Cumulative Miles: 1072.5
We were treated to a nice breakfast at "Little Haven" just outside Belden before returning to the trail for a big climb. (Thank you Braatens for the hospitality).
We dragged our feet because we knew we were facing one of the biggest steepest climbs of the entire PCT. It held a grade 2-3 times steeper than the usual grade of the trail, and climbed close to 5000 feet in less than eight miles. Our packs were loaded full for a 5-6 day leg to Sierra City, and the climb was waterless, so we were packing heavy water loads.
After a quick stop at the store, we donned our packs and made the ascent, which turned out to be easier than expected, but it would be a lie to say that our legs didn't quiver with fatigue for perhaps the first time on the trail. As we made our climb, we were dropped into a treeless stretch which offered amazing views in all directions. The trail was dense with ferns, and even thicker with the rich green smell of the plant.
We took lunch two-thirds of the way up the climb. Stunning views in all directions, and more hill to climb. At times the hillside was so steep, it was a wonder any vegetation grew at all. As we finished our climb, we were offered a few flat miles with wide even tread making our walk simple, and allowing our bodies to catch a break before we climbed up into the snow.
Taking a rest at a stream ten miles up, we filtered water before moving along again. Five hundred feet further, we were met with a creek which required us to stop and take our shoes off to cross.
While the snow was fatigueing, the trail was easily found allowing us to move at a decent pace. As we neared the top of the ridge, which we walked along for the remainder of the day, we looked down upon Silver Lake, a mid-sized lake complete with an island in the middle of its blue waters.
Trudging over the snow, we bumped up and down all the small crests of the ridge until finally arriving at our camp. Not long before reaching our site, we noticed mountain lion prints in the snow, just beside another person's tracks. It was evident the hiker was being tracked out of curiosity by the cat. We wondered if our prints would soon be greeted with the paws of another mountain lion.
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