Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mile 790.9 - Upper Paradise Valley Trail Camp

We woke and broke camp after eating pop tarts in the tent. I was feeling a bit better but now Josh was out of breath and tired. We packed up and started to climb the rest of Glen Pass. The going wasn't too bad, I had to stop only briefly at the edge of each switchback to breath. Before we knew it, we were up top and standing on the razor's edge that is Glen. The other side was nothing but a scree field that went straight down. We took in the views of the stark granite landscape and its dozens of turquoise lakes before navigating a small snow field.

The descent was steep and fast and I felt bad for the JMT'ers on their way up. This was a challenging pass and I've never heard about it until now. Usually you hear all about Forrester and it's challenges, but never Glen and it was definitely the more difficult of the two. We stopped and got water at a creek in the middle of the trail and swatted the swarming mosquitoes. I hate mosquitoes. What is their purpose?! It is especially gross when you feel something on your face and wipe it away only to come up with a streak of blood on your cheek and hands. GROSS. I had so many mosquito bites on my forehead before I could get my head net out that I looked like something out of star trek. We cut our break short and headed down toward Rae Lakes. I put my headphones in playing old Bob Marley and everything felt bright, happy and like summer!  

Rae Lakes was stunningly beautiful. I was in awe of the crystal clear water and wanted so much to go swimming! We wound our way down toward the banks and as I rounded a bend I met face to face with a black tailed doe. I stopped in my tracks to give her room to move but she just looked at me, rather unimpressed, and continued grazing. After several photos I passed by her and she hardly acknowledged my presence even though I was close enough to touch her. 

We decided to have an early lunch and talked about spending the afternoon there. We had enough food to even spend the night if we wanted. Just then a group of slack packers arrived and chatted us up. They were spending a week at the lakes just hanging out. One lady engaged us, 
"Are you guys doing the PCT?" 
"Yes" we happily replied. 
"Well, aren't you guys are really far behind?"
"Yes, we are." We said with hung heads and went on to reluctantly explain that we had some injuries and illness to contend with. 
"Well, you'd better hurry up if you're going to make it. You should be up near Tahoe, at least!" she added before walking away. 

Suddenly, I didn't feel like swimming anymore. Suddenly, I felt really bad about myself, my pace and even stopping for lunch. Suddenly, I wanted to go home, to my trails, where people don't tap their fucking watches at me. Suddenly, I hated this hike.

Josh and I packed up our gear and headed on, feeling defeated. We hiked in silence for a long time and I tried to lighten my spirits by listening to more Bob Marley but everything was just flat.

 We wound down toward the treeline and stopped to get water. Josh was the one who started: "I don't want to do this anymore but I know this is your goal and I don't want to take that away from you." he said. That prompted the same old quitting conversation. We hashed it out for several miles and several breaks before I called it:
"I'm tired of having this conversation. I'm tired of hiking through this amazing place and hating it. I'm tired of people telling me how to do my hike and I don't want to do this anymore."

We decided to take the Paradise Valley Trail out toward Fresno, but not before crossing the really cool suspension bridge that went over Wood's Creek and climbing a short distance to the 800 mile mark.

The climb down the Paradise Valley trail was beautiful. We stopped a couple of hikers coming up and snapped a picture of their map since we had no info to refer to about this side trail. We climbed down for a long time and actually ran out of water for the first time since the desert! There were lizards and chaparral and it felt like we had teleported home. We stopped for dinner at a tributary of the Woods Creek and a man and his family asked if we had any fuel to spare. We gave him the rest of our can which kind of solidified that we were in fact actually quitting the trail. 

We made it to Upper Paradise Valley Camp just before dark where we met with our first and only Black Bear of the trip. He was foraging and not very interested in us as we clambered for our cameras but came away with only blurry pictures. We crossed the creek soon after and set up camp for the evening. 

Until tomorrow, goodnight.


  1. So you are quitting? When do you think you'll get the chance to do it again? I obsessively look on longingly at thru-hikers from my computer in Oregon. I only have the time to commit to Oregon PCT section hikes and not the PCT thru' hike (at least not for quite a few years) and you want to quit (in part) because someone said you should be further along? Well, f*&k them! This is an achievement of a lifetime. Is it a challenging, stinky, monotonous, painful experience? Of course it is, otherwise everyone would do it.

    I'm a Trail Angel in Central Oregon and I'll come pick you up at Elk Lake, take you to Bend, buy you dinner & local brews, get you showers, take you to the supermarket, and get you back to the trail-but you gotta hike here to take me up on it. I can be reached at:

    1. Thank you! I will have the opportunity to hike the PCT again when I'm ready. I have no kids and no real "career" so I am free to do what I want with a bit of planning. The day hiker at Rae Lakes was kind of the straw that broke the camels back. We had a lot of negative feed back throughout the trail that we weren't prepared for or expecting and we were already on the edge by the time we got there. This just wasn't my year, but I am glad I got out there and learned what it would take in the future for a successful thru hike, for me. For now, I will go back to my various adventures and section the rest of the PCT before I attempt another thru. I will return to finish California next summer. Thank you for reading and for your support!