The entire day it has either rained or snowed for all but an hour or two.  I was able to keep warm, but my feet are soaked.  I only have 3.5 miles to Hart’s pass, so I should be able to easily make it by noon, but with the bad weather, I am doubting being able to hitch into town early.

The rains came in last night about 3 am and rained on and off all morning.  Since I have plenty of time, I slept in until 6:30 and listened to music until after 7 am.  It was nice not having to rush to get on trail.

It was cold, but obviously not below freezing.  I am guessing it was in the low 40’s, so staying low to camp was a good idea.  When I decided to get up, it had stopped raining, so it was easy to get packed up and in trail by 8 am.  My latest start on trail.

I went ahead and suited up in the rain gear and wet socks since I expected bad weather and wet vegetation all day.  It was a good move, because within twenty minutes it began to rain.  I was using my poles to knock water off the vegetation and my feet were not soaking, they were just wet.  

As I got higher, the rain turned to snow.  When the clouds broke enough to see the next mountain, it was usually covered in fresh snow.  It was interesting seeing the same mountains from yesterday looking completely different.  Most of the mid elevations the snow would not stick to the ground but at the higher elevations it was sticking quite well.  It probably never got any deeper than one inch and I never had any problems with traction.  These shoes are excellent in the snow.

Even though the weather was crappy all day, it was not all that bad.  When it rained it was not hard.  And when it snowed, it was usually not too thick, but one time it was very thick, very wet, and blowing straight in my face.  I kept warm, but my hands got cold a few times.

I stopped for lunch at the spot I had camped the last night before hitting the border.  The hemlocks were thick and kept the ground dry.  Being a low spot, it was also relatively warm.  I had very little water, so I could only cook one ramen for lunch.  I ate other dry things since I had plenty of food and no reason not to eat it.

I saw perhaps fifteen hikers headed north.  Some would make the border today, and some not until tommorow.  One group of four had camped 15 miles from the border and left their tents and extra gear there in camp and slack packed with a light load to the border, with the intent on making it back to their camp by dark.  With a lighter load you can move faster, so a thirty mile day is doable even in the short days.

I had planned on making the fire tower to camp, but by 4 PM it was obvious that it would be after dark before I made it.  I kept moving forward just in case I was able to make it.  The last campsite before the tower was only 3.5 miles from Hart’s pass.  When I got there, I could not find a good hammock spot, so I kept going.  But only a tenth of a mile past it, I did find some sheltered trees just off the trail and found suitable distance trees for the hammock.

I set up camp and started to cook dinner, when a stream of night hikers began passing by.  None of them knew I was even there.  A brown hammock in the trees is hard to see even thirty feet off the trail.  I could hear the first person cracking wood for a fire and not long afterwards I could see the fire burning.

I decided to go visit my neighbors since they were so close.  And I’m glad I did, because one of them was Ravensong, a trail angel in Mazama that runs Ravensroost.  She is also the first female to thru hike the PCT in 1976.  I wished them all luck and headed back to my hammock.

The weather today was lousy, but it did not get me down.  But one thing that did get me down is passing the landmarks from the last two days where I spent time with the various hikers.  It was like I was having flashbacks to conversations or faces remembered and realizing that I was alone in the woods made it a very lonely day.  All I could do was turn my back and keep heading south.  

Meeting each new hiker headed north lifted my spirits a little.  In the morning, I knew them all, by mid day I knew half of them.  And the night hikers I went to visit at their fire I had never met before.  I’m slowly going backwards along the bubble to hikers who I have never met.  I doubt I will know a single person tommorow.  Except Ken, of course.