It’s been a rough few days out of Stehekin into Stevens Pass. The total elevation I hiked in the last 5 days amounts to a little more than the top of Mount Everest. 29,123 ft of uphill and almost the same amount down. This stretches over 107.8 miles and has some of the steepest sections on the PCT. Here is what I learned so far living in the wilderness of northern Washington.
Let’s talk about the dirty
As you can see there are some thrones you can use to relieve yourself. Most of them actually have a great view like this one. It was at the top of a hill in the North Fork camping ground. While it is convenient, there might be flies waiting. When I sat down one of them made a run for it and crashed on my butt.
In total I only relieved myself 3 times in the actual woods, for the most part I’m using these toilets. The nice part is you don’t have to think about the 100 ft from water sources, 6 inches deep hole and preferably between trees so fellow hikers don’t have to watch you do the nasty.
Attack of the killer Mosquitoes
There are many nuisances for a worldly person like me in the wilderness. This starts with dirty shoes and feet, bugs, blow down, overgrowth and certainly ends with mosquitoes.
Every day is rough. But the worst days start and end with a net over my head. There is nothing quite as annoying than having to eat my food in my tent because thousands of mosquitoes swarming around my face. Nothing worse than having to rush the morning routine to get away from the little vampires.
Once I squashed a mosquito on the back of my hand just to have blood run all over it. Luckily one of my fellow hiking mates clarified those beasts only bite once, so at least it was my own blood dripping off my hand.
Shared misery is half as heavy
One of the highlights in my hiker days are the people I meet. Dutch, Gretel and Andrew have become sort of a family. Sometimes we hike alone but when it counts we hike together and bitch together. There is nothing more uplifting than to shout “Fuck you PCT” after stepping through the swamp and having it reciprocated by your fellow hiking mate.
Suddenly steep and icy snow fields become fun rather than dangerous. It also lifts my spirits at night in camp and is much more fun than sitting in my tent waiting for the sun to go down.
These have all been taken over the last 6 days on the trail. If you have a death wish, or enjoy bugs crawling over you, or you enjoy the smell of your own and others sweat glands, or you are just a sadistic masochist, pack your backpack and get on the trail. You won’t regret it.