It was a cool morning. My jacket was the last thing I put in my pack
and I started hiking with my hat and mittens on. The coolness was
nice-better than being hot already at 8 a.m.
We had been walking for about a half hour when we saw a white truck
coming towards us start to slow. We thought it was the sheriff stopping
to tell us about shuttles. Instead it was Forest Service. He informed us
the fire closure had been lifted that morning and the PCT was open and
all signs and flagging were coming down. It was hard information to
hear-we couldn't just pop back onto the trail. We could do a detour with
slightly less road walking, but we still had a day on the road to look
We thanked him, and trudged onward. At a junction a couple of miles
later we stopped to look at the maps and decided that wasn't our road-it
seemed to peter out soon. We continued on: up hills, over a bridge,
down hills, and through twisting curves. All the while Portrait read
aloud making the walking more bearable.
He stopped reading behind me and I stopped to see him looking over
the maps. He had bad news. According to the GPS coordinates we were off
the map. The turn we didn't take was the one we had wanted. The junction
had been over an hour ago and felt like longer. Since than I had
finally warmed up enough to take my hat off and the sun had started to
melt some of the thick shadows on the road.
We wanted to hitch back, even if it was only two miles. The first two
cars didn't even slow. The third, a pick-up, slowed but went past. Then
it did a u-turn and we piled into the back. Portrait's hat blew off,
tumbling down the road behind us. He looked stunned. I knocked on the
window and the driver stopped, hit reverse, and stopped when we were
close. Portrait jumped out and retrieved his hat-it had come such a long
At the junction we got out and the driver went over the maps with us
and told us what he thought was the best way to go. It was a shorter
detour, but it would have put us way far south on the PCT. We would have
had to walk it twice, basically. We said thanks and walked on.
Around one at a creek we stopped for water and lunch. It didn't feel
like we had made much progress and it was lonely knowing everybody else
was on the PCT and we were probably the few to have walked the detour.
All the road walking made my Achilles tendon hurt and ever break I tried
to stretch it out.
After lunch the smoke started to feel thick. It kept drying out my
mouth. It seemed a little surprising that everything was open again. To
make the air even harder to breath the road switched from paved to
gravel and traffic seemed to pick up.
We came to another junction: one way was five miles south to a
resort and then .1 to a southern junction of the PCT or slightly less
miles by road and a half mile bushwack to rejoin the PCT where the
detour ended-that would put us further north so we wouldn't have to
re-hike miles. We went north.
It was easier to talk on the road so that helped time pass because
there sure wasn't much to look at. Even with the talking and many snacks
I started to fade around five p.m. my tendon was painful and making me
hobble. I longed for the PCT and dinner and camp.
We had been checking the maps regularly-we didn't want a repeat of
the morning's bonus miles. That happened anyway. The forest service had
taken down every sign and every piece of pink flagging so we were
relying on maps. There weren't many land marks to judge location with.
The last turn, the bushwack, was just a faint track going into the
woods. I'm not surprised we missed it the first time. We left a carin
and a wood arrow just in case anyone else was looking for it.
We could tell others had passed that way. We saw foot prints and
broken vegetation. We had map, compass, and GPS coordinates to guide us
to the jeep road we were supposed to hit front on-good practice for the
CDT. Somehow we did hit the jeep road on our first try and a half mile
later after more than 48 hours apart was our trail. It was so wonderful
to see the PCT again.
We were loosing sunlight and didn't want to camp on the jeep road-we
wanted to really be on trail. It soon became clear there wasn't going to
be camping until the site listed on our maps in just over a mile from
our return to the PCT. We hiked-me first, slowed by exhaustion and a
At 8:30 just before full dark I came sluggishly into camp. Dinner
hadn't tasted that good in a long time and the ground hadn't been so
supportive to lie upon in a long time.