Day 131: Thursday, September 12

Cowboying near a nice little creek (PCT mi 2450.5), walked 29.6 miles today

Got started at 7 and was annoyed with myself for the first piece by how much I was having to hurry ... Yesterday all I did was hurry because I left so late, today I was already hurrying because I'd planned to start earlier, there's only a week and a half left and I shouldn't be hurry hurry hurrying so much, etc., etc. I really only got out of that bad mood when I started meeting people after 8-ish miles--Hitch, Blur and Goodall, who had left at 6:30 as I was just waking up--and realized it was all going to be okay. When I met them it was near the top of an 8-mile climb, which was to be followed promptly by an 8-mile descent, then a 10-mile climb, then a mere 4-mile descent. All of this was at a manageable grade, but the lack of flat, mindless walking is definitely a mental strain, if not also a physical one. Left Blur and Goodall behind and went down most of the descent with Hitch, talking this and that, learning new things like how she was in training to be a professional ballerina until she was 19, and so on ... At the bottom of the valley was a fine river, the Waptus, whose rocky beach made a good lunch spot. A guy named 5-Star was also there, and the three of us remarked how nice it was to sit at this river in total sunshine, hot enough that we could have our shirts off (me and 5-Star at least), in the middle of September, when so many thru-hikers of yesteryear probably reached this point in cold, rainy misery. The weather really was warm today ... It could have been in the 90s for all I know. Definitely the upper 80s, at least, in the fully exposed places.

The ensuing climb took up most of the afternoon and I went out in front of the other two and got it done by myself, all in one push for the most part. Sat at the very top of it for awhile, reading Yogi's notes ahead til the very end of the trail, which seems so close now, and hearing practically every fly in northern Washington buzz around my head (they must like the heat and the fact that I smell like a rotting corpse), and eventually Hitch caught up and we eased the last few miles down to this spot, arriving around 7. It was hard to tell from the various guidebooks/maps which location was being referenced, but they all seemed pessimistic about there being camping and/or water in this vicinity ... As it turns out, high-quality options exist for both here. 5-Star rolled in as we were setting up and the three of us enjoyed a pleasant but short (stupid seasonality) evening together. Tomorrow, the towns of Skykomish and Baring beckon, just 26 trail miles away.