DAY 6: Junction Lake to Mosquito Creek
Today was a tough day.
It was a chilly night so I waited until the sun hit the tent before getting up, around 7:30. I took my time to have breakfast and get my gear in order and hit the trail a bit before 9.
The first five or so miles were partially snow covered and slow. I had a little bit of trail finding to do which slowed me down more. The trail was also littered in debris with lots of large downed trees to navigate. Thankfully there were a couple interesting stream crossings, and the plentiful avalanche lilies were a pleasant surprise.
At my fifth mile of the day I decided to take the Sawtooth Mountain detour. I really wanted a break from the forest, even if it meant a climb. It was probably my fastest mile of the day as it was completely clear of snow! I motored up the ridge line and was rewarded with great views of Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens and even a peek a boo view of Mt. Rainier.
I was planning to stop for lunch and a much needed rest at the high point however the mosquitoes were swarming. There were easily a couple hundred around me so I grabbed a quick snack and ran along.
Another mile on I got a reprieve from the forest, passing through huckleberry fields before reaching Forest Road 23. There was a vehicle idling at the trailhead. A fellow popped out of the truck and introduced himself as Tim “Nordman.” He was a Southbound PCT hiker! He informed me that the Adams Wilderness is pretty snowbound and I shouldn’t tackle it without crampons.
It was the nail in my coffin of dread. I had already been feeling pretty disheartened by my travel through snowy forests of Indian Heaven and had been wondering about the snowload to the north all day.
I rested a short while at the road while doing my best to avoid mosquitoes. Then it was time to strap the pack on and tackle the last 4 miles of my day. Tim had told me that there was a bit of snow but it shouldn’t be too bad. I was also desperate for water. Thankfully I crossed a decent creek about a mile along.
Rehydrated, it was much easier to push on. I put my earbuds in and did my best to run from the mosquitoes, only yelling out loud at them once or twice…
I made it to my camp for the night just before 4. I had put in nearly 7 hours on trail (with very few breaks) to do 11.5 miles. Not a great average for the day.
It was time to make a decision. I had a friend meeting me the next day at Forest Road 23 with a resupply. I realised that I was not equipped to continue going forward on the trail. It sounded like the trail was pretty snowbound ahead. I would need crampons and an ice axe to pass through the Adams Wilderness and the Goat Rocks Wilderness safely. Plus, the long solo days on trail were starting to wear on me. I had seen fewer and fewer people each day that I travelled further north.
I went to bed knowing that the next day I’d be off trail. It was a smart decision, and would give me the chance to recharge, reorganize and be back on trail in August, if not sooner.