Who hid the elephant in my pack?

The colours in the sky tonight are making up for my little buzzing friends trying to penetrate my head net. My bottom half is zipped securely in my bivvy sack leaving only my torso exposed. I’m still trying to figure out which was worse today, the relentless swarms of mosquitos or carrying a baby elephant on my back?

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It was really hard to get up this morning as I was super snug and safe from insects inside my bivvy. I was told today that the mosquito alarm goes off at 7am, so I should try and break camp before then. That was not the case for me this morning. I woke at 6am, slowly rolled out of my sleeping bag, made breakfast, and didn’t hit the trail until 7:45am.


About a mile down the trail I caught sight of something big in my periphery. I froze when I realised it was a big brown bear staring at me. As soon as it realised I was there it galloped away like an uncoordinated puppy dog. I thought I might bump into it again up the trail but it completely disappeared. The bear sighting gave me a shot of adrenalin which boosted me for the first hour, then I realised just how heavy 45 pounds is to carry long distance.

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During my first of many rest breaks today I was sending out yesterday’s blog when one of the Aussie boys from Melbourne that I met at kick off passed me. Two Aussies in two days. We both discussed the recent developments in Australian politics with Rudd taking over power from Gillard (someone’s going to have to fill me in), and more importantly discussed the extravagant weight of my pack. Focus (the Aussie) is resupplying in Tuolumne like every other sane PCT hiker, but it only drives my determination to make it to South Lake Tahoe like I set out to do.

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I didn’t think the scenery could get any better than what I’d already seen, but today blew me away. The grade of the trail was also perfect right up until the last few miles heading to Donohue Pass, but with the heavy pack, the whole day felt like work. There was a long stretch without any trees, so I held out for lunch until I found shade, and was rewarded with a stunning view of the mountains. I’ve decided whilst in bear country that I’ll cook my dinners for lunch so I don’t have to worry about food smells around my campsite. I think this will work well except today I cooked up mac and cheese that I found in the hiker box at VVR and it tasted revolting. I honestly couldn’t stomach it. I had to bury it deep in the ground (I’m all for leave no trace but I’m too scared to carry mac and cheese through bear country for 10 days, and if I ate it all, I probably would have thrown it up anyway, sorry!!)

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I drank so much water today as the weather’s heating up again and my body was working extra hard to make it up the hills. Chris your drink mixes came in handy when I rested by the most gorgeous river and drank at least 1.5 litres of water whilst soaking my feet. My poor tootsies are struggling with the extra weight, not to mention my knees! I’m having to walk this section with only one of my Dirty Girl gaiters after losing one in Mammoth. Luckily Xy, the infamous Dirty Girl has offered to send me a new pair to South Lake Tahoe, along with a new pair of Dry Max socks as one already has a hole, and a new pair of my SofSole insoles from REI. Xy you’re a saviour!!!

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I spent the whole day wondering how hard it was going to be to get up Donohue Pass at the end of the day. I met so many JMT south bounders, and they all described it differently. When I finally hit the stairs and switch backs my back and shoulders really started to ache, except every time I tried to rest I got attacked by swarms of mosquitos. It was horrible!!

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Luckily at the top there was enough of a breeze to keep the mozzies at bay and allow me to eat my peanut butter tortilla dinner and a twix bar for dessert. After the mac and cheese drama I had a pop tart for lunch, so I’ll likely wake up starving tonight after my sugar diet, and will need a big breakfast tomorrow morning! I knew there was a little bivvy site 0.6 miles after the pass from Halfmile’s app so I loaded up with water from the stream at the top of the pass and found the site just as the sun was starting to set. I’m actually more worried about marmots getting my food than bears up here!

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I’m struggling in my bivvy sack tonight. My sleeping bag in tangled up, the mesh isn’t lining up with my face and I just hit myself in the lip with my iPhone whilst tying to find my water bottle. It’s actually really hot in here tonight so when I’m sure all the mosquitos are gone, I may have to zip myself free!

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9 thoughts on “Who hid the elephant in my pack?

  1. Rozanne,

    I’m a PCT fan and am following 10 to 12 thru hikers online. Found you through UB’s site awhile back. I usually don’t leave feedback being a stranger to you, but I wanted to respond after you expressed yourself so emotionally on video. Your emotion and feelings were so pure and sincere I had to give voice to your trek and say to you that what you are doing is remarkable and deserves much praise.

    I know you are hiking primarily alone since UB went ahead and now looks like he’s leaving the trail. You are doing a great job and have completed some of the most difficult parts. You have probably heard it all as your trail prep seemed thorough, but you have to keep thinking of today and not what’s ahead.

    I know it’s miserable at times but you are not alone out there and I hope these words can be a small measure of “cheering on for the home team” even though you are away from home! The misery will increase the satisfaction of completing the trail when it’s over. Don’t give up!

    I’m a section hiker here in Washington state and have hiked parts of the PCT with my sons. I have some inkling of what you are going through and appreciate it from more than a novice point of view.

    I would be happy to assist as a trail angel when you get up this way.

    Take care and keep up the photos and dialog, your doing an exceptional job!

    Tim

    • Tim thank you so very much for leaving this note. It honestly means a lot to me and has certainly boosted my motivation for this next section and what lies ahead down the trail. Would be great to bump into you in Washington! Take care and thanks so much again, Muk Muk

      • Rozanne,

        Thanks for the reply. You are amazing to take the time to answer.

        When you come through Washington, the best place for some trail magic is probably Stevens Pass, Hwy 2. Not sure if you are planning on staying at the Dinsmore’s or just going into Skykomish.

        If I can get away when you pass through I will come up and give you a lift. I will watch your progress and send you my cell number if the timing is favorable.

        Take care, happy hiking!

        Tim

  2. I love the vids! You will have such fun looking back on these after the hike! I know those flying blood suckers are no fun, but it’s kinda funny to watch you react to them and how you deal with them. Not laughing at you, more like laughing with you after the fact. I have had so many mosquito issues up here in Washington that I know how it is. Life on the Trail!

  3. Hi darling, my gosh such a fright to see that bear, your heart would have nearly bounced out of your skin. I loved the spot you set up for a sleep. How dare those mosquitoes making life hard for all you hikers. Your photos are out of this world, wonderful. Keep going, love Mutti xxoo

  4. Hi Roxanne
    Loved reading your post re encountering us on the trail with our pup, Sky. You not only were the most articulate but also the cleanest smelling of all the pct thru hikers we encountered. Some of those guys are so rank, the dog wouldn’t go near them!
    I thought you would be interested in Sky’s story. He is 18 months old, our second Golden. Our other one, Rudy, just died of a blood cancer, hemangiosarcoma, several weeks ago. We took his ashes with us on our hike the previous day and dispersed them at Lower Kinney Lake, just past Ebbetts Pass. He was 9 and hiked, snowshoed and skied hundreds of miles with us in the Sierras so it was only fitting that we left his remains where he liked it best, high up on a Sierra lake where he could swim for hours. He was truly an amazing dog and could even swim under water retrieving things off the bottom of the lake.
    Sky is getting to be a good hiker but is still in training to do as many miles as we like to do. When he was 8 months old, he developed myasthenia gravis, a neurological disorder he developed after having an autoimmune reaction to a tick bite. He became completely paralyzed, to the point where his vocal cords were even paralyzed and he could not bark. We have a great veterinary teaching hospital here at UC Davis and many highly trained veterinary neurologists. Luckily we got Sky to one in time and she recognized his disease. He takes medication 3 times daily and he is doing well. We have to be careful in the high country not to go too far so he doesn’t get too tired. We also carry his medication with us and try to cool him down as often as possible so he doesn’t overheat.
    Like Rudy, he is also a great swimmer but likes to try and rescue us. It is impossible to swim without him getting a fierce look in his eyes and bounding in after us. It’s a trick not to get scratched by him.
    I hope my stories have entertained you. Inspired by you, my husband and I want to do some sections of the PCT. We will have to leave Sky at home, though. I don’t want to carry a lot of dog food. We did see a couple hiking at Kinney Lakes with their 3 dogs and their goat! The goat was carrying 50 pounds and had some bad assed horns. He scared Sky right off the trail! Good luck on your next section. I’m sure Tahoe will be a nice little break.

    • Hi Francine, thank you so much for sharing that story. It’s amazing I passed you during what must have been such an emotional experience for you. What a beautiful way to lay Rudy to rest. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your hike and continue to follow the stories on my blog. All the best, Muk Muk

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