NCT Mile 76 to 80

Good times go by far too fast.  We stayed up drinking and carrying on until past 0100 in the morning.  Out of bed by 0800 and had to get immediately onto our hiker chores: throw laundry in, charge all the electronics, sort through resupply food, dump trash.  We did make time for a huge breakfast with Shauna and Ric though.  This motel is great and weird.  The dining room has a viewing window for people to watch the bears eat leftover restaurant food.  We didn’t see one over breakfast but Shauna saw one the night before, I’ll try share a picture at the bottom (it’s huge).

It was a struggle to get out of our room by 1100 checkout but we did it.  Made a quick stop to the gas station for skittles and playing cards before landing back at the trail head to say our final goodbyes and get to walking.

With an 18 mile day behind us, we found ourselves ahead of schedule.  Today we only needed a 4 mile day and that was fine with both of us.  The next four days have a dozen or so peaks to climb up and today started with a doozy of an uphill from hell.  And while we are on the topic, there should be a better measurement for trails than distance via miles or kilometers.  How many miles you have to go doesn’t really capture the difficulty of task.  It’s bullshit.

The day was really lovely.  Brianna and I found a nice camping spot next to a National Park service road.  We lazed around for a few hours playing rummy and talking about nothing.  The tent eventually went up, but it was a pain to get the stakes in because the ground was hardened with country road gravel.  It took us pounding stakes in with a stone to get them to stay.

Exactly around evening is where our story takes a turn.  No sooner had I said the words, “I’m going to brush my teeth and hop in the tent to write” did it begin to rain.  A little warning rain to give us time to make sure everything was properly in the tent for the night.  It took us by surprise though, I had looked at the weather a couple hours ago and no rain was predicted until much later that night.  Weather person was wrong, no big deal… right?  

Tiny droplets of water quickly turned into a deluge.  A calm paradise of relaxation turned into a windstorm of insane proportion.  With a single unreliable bar of LTE service, it took me a while, but I was able to refresh the weather channel app.  Newsflash: Severe thunderstorms in your area!  Alert: Lightning strikes in your area!  … thanks Weather Channel, fuck you very much.  

We have been in a windstorm before but never a severe thunderstorm.  Everything seemed fine, aside from the lightning flashes and booming thunder off the mountain sides.  What can we do?  Hunker inside the tent and hope for the best.  Then the thing happened that you don’t want to happen during a severe storm, the stakes started to pull up from the ground.  Our tent standing relies on tension between the hiking poles on each end.  I had to hold the hiking pole up to keep the entire thing from collapsing in on itself.  I couldn’t get the stake back in the ground without the rock, and even once I found it, I was still getting drenched the entire time.

The storm did eventually pass and we are ok, just wet.  Pretty interesting 4 mile day.