Blog Archive

Thursday, September 4, 2014

In which I am preachy and annoyed

Day 67 8/18
Mileage 18
Camped at Fowler Lake

Last night's stars were some of the best I've ever seen. They were wonderfully bright, with shooting stars every few minutes. It was unreasonably sunny in the morning, and I was sweating buckets as the the sun assaulted me in my sleep. We met a nobo, Beamer, I think, who still hoped to make it to Canada. He said he'd carry snowshoes and hike in the snow if he had to. We mentioned that conditions get hairy pretty fast, and Washington is already pretty rugged. He said "Yeah? Wait 'til you get to Forester!" Classic northbounder. Really? In September of the lowest snow year in history? There were maybe ten miles of snow there, less, according to most people, when the very front of the pack was coming through. People seem to think that higher elevation automatically equates to more difficult hiking. It was typical of the bravado and lack of reason that we've observed in many hikers going the other direction. Another common line we've heard is "I hiked that section a week ago, and it wasn't on fire, so you'll be fine." Honestly, I don't know how half these people have made it this far. They're all very intent on making you know that everything they've done is far harder than anything you've done. "I came over the Sierras, and they were higher, so Washington will be easy." There seems to be a much more competitive atmosphere than I expected. People are bashing other people for skipping around the fires, both in person and online, as if they're so insecure about their accomplishments that they need to belittle what others have done to feel legitimized. We met one nobo, (Lapis, maybe?), who, as we met her, was pooping maybe 10 feet from the trail, right next to a trail magic cooler and some camp chairs someone had set up (another classic nobo move, pooping in bad places-didn't anyone teach these people LNT?). She told us that she was "Definitely the last one" because she was "the last person to sign the trail register". Really? That's kind of how trail registers work. She was the first in a string of maybe a dozen more self-proclaimed "last northbounders". I was disappointed at first to be missing out on a social trail experience by going South, but now, I'm not so sure. One guy in Sisters, after we explained what conditions we had in washington, with traverses (according to an experienced multi-thru hiker) that were snowier and steeper than Forester, or anything in the Sierras, for that matter, said "Well, Washington's only at 6000 feet, and Forester was 13,000, so Washington is easier." The large majority of northbound hikers we met were wonderfully nice, reasonable people, but the unfortunate truth is that the unreasonable, illogical, proud, competitive ones are also the most vocal ones, and the ones that stick out.

Anyway, today's hike was nice. It reminded me of home as we descended through oaks and pines. The trail was basically a big V, with a big morning downhill and a fat uphill in the afternoon. We crossed the middle fork of the Feather River and Daniel and I decided to crush the climb, which we did with aplomb. We saw our first rattlesnake on the way up! Tonight is far warmer than last night, and the crickets are singing us to peaceful slumber.

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