Chronicles of the Wayward Moot

WELCOME TO THE MOOT, oh world-wanderers and word-whisperers. After two years of Peace Corps. After 2,200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. What. Comes. Next?


After enjoying the sunrise I made the foolhardy decision to, in my weakened state, go off trail above the headwaters of the plunging Milk Creek valley and save myself several miles of down and up. It looked so simple on the map, just a bit of sideslope navigation and I follow the contour lines over to a high saddle below the glaciers and then drop down like a paratrooper to the trail on the far side. Voila! NOT. Above you can see the colorful ridge where I camped (and saw the goat). Below is an enormous rocky projection of crumbling volcanic stone that I wanted to go around to the left and then cut back right traversing the rocky slope before hitting the saddle. Seemed so simple...

Until I actually arrived at the talus and got out onto it. This shot doesn't make it look so bad but that's because when I got our farther than this it was so steep and loose that I wouldn't have risked taking the camera out. One single misstep would have sent me face first down a few thousand feet of sharp rocks. Since I was alone and weak already, I decided the best thing to do was to suck it up and stay on trail. At least then if I collapsed someone might actually find my remains. For reference, this was the morning of October 1.

Sign hung up to direct hikers straight down the hill instead of taking the washed out switchbacks ahead. Since I was southbounding I didn't see it until I'd already gotten up the steepness.

About five miles into the day I'd gone down and then up more than 2,000 feet and was at the stage where one is so weak that, at home, to get out of bed to go pee is something you dread and put off. Throw on a 45 lb pack and the equivalent of climbing the stairs of the Empire State Building more than twice and you can understand why I decided to camp at Mica Lake and take a trail zero day to rest and prepare for what lay ahead. I got the tarptent set up just before the winds started moving in and the rains started falling.


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