As I set up camp after a average day on the trail a massive fog rolled in. This isn’t necessarily rare but this fog was thicker than I had ever seen on the PCT. Despite the weather I made my dinner and went to sleep just like any other night. The next morning I awoke, surprised to see that the fog had not only stayed through the night, but that it had grown even more thick. I assumed it would be a wet gloomy day of backpacking, but as I started hiking the trail gained elevation until I had risen above the clouds. It was amazing to look down the mountain and see nothing but clouds below. It made a 7,000 ft peak seem like I was truly high in the sky.
Throughout the day the trail rose and fell, dipping me below the cloud line with every few miles. The stark contrast was amazing and kept things interesting. Below the cloud, the burnt trees surrounded by fog looked extremely ominous but when I would surface above the clouds the sky was as blue as could be. It was like stitching between two different worlds. -Noel Nelson
After my thirty eight mile day, I set up camp at the first open place I saw. It was on a ridge about fifty feet above the valley floor. I laid down to sleep with good weather and a belly full of McDonald’s, but my sleep was cut short. Two hours after crawling into my tent the wind picked up. Then it started to rain. Then the wind picked up even more. Eventually the wind and rain were so strong, water was getting blown into my tent from the side. That is, when my tent was still standing. About every hour a gust of wind would be so strong that it would blow my tent completely over and I would have to fix it, trying to not get soaked in the process. This made for a long night with sleep nowhere to be found.
In the morning the rain let up but the wind had blown a fog in that was so thick, visibility was about twenty feet. So I threw all my stuff into my backpack and started walking. My next resupply location was in Wrightwood, about twenty five miles from where I slept. As I trudged toward my goals I got word that a snow storm was coming in and temps would be in the low twenties. Having already suffered through a few chilly nights I knew that was not something I wanted to take on. Upon arrival to Wrightwood some hikers offered to let me sleep in a cabin they rented. Instead of paying $60 for a hotel room I could pay $20 for a cabin. Things were looking up, that is until I looked down at my wallet. In the chaos of the night hike and storm I had lost my debit card….
I had $40 in cash but that would only cover my room for the next two nights and I was out of food. A sort of panic sunk in as I tried to think of the logistics of getting money and a new card. All while moving from day to day. After a few deep breaths I figured out how to get a new card but that would take a week. That’s a week without money or food. I felt like I was getting knocked down, standing back up to only get hit again.
After seeing my struggle, my hiking buddy Harry offered to loan me money until my card arrived. A true blessing. So I was able to buy food and if all goes will I will be able to support myself again soon enough.
I think having rough days is part of the process. The uncertainty of it all is what makes it an adventure. Although horrible in the moment, these are the events in life we look back on and laugh about. So for now I continue on my path to Canada, taking each day as it comes. -Noel Nelson