Miles: 21.46
Camping: PCT mile 2015.94

I was woken up in the night having lost an earplug and a shadow was moving across my tent. This is the first full moon that hasn’t woken me up with its brightness, because we are so deep in the woods. The shadows are long, but this one was short. In fact it was the size of a mouse and it was running across the top of my tent. People had mentioned seeing this last night, but I had cowboy camped, and thankfully had not seen them. Last night however, I was a little shaken by the critter being on my tent. It kept me from ever fully falling asleep, easily startled by every small sound. I was nervous they’d try and get at my food! Camp was cold and I bundled up to wearily go about my morning. I found it difficult to partake in small talk this morning, so I got things done fast and made a speedy exit to the trail.

Walking straight uphill in the morning seems to be the new normal, and I’m beginning to enjoy getting my blood flowing to start the day. It is quite cold as well so I hiked in my down jacket, hat and gloves almost until lunch. The air is distinctly that of impending winter though I’m ok with cold so long as it doesn’t come with rain. We are cutting it close to winter, but we all have a good feeling about it and our spirits are high. I keep remembering that this all started in the desert, so hot and dry. Now we are here, so far north it is cold in the sun. We’ve really come a long way. I’m impressed by us.

A few of our group stopped for lunch at a spring, but I felt like pushing forward. There was another big climb coming up, and I wanted to get some of it done before stopping. I ended up passing through a campground where Blisster was eating lunch at a picnic table. I opted to eat with my friend there as we hadn’t had lunch together in ages. We had a good conversation over our meals and then embarked on the climb. I realized how much he and I have gone through together, and how long it has been since we talked. I’ve really missed him, and I’m happy we are finishing this together. The climb was pretty steep and I moved rather slowly. It really is starting to feel good again, like I’m a normal hiker again. All of my aches and pains are now “normal” as opposed to extraordinary; the kind of tired pain you would expect. I am falling deeply in love with hiking again now that my body feels good. It feels so right out here working hard to finish this hike, never wanting it to end. I’m beginning to savor every moment again, to relish the little things and delight in the experience. I feel good and I’m smiling almost all of the time.

We walked up to the top of the ridge where the wind was howling. It was whipping the tops of trees, so many of them in a row, dancing in the breeze. All of this on the opposite side of the ridge, the air still where we stood. It was cool to listen and watch while standing in the warmer, much more still air. I stood for some time enjoying the sensation of being in a bubble and then walked on. Soon, I was in the wind and wearing all of my clothes. I was so cold I was practically running down the trail trying to conjure up as much body heat as possible. It is somehow invigorating though, this cold. There is something I love about hiking in it.

Blisster and I took afternoonsies by a lake, and ended up having to call off our break early due to cold and wind. We decided on a camp just 2 miles farther, and we got going. Getting to camp earlier is turning into another new normal but it is very cold out here, and it gets dark earlier. The changes from just a few weeks ago are dramatic and it really puts our progress in perspective. I am in awe daily of how far we have come, of the ground we have covered, how close we are to done. We were joined by new hikers tonight as well; Happy Feet, Hornsby and Party Saver. I’ve known Party Saver since Yosemite, but was just meeting the others. All of the way we have travelled, to meet here on the shores of this lake. This trail still amazes me. I hope it always does.