Day 121: Climbing Mountains is an Inefficient Way to Cool Down, But It Works
Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Lower Deadfall Lake (1536.8 miles)

It was relatively warm overnight, and I left two of my tent flaps open for ventilation. The light breeze blowing through was nice.

I got started a little later than I wanted, around 6:15. It was still cool out, but the sun was rising quickly.

I stopped a mile and a half later at Gully Spring to get more water. While there, I noticed some pitcher plants. I think this is my first time seeing carnivorous plants on the trail, so that was a nice treat. It reminded of a day on the Appalachian Trail in Maine, where the trail went through a bog that was supposed to have carnivorous plants, but I never saw any while there.

California Pitcher Plants
California Pitcher Plants

Though the trail went through a short bit of forest cover, in the morning, the trail was largely exposed to the sun all day. However, thanks to the altitude, it was much cooler than it was yesterday. I started yesterday at 2100 feet, and today at 5600 feet; by noon, I had gained almost another 1000 feet. Since air temperature usually decreases by about 3.5 °F every 1000 feet of altitude gained, that meant it should have been about 15 degrees cooler. Which is about what it felt like, I thought. Climbing mountains may not be an efficient way of cooling down, but it certainly works.

Castle Crags
Castle CragsA view east to Castle Crags, not yet illuminated by the rising sun. Haze clouds the view in the distance.

In the late morning, I noticed that one of my trekking poles had slightly collapsed. When I went to unlock it to adjust it, the lock (which already cracked a few weeks ago going into Quincy) completely snapped. I was able to pry it open with my multi tool, adjust the length, and force it closed, but it will definitely need replacing now.

My second break, after about 12 miles near Picayune Spring, came with the realization that I left my water bag hanging on a tree at Gully Spring — I had packed away my filter, but somehow, forgot to pack my water bag! That put the kibosh on topping up my water there, and brought uncertainty on what to do next.

Ultimately, I decided to keep going forward. My water bag was 10.5 miles behind me, and going back to get it would effectively make today a zero. I have some extra food, but not enough to cover a full extra day of hiking. (Plus also it’d be pretty demoralizing to have to go backwards that far.)

Upper Seven Lake, nestled in the west end of a bowl. The PCT ahead traverses the bowl's northern rim.

At the next spring, 2.4 miles later, I ran into a group of four hikers. None of them had either passed by Gully Spring today, or had noticed my water bag there. But, Stuck On The Ground had an extra Sawyer Squeeze water bag that she was able to loan me. While the bag is not directly compatible with my Platypus filter, I was able to jury-rig it to work, using the hose-to-bottle adaptor I use to fill my water bottles, and an extra piece of hose (that I have in case I need to fill my pack bladder from a water bottle, which I haven’t actually done since early on my AT hike). It’s a bit leaky (the adaptor is meant to fill a water bottle, so it has gaps on the side to allow air, and in this case, water, to escape), and I lose the benefits of having a (very large) water bag that I can hang, but it worked.

I’ll have to go under the assumption that I’m not going to get the water bag back, which means that I’ll have to order a replacement. Unfortunately, getting a replacement to Etna (the next trail town) might prove problematic, given time and cell service constraints.

After another few miles, I stopped for a break, somewhat earlier than I really wanted to. It wasn’t terribly hot out, but I didn’t get enough sleep last night and the sun exposure was tiring anyway. It did seem to get cooler, though, and a light breeze was blowing.

Mount Shasta Floating on a Sea of Clouds
Mount Shasta Floating on a Sea of Clouds

I reached my destination, the Deadfall Lakes, shortly after 5. Making camp wound up being far more trying (and tiring) than I had planned. It took awhile to find an open campsite (there were a lot of locals out on Upper Deadfall Lake). Once I found one, on Lower Deadfall, getting water was a challenge. The lake wasn’t very deep, and the Sawyer Squeeze bag has a narrow opening, so my usual tactic of dragging my (wide-mouthed) water bag through the water completely failed.

Normally, there is a creek that connects the two lakes, and I hoped to get flowing water there, but the creek was completely dry, and I had to resort to filling the bag by dunking it underwater, which worked, but only filled the bag halfway. Which meant about 16 - 20 oz of water, rather than the full 32 oz capacity. And since I was trying to fill three liters worth of water bottles, that was a lot of partially filled bags. And, I had to sit there and wait for the water to filter; I couldn’t do anything else in the interim. So what should have taken five minutes (plus another while to actually filter the water while I set up my tent and got ready for dinner) took at least half an hour, if not 45 minutes.

Then, when I was getting dinner ready, the ziplock bag of mac & cheese wasn’t completely sealed, so half of it spilled out. Most if it went into my cook pot, but enough spilled on the ground that I had to pick it up (and pick out the rocks and debris) so I’d have a full dinner. Not fun.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better, though the water sources all appear to be sketchy (in whether they’re actually flowing), so it’s going to be another fun water day. It almost feels like being back in the desert.

Lower Deadfall Lake
Lower Deadfall Lake
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