Day five (mile 2540.7-2564.3)

Day Five
1 September 2016
Mile 2540.7-2564.3
Day total 23.6
Tally 102.7 miles
Total up/down: +4947/-5553ft
Camp: site at large creek with foot log
LL: 48.344311, -120.902712

Today was cold and rainy. I didn’t actually bring a rain jacket. I don’t really know why. This is Washington. It rains here. That is what Washington is all about. It hasn’t been a problem, but the rest of the trail is supposed to be rainy and cold. It might be miserable, but there are only a few more days. I am pumped to walk across that border and bring an official close to this trail.

We arrived at camp super early and I am cold and wet. We met a really nice 63 year old man. He is a PCT hiker named Easy. He hiked on because he didn’t see the water trickling in the stream about a half mile back. He is from Indiana, has a distinct gentlemanly accent, and has the the sense of humor. I hope we run into him again.

Day four (mile 2518.8-2540.7)

Day Four
31 August 2016
Mile 2518.8-2540.7
Day total 21.9
Tally 79.1 miles
Total up/down: +5765/-8114ft
Camp: near Image Lake Trail
LL: 48.196496, -121.044992

Despite feeling completely at home out here, there are subtle things that feel weird. When we meet people we are section hikers, not thru hikers. Today a girl said she knew we were thru hikers because of my “hello kitty backpack,” referring to my ultralight setup. It felt really good, but also felt weird. This class is not my class. I do not feel apart of their summer. I feel like a normal hiker just passing through while these other hikers are coming to the end of their journeys. I too am coming to the end of my journey, but it is one for completion and not the close of a killer hike. It is a strange feeling.

One thing I have particularly been happy about is the warm nights. Mornings have been brisk, but I am super toasty at night. I am reminded how much I don’t like to put my tent up. As one of the few daily chores I have, I remember why I prefer to cowboy camp. But this is Washington, so it is not smart to risk falling asleep without cover…though we did cowboy two nights ago.

Day three (mile 2495.7 – 2518.8)

Day Three
30 August 2016
Mile 2495.7-2518.8
Day total 23.1
Tally 57.2 miles
Total up/down: +6856/-6671ft
Camp: 1/2 mile past Mica Lake
LL: 48.167563, -121.155024

My body is screaming. I have not worked out in months. I have been eating junk food, drinking coffee, and steadily gaining weight as my scrawny muscles turn to mush. Now my weak baby feet are getting blisters, my thighs are bloody from chafing, my shoulders and knees are tight and bruised, and my low back sometimes siezes in pain. I feel like a poser trying to claim this PCT finale, as I shuffle into camp as a bundle of aches. Every time I stand up after a break I have to shake the life back into my legs. I am definitely not in thru-hiker condition right now. But I love this. I wake up each day excited to get on trail, ready for the beating. I cannot imagine a better way to spend my short break from school.

We have decided to stick with 20-25 mile days so we don’t keel over in piles of misery. Endless of course is fine, having 3000+ miles under his feet this summer. For the rest of us, we have been plushly living in our off-trail lives. We are strategically headed to Stehekin, to catch the bus times just right to get in and out in the same day. S+M has a stricter finish then the rest of us, so we are trying to travel the appropriate distances to get her back in time.

One thing I have been thinking about the last few days is a special hiker dress. I need to have people donate old running tech shirts so I have enough material. I hiked most of the PCT in a lively Target clearance special. It was made of rayon and stayed surprisingly classy. At least until it started to disintegrate with my whole backside exposed and my deteriorating unders on full display, despite my nightly efforts to patch the tears. I retired that dress to my growing pile of clothes for another memory quilt, and replaced it with a new dress. I am hiking now with that same dress. I have only positive things to say about hiking in dresses. Anyways, I want to design a dress based on my favorite features from all those dress experiences.

PCT reunion hike day two (mile 2471.3-2495.7)

Day Two
29 August 2016
Mile 2471.3-2495.7
Day total 24.4
Tally 34.1 miles
Total up/down: +6393/-5564ft
Camp: Glacier Peak Wilderness
LL: 47.996623, -121.121417

I realized today how much I have been holding onto these last 200 miles. I put my life on hold, waiting to think about what adventure I will do next. Today my brain has been flooded with all these ideas of what to do while in grad school. School is my priority, so I am at peace with the fact that I won’t be hiking a long trail in the next few years. But that doesn’t mean I am prevented from adventuring. I need to find ventures that can be crammed into one or two weeks.

I am thinking that next summer I want to drive up to Washington to climb Mount Adams and to Oregon to climb Mount Hood. Then I will slowly work my way back to SB while climbing all the major peaks in between. I have been thinking a long time on climbing each state’s highest peak. I have a few in the books, but I think it’s time to start bagging some more. I am also thinking I could drive back to CO to finish up the fourteeners the summer after that. This summer the record for self-supported and all human-powered climbing of 57 fourteeners was completed in 31 days 8 hours by Joe Grant. This is an incredible feat, and equally inspiring, to get out there myself. I also really want to hike other trails like the CDT, TA in New Zealand, Heyduke, and AZT. I also want to cycle from Washington to Florida. This fall I will spend a couple months in Antarctica, doing top secret geology things. I am super excited! After getting off the ice, I plan to spend about two weeks cycling across New Zealand. All of these ambitions require me to get my ass into gear. No more laziness or crappy food. Hopefully the lure for adventure will keep my motivation going strong! And of course, you can stay tuned here to follow along!

I am too tired to write more. Sorry.

Back to trail (mile 2461.6-2471.3)

Day One
28 August 2016
Mile 2461.6-2471.3
Day total 9.7 miles
Tally 9.7 miles
Total up/down: +1954/-1860ft
Campsite: Lake Janus
LL: 47.825071, -121.099114

Endless is reading us a bedtime story; Mauki by Jack London. We are tucked into our fart sacks for the night. Our ultralight gear slightly different, but mostly the same. The people are Endless P. Summer, S+M, and Tim Tam. This is all too familiar. The reality of the trail not quite tangible. Everything from the last year completely wiped away. It could be August 2015 all over again. Where has the last year gone? Being here, together again on the PCT, things make sense. I have missed this. The last twelve months have felt like the life of a stranger. Today felt like coming home.

To catch you up, I will give some back story. In May 2015 I stood at the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail, or PCT. I hiked anout 2461 miles before the horrible fires in northern Washington forced an end to the trail, just 200 miles shy of the Canadian border. I went to the northern Terminus with my trail companions at that time, but it didn’t feel real. To be honest, I am not sure it would have felt real even if we had hiked to the end. Regardless, I have felt a longing to return and cover that final gap.

In the mean time, I moved to Southern California for grad school. I went from a comfortable salary in the oil and gas industry to borderline poverty on a grad salary (I am still elated to have made that change!). I had a rough start with school, and am still transitioning to a new project and advisor. I don’t think I was quite ready to go from the outdoors and personal freedom on the trail, to 15+ hour days at a desk. I understood the physical and mental endurance of thru-hiking. I woke up every day excited. Every day seemingly the same yet actually new and exhilarating. I was addicted to the challenge. I was not prepared for the mental and psychological warping of grad school. I felt stretched in thirty directions, expected to excel at everything, and spend all my time on research with no thought to anything else. At first I took solace in working out. 7 miles of bike commuting each day, alternating long swims and long runs, climbing in the evenings, and hiking on the weekends. The true embodiment of a weekend warrior. When school hit the fan, exercise completely ceased and my lifestyle took on fast food and late nights on coffee. I am slowly putting myself back together. It has been a slow process. The biggest move towards sanity has been knowing I was returning to the trail. My life for the next four years is grad school, but I live for the moments of adventure. I live for putting ideas into motion.

That brings us back to the PCT. About one year after stepping off the trail, I am back to finish the last stretch to Canada. Two days ago I flew into Seattle. I met up with Endless, my hiking companion of over 1700 miles last summer. You can check him out on Instagram @endlesspsummer or his blog at establishinganewbaseline.wordpress.com. He hiked the AT and CT, as well as several hundred miles on the PCT this summer before joining us. He is a formidable hiker and great trail presence, providing us with unlimited entertainment. S+M joined us Saturday night. We caught up for supper at a great ramen restaurant, Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya, with her friend Gen Ma. S+M is an amazing artist and now a skilled electrician, as well as the happiest person I know. She is also my idol, so I have nothing but great things to say about her. In December she leaves for a PeaceCorps position in Guinea, which is incredibly exciting because my sister will be starting her PC position in Guinea at the same time! Stay tuned for upcoming adventures to the west coast of Africa! She can be followed on Instagram @katehendricksonart. This morning we were joined by Tim Tam, or Tim Tam Slam, otherwise know as Tami from last summer’s accounts. She might have the coolest work life, working for Clif Bar and Outward Bound. I can definitely see myself wanting to be like her when I grow up and venture back into adult life. She has a great blog at tamiankeny.wordpress.com and on Instagram @tamiankeny. She has an eloquent way of putting into words the experiences I also grappled with. It felt right to be surrounded by these incredible people. Tim Tam drove up from Portland and then the four of us drove to Baring to gather ourselves at the Dinsmores before hitting the trail. The Dinsmores are these incredible people who open their home to hikers as they pass through on the PCT. In trail lingo they are called trail angels. They have a garage bunkhouse, dedicated hiker box, big lush lawn, and shower setup for hikers to stop in and stay the night before heading back out on trail. Of their many generosities, they also accept and store hiker resupply packages. Since the SBA TSA doesn’t allow trekking poles in carry-on bags, I mailed my poles and food to the Dinsmores.

So here we are. Ten miles into the trail. I stayed up too late to spin off this first post. But I have been thinking about the trail for so long. I am happy to be here.

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:
2650.1-2658.9
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
2390.6-2461.6
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
2292.4-2390.6
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
2144.2-2292.4
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
1992.6-2144.2
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
1819.2-1992.6
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
1716.2-1819.2
Day Eighty-three: 28.0 miles Crater Lake National Park Mazama Village
Day Eighty-two: 43.0 miles
Day Eighty-one: 32.0 miles
1597.3-1716.2
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
1416.5-1597.3
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
1284.4-1416.5
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
1195.4-1284.4
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
1092.3-1195.4
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
906.7-1092.3
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
788.9-906.7
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
702.2-788.9
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
566.5-702.2
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
444-566.5
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
369.4-444
Day Twenty-one: 8.0 miles Acton KOA
Day Twenty: 28.9 miles
Day Nineteen: 23.9 miles
Day Eighteen: 14.6 miles
266.0-369.4
Day Seventeen: 25.1 miles Wrightwood
Day Sixteen: 26.3 miles
Day Fifteen: 23.4 miles
Day Fourteen: 28.6 miles
109.5-266.0
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
0-109.5
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.