On my latest trip I was both satisfied and somewhat baffled. See the trip report here. On day one I started at Longmire and proceeded CW with the intention of staying at Golden Lakes, and everything went exactly as planned with about a 15 hour day for 25 miles and 7500 feet elevation gain. I had a nice sleep on the ranger cabin porch and got about 5 hours in, rising early at 5 AM to tackle day 2, which would be challenging at 32 miles and 8,800 feet of gain. However, according to "past practices" this should have taken me about 16-17 hours, plus a little more thrown in for the various difficulties I experienced due to lack of trail maintenance: 1) no bridges over the Mowich Rivers, 2) blowdown, 3) trail eradicated crossing the S Fork of the White River, 4) eroded trail section above Garda Falls, and 5) snow at Skyscraper Pass. However, it wasn't until 22 hours later that I pulled into the parking lot and awaiting vehicle with the eastern sky already getting light.
I was moving slowly, but managed to finish off with the old ultra mantra of "relentless forward movement." Day 2 started off with my body never feeling quite on. One thing going for me though, the mental toughness that I learned over the years came to the fore and I was able to soldier on. It was interesting that despite an obviously physically punishing day, I told myself that "I wanted to do tough things this year so just suck it up and enjoy what you can, it's only a little pain." So I did....enjoy things I mean, like a blazing star show everytime I stopped to rest and turned off my light, an ever present flower riot, and sense of isolation and wilderness experience that came with hiking this unmaintained trail in June, even the biting winds above 6000 feet.
I've decided to take a week off and hope that some recovery time after this grueling event will help me on my next hike. So far I guess I'm getting what I planned on, so why stop now?
GEAR NOTES: On this hike I tailored my kit for the warm conditions and excellent weather forecast:
Zimmerbuilt custom Backpack and Frontpack
Enlightened Equipment 50 degree Enigma quilt
NeoAir XLite pad
Mountain Laurel Designs Sleeping Quilt/Bag Liner (used as bivy bag)
24 oz bike bottle/1 liter of Tailwind supplement
ZPacks carbon fiber staff
Clothing bag: left insulated jacket but included Borah Gear down vest. Always included: Montbell windshirt, ZPacks fleece mitts and overmitts, ZPacks WPB cuben XLarge/long cut jacket, fleece hat, EE Hoodlum, sun cap and cape, Halo beanie, spare socks, Beyond Clothing sleep top.