Benson Plateau to Lost Lake Junction – 16.6 miles
I woke up my second morning to cool, grey skies. I’d had some weird dreams and it took a little while to shake out the cobwebs. I moved a bit slower getting out of camp especially seeing as it was my first morning out.
The first hour on the trail I headed south along a steep ridge line, continuing through large swaths of burnt forest. Eventually I passed out of the large Eagle Creek fire area, marked by a sign. What a relief it was to be back in the lush, unburnt forest. Showy wildflowers crowded the trail, birdsong filled my ears and the smell of green dazzled my senses.
The trail was soft and spongy underfoot and the miles started to pass quickly. Five miles into my morning I reached the shore of Wahtum lake. A large group of hikers and dogs descended a spur trail just as I was sitting down. It was almost overwhelming to see so many people at once!
The next few miles climbed out of the lake basin and joined a forest road. The clouds had started to dissipate and I got my first trail view of Mount Hood. A little further along I reached the halfway point for my day – a clearing at the end of a forest road with a picnic table and a spring nearby. I took a nice long lunch break, taking the time to stretch after I’d eaten. I was committed to taking more time to stretch out my muscles this season, hoping to avert any major or minor pains.
The next stretch of trail was really pretty, climbing out and around a minor peak and giving me panoramic views north. I could see Mount Adams and was pretty sure I spotted Mount St. Helens under the thin cloud cover. I could also see the ridge that I’d been walking along earlier in the day.
I reached the spot where I’d originally planned to camp just after 3:00. It was a windy ridge top campsite right alongside the trail. I decided it was too early to stop so I took a rest break, ate a Snickers bar and marched on another couple miles.
As the day wore on I started getting a bit nervous about how my body was feeling. It wasn’t my feet or legs, but instead my stomach. I’d been experiencing uncomfortable indigestion since the previous afternoon. I’d hoped it would be resolved but no luck. To top it off my feminine reproductive system had decided to make things messy for me. Of course I wasn’t well prepared for that either.
The trail started making its way downhill along the ridge and that’s when the mosquitoes showed up. There was a creek running through the switchbacks of the trail and a small swampy area in a fold in the hills. As long as I was moving I was fine but the moment I stopped they would swarm. I reached the next campsite and was relieved to find it a bit windy. The mosquitoes were still swarming, but a little bit less so.
My body was definitely calling it quits on me. I was quick to set up my tent and jump inside but then lost my drive. I realized that somehow I had already lost my brand new raincoat. One more frustration to cap off my day. I racked my brain trying to think of where it may have ended up and knew that it was likely eight miles back at my lunch spot. I was so mad.
Eventually I managed to make dinner and was joined by a few northbound PCT hikers. I asked one of them to look for my jacket when she gets to the picnic table. I gave her an address to send it to if she does. In the meantime, I’ll knew I could get Sherpa to pack my older rain jacket into one of my resupply boxes.
I ended the day feeling pretty frustrated with my whole situation. Upset tummy, upset uterus, low batteries on all my devices, lost rain jacket, and loss of overall enjoyment of the day.
I knew that there will always be bad days on trail and I can’t quit on a bad day, especially when the bad day is only the second on trail! I dozed off, fiercely hoping that tomorrow would be better.