Day 73 - Dick's Pass - June 17

Today I slept through the alarm on my watch again.  It's useless, I don't know why I set it.  I heard Tripod moving and I woke up at 5:20.  The stream for the Susie Lake Outlet was higher​ than it had been yesterday.  Great.  Tripod crossed on the log, slowly but he kept moving.  I stood at the log for a long time before putting both feet on it.  I do not have great balance and I could feel that.  I was shaking from fear, too.  I'm just not as nimble as the woman yesterday.  I said "No!" and I walked away.  I would cross through the stream.  I started right away and it was more stable than the log.  I faced into the stream, using my trekking pole and my Whippet.  I never took more than one off the ground at a time, slowly but surely making my way across diagonally to a good spot across the creek.  The water level was just below my knees.  Screw logs.  After we crossed, Tripod looked back and realized there was a big drop off after the log.  I thought he had seen it earlier.  I believe where I crossed was the safest way across.

My feet and legs were so cold!  I dried them off with my trusty bandana and put my socks and boots back on.  We hiked for a little while in patchy snow and dry trail along the lake.  In places, the trail was a meltwater stream.

We met Peter and his group coming down the mountain.  They had turned around about 1 mile ahead going into Dick's Pass.  They said there was ice across the trail and they weren't comfortable with it, but they hadn't taken a picture.  They said that was their Achilles heel.  They looked tired.  Tripod and I had breakfast and discussed the options.  We could try the alternate route, but it looks like an impassable river crossing lies that way, especially with the warmer temperatures.  I'd rather deal with ice than impossible water crossings.  We decided to check it out for ourselves.

From there, the trail switchbacks up a steep hill to Gilmore Lake and then turns left towards Dick's Pass.  It was completely snow covered, so we just went straight up and cut the corner.  Here goes!  I think just a few days ago I would have turned here, but my comfort level with the snow has increased now that I've used my crampons more.  I led the way up that hill, stopping for a breather in the middle.

We were careful to stay on the trail here, but we did have footsteps to follow.  Going towards the pass, we hit a patch of steeply inclined snow.  It was around 45 degrees, but there were footsteps traversing it so we continued.  My anxiety level was high here, but I felt I could do it.  At the end of that patch, there was dry ground.  We saw the next patch.  It was even steeper, maybe 55 or 60 degrees and there were no footsteps.  Tripod was leading.  He turned around and told me he wasn't comfortable with the next patch.  I agreed.  We would have to turn around.  We crossed back over the first traverse and sat down for a break.  I was bummed out.  This amount of snow is just too much for me.  I have too much fear and I don't feel equipped to handle it.  For the first time, I really think I'm going to have to go do something else.  I looked at my watch to check the date.  Don't southbound AT thru-hikers start about now?  Surely hiking there would be easier than this.  I'm not ready to go back to my regular life yet.  Tripod says the Oregon Coast Trail looks better now.  I'll have to figure something out.

We hiked back the way we came, meeting a large group on the way out.  It's Hamlet, Swedish Fish, Princess, Pit Stop, Jenny, Strider (Matais), Noodle and Maggie!  They said they stayed an extra night to wait for Strider and Jenny.  We told them about the pass and showed them the map and my picture.  Pit Stop said he'd cut all the steps himself and the other guys pointed to their ice axes.  Some were confident they could do it. They are by the most well equipped group I've seen out here.  They invited us to go up with them.  I thought for a second, but I'm too chicken and said no.  We said goodbye and watched them leave.  I hope they succeed.  I wish I'd been able to join a group like that earlier;  fun, capable and well prepared.  I thought more about the what ifs as they left.  What if I hadn't gotten sick earlier?  Would I have been able to keep up with them?  Could I have been part of that group?  They seem to be strong hikers, so perhaps not.

I'm feeling depressed as we hiked out.  I'm just not very motivated.  I let Tripod lead.  I hate to be going back over the same trail again, some of it for the fourth time.  We crossed the creek again, this time Tripod took my route.  We went back by Heather Lake and it seemed less scary the second time.  I've definitely pushed my boundaries.  I've had my snow experience.

We camped at Aloha Lake in the snow.  A group of three thru-hikers came by as we relaxed in our tents.  Only one had a traction device.  We told them about Dick's Pass and that we were glad to have crampons after this point.  The girl said she was slipping around getting here, but they decided to continue and see for themselves.

I ate whatever I wanted from my bag for dinner.  Oreos, seitan jerky and cereal, the dinner of vegan thru-hikers who've had a long day.


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