From Deception Lakes to the Dinsmores
We sleep well; we sleep late. The plan was to get up early and get our miles done early to increase our chances of a successful hitch to the trail angels The Dinsmores’ from Steven Pass. So much for that. But I feel wonderful.
The morning is cloudy and dim, but dry. For a moment it even seems that the sun is going to make an appearance. That means double poles! I can leave the umbrella put away for a while. (Some people have a nifty setup where their umbrella hooks into their pack – but it’s never worked for me.)
Double poles and it’s a good thing too – looking ahead at the map there’s a climbing traverse to a pass. Then it switchbacks all the way down the other side. Then it switchbacks all the way back up again. I stop looking at the map.
The non-raining gray fog holds to the top of the second switchbacks, which I blasted up full throttle. Coffee and snack time up on top, and, for a brief moment, a beautiful view of the lake below. Fog swallows it up in seconds, and then it starts to rain.
It rains all afternoon.
I put my head down and walk. Nothing to see but gray, misty forest, gray, misty meadows, and gray mist. I come to myself and realize I’ve been hiking a long time with absolutely no awareness of my surroundings. Just roots, mud puddles, and slippery stones, all in one long, muddy track. The PCT. “I don’t think I have any idea where I’ve been,” I tell J, hiking in front of me.
“Yeah, we’re just hiking machines today. Blueberries!” J suddenly dives into the bushes. It’s a nice looking patch – I pick a while myself.
“J, we really do need to make miles today.”
“I know, I know.”
“Ok,” I talk myself up, “no more blueberries. I’m committing. I’m putting my gloves back on.” I make it another twenty yards down the trail – “holy smokes! They’re huge!” I rip my glove back off and dive into the bushes. “Oh! Oh! Oh! So delicious! So plump! So delicious!” I rhapsodize.
“So much for commitment,” J observes, laughing. Joining me, he then cuts himself off: “Wow, these are good.”
The blueberries are the biggest mountain blueberries I’ve ever seen, and sweet! They taste like blueberry, of course, but with hints of pineapple, and citrus, and something almost floral. I mean, we’re talking food of the gods here. Fistfulls of blueberries later, and finally satisfied, I put my gloves back on. “I’m going to dream about those berries,” I say ruefully. J laughs.
Hiking machines, all the way out. Then the clouds lighten. “Look up!” I exclaim. “It’s blue!” We look towards the sky, and the clouds break, pouring golden sunlight on our faces, sunlight on our faces! (I think of all the paintings of angels or Jesus – the halos are the Freudian slip. We’ve only ever been worshiping the sun.) There’s a sweeping view of huge power lines, the ski lift… It’s a beautiful valley, but the sun could have made an appearance a bit sooner, I think.
We cross the last ridge and head down to Steven’s Pass. “With the sun out, I figure our chances of getting a ride just went up 50%,” I say to J. But we’re even luckier than that. As we race down to the parking area a gold minivan pulls up, rolls down the window. “You going to the Dinmores’?” Asks the driver.
“Hop in, I’ll take you there.”
Just like that.
At the Dinsmores’ we find our friends Switch and Biscuit. Another thru-hiker, already finished, is there helping out, and Milestone gives us the tour. We made it. (Our resupply package did not, which may or may not be a very large problem, but we’ll figure that out tomorrow.)