Mushy here! We left Grider Creek Campground early to start our climb out of Seiad Valley while it was cool. This was one of our biggest climbs yet on the PCT (1800m over 12 miles), and the day would be scorching hot. By the time we stopped for breakfast, I (Mushy) was covered in bugs and sweat and already sick of the steep, brush-chocked, debris covered trail. It was obvious to all of us that today would be a mental feat.
We walked over landslides, eroded ravines, bushwhacked through weeds, stumbled over branches, and climbed around a ton of fallen trees. The trail followed raging Grider Creek for more than 6 miles up the valley, and you could see all of the havoc wrecked by the recent snowmelt. We thankfully had four constructed bridges at each crossing of the main creek.
I caught up to Dave who had stopped to get water. I watched him get down to the creek and then fall in. He was fine, but drenched. We sat down on the trail, both silent and bummed. Why is today so hard?
I noticed a large yellow slug next to the trail and immediately felt a connection to it. Both of us barely making progress, lethargic, and vaguely uninterested. The slug started making its way up a narrow rock that could have been avoided and I thought to myself, ‘why are we doing this, slug? You’re just going to come down the other side of that rock. Why climb these mountains of ours, slug?’
On top of Dave’s fall, I tripped face-first into a pile of branches and fell off the trail. Harriet ran out of water. We were all having a tough time when we stopped for lunch four miles short of our target. Phoebe found water down a dirt road from where we stopped, which everyone appreciated.
After napping through some of the heat, we continued on and found the last part of the climb a relief. We were finally out of the valley and back at home on the high ridges of the PCT’s scenic route.
The scenery took its drama up a notch, the trail became easier to walk, and a nice breeze picked up. I was reminded of all the perks that come with living on the tops of mountains, and I thought about the slug again.
After noticing some dark clouds, we stopped to camp under an enormous, incredibly old tree next to a meadow. The storm came in quickly and hard, with 45 minutes of marble-sized hail and ear-splitting thunder. The sun began to set as the storm passed and the meadow steamed with the layer of hail cooling it down. That was one of the most dramatic storms I’ve experienced first hand and it was the reward to a really tough day and in an incredible setting that I’ve come to cherish, and will continue to push myself to experience. And that’s why we climb up mountains, slug.