We were packed up and on the go by 9am. We were a mile into the tussocks when we decided to scrap our route and cut across to the mountains. We were sick of walking on tussocks and figured that once we got off the flats things would get better. We changed from a southwest heading to nearly due west. This was going to shave a mile off the flats.
When we got to the base of the mountain there was a stream. It was wide enough that we couldn't jump so we walked a little way till we found a place to cross. Relief was just on the other side of the stream. Or so we thought.
We crossed the stream and not only were there more tussocks! They were bigger tussocks! While hiking uphill! And these ones were full of boggy water! And the flies seemed to get worse! But it wasn't going to last much longer. Yes, it was!
An hour later and only 200ft higher we arrived at a stream. The ground was rocky, the water was fresh and cold, tucked among willow thicket and a floor lined with moss. It was relief from the heat. I walked around with my boots off and just let my feet breathe. We rested for nearly a half hour, crying to each other about how miserable it just was and laughing too. But at least now we were in mountainous terrain. Wrong!
We continued wrapping around and ascending the mountain, in minor tussocks, primarily a little spongey but firmer than the last set.
We stopped now 800ft above the valley floor. We had some snacks and water. Eric had a Nootropic Icing Keto Brick and we had some Heathers Choice Packaroons. The cherry almond was quite tasty.
20 minutes later we started hiking again. Previously I was setting the pace and waiting for Eric. But before long he was kicking my butt and far out pacing me. It was like the Nootropic Keto Brick was loaded with adrenaline, steroids, and crack. Or so we joked. He was hauling it up the mountain and feeling great. Meanwhile I was feeling beat. "Just put one foot in front of the other..." No....! It was back. That stupid song was back in my head.
By the time I was 400ft higher Eric was another 200ft higher than me. I would walk 10 steps and rest, walk 8 steps and rest. Till finally I was in the high valley. I dropped my pack, hydrated and wandering back northeast around the mountain. I wanted one last look at the stretch we had just covered.
I could see the peak behind the glacier, 19 miles away. Since leaving the glacier I'd covered well over 40 miles.
I stayed out there for around 15 minutes taking it in. Eric had since walked over and went a bit further around. I went back to the packs and waited for him.
We started hiking on. About three quarter miles in we were 400ft below the original planned route. There was a neat place to camp up there, but it was only 4pm and we were already about 8 miles behind schedule. We pushed on.
Soon we came to a little creek where we soaked our hats and faces, cooled off and topped off our water bottles. I had run out of water about a half hour earlier. Then we kept hiking.
Four hours after our snack break Eric's Nootropic Brick wore off. He said the energy dissipated rather fast there at the end. We stopped and he tried another flavor, but it didn't seem to have the same effect.
We slogged on, just a little further, and a little further. Until finally it was as soon as we find a nice dry level spot to camp.
Finally, now 9pm we dropped our bags and set to put up camp. The wind picked up which was fun to set a tent in.
We covered around 9 miles that day. Before reaching the camp spot Eric and I were discussing it. We weren't having fun anymore. Why were we doing this? It showed no signs of getting better and we still had 60 or so miles to go, 40 or so of those miles consisting of hiking, and all signs pointed to hiking through tussocks. Both of our wives wanted us home. Though they gave us the go ahead to continue, they really liked the sound of us getting back sooner.
Why were we still going? My answer was more curiosity, and it was cheaper to walk than to call in a flight. Eric's response seemed more strictly to prove Matt wrong. He picked up on Matt's skepticism we would make it out on foot. But to heck with it! It wasn't fun and our time could be more productive elsewhere and our families were eager to have us return. We texted Matt for a pickup.