PCT back in action!

I am ecstatic to say that I will be reuniting with my PCT trail family at the end of this month to finish the last 200 miles of trail that were closed last summer due to fires. I have been giddy with anticipation, so all my excitement has bubbled up as word vomit!

Brief recap of my past year:
I moved to California. I miss Colorado, but have been enjoying the beach life! Grad school fills 99% of my time. With the other 1% I do exciting things like sleep, eat, and explore southern California.

Recently I ventured back into the Sierras to the Rae Lakes and 60 Lakes Basin areas. Obviously, I am now pumped for getting back on trail. The one unfortunate aspect of grad school is that my exercise habits have been tossed aside for vending machine meals and late night coffee benders. My crew is setting an admirable pace of 25 mile days, so we will see how my body holds up. No time like the present to get back into shape! Anyways, I am packing my food boxes tonight to ship off tomorrow. And by the end of next week I will be standing in Seattle, making final preparations before hitting the trail. The plan is to meet up with my hiking companions in Seattle and then ride out to Skykomish together. We will take the trail running and zoom up to Canada. This will be my last summer jaunt through the woods before cracking down on some research goals and preparations for my new adventure to Antarctica this fall. I cannot wait to see my trail family and be back outside! My brain and body need a vacation from laboratory life.

This is all you get until I cover some ground. Stay tuned!

Post Hike Reflection

Kansas was a nice start. I had instant sensory overload despite the humble surroundings that location entailed. Access to too many distractions with lots to do. After a day of movie binging, I borrowed my dad’s trimmers and finally buzzed off the leg sweaters I have been growing for two months. I only shaved one time during the whole trip, in South Lake Tahoe. It was way overdue. Other than that I am having a hard time adjusting from a lifestyle of few decisions and responsibilities beyond food, hiking, and sleep, to a deluge of tasks pushed onto me. From posting the last trail photos, sorting four months of mail, finally dealing with four months of emails, researching life in California, and making a To Do list, I was overwhelmed. I cannot even think about the daunting task of photo work once I have my camera back, which is soon to be in the mail! Thanks Jen! I also have to focus on my food intake. Make sure I am eating appropriate quantities to my current exercise levels (that is to say no exercise…for now) and eating super healthy and low fat (not that junk food sounds at all appealing thankfully!). Having not cooked or baked in several months, my motivation started out low for wanting to even think about food that wasn’t instantly gratifying and accessible. I went from a very simple routine to one of many tasks. Sort things, go through boxes, make appointments and remember them, do things, meet up with people. I know it is only a matter of time, but my multitasking skills are low right now. I want to slowly ease myself into the mental stimulation of non trail life.

There are other challenges too. Non trail people. It is exhausting trying to answer all these questions about my trip. It’s not like I can just sum up four months of something so unique in a short three sentence overview. The end of the trail hasn’t quite fully set in either. I am partly in denial and somewhat unsure how to be around people. On the flight coming home, this girl next to me exclaimed that she thought she was seeing smoke that looked like it came from a fire. My response was that a lot of Washington is on fire currently. That was all I knew how to say without being roped into a conversation that I didn’t want to have. Can I just have some quiet solitude to reflect, absorb, and organize my brain?
I have regained some personal skills and survived the exposure to many people at a wedding I attended. Congrats Kristin and Travis! But the whole thing exhausted my energy reserves for human interaction. Which was nice timing because I then spent two days really focused on sorting through boxes and purging stuff to make a single car load to California. A daunting and not so simple task while my vehicle was sitting at a body shop away from my packing grasp. Packing took place up to the last moments before I hit the road, as per my usual, er um, timeliness. Somehow I squeezed everything in without ditching much more than I had already purged pre PCT. Go me! And I still managed to leave a space for my sister for our road trip!
I had a last minute surprise when Endless stopped in Colby at the Oasis truck stop on his grand hitchhiking adventure across the U.S. We unfortunately only had a short visit before I needed to start driving towards Colorado and he needed to get back at finding hitches. For the Endless fans out there, he made it safely to KC before flying the rest of the way home. He is currently off on numerous other adventures around the east coast.
I spent several days in Colorado tying up loose ends. My sister flew in and several of us hiked a 14er, Mount Sherman in the Colorado Mosquito Range, at 14,043 feet. My last 14er as a CO resident. I am glad I was able to have one last hike. I also took my first post-hike trail run up to Mallory Cave from Mesa and NCAR Trails. My legs felt great afterwards but had a slow start. After all the last minute prep and route investigations, my sister and I took off from Boulder for a grand road trip tour towards Santa Barbara.
We started through Estes into Rocky Mountain National Park, taking the scenic route through to the west side. Hopped onto I-70 and cruised towards Gypsum, our first night of camping.The next day we hit up Grand Junction, CO, before heading around the Colorado National Monument. So cool! Wish I had know about that place sooner! We made it into Utah and saw the beautiful Goblin Valley National Park en route to Capitol Reef National Park. We stopped for a few short hikes and sights. The views were stunning in the evening setting sun. We stopped at a gas station to try out my culinary skills, or lack there of. Apparently not cooking for four months has truly messed up my cooking logic. We ate runny Mac ’n Peazy with a slight plastic taste. Overall, pretty unappetizing. My amazing sister kept up a good show at swallowing down the disaster I had prepared. Sorry sis! On day three, we took a Devil’s Backbone detour while heading through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park. How incredible! Then into Bryce Canyon National Park with several small trail excursions. While leaving, we stopped at Thunderbird Cafe for “Ho-made Pie.” Whatever that means… A quick pie-induced lack of attention lead us on a short 30 mile detour, whoops! Then we caught Zion National Park for another stunning sunset scenery viewing. How colorful rock formations look so much more impressive when mixed with long, golden rays of the setting sun. I was particularly blown away by the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. Built in the 1920-30’s, it is 1.1 miles long, creating direct access to Zion from Bryce. Convenient and a feat of its time. Wow! The NP doesn’t allow personal vehicles on the scenic drive, so we took the bus up the valley. Had a nice walk towards the Narrows. We are already planning a big hike through these parks. I really want to do the Hayduke Trail, but maybe we could just catch a shorter portion together. It was dark as we came out of the valley, and we were chatting too much to realize we had missed our bus stop. Whoops #2! We walked the mile plus back to our vehicle, along a narrow two lane road, in the dark… Night three of setting up camp in the dark. The next day we went through Sand Hollow State Park, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Snow Canyon State Park, Valley of Fire State Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. We stopped for a long lunch with my friend Kait in Las Vegas. She generously let us shower before heading out. Good thing too, the next two days were hot and sticky! Day five was spent sweating through Death Valley National Park. So many cool places! I have been here before, but not during the season where signs are posted advising NO hiking during the month of September and all the dangers associated with heat. Fun times! We made the obligatory stop at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. At 282 feet below sea level, Death Valley was already at 98 degrees by 8 AM that morning. It definitely earns its name. A road trip wouldn’t be a road trip without our last off-roading trip to Leadville Ghost Town via the Titus Canyon Road. Quite the fun roller coaster with my Escape fully loaded down… We at least didn’t try to brave the drive out to the Racetrack Playa Hahaha! Leaving Death Valley, we went right across Walker Pass! I stopped and reminisced my PCT days. How long ago that seems, heading into the Sierras. Almost a different life. We continued on for Bakersfield. As per local custom, we turned that stop into a glutton-fest. Huge supper followed by a candy shop with a whole double-sided menu of all the ice cream desserts they were capable of. It was too much. That stop set us into a quickly impeding food coma. Which worked out perfectly. The next day, the last day of our road trip, we wandered through Los Padres National Forest and into Santa Barbara/Goleta. My new home.
We spent the rest of the weekend unpacking, spending the last of my nonexistent cash reserve to outfit my new life. What a surreal last six months. A lot has happened. I will need time to process everything that was and is now. My sister and I had one last hurrah as we drove Hwy 1 up the coast to return her to Berkeley. Taking in the mesmerizing views of the mighty Pacific. The one thing I know will be a highlight of my life in California. The never-ending mystery of water and the ocean. A sanctuary in itself. I drove back via Hwy 101 and finished some furniture building and organizing. School starts next week. This weekend I go to Channel Islands with some geology grads and faculty for some pre-quarter bonding. Jumping right in with both feet.
Our road trip map can be found at:
Click Here for Map!

PCT By the Numbers and Final PCT Mileage Log

PCT By the Numbers:

2478.7 – Total hiked miles (including side trips).

188.5 – Closed miles for fire.
114 – Total days (May 3-Aug 24).
20.9 – Hitched miles.
44 – Town stops.
15 – Neros (<18).
14 – Zeros (<4).
Final PCT Mileage Log:
Day One Hundred Fourteen: ZERO Home
Day One Hundred Thirteen: 15 miles Northern Terminus
Day One Hundred Twelve: ZERO Manning Park
Day One Hundred Eleven: ZERO Seattle
Day One Hundred Ten: 22.1 miles Dinsmores in Baring/Skykomish
Day One Hundred Nine: 27.5 miles
Day One Hundred Eight: 21.7 miles
Day One Hundred Seven: 16.5 miles Snoqualmie Pass
Day One Hundred Six: 29.9 miles
Day One Hundred Five: 26.2 miles
Day One Hundred Four: 26.4 miles
Day One Hundred Three: 20.6 miles White Pass
Day One Hundred Two: 25.4 miles
Day One Hundred One: 25.6 miles
Day One Hundred: 30.7 miles
Day Ninety-nine: 27.0 miles
Day Ninety-eight: 19.4 miles
Day Ninety-seven: ZERO miles Portland
Day Ninety-six: ZERO miles Portland
Day Ninety-five: ZERO miles Portland
Day Ninety-four: ZERO miles Portland
Day Ninety-three: 28.1 miles Cascade Locks
Day Ninety-two: 21.8 miles
Day Ninety-one: 34.7 miles Timberline Lodge
Day Ninety: 34.9 miles Olallie Lake Resort
Day Eighty-nine: 32.5 miles
Day Eighty-eight: 30.1 miles Big Lake Youth Camp
Day Eighty-seven: 30.5 miles
Day Eighty-six: 34.5 miles Shelter Cove Resort
Day Eighty-five: 36.5 miles
Day Eighty-four: 33.9 miles Rim Village
Day Eighty-three: 28.0 miles Crater Lake National Park Mazama Village
Day Eighty-two: 43.0 miles
Day Eighty-one: 32.0 miles
Day Eighty: 22.6 miles Callahan’s Siskiyou Lodge
Day Seventy-nine: 35.9 miles OREGON (mile 1689.2)
Day Seventy-eight: 21.6 miles Seiad Valley
Day Seventy-seven: 31.6 miles
Day Seventy-six: 7.6 miles
Day Seventy-five: 50.2 miles Etna
Day Seventy-four: 38.4 miles
Day Seventy-three: 10.0 miles
Day Seventy-two: 18.1 miles Castella/Mt. Shasta/Dunsmuir
Day Seventy-one 35.6 miles
Day Seventy: 31.0 miles
Day Sixty-nine: 25.4 miles Burney Falls State Park
Day Sixty-eight: 35.7 miles Old Station
Day Sixty-seven: 17.2 miles Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Day Sixty-six: 33.4 miles
Day Sixty-five: 20.4 miles
Day Sixty-four: ZERO miles Sacramento
Day Sixty-three: ZERO miles Sacramento
Day Sixty-two: ZERO miles Sacramento
Day Sixty-one: ZERO miles Sacramento
Day Sixty: 21.5 miles Braatens in Belden
Day Fifty-nine: 28.5 miles
Day Fifty-eight: 29.1 miles
Day Fifty-seven: 20.6 miles Sierra City
Day Fifty-six: 25.7 miles
Day Fifty-five: 2.0 miles
Day Fifty-four: 21.4 miles Auburn
Day Fifty-three: 34.1 miles
Day Fifty-two: 9.5 miles
Day Fifty-one: 22.1 miles Echo Lake/South Lake Tahoe
Day Fifty: 44.0 miles
Day Forty-nine: 23.4 miles North Kennedy Meadows Resort
Day Forty-eight: 34.4 miles
Day Forty-seven: 25.9 miles
Day Forty-six: 26.0 miles Tuolumne
Day Forty-five: 10.1 miles
Day Forty-four: 19.5 miles Mammoth Lakes
Day Forty-three: 31.3 miles
Day Forty-two: 27.4 miles
Day Forty-one: 28.7 miles
Day Forty: 18.3 miles
Day Thirty-nine: ZERO miles Bishop/Independence
Day Thirty-eight: 21.4 miles Bishop
Day Thirty-seven: 23.9 miles Mt. Whitney
Day Thirty-six: 16.6 miles
Day Thirty-five: 22.4 miles
Day Thirty-four: 26.2 miles
Day Thirty-three: 8.7 miles Kennedy Meadows
Day Thirty-two: 30.0 miles
Day Thirty-one: 27.7 miles
Day Thirty: 30.1 miles
Day Twenty-nine: 23.1 miles
Day Twenty-eight: 19.4 miles
Day Twenty-seven: 7.9 miles Tehachapi
Day Twenty-six: 4.7 miles Tehachapi
Day Twenty-five: 26.8 miles
Day Twenty-four: 28.8 miles Hikertown
Day Twenty-three: 18.6 miles Casa de Luna
Day Twenty-two: 22.0 miles Agua Dulce
Day Twenty-one: 8.0 miles Acton KOA
Day Twenty: 28.9 miles
Day Nineteen: 23.9 miles
Day Eighteen: 14.6 miles
Day Seventeen: 25.1 miles Wrightwood
Day Sixteen: 26.3 miles
Day Fifteen: 23.4 miles
Day Fourteen: 28.6 miles
Day Thirteen: ZERO miles Big Bear Lake
Day Twelve: 19.6 miles Big Bear Lake
Day Eleven: 26.4 miles
Day Ten: 23 miles Ziggy and the Bear
Day Nine: 19.3 miles
Day Eight: 18.0 miles Idlewild
Day Seven: 28.0 miles
Day Six: 5.5 miles
Day Five: 17.7 miles Warner Springs
Day Four: 28.0 miles
Day Three: 22.3 miles
Day Two: 21.4 miles Mt. Laguna
Day One: 20.0 miles Lake Mirena

Mile 2390.6 Snoqualmie Pass to mile 2461.6 Dinsmores at Skykomish/Baring and miles 2650.1 to 2658.9 Manning Park, Canada

Mile 2390.6 Snoqualmie Pass to mile 2461.6 Dinsmores at Skykomish/Baring

Day: 108
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.
Day: 109
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.
Day: 110
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.
Day: 111
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!
Day: 112
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: 113
The terminus.
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.
Day: 114
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.

Mile 2292.4 White Pass to mile 2390.6 Snoqualmie Pass

Mile 2292.4 White Pass to mile 2390.6 Snoqualmie Pass

Day: 104
When it rains it pours.
Day One Hundred Four: 14 August 2015
Start: HM 2292.4
End: HM 2318.3 soggy Dewey Lake second campsite
GPS Point: 46.855509, -121.487108
Day Total: 26.4 miles
Water at the Village Inn, mile 2318.3 Dewey Lake
We all slept in this AM. It was nice to wake up in a warm, cozy bed. Though as always, I felt dehydrated. I cooked my two sausage, egg, and cheese croissants, then had a cup of some warm coffee that Tami had made. We packed up and headed out. Per usual, Tami and Diatom ahead of Endless and I. Before heading out, I made sure to tidy the room, found Diatom’s spoon, checked out, and hit the trail.
It was a cold misty morning. Apparently there was rain last night. I really enjoyed the moisture filled air. It was a good temperature. I felt like I had never been in such still solitude before. Imagining that my skin could breathe in the cloud enveloping me like an amphibian’s. Which was subtle timing as I spent most of the first several miles trying to shoe tiny baby frogs off the trail. They were everywhere and difficult to spot until almost too late. Poor little things! How were they supposed to understand that giants use the nice flat ground as a highway? Like the nature version of Frogger…
Anyways, it started raining pretty quickly and basically never stopped. A cold drizzling at first, heavier rain intermixed brief lulls. The trail a flooded river. Everything soaked. Welcome to the Pacific North West, my initiation complete.
I was slow moving. Endless and I finally reached Dewey Lake and found Tami and Diatom and a third tent already set up. Looking for a non flooded patch big enough for a tent, I quickly had my tent up and was tucked away in my sleeping bag the rest of the night.
Day: 105
A cabin in the woods.
Day One Hundred Five: 15 August 2015
Start: HM 2318.3
End: HM 2344.5 Urich Cabin
GPS Point: 47.089577, -121.395969
Day Total: 26.2 miles
Water at mile 2331.6 spring, mile 2344.5 creek near Urich Cabin
Cold and wet morning. Felt good though. I moved fast. Came up on a paved parking area where there is this beautiful stone bridge built over the road for hikers. A fleeting glimpse of the sun in the far distance. It was so promising! My mood instantly uplifted. Plus the trails through Mt. Rainier National Park are very wide and relatively well maintained. This morning was great!
I caught Tami and Diatom just before Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. We all caught momentary cell service and stopped to check in on our technological lives. I grabbed some water at a spring and we continued on to a lunch spot where we let our stuff dry out in the cold wind and brief glimmers of sunlight.
We realized that Snoqualmie Pass is closer than we thought, so early ambitions to hike big miles were abandoned for thoughts of Urich Cabin. A ski mobile cabin that is maintained by a local club. Two north moving section hikers walked by at a timely moment to let us know the cabin was in good condition and with ample fuel for the wood burning stove. The decision was made and we were headed to the cabin.
I arrived at the cabin with Diatom just after 5 PM, grabbed water at the creek, and went to investigate. There were two unfavorable outhouses, the main cabin, multiple posted rule and informational signs, a stack of fresh cut logs, the wood burning stove (which was still burning embers; the negligence of the individuals who stopped in previously), an upper floor loft, and various tools. We were the only ones there. It was fantastic! I put the fire back into action and began laying out all my possessions to dry in the heat. The four of us made a half circle around the stove and reveled in the dryness and warmth.
We were eventually joined by Playa and Patriot. Endless and I met Playa at Shelter Cove. Three on the loft and three on the main floor. A cozy night in the cabin. We were all in particularly good humor being warm and dry. A really nice day and a delightful time tonight.
Day: 106
Road crossings and sunshine.
Day One Hundred Six: 16 August 2015
Start: HM 2344.5
End: HM 2374.4 abandoned road near a seasonal spring
GPS Point: 47.287349, -121.377017
Day Total: 29.9 miles
Water at mile 2349.2 spring, mile 2361.0 creek, mile 2374.4 seasonal spring
We all slept great last night! I woke at 5:30 AM feeling really good, and spent a solid thirty minutes massaging my legs and feet. Surprisingly I was the first of our group to leave. Playa and Endless right behind me. The morning went fast, and before I knew it, we were all taking a break at the first spring. That five mile break broke up the morning nicely so that we went almost 17 miles before lunch. Lunch even felt like almost too early of a stop.
After lunch we only had 13 miles to go. What an easy day! Despite a sizable gain and loss for the day, the climbs were all relatively short and so not overly challenging. I took a break on a hill with cell service just before camp and then still made it before 6 PM. Our group now Endless, Diatom, Tami, Playa, and myself. We are camped at an abandoned road by a spring. All cowboy camped with Tami in her open tent. It will be a super dewey night. Ugh! But the stars are shining.
On a different note, I have begun a series of mental games for myself while hiking. Yesterday afternoon I made sure I knew all 50 states and their capitals and could say the states in alphabetical order. Today I continued that work by putting the capitals in alphabetical order, and learning a poem by Mary Oliver that Tami have me. I then started working on my travel quotes that I already had mostly memorized. I should have started this from the beginning. Think how many poems and quotes and lists I could have memorized the past few months! At least I’ve started now ha.
So sleepy. Night!
Day: 107
Summit Pancake House and my camera returns!!
Day One Hundred Seven: 17 August 2015
Start: HM 2374.4
End: HM 2390.6 Snoqualmie Pass Summit Inn
GPS Point: 47.41866, -121.42683
Day Total: 16.5 miles
Water at Snoqualmie Pass
A cold and very wet morning. But it did help me have an early start. I love sleeping in unless I am slowly getting soaked in cold morning dew. My second morning to have an early start on trail. Too bad I felt like a slug all day. The trail wasn’t the greatest and it was hard to stay motivated. So glad we only had 16 miles to Snoqualmie Pass.
I caught Playa just before town and we headed to The Summit Pancake House together. We decided our time was best spent at breakfast while waiting for the rest of the crew. I ate the Summit Special: bacon, sausage, 3 eggs, hash browns, French toast, and then blueberry pancakes. And I shared fries with Playa. It was glorious! I didn’t need two meals but it’s best planning food while full, otherwise my pack starts weighing too much.
Playa is spending time in Seattle, but the rest of us are staying at the Summit Inn. They have a hot tub! I wasn’t able to stay in the heat very long but it was super luxurious! My skin hasn’t felt so thoroughly soaked and cleaned.
We also went to the Dru Bru brewery and tap house. Really good! Our server was Drew, the owner. Sweet! We ordered Aardvarks Express to be delivered for supper. Amazing!!!! Unique, fresh dishes from a semi food truck/semi permanent venue in front of the Chevron. Snoqualmie Pass recently gained a face lift, going from a convenience store and pancake house to condos, restaurants, brewery, grocery, and more. Hope they get snow this year with the looming El Niño season…
Best part of the day! Randy joined Instagram and I get my camera back!! My photos from the entire first three months and 2150 miles will be mine again! A happy reunion I am unable to stop thinking about! Happy day, happy day!
Otherwise, the day was uneventful and perfect. We found out the trail north of Stehekin has been reopened and we are excited! I also began tentative plans for my road trip to Santa Barbara with my sister. Life is wonderful. I will close with a favorite quote of mine.
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” (Mark Jenkins)

Mile 2144.2 Bridge of the Gods to mile 2292.4 White Pass


Mile 2144.2 Bridge of the Gods to mile 2292.4 White Pass
Day: 98
The other side of thru hiking.
Day Ninety-eight: 8 August 2015
Start: HM 2144.2
End: HM 2163.6 Rock Creek campsite
GPS Point: 45.766914, -122.038705
Day Total: 19.4 miles
Water at Jen’s, mile 2152.2 seasonal stream, mile 2163.6 Rock Creek
I woke up for the last time on Jen’s super luxurious memory foam bed and felt ready for my day. I had my last shower, ate breakfast, and packed. Then Jen drove me to Vancouver, WA. There is a Skamania County transit with hiker to trail services on weekends. Which is so awesome! Some more beautiful scenery along the Washington route further north than my original ride through the Oregon side. And a super nice driver.
While in transit, I heard from Tami. Coincidentally she was getting on trail at Cascade Locks at the same time as me! What a lucky break! She met me while I was taking lunch at a stream. So excited to hike with her again! We saw a tiny weasel dart by a couple times before it curiously poked its tiny head up at us. It’s disproportionately large ears on its wide eyed face were so cute.
While hiking up the first climb away from the river, I could smell, and then see, the smoke of a fire in the distance on the WA side right by the river. I hope it was settled quickly! Tami said she didn’t see anything.
The river marks the OR and WA border. I am excited for my last 500 miles. Endless returns tomorrow and S&M gets on at Snoqualmie on Thursday. I am stoked to have the group back together. With Tami too hopefully! And we may catch up to Poca as well. Looking forward to these last few weeks!
I only had plans to make 20 miles today. Granted I did have a late start, but it still felt like a short distance compared to my last month of hiking. It was sort of freaking me out, like I was doing something wrong. I arrived to camp just after 6 pm and in bed before 9 PM. There was a slow and social supper where I ate way TOO MUCH FOOD! I haven’t felt this stuffed. My body didn’t work hard enough today to earn all of its trail junk food. This must be the other side of thru hiking. The side where you don’t hike until dark every day, wake up at dawn every day, squeeze miles into every moment of sunlight. It’s slower for sure, but also more social, relaxed, and forgiving. An extra long lunch, or sleeping in, wouldn’t prevent the accomplishment of a 20-25 mile day. Every day becomes a nero. Strange what I have been missing out on.
I am barely awake, but I want to say a few last comments. Saw bats playing over the river water as I was filling bottles. They were darting around without a care for my presence. The river water is incredibly clear crystal and disturbingly calm considering a flowing, rock covered area is immediately at the bridge. I am camped on a spot tilted with roots. It’s actually a make shift fire pit that I cleared away. No more memory foam bed.
Tami and I are setup right by Diatom, a nobo from Santa Cruz. There are several older individuals above us on a flat area too. Today I saw a bunch of sobo hikers. At camp were a big group of five sobo (one named Lucky) hikers who took off to get more miles. How naturally I thought to do the same. And then a few others who were also nobo. Mostly weekend day hikers today though overall.
Day: 99
A sluggish morning.
Day Ninety-nine: 9 August 2015
Start: HM 2163.6
End: HM 2190.6 campsite near spring
GPS Point: 45.866699, -121.787305
Day Total: 27.0 miles
Water at mile 2179.7 Panther Creek, mile 2190.6 spring
I almost stepped on twelve slugs this morning. They were all over the trail! The ground and plants were super dewy and the slugs were out in abundance. Washington should have a strong slug showing. I just hope I don’t accidentally step on one! Washington has banana slugs, which are more special than regular slugs. Identifiable by the black sporting on their skin. I would say mine were a pretty even split between regular and banana.
This morning I passed Country Mouse and Shadow, an older couple I met previously with Poca. They actually camped with us last night and I just didn’t realize. They are awesome! And in our camp again tonight. Shadow was teasing a little girl by Panther Creek about carrying his pack today. She was delighted to have such a funny guy telling her stories. Her father hiked the PCT previously, but they were just out for an overnight. The dad carrying all their belongings.
Tami told me about Yellow Jackets yesterday after we read a note warning of them ahead in this one spot. Apparently some Yellow Jackets have nests in the ground, and if the hole is disturbed, they will swarm out and sting everything in sight. Aggressive little bugs! They are supposedly everywhere in OR and WA. Learning about their holes has me freaked out about every hole I see now. Great.
I am still getting used to the slow and pleasurable hiking ways. I slept in, took a long lunch, hiked slow, sat down for all my afternoon snacks, plus a break just to journal a little. I still made it to camp just before 6 PM. It seems strange to have so much time. Granted I easily spent the two hours after arriving at camp setting up my tent, chatting with Tami and Diatom, and in general, doing nothing. It was great, but also weird. I am sure I will slowly become more accustomed to this. It was quite nice when we had all eaten, set up, relaxed, and prepped for bed all before 8 PM. Not that I am getting a lot done on my journal with this extra time. I am at least finishing the entry for the current day, and I have plans to slowly whittle away at my back logged entries. Leisure hiking could be awesome once I am more settled into the possibilities. This is how I hiked at the beginning of the trail, it’s just that I hike faster now and am more efficient in all my activities throughout the day.
Not a whole lot to write about today. The slugs were the highlight. A lot of climbing and dropping. My legs are resisting the abuse after the cozy vacation in Portland, but they will kick back into gear shortly. Tomorrow my pack won’t be super heavy anymore. Falling asleep. Night!
Day: 100
A magic day!
Day One Hundred: 10 August 2015
Start: HM 2190.6
End: HM 2221.3 large campsite between two creeks
GPS Point: 46.133327, -121.684392
Day Total: 30.7 miles
Water at mile 2192.8 piped spring, mile 2205.7 Bear Lake, mile 2221.3 Trout Lake Creek
This morning started out very relaxed and quiet. I got to sleep in, was on trail by 7 AM, and things were great as I started trekking along. I saw Willow at the spring, a couple miles past camp. We chatted briefly and then I continued forward. After another few miles I came across HM 2195.4 Crest Horse Camp, and to my surprise, there was a sign up for hungry PCT hikers to go and enjoy food. It turned out to be the Lee’s: Lee and Leann, or Carnivore and Starbucks. They live close by and do magic every year. Country Mouse, Shadow, Diatom, Tami, and Dirty Bowl were already there enjoying breakfast. They ate most of the food, but I still had a tasty meal of pancakes, a banana, and orange juice. Willow came in last to finish things off. The Lee’s are so incredible! And they had two super friendly dogs who both wanted hugs and petting. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to play with a dog. What a great start to the day!
This was my first encounter with Dirty Bowl and Willow. Dirty Bowl wears a dress. I heard about her from Poca. Willow is from Santa Barbara. He started the trail at the end of March, though, so even with my newly slowed pace, I am not sure I will get to cross his path too much.
After that fantastic breakfast surprise, we crossed mile 2200! It is unreal to think that there are only four more of these crossings. I can still remember back to miles 100 and 200 and how excited I was. Now the end is actually a tangible reality. What an adventure I have been on so far.
After some great views looking back towards Mt. Hood, to the east at Mt. Saint Helens, and forward at Mt. Adams, we were ready for lunch. Tami, Diatom, and I ate at Bear Lake. It was again the last water source for a longer stretch, despite that we were only right at halfway on miles for the day. I did not think about the accessibility of southern Washington having high hiker traffic. Especially since we never seem close enough to go to towns beyond these upcoming resort/store clusters. But there were lots of non thru hikers out today, and it is a Monday. The Lee’s said their camp had probably 100 vehicles through it yesterday with weekend traffic. Crazy!
The trail was wonderfully flat today. The total climb across the whole 30 miles was less than each of the big climbs the past two days. I was very happy. My body felt great, my pack was finally lighter, and I knew it was going to be a special day. At one point this afternoon there was a car parked just off trail with a truck nearby full of people wandering around on this convoluted tangle of dirt roads. All visible from the trail. I thought for sure I would be seeing more magic today. That turned out to be nothing, but I was in for another treat! At HM 2216.2, Geared Up (PCT ’09, AT ’13) and Raven (AT ’13) had a little trail magic again! Cheeseburger, beer, banana, star crunch, pecan sandies. Amazing! There were quite a few hikers too: Erin, Shorty (met him at Donner Pass), Doug, Hummingbird, Potato, Diatom, Tami, and Dirty Bowl. What an unexpected second surprise of some great magic! And to top it off, they had a cooler full of soda and beer a mile later, for what I consider my third magic interaction for the day!
Triple magic, triple happiness, and we made 30 miles. What a day! It was later when we arrived to camp. With the longer miles and added hang out breaks, but so worth it! Ready for bed after hanging out with Shorty, Tami, and Diatom tonight. Dirty Bowl showed up too. Bonus!! Endless rolled into camp around 11 PM. He did some crazy miles the last two days! 30 miles after noon on Sunday, and 47 miles today! Crazy guy! Now we just need S&M back.
Day: 101
Fire and ice.
Day One Hundred One: 11 August 2015
Start: HM 2221.3
End: HM 2246.9 Lava Spring campsite
GPS Point: 46.305070, -121.517936
Day Total: 25.6
Water at mile 2236.6 Riley Creek, mile 2246.9 Lava Spring
“Some say the world will end in fire,
some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
to say that for destruction ice
is also great
and would suffice.”
-Robert Frost
Today made me think of this poem. All morning we climbed up Mt. Adams, which was only recently reopened after a fire. There are still spot fires smoldering through the area, and this morning was permeated with a smokey haze and the scent of burning timber and pine needles. Forest fire smell really lingers in your nostrils. You can never fully catch a breath of clean air. Little flecks of ash falling from the sky. I sneezed randomly the whole day. The ice side of today were all the alpine glacier fed streams. Particularly the fording at Lewis River. A multi-channel stream crossing where my toes were thoroughly numb from the frosty cold water before I even made it halfway. My poor feet had several soaks today, and they were all ice cold and numbing. The kind that almost burns when your feet begin to warm up.
The start of today was great. I slept in late due to Endless’s arrival in the night. I had trouble falling back to sleep last night. Then the morning stayed cool and overcast (for which I later realized was a smoke cloud haze) for the long climb all morning until lunch. We had a great lunch by Riley Creek where Shorty and Dirty Bowl were also relaxing. Several sobo hikers went through while we took an extra long lunch. It is so fantastic to not be in a rush all the time, acutely aware of every minute of distraction from the day’s mileage.
The afternoon really set in the fire and ice thought. Leaving the creek, we went around a bend for our first view at the Goat Rocks Wilderness, and it was like walking into a new day. You could see the visible boundary where the clear blue sky met the slightly red toned, smoke filled sky, with Mt. Adams at the center. The fast rushing, icy Lewis River being on the clear sky side of the day. The sun suddenly able to pierce through and shine on our backs while a crisp breeze picked up for a short while. It was a dramatic change and one I really appreciated. The afternoon ended with Diatom, Tami, and I picking huckleberries just before we reached camp at Lava Springs. We arrived early despite the berry picking and spent the evening relaxing and telling stories. We saw Dirty Bowl as we first arrived, but Shorty and she were hiking further tonight. We were eventually joined by Camel, another German hiker. There are a lot of Germans compared to any other nationality beyond U.S. citizen. He recently switched to a hammock, which is pretty cool.
Day: 102
Goats in Goat Rocks!
Day One Hundred Two: 12 August 2015
Start: HM 2246.9
End: HM 2272.3 excellent ledge camp area
GPS Point: 46.49537, -121.46440
Day Total: 25.4 miles
Water at mile 2263.3 seasonal stream, mile 2269.9 Cispus River
Today we realized that the fire is coming from a different area than the Mt. Adams Fire Complex. That’s why the smoke was so abundant and the sky so orange. Crazy! Washington is supposed to have stunning views, but it sounds like it will be mostly smoke covered for me. The sun was hazed out most of the day, a strange twilight red, which was actually quite lovely for a cool day. But even tonight while prepping for bed, the ash was still falling.
Today went really well. I was surrounded by lots of great people! Shadow and Country Mouse, a man riding towards me on a horse with another in tow, Silver and Calamity, Samson, Camel, and of course Diatom, Tami, and Endless. Coming over Cispus Pass there were lots of other non-thru hikers too.
The views going into Goat Rocks Wilderness were fantastic! First was a glimpse at Goat Rocks before the trail wrapped around and I was looking back at Mt. Adams with the orangey smoke billowing up before dispersing throughout the sky high above. Then we started up Cispus Pass, 6474 feet. Truly mesmerizing. Goat Rocks are beautiful! And the glacier cut valley dropping down into green, lush forest is spectacular. I took heaps of photos. Photos on my mobile since I brilliantly am without a real camera… While hiking up, Tami, Endless, Diatom, and I were playing a trail game called Contact. We merrily hiked to the top of the pass and had to stop to take in the whole sight. On the other side was an equally breathtaking open valley. The headwaters to Cispus River continuing to shape the valley, Goat Rocks looming overhead with a herd of mountain goats spreading out in the valley grasses above us, the icy cold Cispus River and many tributary streams and mini falls, the sun overhead a bright twilight red as if setting high in the sky of smoke, and everything just so calm and spectacular. It was truly a grand part of the trail. Possibly my favorite part of the trail, at the least for the last month.
We are camped at this perfect cliff ledge alcove. Views out at the multitudes of neighboring ranges, and Mt. Saint Helens a bit too blocked by smoke. The smoky haze parted just enough for a sunset view. The air actually cool for once. Expansive, yet cozy. It is perfect. Samson is camped with the four of us. He is so incredibly nice! From Mississippi, he is extremely generous and gentlemanly. He gave the four of us homemade beef jerky and chocolate covered peanuts.
Only downside to my day was being bitten by a yellow jacket. Right on my calf. Little nasty creatures!
Day: 103
The smoke finally cleared!
Day One Hundred Three: 13 August 2015
Start: HM 2272.3
End: HM 2292.4 The Village Inn, room 31
GPS Point: 46.63905, -121.39044
Day Total: 20.6 miles
Water at mile 2277 seasonal stream
This morning the trail immediately climbed away from camp, but the uphill seemed easy.
We were headed for Knife’s Edge. There was a moment when suddenly Mt. Rainier was visible ahead, Mt. Adams looming behind, and Mt. Saint Helens a distant glimpse at the horizon. It was an incredible view. I am delighted the sky cleared last night. Even last night’s stars were bright and twinkling. A meteor shower or something allowing several shooters streaking across the sky. After walking across and down Knife’s Edge, and the great photo opportunity it continuously provided, there was a small hiker gathering at a stream. Diatom, Tami, Silver, Calamity, Samson, Endless, and I hung out briefly for a water fill up. We were 15 miles from town. There was a short, steep downhill section followed by the seemingly very challenging Tieton Pass. Eventually we hit the final downhill after a short lunch and I was walking Hwy 12 into town by 2:30 PM. Camel gave Diatom and I leftover drinks he had. It was almost like trail magic! The magic we thought would be at the Trout Lake road crossing or the White Pass trailhead.
White Pass is really just a ski resort with a gas station convenience store and lodge. But it’s a cool place. The store is called the Krackel Barrel, not the restaurant. But it has the things hikers need. And they accept our packages. The woman running the place has a coffee bar and limited food options. Everything tasted just right!
The four of us all got a room at the lodge. Which is super cute! I would definitely stay here and ski in the winter. And the people are so nice. The rest of the crew showed up, we made a game plan for showers, laundry, and loitering at the store. When I headed back to the store, I went straight for a wild berry slushy drink and Oreos. When I got my packages, I was surprised all over again that my good friend, Dani, sent me a care package! It was full of cookies and other yummy treats! What a special surprise. And a very satisfying and tasty one too.
The goal of tonight was to have lots of fire discussion and get a head start on logistics. There are new fires and route closures across about 150 miles of trail. We are in the cozy Village Inn room 31. I needed and wanted a shower and clean laundry. I also bought a frozen pizza, veggie tray, beer, and Gatorade for supper. We watched the movie Source Code. And then went to sleep. The day was a good one.

Mile 1992.6 Big Lake Youth Camp to mile 2144.2 Cascade Locks/Portland

Mile 1992.6 Big Lake Youth Camp to mile 2144.2 Cascade Locks/Portland

Day: 89
These legs were made for walking.
Day Eighty-nine: 30 July 2015
Start: HM 1992.6
End: HM 2025.1 Milk Creek campsite
GPS Point: 44.664662, -121.846589
Day Total: 32.5 miles
Water at Big Lake Youth Camp, mile 2008.1 pond near Koko Lake, mile 2012.3 Rockpile Lake, mile 2020.2 Shale Lake, mile 2025.1 Milk Creek
I had a slow start from BLYC to wait around and charge devices. Both Endless and I had almost no battery. Unfortunately I plugged my battery and phone into a broken outlet yesterday so it sat there lifeless for the afternoon. Slept great though! Soft shifting beach sands! Slept in a cove just off camp property. There were surprisingly many hikers camped out.
Caught up to Endless and Pocahontas at a great vista of the Sisters peaks and back at the youth camp. Saw Hayrick Butte next to the Hoodoo Butte sky resort. Incredible to have views again! You see a mountain in the distance and by the next day you are hiking around its base. It’s incredible! And alluring. Part of the reason I love Colorado mountains so much. You can look at a distant peak and know you will traverse the land in between and be at that far point by tomorrow. You really see across the space of how far your two feet carried you. Incredible.
At a lake lunch spot we met Nol and Mara. Salamander specialists. Neat! Before that, were two section hikers going by Law and Order because they are retired DA and police. There were also two groups of locals, a sobo thru couple, and a couple with a dog I assumed were on a day hike.
Hit mile 2000 today. Feels amazing! Oregon is beginning to show us her wild side. We have trekked through a different Wilderness every day. From Sisters Wilderness I could see all the northern peaks. Today I walked alongside two of those northern peaks, Three Finger Jack and Mt. Jefferson. I really am blown away thinking about this journey so far. Two thousand miles. Two thousand miles behind me. Wow.
Day: 90
Great day on the trail!
Day Ninety: 31 July 2015
Start: HM 2025.1
End: HM 2060.0 campsite near spring
GPS Point: 44.98298, -121.72506
Day Total: 34.9 miles
Water at Olallie Lake Resort, mile 2060.0 spring
Due to the stop in Olallie, there were lots of people today. Two sobo thru hikers named Future Dad and Mantis. A bunch of day and weekend groups. Nobos Popsicle, Frog, and Sheik. While leaving Olallie I met Bam Bam, from Slovakia, picking huckleberries. Also, met Billy Goat, a PCT star, going south as I hiked north. At the spring was Steppin’ Wolf and a couple from Idaho on a 150 mile nobo section.
The Mt. Jefferson views were great today!
We spent a few hours around lunch at Olallie Lake Resort. We had poor information on what amenities and food they might have. Regardless it was a decent supply of options, super hiker friendly, very expensive, no outlets, and no restaurant. For lunch I ate Fritos with jalapeño cheese dip, four sodas, two Gatorades, a thin mint ice cream bar, and a few other snacks. Meal of champions! Then Poca, Endless, and I swam in Head Lake and continued relaxing out of the sun.
I felt really good today! Poca saw a black bear. Heaps of huckleberries everywhere, delaying trail progress forward. Saw the setting sun shining through the trees before the trail dropped down into the spring area tonight. Beautiful golden setting sun rays.
Day: 91
The allure of good food.
Day Ninety-one: 1 August 2015
Start: HM 2060.0
End: HM 2094.5 Timberline Lodge
GPS Point: 45.330539, -121.710530
Day Total: 34.7 miles
Water at mile 2070.7 Joe Graham Trail to horse camp and spigots, mile 2076 large creek with wooden bridge, mile 2080.2 small spring
Today I had a strange thought process of personifying the forest. There are dawn to dusk bug swarms. Bears at night. Deer trumping around. Spiders at dawn and dusk.  Blazing sun. I wear sunglasses dawn to dusk for keeping spider webs out of my face.
At camp tonight were Endless, Stepping Wolf, Poca, Bam Bam, a couple, and myself. Other people: lots of sobo people, John and eTrain, Frog and Sheik, Runner, and many others.
We rushed to Timberline Lodge. The upstairs bar had food until 11 PM. There was a great and fun looking Nigerian wedding going on. We went up to the restaurant and prepared for a meal and house brews. At the table next to us was a man, named Don, and woman, Christel. They were so friendly and nice. Ron is a local man of an adventurous nature and Christel is from Germany. Ron was very interested in our journey and we happily chatted with our new friends. They finished their meal and left, while we were still loitering. Turns out that Ron bought our supper without telling us. Unbelievable! He had even offered to let us stay down at resort about a 20 minute drive away. What an incredible person. His unexpected generosity is more than I can say. What a wonderful man! How fortunate we were to run into such fantastic people.
Day: 92
Wearing thin.,.
Day Ninety-two: 2 August 2015
Start: HM 2094.5
End: HM 2116.1 Salvation Spring campsite
GPS Point: 45.47129, -121.83040
Day Total: 21.8 miles
Water at Timberline Lodge, mile 2112.1 stream
Today’s hikers included Steppin’ Wolf, Deep, Bobaroo, Tinker, John, No Tent, Sheik and Frog, Poca, Endless, and a whole slew of others. There are always a lot of people around when you go into town/food stops.
This is crazy, but Deep, the guy from Germany and not the kiwi Deep South, hiked a 62 mile day yesterday. And I thought 50 miles was satisfying…
The Timberline Lodge had such an amazing brunch!! Steel cut oats, yoghurt, granola, raspberries, strawberries, cinnamon rolls, chocolate scones, Danishes. Then French toast, covered in raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, warm syrup, and fresh whipped cream, with frittata and Tillamook cheddar scrambled eggs. Ham, sausage, veggie potatoes, banana bread, other pastries. And more! So good! So full. Ready for a food coma. Instead I needed to be productive.
Hit the trail at 12:30 PM with Poca. Endless left around 11 AM. I was super tired. My body ached. The brain shutting down. At least there were great views of Mt. Hood.
We met Endless at Ramona Falls. Beautiful and simple. I love water. Lots of hikers out leaving Timberline. Particularly a sobo couple Dark Side and Blueprint. Mt. Hood is a popular place.
My body was so tired. I had no motivation to hike. Basically wanted to zero. Ugh!! The short 22 miles were painful and exhausting. I barely made it to camp. Every mile was a struggle. Falling asleep now. Night.
Day: 93
Two week challenge complete!!
Day Ninety-three: 3 August 2015
Start: HM 2116.1
End: HM 2144.2 Bridge of the Gods – Portland
GPS Point: 45.55359, -122.57745
Day Total: 28.1 miles
Water at mile 2125.1 Indian Spring, mile Portland
Today we took the Eagle Creek Falls Trail alternate. The Indian Springs Trail connector to Eagle Creek was a steep and haphazard path. But once on Eagle Creek Trail, things became very flat, wide, and manicured. According to a sign, this forest burned down in 1902. Now replaced by Douglas Fir trees. You can see the overgrowth on that long forgotten assemblage. Incredible falls the whole length!! And Tunnel Falls was so amazing! Seriously some phenomenal water, rock, falls action going on. Cannot describe how cool that whole river valley is. Everyone in the Portland area should visit the Gorge for some wonderful waterfall hikes. And this is supposed to be a low flow year. Also lucky we got there early because the whole way out from the trail there were tons of day hikers heading in.
While at Tunnel Falls, we met a man named Randy taking time-lapses of the waterfalls. After reaching Cascade Locks we saw him again at a gas station. Taking a chance, we found out he was heading back to Portland and found ourselves a ride. So nice! On the drive to the city he pointed out all the great falls and points of interest along the Gorge. A very nice man offering three very smelly hikers a ride.
Once in the city, Poca headed for her friend’s. Endless and I headed for a hotel. We copiously ate supper at an Indian food buffet. So much food. Then straight to sleep.
Day: 94
Day Ninety-four: 4 August 2015
Start: HM 2144.4
End: HM 2144.4
GPS Point: 45.52196, -122.67326
Day Total: ZERO
Water at a faucet
I discovered today that I left my camera in Randy’s car trunk. I am desperate to get it back. Endless helped me look up all the Randy’s in the Portland area. No luck. I posted a message to my blog because the three of us shared our Instagram and blog information. I hope he finds it and returns it to me. All of my ~2600 PCT photos from the last three months are on that camera. I’ve lost photos before and I still get teary about it. This would be far worse. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Other than that, Endless and I spent the day in Portland seeing the sights. I slept in, ate lots of hotel continental breakfast, did laundry and took showers (plural). We bought MAX day passes and headed to downtown Portland and the Pearl District. I ate Grassa’s homemade pesto basil linguine pasta for lunch, then over to Powell’s Bookstore, ice cream at Ruby Jewel, and a long walk uphill to the International Test Rose Garden. So beautiful and great smelling! Lots of people. Post frolic in the gardens, we ate HotKiss Pizza for supper. I had a salad and pesto breadstick with local cider. A waterfront walk around dusk. Then we took the MAX and bus back to the hotel. My good friend from high school, Jen, met us there and picked us up. We dropped Endless off at the airport then headed to Tigard where she lives. So wonderful to see her! We stayed up late chatting and catching up.
Day: 95
A true day off.
Day Ninety-five: 5 August 2015
Start: HM 2144.4
End: HM 2144.4
GPS Point: 45.52196, -122.67326
Day Total: ZERO
Water at a faucet
Jen left early for work and I lavished in a day with zero responsibilities. I walked to a salon for a pedi and mani, then grocery shopped. Jen picked me up after work and we lounged and continued catching up. She cooked me a delicious curry supper. I basically did nothing. Then we watched a movie, Echo, before bed.
Day: 96
Realizing I mentally and physically needed a break.
Day Ninety-six: 6 August 2015
Start: HM 2144.4
End: HM 2144.4
GPS Point: 45.52196, -122.67326
Day Total: ZERO
Water at a faucet
Jen left super early this morning for work. When she returned, she made me breakfast and then we went on a shoe and sock mission. Caught a food truck for Thai food. Went to Salt and Straw for ice cream. I had the best flavors!! Waffle cone filled with one scoop Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache and one scoop Coconut with Petunia’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Then a TV movie before bed, 16 Again.
Today I realized that mentally and physically I am in need of a break. I did very little associated with trail prep today and I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time.
Day: 97
Finally prepping for my return.
Day Ninety-seven: 7 August 2015
Start: HM 2144.4
End: HM 2144.4
GPS Point: 45.52196, -122.67326
Day Total: ZERO
Water at a faucet
I spent several hours this morning at Starbucks updating my Instagram photos, Facebook photos, and journal. I have never been great at keeping photos up to date, but since my cell pictures may be my only shots for the whole trip, I thought I should get them going. It took a LONG time to pick, enhance, and post photos.
While Jen worked, I spent the afternoon around downtown. I wrote a bunch of cards and letters, looked up bus to trail logistics. Sat in cafes all day. Then ate at Kells brewery after Jen finished work. I ate a delicious pork tenderloin with beet sauce on top, cauliflower yam mashers, broccolinis, sweet potato fries, German chocolate mouse with cream and short bread cookie, and vanilla ice cream.
After supper we went back to Jen’s and I worked on her computer a bit. Then to bed. My last night in a bed for a while.

Mile 1818.4 CLNP Mazama Village to mile 1992.6 Big Lake Youth Camp

Mile 1818.4 CLNP Mazama Village to mile 1992.6 Big Lake Youth Camp

Day: 84
A rough yet beautiful day.
Day Eighty-four: 25 July 2015
Start: HM 1818.4
End: HM 1856.0 campsite in cloud covered woods
GPS Point: 43.188647, -122.053763
Day Total: 33.9 miles
Water at Mazama Village, Rim Village, mile 1853.6 Thielsen Creek
Today was a hard day. I had a slow start with repacking all my stuff. I should have done that last night. Then bought a box of chocolate donuts and a coffee for breakfast while chatting with Sidewinder. Finally headed to the trail towards Rim Village and the Rim Trail alternate. Up on the rim though, I found service and many tasks needing addressed. So I hung out a couple hours working on my phone. It reminded me of my day at Acton, trying to do computer stuff from a mobile device. Very frustrating when my non-trail responsibilities creep into my hiking day. Never before was I so tempted to catch a hitch to make up miles, Endless many hours in front of me. Instead I had to hike hard once finally away from Rim Village. Not the best of plans.
There is a divergence of a Hiker PCT and Stock PCT (PCTA official route). I took the scenic route of course. Crater Lake is stunning! The water is super blue. I took Dutton Trail up to Rim Trail and reconnected to the PCT after several miles walking along the crater’s rim. It was more up and down than I expected, and some parts were pretty steep. Also being a Saturday, there were a fair amount of tourists out and about. I savored the view and took it all in, while staying to task and understanding the reality of my morning delays. At two different places I actually saw the family from the restaurant last night. That contributed to my desire to catch a ride to the far end. They were at Rim Village and then Lightning Point. I know they likely drove to the last lookout… Other than that, I never saw any hikers. This only struck me because I saw multitudes of hikers at Rim Village. I also learned that there was a bus from Mazama to Rim Village, not that I would have succumbed to that. At least I don’t think.
Until just before camp, I only saw two hikers all day. Both on the long flat section leaving CLNP. Then Tea Time at the crossing of Hwy 136. A photography couple just before catching Endless, at the great view looking back at CLNP across the valley while up on the saddle. Incredible to look back at where I had come from hours before. Towards evening I finally caught up to Endless. He had only just gotten my message about being at Rim Village all morning. He had delayed his pace to wait for m, while I set us behind with my town chores. We passed Five Star and Nesquick at the water source. It was basically a 27 mile dry stretch today. I was shockingly dehydrated when I ran into Endless. Luckily he had gotten extra water at a cache that was empty when I went through. He generously shared. My whole day was sort of a disaster.
My one moment of serenity was when I saw Pine Marten. It was prancing along the trail right at me, not noticing my presence at all. Then suddenly it ran up a tree to about my head level and peered around around the edge. I was still there of course, so it sped off into a tree thicket to get away.
After catching Endless my evening went a lot better. Thielsen Creek was beautiful. The whole evening was beautiful. Foggy cloud cover at the tops of the trees. Big old trees. There is no tree clearing here, so all the fallen trees look like the splintered remains if giants played a rough game of pick up sticks with the forest. It was eery and silent and stunning. Oregon forests have seemingly complex character and personality.  It’s quite lovely.
Despite my delays and frustrations, we still made a decent day. Though that is likely from us both putting in hard days. We are camped a bit passed the water. Ready for a big day tomorrow.
Day: 85
Oregon Skyline Trail
Day Eighty-five: 26 July 2015
Start: HM 1856.0
End: HM OST 16.7 flat spot
GPS Point: 43.54193, -122.07479
Day Total: 36.5 miles
Water at mile OST 12, mile OST 15.6
Lots of sobo hikers today! Greenmile, Primo, Sailor, Groucho, a girl whose name I missed, and Huck (or Huckleberry Hound). Today I hiked with Distance and Cast Away. Distance started the PCT the day after me, and I haven’t seen him since around Bishop Pass. There was K2, a 19 year old guy doing 30’s since beginning. He started May 22, a day before Roadrunner. Endless and I have unknowingly camped with him several times over the past few days.
This morning was the incredibly uneventful OR/WA high point. For me, the OR/WA high point was actually yesterday on Rim Trail around Crater Lake. Though near a higher peak, the high point was just a long flat high spot. Somehow higher than any of the peak bases we will hike along in the coming miles. I am also confused why WA doesn’t get its own high point. What a let down that it has to be grouped with OR as if they are somehow second thoughts to CA with its Forester Pass and optional Mt. Whitney.
After a brief discussion with Distance and Cast Away, Endless and I decided to take the Oregon Skyline Trail alternate into Shelter Cove. It cut off some miles, but with the overall lack of directions I feel like we spent the time saved simply navigating the alternate. It did take us along a lot of lakes, albeit mostly dry ones, and we saw most of the sobo hikers while on it. I have not really done, or even considered, alternates until recently.
I hiked most of the day with Cast Away and Distance, but Endless and I camped a mile passed them. It was nice to hike with people. I mean actually hike together and not just meet at breaks. Everyone is hiking their hike and people don’t really cross paths anymore. The trail seems quiet unless you go through a town, and then you realize how many people there really are. I also learned Distance is a geologist. We talked rocks for a good while. It was great!
Day: 86
The days are getting shorter.
Day Eighty-six: 27 July 2015
Start: HM OST 16.7
End: HM 1932.8 Stormy Lake
GPS Point: 43.854098, -121.964915
Day Total: 34.5 miles
Water at Shelter Cove Resort, mile 1922.8 Charlton Lake, mile 1932.8 Stormy Lake
At Shelter Cove I met Black Sheep. She was going sobo with her boyfriend until a stress fracture pulled her off. Since she’s from Europe, she is just waiting it out to meet her boyfriend further south to continue. Then there was Hog, whom just happens to have a daughter my age in the Superior area this summer for an internship. Also Cairn, an OR sectioner. Plus the gang of Flying Fish, Mr. White, and Kmart. Distance and Cast Away actually beat us there. A guy named Playa. And another sobo hiker.
There was a couple riding bikes at Charlton Lake tonight. It took me by surprise. I thought I was alone. It always throws me when people are on trail as day users.
Shelter Cove Resort was a nice enough place. Not a good store for a resupply but great hiker box. And mostly friendly. Ate a frozen pizza, breakfast burrito, pop tart, four cans of Pepsi, and a chai tea steamer. Not the meal I was necessarily hoping for, but better than nothing!
Then we hit the trail hard. 30 miles after the three hour break at the resort. That’s 30 miles after noon. Not the easiest ambition.
There were beautiful lakes leaving the Shelter Cove area once back on the PCT. They were the Rosary Lakes, in a pristine, aquamarine chain right after each other. And a great view back at Shelter Cove. Then we climbed up and away. So many lakes. Really nice views. Also a blow down followed by a burn area. Could see all the topography in the barren landscape. An incredible day for seeing lots of cool landscapes.
Some side notes. Distance a Geologist too! Polka Dots named him Distant and then Endless actually told him to take Distance while in Kennedy Meadows. Anyways, he recommended a book called the Great Ocean Conveyor by Wally Brocker. It’s about ocean circulation and climate. Pretty excited to check it out.
Already dark when arrived to Stormy Lake, and there were at least eight tents taking all the good sites. It took twenty minutes to eek out a flat spot and set up camp. Some people near us had left a log smoldering in the fire pit. Unbelievable. Obviously I am tired and cranky.
Day: 87
Accumulative fatigue.
Day Eighty-seven: 28 July 2015
Start: HM 1932.8
End: HM 1963.3 campsite after Hinton Creek
GPS Point: 44.10539, -121.81305
Day Total: 30.5 miles
Water at mile 1939.8 Mac Lake, mile 1947.7 creek, mile 1960.8 stream
The trail around here is all labeled as the PCNST. Regularly it stands for the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, but today I saw it spelled out as the Pacific Crest Nordic Ski Trail. The only difference is the obvious increased trail maintenance. The trail is wide, super flat and well maintained, except for the numerous fallen trees. I liked the change.
There had to have been at least eleven hikers at the lake last night. I was last to leave at 7:45 AM. I am still pretty upset about finding a smoldering log, left unattended last night. We were right by a lake! It’s not like smothering the log was going to be a grand challenge. Especially during a fire ban!
Listing people: there were two girls who met our group back before Sierra City, Pocahontas, Dr. Beeker, an older couple and a woman (this is my suspected fire culprits), Captain Morgan and his friend from Bend, Cast Away and Distance, several day hikers, a sobo girl going by Twinless (she was super chatty and nice), heaps of people at the last stream a few miles back with two horses. I surely missed some but today was long.
We stopped around 8 PM tonight. So nice to have camp up and in my sleeping bag by 9:30 PM. We have 30 miles to the Big Lake Youth Camp tomorrow, and I plan to arrive before supper at 5:15 PM. It will be tough but I need sleep tonight.
I am in the Three Sisters Wilderness now. Great views of the three peaks! Though mostly just the South Sister so far. Stunning little valleys around the mountain base.
Today I really began understanding accumulative fatigue. The hard days with little rest is wearing me thin. I am really excited for time off in Portland. Pushing hard has also been rewarding, to see what I am capable of. But the long days are not sustainable. A break will be very needed once I reach Cascade Locks.
Day: 88
Earning my mileage.
Day Eighty-eight: 29 July 2015
Start: HM 1963.3
End: HM 1992.6 Big Lake Youth Camp lake cove
GPS Point: 44.36937, -121.86960
Day Total: 30.1 miles
Water at mile 1969.5 Obsidian Creek, mile 1977.2 South Matthieu Lake
This morning we entered the Obsidian Limited Entry Area. So cool! The obsidian was all glassy and sparkly. I’ve never seen obsidian bombs before! And the area ended with a beautiful little waterfall over and obsidian permeated rock face. I wish it had been evening with the setting sun shining directly onto the conchoidal cleavage faces.
Today also included a path by the observatory and lava fields. Lava is brutal on the feet! Which was then followed by quick sand like dust. Let’s just say the hike wasn’t easy this afternoon. Many steps were a mini battle of uneven footing, sharp edges, sliding rocks, fast shifting sand that filled my shoes, and a heat of a sun blazing sky amplified up at me.
Outside of the arduous trail conditions, today brought incredible views of the Three Sisters: South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, and four northern mountains: Mt. Washington, Three Finger Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood. Unbelievable!
I may it to the Big Lake Youth Camp by 5 PM. Everyone at BLYC is very friendly! They had signs out for us, they accept our packages, give us a hang out room, let us shower, provide laundry if we wait out the whole afternoon, and feed us delicious, all vegetarian meals. To top this off, everything is donation based. Seriously the nicest people I have met in long time along the trail. Supper was fresh veggie burritos with avocado and bananas! Brownies for dessert! And there is even a full youth group on site, as well as several private side parties.
I hiked most of the day with Pocahontas today. She is an awesome person! Also met a nobo sectioner named Ada at supper. There was an interesting older man named Icy Hot. Roadrunner and K2 were already at the camp, on their ways out.
Before the miles of lava field, I saw so many deer this morning. They were everywhere!
I feel like I really earned my mileage today. It was rough going. Scoria truly is difficult to walk on. Plus the dirt quick sand. And exposed burn section. A lot of steep climbing. No water. Brutal! Yet I still had 30 miles by 5 PM. Incredible! I need rest tonight. Pretty excited I got to shower, but wish I could have done laundry too.
The three of us are camped on a sandy cove just off from the main camp property. Many hikers are around. I don’t think I even saw this many up at the buildings tonight.

Mile 1716.2 Callahan’s Siskiyou Lodge to mile 1818.4 Crater Lake National Park Mazama Village

Mile 1716.2 Callahan’s Siskiyou Lodge to mile 1818.4 Crater Lake National Park Mazama Village

Day: 81
A really good day!
Day Eighty-one: 22 July 2015
Start: HM 1716.2
End: HM 1748.2 campsite near unpaved road
GPS Point: 42.21123, -122.36868
Day Total: 32.0 miles
Water at mile 1725.6 piped spring, mile 1738.7 Hyatt Lake outlet, mile 1740.3 water spigot
The trail was really nice today.
After supper, I ate a Backpacker Pantry Creme Brûlée tonight. It was good but I wouldn’t have paid for it. It was a freebie I won at a CDT fundraising event back in Boulder. I wouldn’t have been able to eat the prepackaged meals all this time. Trail food is like fuel for me. I don’t want it to be a subpar example of food I want to eat because that becomes depressing. Unappetizing food that is created for calorie and fat tallies is never desirable, and that can be shoveled down by necessity. It is less likely for me to find gross because I never thought of it as a delicious food reward to begin with. Food as fuel creates less dissatisfaction. And I have greater incentive to reach towns for real food.
Tonight Endless and I are camped by a cranky person. They were sleeping when we rolled in around 9 PM, so we were extra quiet in setting up camp and eating. But about 45 minutes after arriving, while settling down for bed, the camper yelled out, “Shut up already!” I felt bad for waking him from his sleep, but also a bit self righteous at his passive aggression. Thru hiking has made me somewhat judgmental of others’ methods of stress management. It is not necessarily an appealing development in me but a development all the same.
Other people I interacted with today were: Barbara and her dog Angel, Wreck and his son Kevin, a guy whose name I didn’t catch as he walked by, Bambi Magnet by the reservoir bridge, Billy the Kid, Side Borg, and Ricky Bobby. There were actually others, but these are all I can remember right now amongst a few day hiker groups.
Part of my judgement has extended to how other hikers are hiking their hikes. This one actually bothers me quite a bit. I do not and should not have any say or authority in how other people go about their own adventures. However, there was a short cut today that numerous people took and it bothered me to be passed because I hiked the two miles that the shortcut bypassed. It has begun bothering me that so many people are skipping ahead and boasting recognition for an unearned rate of pace.
Around sunset tonight I saw four middle sized bucks. They heard me coming and quickly made an escape, but I saw them before they disappeared. Endless recently made a comment about having not seen many males, so of course I was presented with a sight for the contrary. This morning I also saw what Wreck told me was a blue tailed juvenile skink. My roommates back in Colorado had a skink once named Persephone. She did not like me, but the blue tailed one flashed its bright blue at me several times as I tried to catch the perfect view on my camera.
This morning, before leaving Callahan’s, Cheetah’s parents, Terry and Marg, gave us cookies and rice crispies!!!!! What a great surprise!!! Cheetah was supposed to get in today and they wanted to trail angel with sodas and cookies before he arrived. What incredibly nice people they are!
Since we decided to go for the full Callahan experience, along with our plan to push hard through Oregon, Endless and I stayed for the pancake breakfast and had a very late 10:45 AM start. It was so worth it! Breaky was fresh fruit, cinnamon raisin bread pudding, eggs, bacon, and bottomless pancakes. We hit the trail on pancake power!
Day: 82
A day of old faces.
Day Eighty-two: 23 July 2015
Start: HM 1748.2
End: HM 1791.2 campsite
GPS Point: 42.592577, -122.220295
Day Total: 43.0 miles
Water at mile 1748.6 canal, 1771.0 large creek, mile 1782.5 Christi’s Spring
Today I saw a lot of faces I never really expected to see again. Sort of going backwards, Recon was at the last water for the day, then Sunburst (a girl Endless started the PCT with) and Guino, I caught G&G (the badass retired ultra marathon running couple), and they told me about seeing the woman with the horse and puppy (though I did not actually see them). There was also Grock, F-bomb, an older Asian couple, a dad with two sons and three dogs, a father and an adult daughter who are south sectioners, and then a woman named River who is nobo hiking all the sections over a few years.
I have now thought a lot about the long NorCal section that is basically disregarded, or at least given zero conversation, by most. My conclusion is that it is like the forgotten slice of cheesecake in the back of the fridge. CA is so large and rich with trail that it’s hard to get through the whole thing, even though every last bite holds untold deliciousness. I think a lot of people might get discouraged as they reach and hike through NorCal. Coming up on Mt. Shasta provided stunning views and you are so close to Oregon, but then you realize that a 70 mile drive up I-5 from Castle Crags brings you right to the border of Oregon whereas the trail takes another 200 miles to accomplish the same task. It is overwhelming. I know I could not help think about how long I had already been hiking and wonder if I would ever reach the end. Thus, I think NorCal is unfortunately an area where hikers skip large sections to feel that sense of forward progress. I know I was tired of seeing Shasta in the distance as I hiked west, then south, then west, and finally north away from Castella over several days. I am still thinking about all the old faces I saw today and have been seeing these last couple weeks. I know a lot of people must have skipped sections somewhere. I wonder if that’s why NorCal and Oregon are not given much discussion. Do people just skip them?
The trail was not quite as nice as yesterday. The volcanic rocks are a pain to walk on. Very sharp and loose. There are also a surprising amount of fallen trees on the trail, along with a lot of unmarked trail junctions. Just seemed harder than yesterday.
There was a sign today indicating the 2/3 completion mark today. Wow! Doesn’t seem that long, yet seems like I’ve been out here forever. A few days feels like a week. It’s been 82 days but I would swear it’s been over three months already. Time doesn’t matter past the next town stop, yet the enormity of time already gone by seems to linger on the mind. Creeping in now is my upcoming deadline. I do have limitations to how long I can be out here before returning to CO and KS. Much to do with my dwindling time. There is also talk of Washington fire troubles ahead. Detours and other obstacles.
Day: 83
Hikers galore!
Day Eighty-three: 24 July 2015
Start: HM 1791.2
End: HM 1818.4 Mazama Village
GPS Point: 42.867247, -122.167052
Day Total: 28.0 miles
Water at mile 1796.8 seasonal creek, Mazama Village
Crossing a creek, I saw an adorable little colony, chorus, or army of 50+ baby frogs (I don’t think they were toads, but then they would be a knot of baby toads…) Then I saw a small pond filled with juvenile salamanders. Adorable! It’s like amphibian day!
People: a man doing a sobo section of Oregon, another older man named Sidewinder, a girl I think is a nobo section hiker, several groups out for short lake trips heading away from CLNP, Eric and Sage, and then TONS of people at CLNP. Most notably, Tami! So happy to see her! It’s been over a month!
There was a very distinct burn zone that seemed relatively recent. Or at least recent enough that I noticed the lack of vegetation and shade.
I have been thinking about hiker personalities based solely on shoe prints lately. Speed, style, size, etc. As if the unknown person leaves traces of his or her personality in each step. I rarely ever match prints to people, but it is a fun mental distraction as I trek away the miles. Big thought of today was when did we start having 28 mile days into town stops? I used to have an 18 mile cap. I still arrived before 5 PM and had time for a shower and thorough lounging. Just seems excessive. The things we do on trail. I wonder about my sanity and logic systems sometimes.
Anyways, today we reached mile 1800! I felt like yesterday took forever. Today, however, I haven’t really thought about the trail at all. My mind wandered freely. I discover that I move faster when my mind isn’t focusing on things. The distance seems easier and the terrain challenges become part of the view. An interesting complex as maybe my mind was able to wander because of other unknown factors.
We made it to CLNP! Crater Lake National Park. We decided to stay in Mazama Village at the hiker site. Pretty awesome! People were super nice! And another showing of incredibly generous parents of current hikers. Nomad’s and Rattles’ parents were at an RV site in the campground providing unbelievable magic. A hiker supper!!!!! They had pasta, homemade meatballs in marinara, delicious bread roasted with garlic butter, fresh cut fruit, ice cream, and these homemade cookie cream sandwiches that are unique to Idaho or something. I hungrily stuffed my face and thanked them profusely. There had to be at least twenty to thirty hikers who dined with them. Such generosity! And my great fortune!