his back and a crew met him at every road crossing to feed and shelter him, and b) Whole Foods sponsored his entire hike, and Whole Foods can go eat bags of dicks as far as I'm concerned. I saw Anish once, on July 3, as I was finishing up a siesta break and she, unsurprisingly, was not stopping. I was looking at history but didn't know it. Congratulations to her, and you can read more about it at facebook.com/anishhikes
But back to me, glorious me. I woke up around 8 (the past few nights had not afforded me much sleep and I was on the softest, spongiest ground they make) and then the shower building called to me again, so I didn't actually start walking til 9:15. From there it was a half-mile back to the trail, where I realized that yesterday we had missed the side trail to the official PCT hikers' campsite, so I had to wander down there to check that area out for the record. Fast forward to 10 a.m. and I was just getting underway for real. The trail climbed a bit, wound around a bit, dropped a bit, and then at 1 p.m. the trail gods decided it had been too dry lately, so they supplied me with a cold, hard, hail-infused, drenching rain. It's really the first such rainstorm on the trip; all the others have been light by comparison and when I got soaked on the second day, way back in May, it was a few hours in the works. This only took 5 minutes to get me thoroughly wet ... I watched a mini-flash flood wipe out the trail and turn it into a muddy torrent. I had my pack cover and fleece/windbreaker on by the time it hit, so my belongings and I were fine, but it was a nice warning shot, as if to say, "You know, Washington could be like this for days at a time if you dilly-dally too long."
The hard rain lasted a half-hour or so and then tailed off, it stopped for good after an hour. For the whole afternoon, including the rainy time, the trail finally looked like what I imagine it to look like in Oregon--gentle tread amidst dense fir forest. Hadn't seen the firs much in the first 50 or so miles of Oregon, as the trail wasn't really on the proper Cascade crest yet. But now it very much feels like the Pacific Northwest. Had a nice cool last few miles of walking, until reaching the turnoff for this shelter, one of the only ones on the whole PCT. The section-hikers that were already here had fired up the wood stove inside the building for drying out gear, which was clutch, and there was room for me, so I decided to call it a night here. As I arrived, I met a southbounder named Vogue who told me that I was "lucky number 180" of nobo thru-hikers he'd met, "but not as lucky as number 179 and 181, because those are prime numbers. Twin primes, in fact!" Ted Kuhn's laugh echoed in my ears the rest of the evening. Anyway, I ate, got dried out, chatted with the section-hikers, then turned in. No predictions or even suggestions for tomorrow; today's was horrendously wrong, as usual.