22.9 miles (2480.0 to 2502.9), plus 0.1 from Pear Lake
Rain showers pelt my tent over night and into the morning. I lay in my bag until the rain sounds like it’s letting up, then I begin to pack. When I emerge, the rain has become heavy mist. I talk with Woodchuck and Rooster, the couple who arrived last night, then I hit the trail. I hike uphill out of camp, and I’m warm enough in my regular hiking clothes until I reach the crest and start downhill. Then I need my rain jacket to cut the chill. The air is damp and cool. Views are limited by low, dense clouds.
As I walk, I fantasize about what clothing I’ll bring into the Sierra. October at high elevation will be cold. I’ll need to switch out some things. Visions of Patagonia R1 hoodies and capilenes in various weights and colors float through my head.
I reach Pass Creek. I get a little water at the creek and take off my rain jacket. I’m about to begin the next climb, and it’s too warm out to climb in the jacket. A few steps away, however, it begins to rain. I pull out my umbrella.
I climb out of forest and into open views of the surrounding mountains. The rain stops. For a few minutes, it even looks like the sun might come out. I take pictures as I traverse the mountain. I stop for lunch at Lake Sally Ann, then continue on. Clouds darken as I move north.
Before long I’m hiking under my umbrella again. I stop to talk with two weekenders, and while I’m stopped I put on my rain kilt. From here, visibility declines to less than a few hundred feet. Everything is soaked. My shoes are quickly saturated after hitting vegetation along the trail. I want to stop and camp at the next site in the app, but when I arrive I find it’s on a ridge. The wind is more intense here. Clouds blow through. I need to get off this ridge and out of the clouds. The campsite listed in 3.4 miles should be suitable.
I walk as fast as I can. I can’t see anything except clouds. There’s no marker at mile 2500. I draw the number on the wet trail and take a picture. I’m soaked but I’m not cold. Yet. As long as I keep moving I’m generating enough heat to get by.
I crest the ridge and finally drop down, only to find lingering snow patches. This is obviously a cold basin. This may not be the best place to spend a wet night. When I reach the campsite I find two tents already set up. I pitch my tent fly and footprint first, then the inner, then carefully get inside as the rain intensifies. By the time I’m inside and peeling off my soaked clothing, it’s pouring outside.
I’m worried about getting through another wet day. Actually, I’m more than worried. I’m scared. The bottom of my tent is damp from setting up on wet ground. My down sleeping bag is already deflating as I enter a second damp night. When I left Sharon’s house yesterday morning, the forecast predicted rain yesterday and today, with clearing tomorrow. I need to know if that still holds. I text Greg, then Mom, then Jeremy via satellite and ask for tomorrow’s forecast. When no one responds, I discover I can download – for a fee – a forecast directly on the GPS unit. I’ll pay. I need to know if I need to find a way out of here.
Mom texts back saying Glacier Peak shows clear through Tuesday night. That’s good news. The GPS finally fetches the forecast, but it’s confusing. Ten percent chance of rain. Slight chance of heavy rain. One hundred percent humidity. Jeremy texts back saying tomorrow will be drier and warmer than today, and Monday even better. It sounds as if the rain may taper off tonight. I hope so. I’m not prepared for multiple days of rain. I thought I’d be ok, but I don’t know how to weather this kind of wet weather with the gear I have.
As I prepare to sleep, I hear movement in my vestibule. I catch a mouse in my headlamp beam. Shit. I’m going to have to bring my wet things inside the tent to prevent them from being chewed on. I don’t want to do this. But I can’t let a mouse spend the night in my things. The air is so saturated that storing the wet things inside my tent may not make much of difference. Everything is already wet, anyway.