Mile 2390.6 Snoqualmie Pass to mile 2461.6 Dinsmores at Skykomish/Baring
A strange day.
Day One Hundred Eight: 18 August 2015
Start: HM 2390.6
End: HM 2412.0 campsite passed river
GPS Point: 47.485145, -121.259155
Day Total: 21.7 miles
Water at Snoqualmie Pass, mile 2405.4 spring fed pools, mile 2408.7 Delate Creek, mile 2411.8 stream
Today I slept in, and I slept very well last night. With the curtains drawn tight, I did not even stir until 6:30 AM. Then I stayed in bed even longer. Having packed last night, there was little to do for trail prep this morning. Endless and I went for coffee and then I realized how few computer chores I had accomplished yesterday. While the others left, I stayed behind to work on the hotel computer. It was annoying but necessary. I even organized the retrieval of my camera from Randy. My dear friend, Jen, who I stayed with in Portland, is going to pick up and mail my camera back to me. I am so relieved to have that all figured out. Even if a bit sad I won’t have my camera to take pictures in Washington. All said and done, I left the hotel around 11 AM.
The trail was surprisingly busy! So many day hikers and evident short trippers. Not to mention the 3000 foot climb for the first several miles. A breeze… Since I was already a couple hours behind my group, I tried not to stall too long at any point until I knew I was on good footing for today’s mileage. Luckily we only planned about 21 miles.
It hadn’t been smokey yesterday, but today you could see and smell new smoke permeating through the mountains. Washington is a state on fire. In fact, much of the west coast seems to be on fire.
The day was very hot. Beautiful scenery in every direction, yet all I could focus on was the rocky trail, the heat, and my delay getting on trail.
I caught Diatom, Endless, and Tami at the spring fed pools. Great timing. I needed water and had to borrow a filter. We were all out of water by then, but only needed a little to get us by until the Delate Creek waterfall. Beautiful, clean water.
We continued towards Lemah Creek and met Glider, or Glide On. He said he hiked to his own tune, and is currently on an 8000 mile loop of the western U.S. There were many people already camped there, so on we went. Worried we might have cramped quarters, we found a nice big camp area for tonight. There was a man named Mark already here. He came out of his tent and spent the evening with us. He talked a lot about the currency exchange business. Very modest about his ambitions, he might have things figured out for capitalizing earned profit without investing much personal time. Interesting guy. He’s hiking Washington.
A tough section.
Day One Hundred Nine: 19 August 2015
Start: HM 2412.0
End: HM 2439.5 campsite
GPS Point: 47.587502, -121.147081
Day Total: 27.5 miles
Water at mile 2425.3 Waptus River, mile 2426.1 Spade Creek, mile 2432.2 large creek, mile 2438.7 large creek
I woke up feeling really good but wanting to sleep longer. I was attacked by rodents last night and didn’t sleep until midnight. Must have set up my ground cloth right on a main rodent travel route. Obnoxious! Literally had a rodent crawl up beside me, run through my hair, and one ran by throwing pine needles all over me. The stars were great, though I do wonder why I cowboy camp sometimes.
The start of today was a 3000 foot climb. Not as difficult as yesterday’s climb but still a hardy effort. Luckily it was all in the shade of the mountain, the sun not yet burning down. Today was extremely hot and sunny.
We lunched early at Spade Creek because two cold pools were calling Tami’s and my names to the icy river. Great stop! We had another climb this afternoon and it wiped us out. So glad I had that cold swim. Today was long with lots of uphill and downhill.
We hiked by Cathedral Peak this evening. Big spires bearing down on us. I also saw Weeping Pine trees. Think weeping willows but for pine trees. Really intriguing and pretty. This evening we finally had a view without smoke. Washington has been beautiful but I am missing out on most of it. My only other comment for the day is that there seem to be too many section hikers. The trail was very busy today. I am especially irked when people are unaware that uphill hikers have the right of way. I may enjoy the rest occasionally, but usually it becomes frustrating to start and stop up and already arduous incline.
An unexpected ending.
Day One Hundred Ten: 20 August 2015
Start: HM 2439.5
End: HM 2461.6 Dinsmores
GPS Point: 47.77507, -121.48689
Day Total: 22.1 miles
Water at mile 2451.5 seasonal stream, mile Dinsmores
We had four passes today: Deception Pass, Pieper Pass, Trap Pass, and Stevens Pass. None were particularly difficult but they each provided small challenges. With our shorter first day out, we had a full day for today on miles. This whole last stretch has been unexpectedly more work than I anticipated. The steep ups and downs, the rocky and loose footing, the traffic of other hikers, and my slowly depleting motivation. Washington has been tough.
Coming off Trap Pass, I startled three mountain goats (one was a baby!) about thirty feet in front of me. So cool! They wasted no time climbing back up the steep mountain face to get away. I wish my hiking prowess matched that of a mountain goat. They moved back up the steep cliff with a casual ease that I have only accomplished on flat terrain. Incredible animals.
I also saw three or so grouse. Back in the Sierras I saw a bird I could not identify but thought might be a grouse. The recent abundance of grouse has confirmed that observation. Silly little birds that look like baby turkeys.
We had planned an early lunch at Mig Lake. I stopped to wait for the others and almost took off without them. The day was cold and misty. I thought it might turn back into the same weather we experienced leaving White Pass. Luckily we only experienced walking in a cloud and the moisture remained relatively minimal.
I played leap frog with Shiek, Frog, and Popsicle all morning. They ultimately were camped closer to town and arrived there first, but I am sure they were tired of crossing my path.
A few miles out from Stevens Pass, my phone gained service and S&M texted me that this was the end. The trail is done. Fires rule the rest of Washington. And these were going to be the last three miles of the trail for 2015. I waited for the others, who were shortly behind me, and shared the news. We hiked slowly for those last three miles to town. Trying to take in our last trail moments. Still going through the options and alternatives. Hoping it wasn’t true. How could this be the end already?
Martha, Tami’s friend from Seattle, picked us up and drove us into Skykomish. We found S&M there and had a quick reunion. All of us went over to the cafe to eat and catch up. We talked fire alternative options, called various places, and looked for any possibility to hike to the border. Lots of mixed information. Three firefighters have died, three fires are growing out of control, there is a lack of personnel, communities are being evacuated, people are in danger, and hundreds of thousands of acres of land are burning across the northwest. Really puts life into perspective, the hike into perspective. When all this is going on, how can I selfishly want to hike through a fire ridden area? But the abruptness and unexpected nature of Stevens Pass being the end is a lot to take in. We are 190 miles from the border. That’s a good chunk of distance, a solid portion of Washington completely closed and not hiked.
Is this really the end? I thought I would at least have a few more days on trail. More time to reflect. More time fire closure. Just more time period. Oregon and Washington were like a blur. I feel robbed in some ways. And then self chastised for demanding so much when I’ve contributed so little to society over the last four months. My privileged life allowing endeavors such as this hike.
We went to the Dinsmores for the night. No plans have been decided. In the morning we will gather the newest information and make a plan from there. There are a fair amount of hikers here and no one quite knows what they are going to do. We showered, did laundry, borrowed loaner clothes, relaxed, and let the reality of the day sink it.
Trail magic is still alive!
Day One Hundred Eleven: 21 August 2015
Start: HM 2461.6
End: HM 2461.6 North Seattle Friends Church
GPS Point: 47.68598, -122.30152
Day Total: ZERO
Water at faucets.
I slept so well last night. My first time ever using ear plugs and it was the best decision! I fell asleep and never woke up once until this morning. So nice! Endless and I were packed up early and we headed to town with a man who stopped by to see if anyone needed a ride away from Skykomish. We had him drop us by the cafe. The other three were planning to arrive a short while later via Jerry Dinsmore.
When we first arrived, the whole cafe was filled with firefighter teams that have been in the area the last week. One of them told us they had just finished containing a fire and were all heading onto the next location. So many fires in Washington! When the cafe finally opened, we went inside and were joined by Daybreaker and a man named Chris. Chris is the local who’s who of fire information. He had a lot of information and happily shared everything he knew about every subject. By the time the others had arrived, I was fairly convinced the trail would not be opening anytime soon.
We sat at the cafe for a solid couple hours. My last double breakfast order. When we had finally made our plans and were ready to get into action, we discovered that Thirty Pack had bought our breakfast. He hiked the PCT in 2013 and was paying forward a time when someone had bought his breakfast. He didn’t tell us, and had even told the waitress not tell let us know until after he left. How awesome is that? I have never felt so motivated to pay forward all the generosity that has been shown to me in the past four months.
Our final plan was to head to Seattle and rent a car to drive to Manning Park in Canada and hike to the terminus. If the rental turned out too expensive, we had bus options lined up as well. Things we decided. S&M was also headed to Seattle, but she had plans for heading south. Back to Snoqualmie to hike to Oregon, then jump over to the Oregon Coast Trail to bypass those fires. I am so sad that we did not get to hike with her! Had we realized that Stevens Pass would be the end, we would have met her at Snoqualmie at the least. Or even waited at White Pass. She arrived to the Dinsmores the day before us and all we had was a brief 24 hours with her.
Ready to head to Seattle, we walked to the main road to begin a hitching attempt. Before we even stuck out a thumb, a giant mug replica caught our attentions for a quick photo op and allowed the trail to provide. A girl named Honeybee pulled up and said she was headed towards the coast to go around the fire north and pick up her boyfriend from the Northwest Trail. She offered us a ride to Seattle. Diatom, Tami, S&M, Endless, and I all hopped in and ride like sardines from the Skykomish Deli to the Lynnwood bus depot. S&M got off there for a bus to people she knows in Seattle to take her back to Snoqualmie Pass to begin heading south. The rest of us went to Starbucks.
Our trail angel, Martha, came back for us. We left our belongings at Martha’s and went out on a tour of the city. The bus there had great views. Our first stop was Pike Place and the Public Market. Saw the famous fish throw booth, mini donuts booth, French bakery, very first Starbucks, and more. Then walked up to the Space Needle, art park, fountain, and then to Tuk Tim Thai for supper. Martha lured us back with freshly baked cookies and ice cream! Then we chilled a minute and hung out with her roommates. She dropped us off at a church she works at and we were allowed to stay inside. It was super nice of her to offer a place to stay. We are sprawled out in the community room. It’s pretty great!
Other great news is that Diatom found us a car! We do not have to rent now! The universe must want us to do this. Good signs all around. Super easy hitch to Seattle, a vehicle to borrow, everything located closely to Martha’s. The trail is providing us with what we need. I am so sleepy it is ridiculous. Last nite that Tami and I have weird itchy foot bites or rash or something. Super irritating!
Heading to Canada.
Day One Hundred Twelve: 22 August 2015
Start: HM 2461.6
End: HM 2461.6 Hamptom camp area
GPS Point: 49.07059, -120.80306
Day Total: ZERO
Water at faucets, at Hampton camp spigot
All was well this morning. I had another night of great sleep! Tami and Diatom walked over to pick up the car. We all packed up and went to a cafe. Around the time Diatom’s envelope was supposed to show up, we went to the post office. Success! His passport had arrived. We stopped by a grocery for snacks of fresh fruit and set out. Things were going well. Extremely well. Every step of the way was handed to us, seamlessly. We were really excited to head to the border. Unfortunately, our luck ran out momentarily and we were in a little wreck. No one was hurt and the situation was small. But it caused a change in plans. AAA left us stranded on the side of a hot interstate for four hours before our tow finally arrived. We were not going to arrive in Canada with the borrowed vehicle. And the whole ordeal had us shaken up to not even want to rent a vehicle.
Back to our trail angel, Martha, aka Sidecar (she has taken a trail name). She has come to the rescue and generously stepped up to help us reach our dream. She dropped everything and drove us to Canada. I am not making this up. Martha changed her schedule and volunteered to take us to Canada. I am truly thankful. The others could have made it still via bus, but I had already booked a flight and would not have been able to make it back in time by bus transit.
We reached Manning Park just before midnight. It was dark and cold. Some guy took our reserved campsite. We had to find an open spot at the Hampton camp area instead. Squeezing all our tents onto the cozy gravel pad. What a day. I can hardly believe we woke up in Baring yesterday and are now going to sleep in Canada tonight.
Day One Hundred Thirteen: 23 August 2015
Start: Alternate route to Monument 78
End: HM 2658.9 Coldspring Provincial Park
GPS Point: 49.07059, -120.80306
Day Total: 15 miles
Water at Hampton camp area.
This morning was cold and things were wet with dew. Still an overall calm and nice morning. We all slept in. Martha dropped us off at a trail for Monument 78. Turned out to be an unmaintained old road that walked around the mountain (i.e. no elevation gain) and was shorter (I am estimating 6 miles) than the PCT. Interesting that there is a second trail to the terminus. Also interesting that the Canada side lead us to this alternate trail instead of the PCT route.
We reached the northern terminus. There are two structures. The hollow, metal monument that has a 78 on it (register inside). Then the multi-tiered wooded monument that has the elevation, trail distance, terminus note, and PCT placard. Someone poked U.S. and Canada flags into the monument. It this real?
How do I put into words what it is like to finally reach the northern terminus? Washington ending not how expected. Almost not even making it to the terminus. Walking into the terminus from the opposite direction. The realization that I still have 190 miles of trail to finish, plus a few places in CA that I would like to hike again. The people I have met and my many encounters with humanity. The places I have gone and the things I have seen. Every moment, and all the experiences. There is no single way to sum this up. The close of one adventure is always the opening of a new one. To steal the phrase, “…the road is life” (Jack Kerouac).
We hiked back via the PCT. It ended on Hwy 3 at Manning Park Lodge. We walked over to the lodge and took advantage of their hiker deal for access to the pool and saunas. After a long soak in the salt water hot tub and swimming pool, I showered with soap. Tami had left with her parents, Dennis and Susan, but came back with Martha to retrieve us and take us to camp. The guy who stole our spot was still there, but Martha moved over to Coldspring Provencial Park and was set up across from Tami’s parents.
Dennis and Susan provided fantastic trail magic for us! Supper of Idaho beef burgers, hot dogs, garden tomatoes and lettuce, other garden veggies with humus, a bean and beef dish, and dessert of salted caramel ice cream with three types of cookies: double chocolate, snicker doodles, and peanut butter. So much good food! They are such sweet people. I met them first in Bishop when they came out for Tami’s birthday back in the Sierras.
Very full and sleepy. Snuggled into my warm sleeping quilt.
It’s all over now.
Day One Hundred Fourteen: 24 August 2015
Start: HM 2658.9
End: HM 2658.9
GPS Point: 39.83966, -104.67212
Day Total: ZERO
Water at fountains.
Dennis and Susan made us breakfast this morning too. Sourdough pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, warm syrup, and hot chocolate. Delicious! The Ankeny’s are very kind and generous people. I would have easily made due with whatever trail food I had left, but they were definitely a welcome surprise.
We slept in, ate copiously, and sat around chatting. Packing up was surreal. Today I packed for a flight. The trail is over. Diatom is taking my knife and trekking poles so I can pick them up later when I drive through Santa Cruz with my sister. Check out was 11 AM and we hit the road. Our first goodbyes were for Tami, who is heading home with her parents via trailer travel.
The four of us remaining drive back towards Seattle. Besides the border guard giving Endless a second and third look over, we made it back with an uneventful drive. The beautiful scenery a blur as my mind reflected to everything the past four months have been. Diatom was next for goodbyes. We dropped him at the bus station to head to Portland where he will stay with his sister before catching the train back to SoCal. Last was Endless and I getting off at the airport. We hugged Martha goodbye and thanked her for everything she made possible and everything she did for us. Endless is off on a continued adventure of getting home to Massachusetts via hitch hiking after spending some more time with friends in Washington. We said our goodbyes and I headed for my terminal. My flight was at 7:45 PM. Sea-Tac to Denver. I worked on updating pictures and social media before taking off. Strange to call this my final entry. I landed in Denver and was picked up by my dad. We are staying near the airport tonight to drive to Kansas tomorrow after some errands around the city. My non trail life picking up as easily as I left it behind four months ago.
This is the end. The trail is over.