7/11: Good Day to Not Fall on My Face!

(I’m currently walking from Mexico to Canada, a distance of 2,700 miles, to help raise awareness & funds to help counteract the effects of human trafficking and the forced prostitution of women & children. I first came across this issue in Mumbai, India, while doing videography for Nick Vujicic’s ministry, ‘Life Without Limbs,” in 2008. Please join with me on this journey of freedom by offering prayers, telling others, and giving financially. Any donation, big or small, will be kept confidential, and will be appreciated beyond understanding. Please, please consider donating. You will literally be helping buy the freedom and put in motion the healing of those who have been unwillingly enslaved in the chains of human trafficking. Thank you!)

Videos on YouTube: ThruHike4Freedom and also ThruHike4Freedom11

Woke up at 6:00am, on the trail about 6:35am. Early starts are usually best for me, and I’m finding the morning is my best hiking time. Today we have our sights set on scaling both Pinchot Pass and Mather Pass. All in all, about a 19 mile day, through some tough conditions. 

Pinchot turned out to be fairly easy, compared to the other passes. We had a nice 13 mile walk between passes, and a few stream crossings. I went downstream at one crossing to investigate whether or not it would be better to cross there than at the trail, and I got excited when I found a log laying across the river! Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to get on the log, but I eventually managed. If it’s not easy to get on, it’s much harder to get off, so now that I was on the log I was committed to it. Also, the log was deceptively slippery, so any attempt at standing up, with a 35 pound pack on your back, would be next to impossible, and definitely disastrous. So, I decided I was going to crawl across the log, on my hands and knees. Really. It actually happened, much to the amusement of Leader & Grizz, who were watching from upstream. 

After crossing that stream, we walked overland for awhile, at the suggestion of a park ranger. Apparently, we would normally have to cross a river, then hike a few miles upstream, then cross back over it. The ranger suggested staying on the original side of the river, head upstream, and skip both crossings. Genius! So we had fun bushwhacking and scrambling over rocks and through bogs. 

Eventually we came up to the base of Mather Pass, which has the steepest face of any of the passes, especially if it has snow. And did it ever have snow. We arrived there with a pretty big group, and Grizz & I agreed: we felt someone was going to be sliding down. To slide down could be very dangerous, with the rocks and frozen lakes below. Your PCT hike, at the very least, could be over very easily with one false step or piece of icy snow. 

Grizz, Leader & I watched the different ways people were attempting the ascent before we began ours.  It also left us at the bottom ready to administer first aid if necessary. Grizz eventually went right, Leader & I took center going almost straight up. It was by far the most challenging and thrilling pass so far, and demanded our full attention. After getting most of the way up, Leader & I had a precarious scramble up loose rocks, and the occasional firmly entrenched boulder covered in loose gravel. But we finally reached the top, the last 30 feet almost vertical over a snow lip…that alone was intense! 

Grizz came in precariously and adventurously from the right, on the opposite side of the snow lip that had the foot trail everyone had been using to reach the top. If he tried to make it across to that spot, it would be too risky. So he decided he’d go vertically over the last 15 feet of snow, which to me seemed just as crazy, since a fall would land him on the rocks. As he began his ascent, he actually postholed up to his waist, and after managing to get out if that situation, successfully made it up to safety, with Leader & I on our stomachs ready to grab him if necessary. Grizz has nerves if steel, that’s all I can say. 

We took our time at the top, and I verbalized that this might be the last time I would ever be here at this spot…a sad thought…but knowing what we had just gone through to get there, it tempered the sadness in a glow of accomplishment. 

We eventually made camp in an epically spectacular campsite nestled in some pines, made a fire, and enjoyed going over some of the days highlights as we basked in the heat of the flames. 

Tomorrow we head for Muir Pass, but may not make it all the way there, as the terrain is pretty rugged and mostly uphill. 

Exhausted, so I’m off to bed. The pictures and video just from today are going to be great, and I can’t edit to share them with you!

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