Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Yoda's Dad again. Talked to Yoda (by pay phone) from Stehekin this morning. Definitely no cell service for rest of the hike. She said she would post the remaining blogs once she gets to Vancouver and has good internet service - probably on 3rd or 4th of Oct. As of yesterday she has covered 2570 miles with 81 left to go. "All is still well" - but it is starting to get colder (snow now above 5,000 ft level). She wondered if anyone would care to post a guess on when - date and time - she will get to the end (US - Canadian border monument - no mountain this time!). She was headed North again at 12:30 this afternoon.
Monday, September 26, 2016
Friday, September 23, 2016
Sept 22, 2016
Campsite(2437.3) to Stevens Pass(2561.7) 24.4 miles
It was really cold this morning when I woke up. I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag so I didn't. I had breakfast in bed. Usually I drink my breakfast shake as I pack up, but today I stayed in my tent and drank it. I tried to pack up as much as I could from inside my sleeping bag, but eventually I had to abandon the warmth. I wish that I had an uphill climb to start the day off. Those always help me warm up. Instead I had a steep downhill over slippery rocks. It took me forever to hike the first mile and a half. I started the morning off dry, but within twenty minutes my pants and arms were soaked. The trail was extremely wet and there was a lot of brush hanging along the trail. I also had to navigate through and around a large section of downed trees. After a mile and a half I came upon a tricky stream crossing. My Guthook guide described it as the most fun water crossing of the trail. I didn't think it was all that special. I slowly picked my way across without incident.
Three part water crossing. Part one
During those early morning miles I hiked mostly downhill. I could see what I thought was a lake covered by dense fog. I realized later on that there was no lake, just a sea of clouds. It was really neat looking.
I was in a little bit of a hurry today. I needed to hike twenty four miles before it got too dark to hitch into town. Hitchhiking after dark is almost impossible. Cars can't see you standing on the side of the road in the dark, so it is dangerous. It has rained every night since I left Snoqualmie Pass and I was looking forward to a dry night in town. I was also excited to pick up my Amazon order. I bought some rain repellent to rewaterproof my rain jacket. I tried taking a minimal amount of breaks, but today was just too pretty to not stop and enjoy myself. One of the only ways to see what is around me is to stop and look around. I tend to hike with my head down so I don't trip, but you don't see a whole lot by hiking like that.
It never really warmed up today. I was almost comfortable in the sun, but I was rarely in the sun. I think the only time I was actually warm was when I was hiking uphill. I guess it was a good thing that I spent most of the day hiking uphill. Today was another day of breathtaking views. Washington has definitely lived up to expectations.
After a pretty tough uphill, in which I hiked to the top of a ridge, I got a clear view of another awesome lake. I'm still amazed by how many lakes I see on a daily basis. It never gets old. The lakes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but today was dominated by large deep blue lakes.
Around midday I had to hike down a large talus field. I think I am getting better going downhill over talus. I didn't have to slow down as much as I used to. The secret seems to be to ignore my trekking poles. By not using my poles I can focus on where I put my feet and rely on my balance to help. I think my trekking poles actually keep me off balance.
For as difficult as today was physically, I made pretty good time. I only felt slightly rushed towards the end of the day. I didn't see any other thruhikers all day, but I did see a lot of day hikers. Stevens Pass is easy access for hikers to make it to the trail. I think I've seen more people enjoying the trail system in Washington than in any other state. It is very impressive.
Stevens Pass functions as a ski resort during the winter months. I finished the day by hiking up in if the ski runs. The top of the run even had a chairlift. I didn't stay at the summit for very long. It was really cold and windy at the top. I tried, unsuccessfully, yogi-ing a ride from two day hikers at the top of the ski run. They were heading the opposite direction from me. I picked up the pace on the way down to the parking lot. It was only six o'clock, but the temperature was plummeting. I was not looking forward to standing along the side of a major highway, trying to hitch twenty miles down the road.
I stood around in the parking lot for awhile. I was hoping I could get a ride from there, but unfortunately that did not work. It took me over thirty minutes before someone stopped for me. All of the traffic was heading in the opposite direction from me. Even though I had to wait thirty minutes for a ride it wasn't too bad. In that time only 10-15 cars drove by. I finally got picked up by a nice guy, towing a motorcycle, who looked like Santa. I enjoyed our conversation immensely. He dropped me off in Skykomish just before dark. I bought a soda and chips at the gas station before going to the motel in search of my Amazon package.
I really didn't want to spend money on another hotel, but I didn't really have any other options. The trail angels I had hoped to stay with lived another eight miles away. There was no way to get there without hitching, but it was already getting dark out. I ended up eating dinner in the restaurant at the hotel. I was able to get a room there for a pretty decent price, $75. Laundry would have to wait until the morning because the laundromat closed before I got to town. My package from Amazon was promised to be delivered today, but it did not make it here yet. The post office doesn't open until 11:30, so I have to hang around town tomorrow morning. Hopefully by the time I can pick up my resupply box, my Amazon order will be delivered and I can still get a few miles in tomorrow.
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation."
- Henry David Thoreau
Sept 21, 2016
Lemah Creek(2411.3) to Campsite (2437.3) 26 miles
It rained very hard last night. I was so glad that I had already set up camp and was warm and dry inside of my tent. When I woke up there was a light layer of frost on the ground. By the time I was ready to go it had stopped raining and it looked like I would manage to avoid being rained on while I hiked. I was excited by the prospect of staying dry. My excitement was short lived. I should have known better than to believe that I could stay dry. Did I learn nothing from my time on the AT? Rain over night meant that all of the foliage was wet. Considering that the first part of the day was hiking through overgrown brush I didn't stay dry for very long. It was like walking through a car wash.
I made it through the overgrown area pretty quickly. I spent the next three miles hiking straight uphill. I enjoyed the workout and it helped me to warm up. I spent over an hour switchbacking my way up the mountain. I had the same view all morning, but the higher I climbed the clearer I could see the mountains around me. They were reminiscent of Kings Canyon National Park, my favorite section of trail to date.
I had such a pretty view that I decided this would be a good place to have second breakfast. I ate my poptart while enjoying the beauty around me. By ten o'clock the clouds had cleared and the sun came out. Today was a very difficult day of hiking, but I didn't mind. I had warmed up and the sun was shining. I was at a high enough elevation that most of the foliage had turned into the most vivid colors. The maples were an amazing shade of red and I walked through a huge huckleberry patch with shades of orange and red. As a bonus the huckleberry shrubs still had berries. I ate my fill before moving along.
I hiked past more lakes than I could count. They were an amazing shade of blue. Almost as vivid as Crater Lake, but not quite. The numerous lakes of Washington have really impressed me. If only it was early August. I would take my time and swim in each and every lake.
I had a few potentially difficult stream crossings, but I managed to find a dry path across them all. It wouldn't have mattered too much though, my feet remainder slightly wet all day.
This section of Washington has definitely been a highlight of the trip. Even with the bad weather and difficult terrain I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I made it into camp just before dark. My maps showed a reliable water source in the area, but I had difficulty finding it. I followed a dry stream bed for what seemed like an eternity. I was just about to give up when I heard the tell tale signs of water nearby. I was able to collect ice cold clear water with out any difficulties. Finding my way back to camp was another thing. I had one moment of shear panic when I thought I had gone the wrong direction. I decided to walk just a little bit farther when I saw a familiar landmark. Once back to camp I setup just as the sun was setting. I had to cook and eat in the falling light, but at least it wasn't raining... Yet. Once the sun set it got cold really quickly. I got into my sleeping bag as soon as I finished eating. It was so cold out that I decided to skip writing my blog post for the day. I snuggled up in my sleeping bag and fell asleep immediately.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Snoqualmie Pass(2390.3) to Lemah Creek(2411.3) 21 miles
Usually after I take a zero it is hard to get back out on the trail. A lot of the time I'm sluggish and making miles is difficult. I'm happy to report that that wasn't the case today. I was so excited that the weather had improved. I made it back to the trail at a decent time. I decided to skip going out for breakfast. I had already spent way too much money on town food. I ate a Gatorade bar and headed out. I was back on trail by 8:45. The trail was a little muddy, but it was better than I had expected it to be. I had only gone a mile when I saw a sign warning pct hikers that there would be blasting happening on the pct. I'm not sure why anyone would be blasting along the trail. I associate that with avalanche control. I guess it will remain a mystery. I never saw or heard anything.
Shortly after beginning my hike today I entered into Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This section of trail is breathtaking. I hiked past alpine lakes, cascading streams, and granite peaks.
After hiking eight miles and gaining over four thousand feet of elevation I made it to the 2,400 mile marker. I took a nice long break and savored the achievement. I was getting pretty cold and there wasn't a lot I could do to improve the marker. I took a picture to mark the occasion and then headed out. A few weeks ago I met two guys that had names made up for all of the miles that they hiked. For example, a nine mile day they called a kitty cat day. Eight miles they referred to as an eight ball. I thought the most creative was their name for hiking twenty four miles. They called it a Jack Bauer after the television show, 24. I was a big fan of that show.
I was hoping to hike at least twenty miles today so I didn't really linger during my breaks. I ate quickly and processed water before moving along. This next one hundred miles of trail is supposedly some of the most difficult. I'm trying to take advantage of the nonrainy moments. Even though I was hurrying along the trail I still took the time to appreciate my surroundings. Whenever I was at a lower elevation I was amazed by how green everything was. It was so different from how I started this trip. At the higher elevations everything is so multicolored. Autumn is really upon me, especially above 4,500 feet.
I hiked a long ridgeline with what I'm guessing is one of my last clear views of Mount Rainier. After cresting the ridge I had views clear into Canada. I could even see fresh snow on the mountaintops from the recent storms.
I only had six miles left to my day when I was dramatically slowed down. I had to cross several large talus fields. With the recent rain all of the rocks were slick as snot. I didn't want to chance rolling an ankle or falling down. I gingerly picked my way across the rocks. Since I was going to slow I was being ninja quiet. I saw movement to my right and caught a glimpse of what I thought was a marmot. I stayed very still and the animal came out of its hiding spot. It wasn't a marmot, it was a beaver! I waited so long to see one on the AT and never got a clear picture. The little guy today sat very still while I photographed him.
Once I left the rocks behind I reentered the forest. I flushed an elk out of hiding almost immediately. Hunting must not be allowed in this wilderness area because the elk stayed right next to the trail instead of running away. I finally got a good picture.
Just before getting into camp for the night I passed by an impressive waterfall. Even though I was almost done for the day I took a small break to enjoy the scene. After all the recent rain the waterfall was gushing. Alpine Lakes Wilderness has been truly amazing.
"If I have any wisdom of this at all, it's that life is precious, all life, our own and the lives of others. It made me commit to trying to be a better person."
- Harry Waizer, former Head of Tax for Cantor Fitzgerald at the North Tower, suffered burns over much of his body and injured his vocal cords when pieces of a fireball hit him and went down his throat.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Sept 19, 2016
Snoqualmie Pass(2390.3) 0 miles hiked
I woke up with the intention of hiking out today. I'm so close to the end and I'm really looking forward to hiking through North Cascades National Park. I was up at 6:30 and I could hear the rain pelting the windows of my hotel room. I was immediately disappointed. The chance of rain for this morning was really low. When I looked out the window things did not look good. I got dressed and went outside to take a better look. It was really cold and pouring down rain. I decided to grab breakfast and see if it would clear up. I checked all four weather apps that I have on my phone. The forcast did not look good.
The hotel had a Waffle House type restaurant. I ordered a cup of coffee and French toast with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and whipped cream. They were very good, but I wished it was a little bigger. Checkout wasn't until eleven o'clock. I figured I could wait to see what the weather would do before I made a final decision.
I was really behind on my blog, so I went back to my room and began to try to get caught up. The rain continued and I managed to get one blog post written. I packed up all of my stuff in case I decided to leave. I really couldn't afford another night in a hotel, but the prospect of heading out into the rain wasn't very appealing. I had just gotten all of my gear dried out. The forcast called for rain for most of the day. It didn't look like it would clear up until after five o'clock. I finally decided to take a zero, even though I couldn't really afford it. I really just want to finish before it gets any colder. The deciding factor was that by taking a zero I could catch up on my blog. I spent the entire day holed up in my room writing. I only came out for food and to get into the hot tub.
A few of the other hikers were hitching into Seattle later in the day. I thought about tagging along, but I decided against it. I wanted to go to REI, but I didn't want to lose four hours of writing time to go. Instead I gave my credit card and member number to, Crush. She returned my gloves that were too small for me. I also had her exchange a pair of Darn Tough socks that were wearing thin. I managed to accomplish all of my chores without having to bother with getting to Seattle.
I went to lunch at a place called the Aardvark Express. It was a food truck permanently parked next to the hotel. I had a bacon cheese burger with an egg and cream cheese served on a brioche bun. It was really good and even came with some curry lentil soup.
I managed to get a few blogs posted before I turned on the tv. I very rarely watch the boob tube when I'm in town. I kept it on mainly for background noise. I did some research into plane tickets for after the trail. Prices aren't as bad as I had feared. I haven't booked anything yet, but I'll need to do it soon. The longer I wait the more expensive it will get. I had hoped to take a road trip along the coast after I finish, but it doesn't look like that will happen. I have spent way more money on this thruhike than I did on the AT. I also have a few expenses that I hadn't planned on. I managed to secure better housing for my job in Telluride this winter, but the deposits are more than I had taken into account for.
By six o'clock I only had two more days of the blog to write. I took a break to go get dinner. I wasn't really super hungry so I just got snacks from the convenience store. Dinner consisted of Starbucks Frappacino coffee drink, chips, an oatmeal stout, and a pint of Ben and Jerrys ice cream. It definitely wasn't the most nutritious dinner, but it was tasty. I will miss eating like a stoned college student when the trail is over.
I had hoped to get to bed early, but that was an epic fail. I didn't finish writing until almost eleven o'clock. I realized that I still hadn't downloaded a new audiobook. It took me over an hour to decide what I should download. I'm open to suggestions for my next book. I would prefer something that is part of a series, but I'm open to anything. I tend to like science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, and murder mysteries. One of my favorite audiobooks is, Ready Player One.
The forcast for tomorrow looks much better. It will probably rain sometime in the afternoon or at night, but it won't be an all day rain like I had on Saturday and today. Hopefully the trail won't be too muddy and I can make up miles.
I have also gotten behind on my thank you's. My last few resupply boxes include a variety of food from, Airlock. Thanks for the eclectic mix of food and thanks for not sending me anything with mushrooms or olives ;-)
A big shoutout to Theresa and Bob Brisko. I really appreciated the cash. I used it to buy breakfast this morning and my beer for dinner. Chris from Nashville, thanks for the Amazon gift card. I used the funds on a spray to renew the waterproof coating on my rain jacket. Dan and Arlene Williams recently gifted me with a new audiobook. Thanks Dan and Arlene. I bought a book by John Scalzi called, Locked In. I'll start listening to it tomorrow. I am one lucky lady to have such wonderful support from my own personal trail angels. My PO box is no longer accepting packages. If you were interested in sending me something I could still use an iTunes gift card. I rarely bother listening to music anymore because I am so tired of everything on my playlist. Thanks again for all of the support.
"Happiness lies even in tiny little butterflies. You just have to open up your eyes and see where beauty flies to beautify your world lenghtwise."
Ana Claudia Antunes
Monday, September 19, 2016
Sept 18, 2016
Stampede Pass(2372.4) to Snoqualmie Pass(2390.9) 18.5Miles
Today went by in a blur. I was so focused on getting into town for a hot shower that I really don't remember much about the day. It really poured last night. At one point I was nervous about my tent holding up to such a beating. I couldn't tell if it was just raining really hard or if it had begun to hail. Upon closer inspection it was just rain. Luckily, by the time I was ready to get up it had stopped raining. As promised, Stumbling Norwegian and Honey Bee, cooked us all breakfast. I enjoyed a breakfast burrito with a coffee spiked with tasty goodness. It was an excellent start to my day. Eventually it was time to say goodbye. I had almost nineteen miles to hike before making it to Snoqualmie Pass. Check in at the hotel isn't until four o'clock. By leaving at nine o'clock I should make it into town around four o'clock.
I was surprised by how well the trail conditions were. There were a few places with deep puddles, but for the most part the trail was pretty dry. The water sources were all gushing and it was a beautiful day. After hiking a few hours the sun even came out.
Once the sun came out my mood improved greatly. I practically flew down the trail. I passed a lot of day hikers that wanted to stop and chat. Most of them wanted to know how I managed the storm. My response was pretty much the same, "not well". I was pretty freaked out by the rapid change of weather. I honestly didn't expect to have to deal with those type of conditions this early in September. I was convinced that people in Northern California were fear mongers, trying to scare me. Now I realize that they had a better grasp of the situation than I did.
I decided to look upon yesterday as a learning experience. In the future I will wear more layers and I believe getting some gloves will help as well. I'm so close to the end now. I guess it will be a photo finish. I was really hoping for an Indian summer, but I'm beginning to doubt that will happen.
I slowed down the second half of the day. I passed by a couple really pretty lakes and even though I'm not swimming I like to stop next to them for my breaks.
The closer I got to Snoqualmie Pass the harder the trail became. I had a few steep climbs to make. Even though the trail was in good shape I still had to slow down a little bit. A good portion of the hike was over slippery rocks and roots. I am no stranger to slippery rocks and roots. I navigated my way through the without incident. I was so close to town I could almost taste the pizza.
Getting into Snoqualmie had two possible routes. I could cut almost a mile off the trail by walking down a ski slope or I could stick to the trail and walk down a gravel road. I have never been so tempted to skip trail in my entire life. I could see the hotel. It was tantalizingly close. I stayed true to myself, but it was a close thing.
I wasn't too concerned about not getting a room. The parking lot was almost empty and I heard from other hikers that they didn't have any problems securing a room. The force was with me and I didn't have a problem getting a room. I was able to check in immediately. The first thing I did was empty everything from my pack so that things would dry out. Then I took a long hot shower. I had to wait before I could start my laundry. There was a long line of hikers ahead of me. I got my resupply box and my new gloves. This time the gloves fit perfectly. I brought some pizza and beer and relaxed in my room. The events of yesterday seemed like a bad dream. I was warm, clean, and my belongings were beginning to dry out. Life is good!
"We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
- Frederick Keonig
Sept 17, 2016
Stealthsite(2363.3) to Stampede Pass(2372.4) 9.1 Miles
This was exactly what I was worried about. Today is the reason I killed myself to make miles through Northern California. I wanted to finish before I had to deal with weather like this. It began to rain at two am and it continued for more than twenty-four hours straight. I woke up at six o'clock and decided to sleep in. I usually have pretty good luck with this strategy. The majority of the time it stops raining or the rain lets up in intensity. Today I lost that gamble. It actually began to rain much harder. Trying to pack up a wet tent when it is pouring is not a whole lot of fun. I really miss my hammock. It was easy to pack up everything from under my tarp. Most of my belongings stayed dry. Packing up my tent was exactly the opposite. I did manage to pack almost everything into my backpack while I was still inside of my tent, but it was like playing twister to move around while packing inside the coffin shaped tent. I had originally planned on hiking somewhere between 22 and 25 miles. That would leave me with an easy morning hike into town the next day. I immediately amended that plan. I decided that in this kind of weather it would be better to hike the full 27 miles into town so I could get a hotel room. I would be able to warm up and dry all of my gear out. I headed out in to the storm. I hiked as hard as I possibly could. I stowed my cell phone away in a ziplock bag. Smart phones are useless in the rain. Even if you keep the phone screen dry it won't recognize wet fingers. It was liberating not constantly checking my mileage and elevation profiles. I just hiked the trail as it presented itself to me.
After a few miles of hiking the rain began to let up a little bit. It was something between a sprinkle, a drizzle, and a steady rain. The only way I can describe it was to have you imagine a grocery store. In the produce aisle there are misters for the veggies. Imagine those misters turned up to a ridiculous level. I walked through that for about thirty minutes before it began to absolutely pour. I really thought that the Appalachian Trail had prepared me for anything, especially hiking in the rain. I really thought that I had pro-level experience dealing with how to survive crappy miserable rainy days. I guess I forgot how or this was a whole new level of miserableness. As the rain began to increase in intensity the temperature began to drop. It was only forty-five degrees out. I was managing it ok. I still don't have gloves so my hands were freezing and my rain jacket is no longer waterproof, but other than being soaking wet and my fingers not working properly anymore, I was managing. I had made it almost six miles when I saw a van with a canopy set up by an abandoned jeep road. I figured I could sweet talk them to let me hangout there until I warmed up. As I was approaching I noticed a small sign stuck into the ground. It said PCT detour and it was pointing to the van. I couldn't believe it... Trail Magic!!!! Roger, who lives in Seattle, came out to provide trail magic just because the weather was bad. He had a fire going, cold beverages, which I wasn't interested in, and hot beverages, which I was totally interested in. I enjoyed a hot cider and banana while I warmed up and dried out next to the fire. Trail angels are amazing people who I really appreciate, but this took things to a whole new level. To come out and offer support in the middle of a horrible storm was just unbelievable. I seriously almost cried. Once I was warm again and feeling had returned to my fingers I headed back into the storm. I still had twenty-two miles to go and I didn't want to be hiking after dark.
As soon as I left Roger the wind began to pick up. I had just gotten it through my head that I could deal with the rain and the cold, but I hadn't psyched myself up to deal with all three. I hiked another three miles, most of which was downhill, before I crossed another jeep road that lead out into the wide open. The wind was really howling, I would find out later that the wind was blowing at 20 mph. I was just pleased that I didn't slip and fall on the downhill section. I could see marks in the mud where whoever was in front of me wasn't so lucky. As I approached another road I saw a car parked almost in front of the trail. It was a strange sight. They had three beach style umbrellas set up and a light tarp up as well. Could it be possible that it was more trail magic? Yes, it was!!! This time I did cry a little.
Theresa had come out to feed hikers. She lives about forty-five minutes away. She says she likes to come out on the bad weather days because it is more helpful. She bundled me up in a blanket and let me sit in the backseat of her car. She wasn't concerned that I was a muddy wet mess. She made me a cup of homemade hot chocolate. She also fed me homemade sweet bread. I had my choice of huckleberry, blueberry, apple walnut, banana walnut, and zucchini with or without nuts. All of the ingredients either came from her garden or were freshly picked in the same mountains I've been hiking. I couldn't decide which flavor to try so she gave me a slice of each one. She lathered each piece with homemade butter. It was amazing!!! Unfortunately, she was setup in a wind tunnel. The longer I sat there, the colder I became. Theresa offered to take me into town, but I doubted that I could find a ride back to the random gravel road that we were on. I'm glad that I decided to stay the course. I would find out later that the only motel in town was completely booked for the night.
I was beginning to think that it was a bad idea to continue hiking in these conditions. I was soaking wet, the wind had increased, and the temperature dropped a few more degrees. I decided that I would find a spot sheltered from the wind and set up camp. I could change into dry clothes and snuggle into my sleeping bag. I said goodbye to Theresa and she gave me a hug and wished me luck. I hiked another half of a mile when I came through another exposed area. I was absolutely shivering at this point. I began to run towards tree cover. I was hoping that I could find a place to setup camp soon.
As I was running along the trail I saw what looked like a white awning. I figured I was beginning to see things. Sometimes when I'm tired boulders look like cars or downed tree trunks look like structures. I kept running and burst into a clearing at full speed. I was brought up short... Trail Magic!!! Stumbling Norwegian and his wife Honey Bee have been providing trail magic at this location for several years. They had two huge tents set up with insulated lawn chairs. I was greeted with hot chocolate, the offer of beer, whiskey, and something called tasty goodness. The bartender in me was intrigued by the tasty goodness. I had a shot and immediately felt the warmth spread through me. The concoction was basically kahlua, 151, and lots of sugar. Tasty goodness it was. Stumbling was grilling hamburgers and hotdogs for us. I settled in and enjoyed a hot chocolate with my burger. As I began to warm up I knew that decisions needed to be made. There was no way I could make it into town and it didn't seem very smart to continue hiking on. Stumbling Norwegian offered to have all of us hikers stay. Dinner and breakfast were offered as well. It wasn't a tough decision to stay.
I set up my tent when the rain settled down to a drizzle. About fifteen other hikers all decided to stay as well. I ate a ton of food and got to meet some really cool people. Stumbling Norwegian and Honey Bee told me about a long distance trail I have never heard of, The Pacific Northwest Trail runs from Glacier National Park all the way to the coast, following the border for 1,200 miles. I went to bed relatively dry and completely stuffed. It was the best worst day I've ever had on the trail.
“We begin from the recognition that all beings cherish happiness and do not want suffering. It then becomes both morally wrong and pragmatically unwise to pursue only one’s own happiness oblivious to the feelings and aspirations of all others who surround us as members of the same human family. The wiser course is to think of others when pursuing our own happiness.”
- Dalai Lama
Sept 16, 2016
Small Creek Campsite(2339.3) to Stealthsite(2363.3) 24 Miles
Today was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. The uphills are starting to become a lot steeper than anything I have hiked to date on the pct. I managed to leave camp just a little after seven o'clock. I really expected to hike another twenty-seven miles today, but I was forced to concede defeat. I banged out the first five and a half miles rather quickly. This morning was the first time in a long while that it wasn't really cold out in the morning. I was stopping within the first mile to peel layers off. I use an app on my phone called Guthook. It is a really cool app that has a built in gps to help me locate the trail if and when I get turned around. It also provides me with the elevation profile that you see at the beginning of my blog posts. Another cool feature is that users can comment on waypoints. I knew that I would come across a ski cabin that hikers can use as a shelter. The comments informed me that there was trail magic at the cabin. That was the entire reason I banged out the first five and a half miles so quickly. I was looking forward to a little magic. Unfortunately, when I arrived I was instantly disappointed. I was greeted by a surly group of twenty somethings. I tried to make polite conversation, but they weren't very friendly. After a long while they offered me a warm soda. When I gratefully accepted I was told that I needed to pay them $3. I really thought they were joking, but sadly they were not. I'm not sure what they think the definition of trail magic is, but I can assure you it is not charging a ludicrous amount of money for a soda. I didn't bother staying any longer. I thanked them for offering to charge me for a soda, but said I didn't have any cash. They said I could chop some firewood in exchange for beer, soda, or whiskey. Once again I said thanks but no thanks and wished them a good day. I said a few hellos to a couple of hikers I knew before pressing on.
Two of the hikers that I saw there I haven't seen since the desert. Monarch had to flip up to the Canadian border and is now hiking southbound. It was nice to see her again. I met Hot Tamale on my third day and haven't seen her since the desert as well. I thought she had quit the trail, but she didn't. She skipped the Sierra, Northern California, and most of Oregon. She is now hiking northbound, but only doing sections that she wants. After chatting for a few minutes I said my goodbyes and left.
Throughout the entire hike today I kept expecting it to rain. The last forcast I had heard called for an increasing chance of showers as the day went on. The early part of my day the weather was beautiful. The sky was blue and the clouds were minimal. As the day progressed more clouds began to roll in and the humidity began to skyrocket. I decided to hike as far as I could and not to worry about the weather. It would either rain or it wouldn't, there was nothing I could do about it.
I had more spectacular views of Mt. Rainier this afternoon. Yesterday the mountain was mainly ahead of me, today it seemed to stay to my left. For most of the afternoon I usually had at least a partial view of the mountain.
I spent a few miles hiking through a burn area. I was surprised to find out that this burn happened in 1988. I would have expected to see more recovery since then. Maybe there was a more recent fire in the same area.
Every time I come across an area such as this, the downed trees and silver trunks remind me of match sticks. I'm not sure why, but that is what crosses my mind each and every time.
I passed a few day hikers that gave me an updated weather report. It would start raining overnight and continue for twenty four hours. I was really hoping that they were not correct. To play it safe I decided to get into camp early so I could get set up in case it started to rain. The sky wasn't look too ominous yet, but the cloud coverage was definitely increasing.
Goat Rocks Wilderness in the extreme distance
It is amazing how quickly the forest is changing around me. Everyday there seems to be a little more color in the trees and shrubs. The maples are beginning to turn such vibrant shades of red and yellow. The huckleberry shrubs are also turning a vibrant red. The evergreens are beginning to drop their needles. I missed most of the signs of fall on the AT, but I am lucky enough to see it all around me now.
Vibrant splash of color
This area is also showing signs of a logging operation. I lost count of how many logging roads I crossed today. The amazing thing is how tiny of a portion they cut down on each mountain side. In the distance it looks like the mountains got a bad haircut.
I found a nice flat spot to camp on that was close to a water source. The site seemed like it would give me good protection from the wind and rain if a storm moved in. I quit hiking around five thirty. I could have made it another 3-5 miles today, but the trail was going to gain 1,500 feet of elevation over those miles. I didn't want to camp at a higher elevation with no tree cover when I was almost one hundred percent positive that it was going to rain. I guess tomorrow morning I will know if I made the right decision. As I was cooking dinner the temperature quickly dropped. I hurried up and finished eating so I get get all snuggled into my sleeping bag.
"It never costs anything extra to be nice"- Steve Fleming