Hiking With Jason

Detached From Reality

Day 12: Long climb into the Collegiate West


Twin Lakes to mile 16 of Collegiate West

About 17.5 miles

5 Star’s alarm went off at 530. I was dying of thirst. I went to the bathroom and got some water. I packed up all my stuff and put on my shoes. Then I realized my underwear was still hanging up to dry. Well, looks like I’m going commando today. I grabbed my underwear and shoved it in my pack. We headed down stairs and grabbed our to go breakfast they left us. A hard boiled egg, cheerios, an orange, a muffin, and a nature valley granola bar. Oh boy. The muffin was good. I left everything else except the egg. I would eat it while walking. I also downed the chocolate I got yesterday.

At 6 we were ready to take off and we began the road walk to get to the Collegiate West portion of the trail.  It was about a 3 mile road walk and then a 2 mile trail to tie back into the CT. We started at 9,200 feet and had to get to 12,500. 2,700 feet of it was over 3 miles.



We crossed over a bridge and made our way to the trail that would connect back to the CT. The trail was rough and very steep. I was already getting tired before we even got back on trail.




After about 2 miles we were back on the CT. Only 3 miles and 2,700 feet to the top of Hope Pass. I wish I could listen to an audio book but I am concerned about having enough battery. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to charge anything until we get to Silverton.



The trail was steep. So very steep. About 900 feet a mile. That is a lot. I prefer to have it below 300 feet a mile. I took my time and let the speedsters go on ahead. About half way up I saw another 5 Star original.


It was pretty cold and wet out. My breath was steaming and I could also see steam rise off things. I came to an old cabin and there was a lot of steam coming off it and the surrounding wood. It is too bad pictures can never capture the true beauty of everything out here.


I was about 1300 feet from the top when this gaggle of hikers passed me heading down. At least 20 of them. They were all young, very early 20s at most. Their packs were huge. So heavy with unnecessary things hanging off them. I’m sure someone brought a cast iron skillet.



I huff and puff my way up and see 5 Star and Songbird sitting in the shade watching the circus go by. I walk up to them and just fall face first into the grass. I am exhausted. I lay there for a bit and then roll over.



I pull out my sitting pad and eat some Cheetos. We are at 11,500 feet and have another 1,000 feet. 5 Star and Songbird talk while I just lay there moving as little as possible.

After 40 minutes we get up to go kick some Hope Pass ass. We start walking through a very soggy and muddy part of the trail. I try to rock hope to keep from getting muddy feet but rocks are few and far between. By the time I get through the mud my feet are wet. Nothing better than soggy feet in the morning.



After the mud we started getting spectacular views. It was absolutely amazing. It was hard to believe I was experiencing such beauty again.




We also could look back and see Twin Lakes.  Pictured never capture how immense everything is. Twin Lakes looked so far away and yet we were there only 4 hours ago.


Once we hit about 12,000 feet it was starting to get hard to walk more than 50 feet. It was still steep and the low oxygen was making progress very slow. We constantly had to stop and catch our breath.




I crossed a snow patch and only had another 100 feet to climb. 5 Star was already at the top while I all but crawled to the top. At the top was a cairn with sticks and prayer flags.





We started to make our way back down. Whomever the trail planner was for this section is a sadist that must hate switch backs. It was so steep going down. Also, it was very rough and rocky. My knees were not happy. It is very hard to get a picture to show how steep the trail is.






At times we were dropping 1,200 feet a mile. That is crazy. At 1145 we passed a creek and I spotted a flat shady spot. We dropped our packs and just laid there. Too tired to pull out food. I ate some of my food and a bit of Songbirds pasta that she made.


The sky was starting to turn dark so we got up to hike on. The trail started to go up a bit and I was not having it. I ate way too much and felt bad. I was moving pretty slow. The sky was getting much darker and so I tried to pick up the pace.


I came across 5 Star and Songbird getting water so I just passed them since I was moving so slow. I hiked for about 30 minutes until I came to a bridge. I waited for them to show up before I continued. We seemed to have skirted around the dark clouds into a patch of blue sky.


We started to make our way through a valley and away from the dark clouds. We were all feeling a bit sluggish. We stopped for a quick break to decide how much further we wanted to go. We decided to go another 3 miles unless we found a good spot. I was starting to get some wicked butt chafe. I couldn’t wait to stop so I could sit in a creek.



We hiked about 2 miles before seeing a nice spot by the creek that even had some log benches. We checked it out and decided it was good enough. I dropped my tent and just laid there. Too tired and lazy to set up my tent. I wish it would set itself up.

After setting up camp Songbird and I went down to the creek to sit in it. It was so damn cold! I lasted maybe 10 seconds. We sat on the logs after and talked until it started to thunder and we felt rain. I crawled in my tent and just laid there. The rain never came and the thunder died off quick.

I started to write when 5 Star announced “I’m pooped.” I look out my tent and see he is holding toilet paper. I asked if he was pooped or if he pooped. He said he pooped and that took the last of his energy and that he was retiring. It was only 430.

After an hour I hear rustling in 5 Star’s tent. I get out of my tent to see if my shorts were dry and say “I thought you were pooped?” He responded that he took a nap and drank a Gatorade.


I ate some food and then went out to see what 5 Star was up to. He was sitting on the log bench so I joined him. We talked for a bit and started throwing sticks at Songbird’s tent. She came out and joined us.

One of the hikers, Geronimo, we met yesterday walked by and set up next to us. He is an interesting guy. Studied Russian and Arabic and just joined the Navy. We talked for awhile about food and the PCT. Mostly about food though. It started to get cold around 730 so I said I was done and jumping into my tent.

Tomorrow we have another pass to go over that is at 12,600 feet. We only ha e about 2,000 feet of climbing to do but it is over 3.5 miles.


  1. Where’s all your energy? I thought you were the youngest

  2. How do you “forget” to put on your underwear and was your butt chafe due to your forgetfulness? I guess that’s the side effects of feeding your brain cheetos.

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