I greet the morning with a combination of excitement and a quiet sense of dread – we’re getting back to the PCT again, but to do so, we have to go back up Kearsarge Pass. Down was such a drag that I’m not looking forward to the opposite, but it must be done. So it’s off and back up towards Kearsarge.
Folks leave me behind pretty quick, but I’m making good-for-me time up the mountain, pumping the tunes and learning I like Sia, apparently.
I’m huffing and puffing and taking lots of microbreaks before I finally crest the pass, but I’ve made it before I thought I would – nice.
The 2.5 miles of downhill on the other side are much gentler going in this direction, so I can actually appreciate the views.
Then it’s back to the meadow we departed from, and back to the PCT!
Glen Pass, the second of the five famously “fun” PCT passes, is only 2.2 miles ahead, so we’re back on the upslope once more.
I say “only” in an effort to psych myself out – I just climbed nearly 1800 feet over the course of five miles, and while I did it in good time, getting up another 1200 feet in that short span is probably going to involve some Type II Fun1.
Walkity walk-walk – I pass the others as they’re getting water, they pass me as I’m mesmerized while
resting holy shit this is hard taking pictures. As the switchbacks start, things get even more difficult – and even more sketchy, what with the sky considering a repeat of yesterday’s thundery festivities.
So it’s rush as fast as I can to the top, where everyone is waiting for me. Rad.
I don’t stay up there long, and I shoo everyone down in front of me – a mistake, since they leave me pretty rapidly. The way down’s pretty snow-covered, so I’m left to pick my own way down snowy slopes and boulder fields that are just a little bit outside my comfort zone.
One of the things we’d promised we’d do as a trail family was at least keep an eye on each other, and no one can see me. If I were to mess up, there’d be no one to tell my parents where my body was2. I’m scared and kind of indignant, and after about 45 minutes picking my way super carefully down towards safer trail, even glissading down to where everyone is waiting doesn’t make me feel better.
They can tell I’m feeling feels, but I think it’s better to sort through things now that the tension’s off rather than just venting to all of them now. So I keep it inside, follow everyone down to Rae Lakes.
We wind our way down and around through a magical lake-filled land, where it’s hard to hold onto my fears, but harder to let go of my disappointment.
I pass them all on a break – I’m not ready to talk about it – but Outro catches me, checks in to make sure I’m okay. So I tell her what’s up, why I hadn’t spoken up yet – I tell her I don’t need hand-holding, just someone to know where to find me should the worst happen. She apologizes, says she’ll try to do better. I promise I’ll talk to the others, too.
And then we’re off again, down the long slope, following Woods Creek towards our eventual crossing, while the clouds churn along with my thoughts. Gotta let it go.
We pass a lot of JMT hikers; my friends pass me on and off again, but I’m not worried now that I’m off the snow. Even when some of the Southbounders tell me about bears across the river, I’m not worried. Even when those Southbounders tell me there’s a mom with two cubs around the corner, all I do is start singing and clacking my trekking poles together. I’ve hit my quota for concern today; I’m good. And then, rounding a corner to a campsite chock-full of people, I’m really good.
It’s nice to be set up for Pinchot Pass tomorrow, nice to have covered 18 miles, nice to have people to camp near, to sit around the fire with, to have that talk with my friends and feel understood and warm and welcomed. And hey, the sky even clears off enough to give us a bit of a show.
It’s the little things on long days that get you through, and I’m happy to be exactly where I am as I settle in for the night.
Start: 788.9 • End: 799.8 • Day: 10.9 + 7.5 over Kearsarge = 18.4
Notable Accomplishments: Kearsarge and Glen in a day • Didn’t die coming down Glen • So close to 800!
 Type I is fun while you’re doing it. Type II is mostly just fun to look back on.
 Morbid? Sure. Am I in any super-acute danger? No. It’s just comforting, knowing that people are looking out for you. Conversely, thinking no one’s looking out for you is highly unsettling, particularly when you’re traveling in a group.