After spending all day wishing I was hiking, I finally picked a hike and left home at 2pm. I had issues determining if I was going to actually start the hike or not as I have not really gone solo on a multi-day trek before and it was *rather* late in the day to be starting a hike in hopes of doing at least 12mi. But I got to the trailhead. I listened to a couple songs while I sat there and decided that I would at least hike up to Red Mountain and sleep at the top.
Once I arrived up at Red Pass, I figured that I had gone this far.. I might as well descend down into the Middle Fork Valley- past the sign that clearly stated “Trail Abandoned.”
This would not be the last of these signs that I would pass… Apparently my route was a more popular one at one time- now it is looking more like what you would see in Fern Gully. After the first few steps, I slid down a scree field- that sealed the deal… I wasn’t going back up! The trail down was quite steep but eventually leveled out near the Goldmeyer Hot Springs- a tempting place to spend the night, but I had no reservation and needed to make a little more progress. Continuing up towards Dutch Miller Gap I ran into a geyser! How exquisite!
After spending the night a little further up the trail, I crossed through Dutch Miller Gap and went down to Ivanhoe Lake (which was amazingly beautiful!)
At this point, I started thinking that I was really doing bad on my time management as the hike was only supposed to be 45mi long… My mood dipped, but I soon ran into a PCT hiker and we chatted and hiked along at a good pace I was still thinking that I was behind schedule as I should have made it further down the trail at that point.
One thing is for certain… I had no time to stop and smell the flowers.
Time moved on and I hiked through the day, enjoying the scenery quite well. Bumped into quite a few nice people and dispensed some trail food recommendations (mountain house is good… but REALLY expensive) They were amazed that you could eat mashed potatoes on the trail without cooking them. I was happy to share knowledge and my overall appreciation for anything that fills my stomach on hikes.
I had actually done this section back in 2011 and was re-living the experiences up here both good and bad. The area had changed a little bit and I had issues remembering certain parts of the trail. Must be my old age creeping into my brain.
After spending a night at Park Lakes, I set a goal to get back to my car by noon and drink some of the tasty “sports beverage” that I had left in my car, I missed the deadline by 15min but I was quite tired and stopped caring near the end. Turns out that the hike wasn’t the 45mi that I thought it was, so my progress was just fine- but my planning was not. This is why I always carry extra food!