Miles: 28.45
Camping: PCT mile 2391.31
Miles to go: 277.68

Though the elevation profile today was looking a bit ominous, HZ and I decided to try for a 30 mile day. We are both willing to hike in the dark a bit, and the closer we get to town the nicer our day will be tomorrow. It is supposed to rain, so it was also motivating to try and skip the wet weather where we could get away with it. I knew a 30 was quite ambitious in Washington, but I’ve been feeling great lately and up to the challenge. It is as if I am stronger every day, and I probably am. Plus, HZ is one of those power hikers that can do big miles. I wanted to see if I had the chops to keep up.

The day really had a lot of big climbs. HZ did most of the talking in those sections, while I held back and focused on breathing and not being concerned with the fact that I was literally drenched in sweat. It takes a bit more effort to keep up with him and I know he is capable of going much faster. The company was refreshing though, and the huckleberry bushes somehow clung to summers last berries, feeding us along the way. We stopped several times to fill our mouths with the sweet berries, my fingers turning that familiar purple tint. We stopped by a beautiful spring a little off the trail and made coffee. We sat for about half an hour, still chatting and always eating. HZ is good at eating and walking simultaneously, but I need my mouth for breathing when I walk. Sometimes I feel like an amateur with these strong hikers, but I know I’m holding my own pretty darn well.

Just half a mile back on trail we ran into a cooler of trail magic! There was soda and snacks, neither of which actually interested me at that point, but magic in general is good for the soul. I was happy to see it there. After the trail magic we walked on, moving pretty fast. It is hard for me to keep up with HZ, but it feels good to push myself, I really feel quite incredible these days. The only real problem is that I sweat a great deal more and have developed some very painful armpit chafe. It is all par for the course at this point, as thru hiking was never meant to be painless. The miles went pretty fast, and we had soon met up with Pirate Bait and Pisa by a stream 25 miles into our day. We all sat and bathed in the water before cooking dinner, and Pirate Bait told us the story of how he was hijacked by pirates while canoeing the Amazon. Crazy story! HZ and I finished dinner and then broke out our headlamps to finish our 30 mile day. I was still feeling up to it and knew it would pay off tomorrow. He got quite a bit ahead of me, and I just trudged on up the steep climb to our destination. Unfortunately, it started to rain a couple of miles before camp and I began to wish I had stayed at pace with HZ to reevaluate our game plan. Fortunately, he was already setting up camp as I walked up and he said, “the 30 is cancelled.” I shrugged it off, knowing that I could have completed the miles, but better to set up camp before things got too wet. I got my tent up record fast and crawled into its warmth, feeling good to be dry. It was still a little early, so I curled up with some whiskey and Bill Bryson…ready to get into town tomorrow. I’m very satisfied with today!

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