It was very cold this morning but at least it wasn’t windy. The condensation on my tent was frozen solid. When I shook my tent out, the frost came off in flakes enough that I found a fist-sized snowball in the corner of the tent as I rolled it up. I started out with all of my extra layers on once again, but quickly lost them when I hit sun.
The mud continued today, except a lot of it was frozen. The trail was half muddy, half icy, and all slippery. There was still frozen mud well into the afternoon in the shady spots.
I was making good progress on today’s mileage, with about half of my miles, but only a third of my elevation change, done by lunchtime. I had to get my tent out to dry at lunch again, and then started the next steep climb.
There were so many trees down today, and a lot of overgrown and flooded trail. Combined with the mud, I wasn’t actually moving that fast. I went over White Pass, Red Pass, and Kennedy Ridge, and was about to stop for water when I saw a group of hikers already sitting at Pumice Creek. I knew half of them so I stopped to chat.
It turned out that Mustang, a section hiker, was having a lot of knee pain and wasn’t sure she could get out on her own. Other hikers were piling up there to help if they could. Bigfoot and Peter Pan, retired Alaskan NOLS instructors, were already there and had a satellite phone. Someone had already given Mustang a knee compression sleeve and I offered up my patellar tendon strap. Another hiker offered stronger pain meds. Doc, a physical therapist, came along and took a look at her knees while the rest of us examined exit strategies.
We decided to call search and rescue, but the sat phone kept losing signal so it was hard to get through what the problem was in one call and Bigfoot had to keep repeating himself. At that point, he was just calling a store near the trail that I knew had helped in rescues before, and trying to get a phone number of who else we should call. I offered my mom’s assistance, thinking I could call her and she could get us the correct sheriff’s phone number online. The sat phone shows as a weird international number on caller ID though so she didn’t answer and I left a message saying what I needed and that I’d call back.
We could have just pushed the SOS button on my SPOT device but it’s better for search and rescue to have not just location, but detailed information, if possible, which it was with the phone. Especially since it was a non-life threatening situation.
Bigfoot finally got through to local SAR and in between losing signal on the calls, they came up with a plan. They’ll come in with a helicopter at first light tomorrow to pick up Mustang, barring bad weather.
Most of the other hikers had moved on, since we didn’t need everyone. Switchfoot and Clark Kent helped set up camp for Mustang nearby before heading off. I gave Switchfoot my ID so he can maybe pick up my packages at the post office in Stehekin on Saturday if I don’t make it in time for their very limited hours. We also took a picture of the two of us with his phone with me holding a note up saying “Please let this man pick up my two packages,” with a description of the mail. Hopefully it works.
Bigfoot and Peter Pan set up their tent nearby and I squeezed mine in next to Mustang’s in case she needs something overnight. I hope it doesn’t rain! The helicopter apparently doesn’t need much space to land, which is good since there are just a couple of knolls near the ridge trail, but it does need decent weather.
Only 17.5 miles today, about 5 short of where I planned. I’ve received so much help on trail before, both from friends and random strangers, that I felt I needed to provide some help for once, and could in this situation.