Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Northern Sierra, Day 5: Never Quit the Trail on a Bad Day

Day 5--Showers Lake to Paradise Valley Creek, 22 mi

Never quit on a bad day. It's one of the PCT mantras. And even though I was sleepless again at Showers Lake, I got up with a sense of optimism.  Instead of eating breakfast at the dark and windswept lake, we decided to hike an hour down to an old cabin in a meadow instead. I like doing this--packing up and stopping later to eat. The early miles are so easy and effortless, so it helps to put some in at dawn.



The Meiss cabin slumbered by a creek, a perfect location for settlers. I wondered what their lives had been like here. How could their days have been any less than perfect?

A northbounder had told us that the trail was all downhill to Carson Pass. Of course it wasn't, but the trail was kind today, and we walked through huge, flower-strewn meadows before reaching a cute little Forest Service information center staffed by volunteers. Even though we weren't thru hikers, they assured us that 300 miles counted, and gave us enormous apples. Side note: I am an apple believer! I don't particularly care for them off trail, but three times now I have had them on trail and they impart a massive burst of energy. Go apples!


Reluctantly we pried ourselves away from the chairs and the happy volunteers. I was armed with a new fish bandanna and the trail rollercoasted quite pleasantly through open ridgelines and down to a small bowl with trickling creeks. As we were having lunch there, a thru hiker came by. "What's your trail name?" I asked.

"Macho Man!" he said, and burst into song, "Macho, macho man, I wanna be a macho man!" We laughed and a song was stuck in my head for the rest of the day (except those were the only lyrics I remembered).

The trail wound above some reservoirs where we could see people out in boats, and crossed a road. A couple of northbounders paused briefly. "Lily Pad Lake? Oh that's right around the corner!" Of course, the lake wasn't, but by the time we got there, it was time to put another strategy into practice: that of "cook dinner and move on a few miles."


We became aware of this strategy in 2013, when some section hikers were doing this at Creepy Forest Camp. We hadn't wanted to camp at Creepy Forest Camp, but we were too tired after a long, log-clambering descent into its depths. Revitalized by dinner, the couple left and went another few miles to an achingly perfect lake to camp, unlike us, who slept surrounded by creepy forest and noisy inhabitants. Making dinner and moving on has more perks as well, since it keeps food smells from camp and that is one less chore to accomplish when arriving at the final destination.

Invigorated by the swim and Pad Thai, I marched along another few miles to the next water source, a bubbly creek in the middle of a forest. Several hikers were already set up there, but we managed to find a spot by the creek.

I settled in feeling content, even though the zipper on my tent was threatening to break. We were in the Mokelumne Wilderness, about a hundred miles into our journey, nearly halfway. There were lakes on the map for tomorrow. We would also be approaching the fabled Sonora Pass, at 10,500 feet. The struggle bus hadn't stopped for me today. In the distance, we could see peaks that could only be in Yosemite. Bring it, PCT, I thought, as I once again failed to drift off to sleep.

8 comments:

  1. Love it....cabin in a meadow, volunteers with apples, lakes for swimming, campsite by a creek and a new bandanna! Monkey Bars and Flash rock on Day 5!

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  2. Love the beautiful pictures and the trail anecdotes! It sounds like it's smart to break up your day the way you guys did, I'll definitely try it if I ever go on a long backpacking trip again.

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    1. Yes it at first seemed like a hassle but if you keep your cook kit near the top of the pack it works fine. I was surprised at how much energy it gives you to have on trail meals like that.

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  3. Have just done a 3 day catch up. So glad you found you strength again.

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    1. Me too, it always makes me think it's the end, but typically it's just a lull.

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  4. And now I have "Macho Man" stuck in my head too :) Happy you had such a great day especially after such a difficult one.

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    1. Haha, I still don't know the rest of the lyrics!

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