The following is Part II in a trilogy of posts concerning my recent experience on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Each part has been adapted from journal entries written in the wild. The date and time listed are when the journal entry was originally written. Read Part I.
It is curious how similar ardor is to arduous, at least by sound and at first glance. Yet their meanings are quite different. Ardor is synonymous with words like intensity, zeal, loyalty, and passion, while arduous is synonymous with difficult, strenuous, and steep. Granted, perhaps with some consideration they are not as contrary as initially thought. Perhaps they actually compliment each other, too often allying to define the adventures of life. The PCT certainly seems to harbor such sentiments.
8 July, 2014: Tuesday
Nathan felt a bit better this morning, but still lacked an appetite. So it was decided that he would return to South Tahoe via the Bay View Trail. Either he ultimately hitchhiked out or called Aunt Minja. I hope that he made it alright. Fortunately, this does now mean that I have a definite ride back to South Tahoe from Donner Pass at the end of this section.
A harsh storm swooped in last night around midnight. Bouts of rain were of little concern, however, when compared to the violent gusts of wind. I imagined the spirit of the wind making pass over pass over our campsite, as if to drive us off the mountain. Fortunately, as with Black Mountain, my tent proved up to the task once more. Still, I probably should have moved the tent out from the open. The sporadic bursts of enraged noise reverberating from my quivering tent kept me too alert and awake. I probably only had about five restless hours of sleep. This added difficulty to today.
Aside from the descent from Dick's Pass to Velma Lakes, and the last few miles after Barker Pass to North Fork Blackwood Creek campground, the 21.4 miles today were rather monotonous. The sun came out cheerily after lunch, which improved the mood from the mildly damp morning. More starkly, the day was marked by level woodland plagued by mosquitoes. When I concluded that it was time to put on repellent, I was attacked with a fury. Thankfully, the mosquitoes seemed to completely diminish after the sun came out after lunch. And I am thankful for their scarcity at this campsite.
It is lovely to sit outside relatively undisturbed as the sun sets, its radiance glowing on nearby Twin Peaks and even Lake Tahoe's distant eastern range. The creek cascades down toward the valley running a few miles onward to shore. Birds sing. The air is fresh and dry. I am glad for a few neighbors. One group, comprised of three students, is hiking a section of the Tahoe Rim Trail. I wonder if the two across the creek are PCT thru-hikers.
The highlight of the day was meeting Ken. He passed Nathan and me as we said farewell to each other at the Bay View Trail/PCT junction. I then quickly caught up with Ken at Dick's Lake. I was somewhat surprised to hear that he is a thru-hiker. His two-day rest at South Tahoe may have something to do with it: he packs very light and looks rather clean. We hiked and talked for a few miles. He had me lead the way. I was never entirely sure if he really wanted my company.
Ken is from Washington, began the PCT in mid May in order to work and save money for gear and so forth for a while longer. We reconnected at lunch at Lake Richardson. He was excited to have seen a golden-furred black bear. An ATV disturbed some of the ambiance, but we enjoyed talking further about backpacking and how we runners adapt to it. I later passed him as he slept in a meadow by a brook below Barker Pass. He caught my footsore tired self just before the descent to North Fork Blackwood Creek. He then ate supper as I made camp across the creek. I waved him farewell as he continued on, intending to cover a few more miles before nightfall. May God bless and keep Ken as he hopes to complete the PCT in September.
The sky is painted violet and pink, yet the light quickly fades. The view from Twin Peaks must be glorious right now. Alas, I need the rest. This is a great campsite. It reminds me a bit of Sentinel Falls in Yosemite. Hopefully the sunrise will prove even more glorious, especially considering how there was no vibrant light this morning on Dick's Pass due to cloud cover.
God, I need real rest tonight. I am sore and tired. My feet may be developing blisters: on the right heel and under the calloused palm of my left foot. The latter troubles me, being similar in nature to what happened in the first PCT section. YHWH-rapha, I need you.
I am at peace right now, though. Many times today, I longed to share this journey with someone. I really do find strength in the company of others. Hallelujah for Ken.