Distance: around 8.0
Start: Big Face Creek
Camp: Castle Pass/PCT!!!
Highlights: amazing high altitude views, sections of amazing trail
I made it to the Boundary Trail’s junction with the PCT! I’m only 3.4 miles from Canada! There were times when I knew I wouldn’t make it but then, like magic, I was here! I’m camped in the trail again. It was either that or on snow. I don’t like this spot as much as last night’s.
I found more chocolate! I had one bar, the best one, buried deep in my leviathan of food bags, a repurposed sleeping bag sack. It was a 2.2 ounce ‘Sea is for Caramel’ bar from Sweeteeth in Charleston. For this one they use 65% dark chocolate with big crystally sea salt granules in it and in the middle there’s copious amounts of thick, stringy caramel that’s just the right balance of thick and thin, milky and sweet. I sat down in the sun and ate the whole thing.
I’m a little concerned that I can’t find a single footprint here on Castle Pass. Are people having trouble accessing this part of the PCT, meaning I’ll have trouble escaping it? My phone’s date has reset, which, for some odd reason, prevents my PCT maps from loading in my Guthooks Guide app. Funny thing is there doesn’t seem to be anyway to manually set the date – it’s done automatically from the cell provider, and I don’t have service! So I have no idea what time it is or how long I hiked today. I do have backup maps but they’re lower resolution.
The climb out of Big Face is absolutely insane, the steepest trail I’ve ever seen for the short sections I could see. The rest of the climb was up a steep, slushy snowfield that made me very nervous of avalanches. I climbed all the way to the summit on accident, about 800 feet higher than I needed to, and there I found massive wind features that I had to climb down with crampons and ice ace. There were also miles of droopy, melting cornice with huge gaps between it and the rock that scared me immensely and which I tried to stay far far away from. I got in a good glissade, but I’m not sure I like glissading that much, you just get too cold and wet for such a small rush. Sorry Yogi.
I was getting ready to stop for lunch when I found medium sized cat prints going up the trail in the opposite direction. I checked for my ice ace and kept a vigilant watch behind and above me. I finally stopped in the last of the days sunlight and cozied up in a rocky nook where I cooked and put on dry socks. My feet are doing well and that is a major relief, they have been my weakness on past through hikes. I love my new boots and gaiters.
I saw my trail across the valley climbing gently toward a pass, and I had trouble believing that it was the continuation of the Boundary Trail from where I was because Castle Pass was just a mile and a half away on my GPS. I descended through the trees and quickly found myself on a saddle I hadn’t seen through the trees. It was Castle Pass; the trail I’d been looking at was the PCT running south from here to Hopkins Pass. No sooner did I setup camp than it started to sprinkle. I made a hot chocolate protein shake (an amazing discovery) in a bag so it doesn’t make a mess (another amazing discovery) and in 30 minutes it was dark. It had been another long day.