Day 123: Wednesday, September 4

Tenting deep in the Goat Rocks Wilderness (PCT mi 2281.2), walked 28.4 miles today

Woke up around 6:45 to Hooligan starting another campfire; Hitch tells me he's been doing two a day every day since the desert, regardless of regulations. Left around 7:20 and walked the first five laughably easy miles with Hitch, catching up on everything that's happened to us respectively from Sonora Pass to here. Was around her on and off throughout the day ... Hooligan caught up after awhile, with Broken Toe in tow ... The latter had been off a few days in Portland and was now trying to finish in 10 days to meet his goal of a 100-day thru-hike. This includes 9 days to Stehekin from here, followed by one 24-hour, 90+ mile trail run/walk to the end. To each his own, that's what I always say!

Serenaded Hooligan, who hikes in a kilt, with Bryan Bower's "Scotsman" song, though it was interrupted by me repeatedly running out of breath and almost passing out in the middle of the trail because we were going uphill at the time. Took a relaxing break around midday in full sun, which no one was expecting today, in front of the type of vista that I hate to say I almost don't notice anymore. I reminded myself as I was sitting there, especially once the others had gone off ahead, that uninterrupted views of hilly evergreen forest and large volcanic peaks in the distance are worth a soak in, still, and it's worth storing that feeling of having them all to yourself, in perfect weather, for the cold rainy post-trail days when the hiking life seems very very distant. Pressed on from that little reverie for another ten relatively calm miles, then the scenery really started to ratchet up. At 5pm with around 3 miles left, I crested a rise, with Hitch right in front of me, and holy Jesus what are those goddamned mountains doing right there?!? I nearly cried out. We were all of a sudden in the part that I believe people are referring to when they mention Goat Rocks as a highlight of the trail--very Swiss Alps-looking, with green treeless slopes, patches of snow, and rocky alpine peaks jutting up here and there. There are about 10 more miles of it tomorrow, much of it quite exposed, through intimidating-sounding features like The Knife Edge, Old Snowy Mountain, and Packwood Glacier. It's hard to tell right now whether the weather will be okay or not, although the forecasts from two days ago were all so utterly grim that I don't hold out much hope of having good views, or even feeling remotely safe, on the high parts tomorrow. We'll see. White Pass is as little as 20 miles away, depending how one gets there, in the worst case scenario.