Miles: 21.12
Camping: Rockpile Lake PCT mile 2022.22

I woke up at my usual 6am but breakfast wasn’t to be served until 8:30. I lazily laid about reading my book and not rushing to break down camp. Someone was water skiing on the lake at 6:30, and even though I’m a morning person now that seemed too early to me. It seemed to wake up the other hikers in my camp and action was made to pack up our belongings. A bunch of us hung out in the hiker lounge, drinking our own coffee and going through the hiker box; waiting for the dining hall to open its doors. When they finally did we waited in line to serve up our own tray of food. There were scrambled eggs, fruit, veggie sausages, oatmeal, another hot cocoa bar and cinnamon rolls. These turned out to be straight from Heaven. I have never had a cinnamon roll that perfect before in my life, and the others agreed. We went back for more, stuffing our mouths with the gooey sweet pastry, making sounds of sheer delight. It was the single most satisfying thing I have ever eaten…and just after days of craving cinnamon buns on trail!

I could barely move after round 2 of cinnamon rolls but had to make moves to get down the trail. I am now on a bit of a deadline as I’m meeting a friend at Timothy Lake in a few days (80 miles). I am already behind schedule due to the unexpected trail magic dinner (which was obviously worth it), so I hoped to make that up in the coming days. My feet reminded me of the hot spots from yesterdays lava walk and 2 blisters reared their heads, one on each baby toe. I stopped to pop them and tape them up, but it was almost too late as far as pain was concerned. I hiked a little ways with my toes taped but the tape almost made it feel worse. I ended up stopping to change into my sandals, which eased the pain enough to make the walking easier.

The hike climbed up all day through a burn zone from 2011, hot and exposed to the sun. The climb was about 8 miles long, so I was trying to pace myself in the heat. Having a stomach full of cinnamon roll didn’t help my stride but I had no regrets in that department, only that I couldn’t have more of those particular cinnamon rolls. I got to a spot where things leveled out a bit and found Biscuit, Pirate Bait, Pisa and Stomper lounging in some shade. I stopped to chat with them and then Blisster walked up. I haven’t seen him since Ashland, so it was a mini reunion on the trail before Blisster, Biscuit and I joined forces and hiked onward. I had plans to eat a late lunch after the climb, and that was only a couple of miles more; it was nice to have some company for that part of the walk. We were climbing up and up until we were right under the spires of 3 Fingered Jack, a large mountain reminiscent of the Sierra. We stopped and had a quick lunch break, not the usual midday hour long relaxation fest. Since we all had later starts that day we had to push on to make our mileage goal before dark.

My feet were miraculously free of the normal pain today, but the blisters kept me from enjoying that. It makes it more frustrating to always have one or the other pain present, never having even a single day without having some foot malady calling my attention. I felt rather cranky as we came over the pass so I hung back from my friends to stew in solitude. No need to bring others down with my pity party. Around a bend I caught up with them as they were stopped picking blueberries. I joined them in the berry feasting, barely able to resist shoving handfulls of them in my mouth. They were so delicious; plump and juicy. We walked on and picked the plentiful bounty periodically along the way.

The day ended with another decent climb, this one shorter but more steep. We worked up the next mountain, following switchbacks back and forth, my mood unimproved. At the end of the climb were amazing views looking back at the mountains we had just been hiking around, now off in the distance as we hiked forward. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky wore streaks of pastel hues. We came upon Rockpile Lake, and found lots of available tent space. As we were setting up camp, Ninja rolled into camp! I haven’t seen Ninja on trail in over 1,000 miles, and now the 4 of us were in the same place for the first time since mile 266. That blows my mind a bit, as these are people I’ve known since the beginning, and here we are together at Rockpile Lake. We had dinner and chatted, catching up with old friends. My feet are making me pretty miserable, so I’m going to sleep and hope to feel an improvement in the morning. Goodnight.

Three Fingered Jack