We were on the trail by 8:05, so not bad as we had 16 k to complete today and I knew that the dreaded Hill from Hell (or at least 2/3rds of it) lay ahead.
This was mostly territory we had covered before. The rock fields were not a surprise, but, we had forgotten how much downhill we had hiked as we were coming down to Og. As they say, what comes down, must go back up. Still, it was nothing insurmountable and with stops for rest and hydration we made it up to the traverse trail that would keep us on the up side of Porcupine, thus saving us from climbing up another 140 m. As per usual, our rest stop was only about a 100 feet from the trail marker, so were pleased to see it appear so soon, when we started back off.
The narrow traverse trail allowed for good progress past meadows, scree slopes, peaks and through fields of flowers. The trail was really nothing more than a goat track. After the previous night’s rain, one misplaced step could send you down the steep slope into the valley. Juggling the side slope and a now 35 pound pack was a challenge, but we made it through without incident….
…until we arrived back at the Hill from Hell and over 300 m (984 feet) of ascent up to the false summit near a lake where we had planned our lunch stop. At the bottom of the hill, we stopped for hydration and a bit of protein, before moving on, slowly. It was at this point that the younger members of our group told us they were going to shred the hill. I was having issues with catching my breath this day (later determined to be an caused by an unbalanced pack), so I was convinced at that time that the hill would shred me. M and I were soon trailing well behind the more energetic young ones.
I found myself needing to stop frequently and felt I was holding M back. He assured me he was in no hurry and pointed out photo opportunities for me, so we could justify our stops as photo ops, rather than exhaustion stops.
Most of the photos I took on the way up were of flora and fauna (coming in other posts), as I had taken so many on the way down, 2 days earlier. But, I did snap one more of the view from this miserable hill.
Eventually, we reached the top to hear that the young folk had been in the lake for a skinny dip to cool off. As they were now fully dressed and doing water prep, we wondered just how far behind them we were.
Hunger and thirst satisfied, we set off up the last portion of the hill and headed for the Citadel Pass. After the pass, we started to see hikers passing us and thought that was odd, as it was now getting towards 3 PM and they were still 2 hours from Porcupine campground. The trail was now mostly flat or slightly downhill and we really made good time.
We reached Howard Douglas campground just before 4 PM, after a hike of some 16 k and 7 1/2 hours. Yay?? Tomorrow would be an easier day, right?