Friday, September 30, 2011

September 29 - Last Full Day

End: castle pass
Daily: 25
Total: 2650.5

Wow. I never have to walk twenty five miles in a day again if I don't want to. I probably will, but we are less than that from Manning Park. And only 3.5 from the US-Canada border. Tomorrow before we normally take our morning break, we'll have finished walking from Mexico to Canada.

Can you tell I'm having trouble believing all this? I had just assumed the trail would go on forever and now it's ending so quickly. After tomorrow, all our routines and our tricks and our habits mean nothing. Who cares how many miles we walked before 10 am? Who cares if I put my spoon somewhere accessible? Who cares what that ridge is called?

Today was mostly spent thinking about the end and admiring amazing views. Just after our morning break we met Goodness and Zm coming back from the border and heading towards Harts Pass. Canada didn't want Goodness (he didn't have a DUI or anything like that, it was something much less selfish and more admirable that he got arrested for) so they couldn't go through an unmanned border crossing. So we caught up with them and then headed on our way.

Woody Pass was pretty much our last big climb of the trip, but it was really silly because we had to climb up to one pass about 2 miles before, then drop down into a bowl and climb back up to Woody Pass. There was an old trail that cut straight across from pass to pass, but it's been abandoned because it's too hard to maintain and it's on too steep a slope. We were tempted, but read in Yogi's guide that people who tried it turned back because it was too steep and the trail crumbles into nothingness when you step on it. I kept remembering the line from Yogi's that said "unless you want to DIE on your very last day of hiking, suck it up and take the original PCT to Woody Pass." so we did, and it was tiring and a little frustrating, but I guess it was just the PCT's way of saying goodbye.

Anyway, then we camped with Roo and Marmot here at Castle Pass and plan on walking to the monument (at the border) together. I'm a little nervous. In videos of the trail I could never watch people's reaction to the Monument.

Here we go!

September 28

End: hart's pass campground
Daily: 26.7
Total: 2624.5

Snow! Fresh snow! So this is what hiking on the other end of the snow feels like.

We woke to bluebird skies and about a half inch on everything. I made a snow angel and a seahorse in the snow. Chris had fun with tracks which later confused Marmot and Roo. We were the first tracks for a lot of the morning, until we  passed where Boots and Bubs and Pepe camped.

The rest of the day was pretty much just us being in awe of the snow dusted crags and then a big climb up to a ridge where we saw cougar tracks in the snow. Cool!

Then across to this campsite. Tomorrow is our last full day of hiking. That doesn't even make sense.

September 27 - Stehekin

End: campsites surrounded by fresh snow !! south of cutthroat pass
Daily: 23.7
Total: 2597.8
Rainy Pass living up to its name

Today was a weird day, not because it felt weird but because weird things happened.

We took the 8 am shuttle after spending a day in Stehekin, which was unplanned but very much appreciated. Most of it was spent trying to figure things out for afterwards, which is frustrating when all you've got is a satellite wifi connection through your phone and a very finicky sat phone to deal with. But at least we had something!

Stehekin is really cool. I'd like to visit when it's not raining. Buy we spent most of our time in the community room of the Landing, watching the clouds roll in over the lake and the cliffs across the bay. Then we ate a delicious dinner at the restaurant, which gave us portions even thru hikers had to work to finish.

Anyway, then out and into the rain today. The sun came out a few times today but never to stay. Somehow, I stayed dry. I think it's partly because I decided to manage the water a lot better. There are a lot of places in hiking where you can cut corners, but backpacking in the rain takes a little bit of responsibility. You have to know when to take off or put on your rain layers so you don't either get wet from rain or sweat yourself wet. And then you have to actually do it.

Anyway, on to the parts of today that made it an interesting day. First, we saw a moose!!! I've never seen one, even in a zoo, at least not that I remember. It was traveling south on the PCT and got within about 100 feet o us before turning to run up the hill. It was a large bull. So cool!

The weirdest thing was this, and I will try to describe him as best I can because I really don't know what to make of him. In the middle of the afternoon, a man came walking down the trail, with a Jansport school backpack and a black wool town coat and I think pants of the same material. He looked like he had just eaten something that turned his lips blue, was wearing dark blues brothers-type sunglasses (in the rain under trees on a cloudy day), leather hiking boots, and his hair was dark and short and parted on the side like in old movies. He had somewhere between a pencil thin and a  Hitler/Charlie Chaplain mustache, which grew in a line barely above his lip. And he had fake ears. Yup. He didn't say anything but hi, and when he got out of our way he put his leg up in a Captain Morgan stance and made a point to face away from us.

Afterwards, talking to Marmot and Roo about it at the Rainy Pass trailhead (which had really nice pit toilets with trash cans - you could have slept in there) Marmot seemed so relieved. She said she had been worried about us after they passed that guy. Roo asked if she thought he would eat us and she nodded seriously and emphatically. We still haven't seen Mowgli and Shaker, but I'm sure they're okay. But he definitely gave us all the creeps.

Anyway, then we hiked up a hill to notice more and more fresh snow on the ground. Then the rain turned to snow and finally we found one of the only not snow-covered campsites just before Cutthroat Pass.

Time for hot chocolate and whisky! Hopefully no nightmares about Hitler Bluelips.

September 25 - Suiattle Bridge

End: side of the trail flat spot
Poo I forgot to write it down last night.
New Suiattle Bridge

Today was not my favorite day on the trail. But I suppose it could have been worse. The torrential downpour could have happened at the same time as the 8 miles of uphill. Thankfully it waited til about 2:30.

The rest of the new route was okay. We made it to the bridge, which was crazy long and changed direction slightly a quarter of the way in. Must have been really hard to engineer. after that, the trail adopted an old trail, which unfortunately climbed, then descended to the old PCT. All in all, it was probably about 4 miles longer than the old trail. Oh well.

Then we climbed forever, then it got cold, then it rained. Then my fingers stopped moving for me. They're slowly getting better, as I sit in this tent. Freaked me out.

The trail was REALLY brushy after it started raining. Ugh. Wet brush is worse than rain.

We ran into Mowgli again! She took some time off at Stevens Pass, so we caught her. Hooray!

Stehekin tomorrow. Bakery bakery bakery!

September 24 - New trail to Suiattle Bridge

End: little creek on the new part of the PCT!
Daily: ummm about 27.4
Total: we left the old PCT at 2545.5 and then did about a mile and a half here?
Micah Lake

Sorry about all the confusion with the miles lately. Things are weird around here.

The first few miles of the day went reallyfast... But then the real day started. We crossed a glacial creek or two (you can tell cuz they're cloudy) and then started up and up and up to the top of a ridge. I love the ridges around here - you can see jagged peaks on every part of the horizon that's visible. Our Glacier Peak map has a blurb about how some guy came scouting for a place to put the Northern Pacific Railroad and said "no more difficult route has ever fell to man's lot." I can just imagine some dude crawling to the top of some ridge and thinking 'holy crap, there's no way.' The map says they eventually relocated to Stampede Pass, which happens to be where we met the crazy trail magic/thru hiking (?) people with the cookies and giant deli sandwich before Snoqualmie Pass.

Anyway, the second 2000 foot climb of the day kicked my butt. And just when you thought it was done it wasn't. I threw a minor hissy fit when the trail didn't stop climbing when I wanted it to ("Sure taught the trail a lesson, didn't you?" said Chris when I read him this line).

Then we dropped down to Vista Creek and then to the junction between the old PCT and the new route to the brand new bridge! So this last 40 miles or so of the PCT has been closed since 2003, when floods caused major damage to the trail and took out some bridges, the most famous of which was the bridge over the Suiattle River. People have been disregarding the closure and braving the poor trail conditions and lack of bridges for a few years, but as of a few weeks ago, all the new bridges are up and there's a new length of trail that brings you to the new Suiattle Bridge. It's so nice to walk on brand new trail. In some places I could hold my trekking  poles out on either side and not touch anything, not even a shrub. After miles and miles of brushy, cupped tread, it was such a luxury.

A couple of interesting things about being on brand new trail: we have no idea how long this section is, but we know it adds miles, and there aren't any established campsites. So when it started to get dark we found a spot by this stream, the first one we've passed, and cleared a space. I wonder if this will become the established campsite. Probably way more likely if we'd built a fire ring.

Hot chocolate goodnight time!

September 23

End: Baekos Creek
Miles are a mystery.
brr. and windy!

Well, our side trip up Glacier peak was unsuccessful in that we didn't summit the mountain, but successful in that we got higher than we got last year and actually did summit a peak - Disappointment Peak, ironically enough.

The morning was still overcast and the cloud ceiling was low enough to periodically cause white out conditions, so we spent a couple breaks waiting until the ceiling rose. That worked and by the time we got onto the ridge to climb up Disappointment Peak (the peak you have to get over before you can get to Glacier if you're not traveling on a glacier) it was really only the wind we had to worry about. Luckily the sketchiest moves were blocked from the wind.

So when we got to the other side and started down the thinnest ridge ever to start actually climbing Glacier, the wind was so strong I fell to my hands and knees to keep from being lifted off my feet and Chris was blown three inches to the side while he was taking a step. Considering how sketchy some of the moves could be at the top, we decided to play it safe and turn around. Then we still did about 6.5 PCT miles when we got back to the trail!

We decided we'd learn how to travel on glaciers and then try again. It looks easier than scrambling up talus and boulder fields. That will be a while, though... Glacier courses are expensive and we don't know anyone who can teach us.

We were talking about how it was weird to be off the PCT, because on trail we know someone is at most half a day behind us, but way out there we're alone for miles and miles. Then we crossed a ridge this morning and there was a group of twelve out on a NOLS course. Really alone!

Anyway, we met a hunter out with a couple llamas yesterday and he happened to be camped right where the mountaineering route connected with the Foam Creek trail, so we chatted with him for a while. He was really excited about the PCT! He also was really excited about how beautiful everything is around here. And it totally is. Good weather really makes this place shine.

Okay sleep!

September 22

End: haha! Way off trail just south of where the White Chuck Glacier used to fill a valley but is now just a lake.
Daily: 18 PCT miles
Total: 2513
A hunter with llamas on the Foam Creek trail

So we decided since the weather's supposed to be nice tomorrow and we can't leave Stehekin until the Post Office opens on Monday anyway, we would try to climb Glacier Peak. We tried last year about this time, but the approach and then scrambling over ridge after ridge to even get a clear look at the peak wore us out too much to make it to the top and back to the car to get to work the next day.

So we figured since we've been training for almost five months now maybe we'll be able to do it. So we found ourselves a map just in case and left the PCT today to follow the mountaineering route up to where we camped last year... Only to get there way too early an climb up the next ridge. It's definitely easier this year. I think it's definitely the weather that is our main concern. Hopefully it will be mostly sunny like the forecast says.

That map is really only for backup. We both remember the route so well that we really only brought it because it would be irresponsible not to. Also, wow, there is so much more snow up here than last year. Hopefully that doesn't slow us down too much.

September 21 - Stevens Pass/The Dinsmore's

End: pear lake
Daily: 17.9
Total: 2493.9

I didn't write yesterday because we were in town, even though we  put in a full day. But nothing happened that was all that important except that it was a beautiful day, there were a few ridiculously steep climbs (I always say it but these were really insane) and we passed the bluest lake we have ever seen. It was a smallish lake but we were about 500 feet above it and couldn't see the bottom and it was so so so blue it looked like it had been dyed.

Then we hitched into the Dinsmore's in Baring, after saying by to Zm and Goodness for a while, since they didn't spend the night. The Dinsmore's was great! They have a garage space with bunk beds and a ton of comfy chairs, and they called the Baring Store owner, Bear, who opened up and cooked us dinner even though he'd been closed for a while already. We had a very entertaining meal. Bear and Jerry Dinsmore kept us laughing. Oh! Also Georgi Heitman was staying at the Dinsmore's for a while. She's the trail angel in Old Station, who took this year off of angeling, so we didn't get to meet her. Now I'm glad we did - she's one of the coolest people I've ever met. She just ran the Colorado River in January and she's probably in her late 70's.

Today we woke up, had breakfast at the store, and hitched out yto the trail. The rest of the day was spent dragging our feet. Packs too heavy!! Ugh! But we spent most of the day with Roo and Marmot, who shared their spinach with us. Hooray!

The weirdest thing about today was that we saw two day hikers, about ten minutes apart, who had never met before but both had standard poodles. Same haircut, one black one white. I've never seen a poodle out on a trail, much less two in one day!

Sleeeep. Hopefully our packs will feel better in the morning.

Oh, happy autumn, everyone. We have officially hiked an entire season of this year. Crazy.

September 19

End: next to a creek on a flat
Daily: 26.5
Total: 2450.5

Amazing what a little sun will do for the mood and pace. Yesterday the trail made me cry for the first time, and today I was just bouncing along. I hope it stays like this.

And it is beautiful! Wow! The peaks are so pointy and glaciated, it looks like a wide version of the northern Sierra or like the Enchanted Valley where I went with my dad and sister. Last year. There are really long series of waterfalls falling off the cliffs, fed by glaciers that seem to be hanging from the clouds, or by lakes that are too high for us to see.

It's still really cold, but not raining.

We realized yesterday that we can count the number of days we will be on the trail on two hands. Crazy.

People's attitude about the rain cracks me up - or really the looks on our faces when we wonder how to deal with it. Thru hikers are creatures of habit - we've all got our routines, and all of our stuff has its place. That's how we can keep ourselves moving to make 25-30 miles a day. Even just getting a new piece of gear requires major adjustment, it seems. But throw some rain in and it totally screws up our routine. We're wearing our rain gear, which has been lining the bottom of our packs for five months. We don't know where to put things to keep them dry. An there's little reason to take our morning breaks when we're just going to get colder. But we don't want to get up too early because it's wet and cold. It's just amusing to see people in town standing there looking out at it coming down with a look on their faces like "But, what do we do?" We hike.

September 18

End: lemah meadows
Daily: 22
Total: 2424
Note: Fire Danger - HIGH. Right after this my camera died from being soaked in the rain

Rain. Rain rain rain. Rain rain rain. Rain rain raaaaain.

To the beat of Eye of the Tiger.

That pretty much sums up today. We got a couple patches of not-rain, but mostly it just rained. We saw a rainbow, because it was raining. I got soaked, because my rain gear is not rain proof, apparently. And it rained a lot.

I'm sure this area is very pretty, and we did get a few glimpses of it through the cloud we were walking through all day, but mostly we just saw rain.

We also didnt stop except for two twenty minute breaks, because I was so soaked that I was afraid I would get hypothermic if I stopped moving too long. So we got here around 6, and I got into dry clothes.

Time for socializing, Zm and Goodness and Roo an Marmot just got here!

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16

End: mirror lake
Daily: 25.9
Total: 2392.2

Oh, today was so much better than yesterday. We even saw the sun! 

Hannes decided he was done with rain and wanted to get to the Howard Johnson's hot tub. So he took off to try to do the 35 miles to Snoqualmie Pass. 

We leapfrogged with Zm and Goodness all day, eating huckleberries and making our way through clear cuts. I was almost sick of huckleberries by the end of the day. Almost.

We took an early lunch at the first big patch of sun and dried out our stuff, which was a huge moral booster, plus it took that water weight off our backs. 

After lunch we got to Stampede Pass, a dirt road pull out where there were three people doing trail magic. They gave us a huge deli sandwich and cookies and chips, which was awesome. The whole situation was so bizarre, though. They were really high and throwing stones at porcelain plates they apparently found in the woods, because "the woods are full of plates, man." One of them was really enthusiastic about telling the story of the drunk nutria hunt he went on in Eugene. Then they told us that they only did 55 miles in four days and they didn't know why it took them so long, "because we got up at you know, 9 or 10 and started hiking, and we were drunk, you know, but we didn't want to look at our maps because we wanted to just go, and we just couldn't figure out why we were going so slow..." I was cracking up so much because I felt like we had somehow gotten sucked into a circus.

Anyway we left and got to mirror lake just as it was getting too dark to see. Maybe a hotel and a nero tomorrow?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15

ugh, I just deleted my whole post and there is no undo on this note app. and my fingers are frozen and I'm tired and it's rained all day.

Basically, we spent lunch at Camp Urich, which was a nice place to get out of the rain. Zm and Goodness and Hannes were there too. Then we left to get to a campsite Eric the Black had listed in his book which didn't exist, so as the rain got steadily worse we climbed back up the hill the book had said to climb down to get to the off trail campsite and set up in a non-puddle. Now it's just pouring and we may do a 34 mile day to get to town.

September 14

End: Big Crow Basin
Daily: 25.7
Total: 2342.6

Today we woke up in a cloud, and then the cloud started raining on us. But then we climbed up and realized that the cloud was only in the basin and that everything above the cloud was beyond beautiful.

We entered Mt. Rainier National Park today, and wow. The flowers are magnificent, too.

We wanted to make it to Chinook Pass for lunch in case there was trail magic there, but we stopped short because there was a pretty tarn with a sandy bottom and a grassy flat spot to lay on. That was one of the prettiest lunch spots we've had in a while.

Then down to Chinook Pass, where there actually was trail magic. Ron was parked there with a couple burners for burgers and fruit and fruit juice. At first we thought we should just have some fruit and chat and then keep going because we just ate, but when Han Solo, Zm and Goodness all wanted burgers we had one too. So glad we did - the meat was from cows raised in Ron's pasture and the burgers were SO good.

Then we left and hiked here without stopping. Now it's freezing and I have to warm up my hands!

September 13 - White Pass

End: camp near bumping river
Daily: 25.6
Total: 2316.9
This view was unexpected and took my breath away. 

We got out of camp at 6:30 this morning, which is amazing for us, and hiked until 10:30 to get to White Pass. On the way, we climbed up a ridge to get an AMAZING view of Rainier. I love those times when I just want to get to the top and don't expect anything other than being able to stop climbing, and then I get an awesome view like this. The sky was so clear, which was a change from yesterday, because there are three large fires burning within a few hundred miles and the sky has been hazy with smoke. There was also an inversion early this morning, so there was a blanket of clouds down low with only the ridges poking through and then the big mountain over it all. Wow.

Then to White Pass, where Han Solo caught up to us! Apparently he's been trying to catch us for a while. So we will probably hike with him for a few days and then he might speed up to catch his flight home to Germany for his mom's 60th birthday. I'm glad he's here. He cracks us up.

He also told us that not only is Timberline to Cascade Locks effectively closed, Ollalie Lake to Timberline is now closed too. Ad that to the fire closure near Mt. Washington and a lot of Oregon is closed... I'm so glad we made it through with only one detour.

So we headed out in the afternoon and did the small climb, stopping to wash in a lake halfway up. It felt like a real shower!

Then on to camp, but not before having to get our feet wet in a ford first. Oh well.

Man, I can't believe we only have three stops left in America. I don't want it to end, but I know we have to keep going or the weather might shut us out. Conundrum!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 12

End: camp near tieton pass.
Daily: 23.5
Total: 2291.3

My favorite flower, the gentian

So tired. Such a pretty day. The Goat Rocks is a beautiful place. I really don't know what else to say or how to describe it, because I am so worn out.

We climbed up above timberline to take lunch today, and made it an extra long lunch since we are ahead of schedule anyway and we knew we loved this place (came here last year with Bubs). Then the climb up to the top of the hiker PCT, and since we were so close, to the top of Old Snowy. A little bit of rock scrambling to get on top and we were there. A nice climb.

Then came the really hard part. After spending almost all morning climbing, the trail traverses the Knife's Edge. This has got to be the thinnest ridge I've ever walked on (except maybe the Hog's Back on Hood, but that was covered in snow). The ridge is no wider than the trail in some places. There must be a few thousand feet of glacier-covered almost vertical slope on either side, flattening out into huge valleys. Then, of course, our first view of Rainier. So beautiful!

But the trail follows the ridge up and down for three miles or so, and the grade is really steep, so going up is hard because it's work and going down is hard because the rocks roll out from under your feet and make you slip and almost fall onto glaciers. Yup. An exciting day!

We had planned to go about 3 miles further today but with our extra long lunch, climbing Old Snowy, and the difficulty of today's hike, we stopped here. So glad to be going to sleep now. I'm excited to look at my pictures of today, because there was so much reason to take pictures.

September 11

End: buggy campsite on a ridge
Daily: 26.7
Total: 2267.8

I can't believe it's been ten years since I heard my freshman biology teacher say we were going to watch the news all class long because two buildings had been blown up in New York and many, many people had died.

Today was tired day. We think it's cuz we had 3 beers yesterday, which is silly. 3 beers shouldn't affect us this much. Oh well. All we know is that we thought today would be a 30, but I was done at 25.

Crossed by Mount Adams today. Neither of us have spent much time looking at it from this side. What a pretty mountain, and the area around it is pretty too. All the wildflowers are in bloom, and the creeks are running full. And Adams is looking down on it all.

We had to get our feet wet to get across Mt. Adams Creek today. First time for like 1000 miles. I had forgotten that the worst part about it is the cold.

What else? Oh, the weather is incredible. I wouldn't mind a little cooler, but we will gladly take the heat over weeks of rain and being socked in. Finally this year the weather is having pity on us.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10 - Trout Lake

End: a giant spring that is the beginning of the white salmon river
Daily: 25.2
Total: 2241.1

Trout Lake G Store

Woke up to bugs bugs bugs. Indian heaven is always full of bugs. Which makes me think it weird that it's called Indian heaven cuz I'm pretty sure Indians don't like being bit by bugs either and they haven't even had DEET for most of the time they've been around here.

Anyway, the trail was a really nice grade for most of today, besides one or two spots where it must have been a preexisting trail, because the PCT does not go straight up a hill with no switchbacks except where it just commandeers another trail.

Around 3 we got down to the road to hitch into Trout Lake, and got a hitch in the fourth car that came by. It was a couple of hunters that seemed wary of picking us up until we told them who we were. It's funny when hunters are nervous about picking us up. There they are, moving aside deadly weapons worry about are we okay. Anyway, they were really nice.

Then we got down to Trout Lake, which is one of my favorite places on earth. We spent the better part of two hours drinking beers on the porch of the General Store, people watching. At one point, after Boots and Pepe and Bubs got there, a guy came up and asked us if we were thru hikers, have we had a huckleberry pie yet, if he bought one for us would we share? What a beautiful and silly question. Also, that pie was $20. What are we going to do in the real world when people don't randomly buy us things for essentially being homeless and unemployed?

Anyway, then a really nice local named Kelly bought us a beer and took us back to the trail (thank you!).

After running into Zm and Goodness (hooray!) we walked up the hill, stopping to talk to a really cool bow hunter named Treb who had a longbow he made. He shot an elk on his first day out with it with an arrow his friend made that literally had elk written all over it.

Now we're, our planned campsite for tonight. It's always nice to make it as far as we wanted to.

September 9

End: Junction Lake
Daily: 27.6
Total: 2215.9

Oh man, Washington wears me out. We had something like a fourteen mile, 3,000 foot climb to start the day, then multiple 500-1000 foot climbs interspersed throughout the day. We still somehow managed to do 16 miles by lunch, which just amazes us. 

And while we were sitting for lunch, Wayne ran up in all new duds. Apparently the running store in Hood River had an electrical fire so the manufacturers said they had to sell everything half price. I'm jealous.

Anyway, he said he had gone up to Trout Lake to say hi to a bunch of people we worked with, and decided to come up to the trail to run because he knew we were here. We chatted for lunch, and we thought he would catch us again but he didn't. It's probably better that way, because I really hate important goodbyes and don't want to do it again. 

After that Chris and I headed up to Indian Heaven Wilderness, which is the first place on the trail we've been to together. We were having an Important Conversation (you know that kind) the last time we were at Blue Lake about something I wasn't happy about. We spent a while today trying to remember what that was and failed. Must have been really important.

Anyway, now we're camped at almost the same campsite as last time, only the we're here a week later, the weather's way hotter and less wet, the mozzies are worse, and there are fewer people here. Weird. 

Early bedtime!

September 8

End: wind river road
Daily: 27.2
Total: 2188.3

Climbing climbing climbing. We just spent the day climbing out of the gorge. We were mostly in trees, too, so there weren't many views. I was happy to have found another interesting album on my iPod, which I listened to twice.

It was really, really, incredibly hot. Like 95 all day. Boots, Pepe, Bubs, Chilidog and I are all really cautious not to complain about the heat because it's September and we're in Washington and it could be so much worse. We would so rather it be hot than rainy and then snowy. So instead of complaining we just jump in every creek we can find.

Chilidog and I rushed a little to get to the Wind River Road to meet our friend Wayne (aka Bloodbath), who is already done with the trail. He was the fourth, but he started later than anyone who beat him to the border. Now he's going to be going to Ethiopia with the Peace Corps for 2 1/2 years. Which is weird, because since Wayne was my trail crew leader/housemate in 2009, I don't think I've done many adventures when he wasn't there. He even went on most of Chilidog and my first dates. :-P 

Anyway, he and Megan picked us up and took us into Stevenson for the evening, where we had pizza and beer at Walking Man brewery. It was so good to see Wayne again. And really sad to see him go after they dropped us back off.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 7

End: campsite by a stream
Daily: 6.1
Total: 2161.1
Bridge of the Gods

Today was mostly spent getting things together for our tentative adventure after the trail ends. We want to work on an organic farm in Australia, and Jimbrick happened to have an aunt who has an organic farm that hosts workers in Australia. Her aunt said we were welcome to stay, so we spent the day setting up a deal with a community college to use the volunteering as credit, and therefore use some grant money we have for educational purposes to pay for the plane ticket. After getting the paperwork finished and printed out and sent off, and getting a visa (took literally 5 minutes online) we headed back to Cascade Locks thanks to a nice trailworker, then WALKED OVER THE BRIDGE OF THE GODS. I can't believe they let us do that.  It's a two lane, no sidewalk, metal grate bridge over the Columbia. Holy crap.

Anyway, then through the clear cut poison oak fields to this campsite, where Pepe, Boots and Bubs found us later. I was really tired walking up here. Our packs will be way lighter in the morning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 5 - Cascade Locks

End: cascade locks, baby! Hell yeah!
Daily: absolutely no clue
Total: PCT mile 2155!
Goodness trying to make friends with the horses 
The fire 
This was it, the whole park. It faced the train tracks

Staying in Hood River at a place I spent a ton of time crashing at last year (Bloodbath's old house). All set up by our good friend Megan Saunders, who picked us up from Cascade Locks and made our lives wonderful.

So, woke up and left the Parkdale work station at 6:18 to try to make it to the end of Oregon today despite the detour. Walked on the Dee Highway for a hike in the early morning smoke/mist until we made it to Dead Point Road, then to FS road 2820, which would take us up to Rainy Lake, then reconnect us to the PCT. FS road 2820 was a slog. Up a hill the whole 10 road miles. We were all exhausted by Rainy Lake. But then we got to jump in, which was so refreshing!

After that we decided to cut an extra four or more miles out of our way on this already lengthened detour. We used the Nick Eaton trail to get down to the Columbia River Gorge, instead of climbing back to the PCT and then headin down to the Gorge. There is absolutely no reason to ever do this trail unless you are in our situation. No views, it's overgrown, and I swear it jumped straight off a cliff for 3.5 miles. Like, "i'm running because I cant slow down" kind of downhill. My legs are so sore now. It was the same elevation loss as from Fuller ridge, but instead of 14 miles it was 3 and a half.

Anyway, then we walked to Cascade Locks from the trailhead, met a ton of people who had hitched from where the detour first hit road, called our friend Megan and she came and got us and Pepe.

Now it's the next night, after we spent almost the entire day either eating or preparing our resupplies for all of Washington. Jeez that's stressful. Leaving Wednesday to start our last state.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September 4 - Timberline Lodge/Beginning of the Dollar Lake Fire Detour

End: parkdale work station. Yup.
Daily: someone figured 29?
Total: who knows?
One of many creek crossings on the detour

lowering ourselves down about 15 feet by rope. not PCT grade.

Nighthiking 35

What a day. I don't even know where to start. Its gotta be short too cuz its late. Okay we woke up, slogged up Mt Hood to Timberline Lodge and found a sign saying the PCT was closed, a detour would be posted on September 4, but no posted detour. Walked down to the lodge where our friends Goodness and Zm, Pepe, and Marmot and Roo were all chowing down on the breakfast buffet. They say a ranger will be there in an hour with more news.

Forest Service rep comes, tells us the detour is on trails around the other side of the mountain to Parkdale, Dee, then back to Rainy Lake to get back on the trail. Adds 15 miles, approximately. Okay. We're not skipping, and we still really want to get to town maƱana, so we set off.

The first part of the detour was the Timberline Trail, the one that circles Hood. Holy crap, this trail has some steep ups and downs, into washed our river canyons and then straight back up the other side. In one, we literally lowered ourselves down a washed out cliff on a rope about 15 feet.

Made it to the end of that, then literally ran down the Elk Meadows trail to Hwy 35.

These trails were all really gorgeous. For having to do a reroute, we were all really happy with the trails they chose, even though they were steep and in some places disappeared over a washed out cliff.

At 35, we met another FS person who helped us out and gave us great maps with mileage and everything. The FS has been do helpful.

So while she's talking all the people I mentioned earlier show up and we all leave together, but not til Pepe grabs some beers from town (he hitched in and out while we cooked dinner). So we did the road walk as a big party and it was tons of fun.

Almost in Parkdale, the Hood River Ranger District Northwest Service Academy Americorps Volunteer (I had the same position one district to the east last year) hops out of his car and says he got permission for us to stay on the work station property. Awesome!

So now we're here, hoping to make it to town tomorrow but with no clue how many miles it will be. We'll see!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September 3

End: old road next to Hwy 35
Daily: 31.1
Total: 2102.5

We woke up early early because Pepe did, which wasn't a bad thing. We had gotten enough sleep.

Then we just walked. Our days have become so simple. All we do is walk, almost from sunup to sundown. We take a few breaks but they aren't long. It's been nice rolling with Pepe because we always have something to talk about. But yeah, if we're not moving, we're sleeping or eating. It's just life. I don't know what we'll do when we stop. We haven't needed much creativity for so long. There is no "what should I do today?" We just walk. North.

I don't crave food anymore either. It's weird, you'd think we would crave more, but we get a ton of veggies from Chris's mom, and I feel like I get anything I want on a regular enough basis, and my body is so used to this food and I feed it vitamins. That was a really long, poorly written sentence. Oh, and there are huckleberries and strawberries every day for our fresh fruit needs.

We were talking about this at dinner - being in the woods is so normal now.

Anyway, fall is an awesome season. The weather is perfect. I wish this didn't mean the snow was coming though.

So back to today. For lunch we ate at Little Crater Lake, which also happens to be the first part of the PCT I ever saw and also the first part of the PCT I've been to before starting. Crazy. I had gone to the lake for a work project and took a 1/4 mile side trail just to see the PCT. It was a distant dream at the time that I didn't even think would happen.

Anyway, there were tons of people coming up from the campground, and Chilidog and Pepe and I sat on the far side of the lake from the campground trail and put words in people's mouths and just people watched, which is a way fun thing to do at a busy campground.

Then off to camp. Rest of the day was pretty nondescript. Got here, which was also weird, knowing I've driven this road a ton and knowing that people I know probably drove by us while we were setting up and cooking. Weird.


September 2

End: spring after pinhead buttes
Daily: 31.6
Total: 2071.4

As we were rolling out of camp this morning, Zm and Goodness came up and said they had a surprise for us. Then Pepe Lopez came around then corner! So awesome to see him! We haven't seen him since he left Mammoth to get some miles in before taking off for his sister's wedding. He had tons of great stories about the rest of the time he hiked and tons of info about who was behind us.

Anyway, I found a great song on my iPod to get me through the hard parts of today. Gone in the Morning by Newton Faulkner. So funny and such a great walking beat. So that and the rest of his cd made up the soundtrack for today.

At lunch at the picnic area at Ollalie Lake we ran into some section hikers who had just finished and were getting picked up by relatives, who had brought a crockpot of pot roast!!! So we had some of that for lunch, hung out with Murphy and Dumptruck as well as another couple, Sweep and Trip. Hooray! And thanks for the beer, Trip.

Then came the long slog to camp. We were really tired by the time we got here.

Oh! We passed into the Mt. Hood National Forest this morning, simultaneously getting our first view of Hood, Adams and St. Helens. That was when I got really excited to be here! We're home (at least one of them) - we've climbed all three of those mountains together (Adams was our first date), we spent tons of time at the MAC just south of Adams, I worked at Hood, and Chris worked at Helens. So good to be here again!

September 1

End: an unmarked campsite after russell creek
Daily: 28.8
Total: 2039.8

Started packing up this morning when Zm and Goodness passed us. We bounced around with them all day today, which was great because we hadn't really had the opportunity to get to know them yet.

Spent the day getting closer to Jefferson and then passing by it. Pretty hiking with lots of views of Washington, Three Fingered Jack, the Three Sisters and Broken Top to the south. Can't believe we've already passed them. Tomorrow we'll finally see my mountain, Mt. Hood! I worked on the Forest last year.

Later on in the day I looked up to see a man in soot stained clothes with no pack walking towards us. We said hi and he asked us if we'd passed any trails, that he was looking for a way out. Took a second for it to click that he was a smokejumper (a person who is flown in to a remote fire by plane or helicopter and left to fight the fire and then find their way out).  After I figured that out I was less freaked out, and we showed him on our maps where the trail he was looking for was. He told us we had nothing to worry about, the smoke was barely big enough to see from the aircraft and two others were there putting it out. We smelled it when we passed by.

Just after that we crossed Russell Creek and found this campsite, which according to the map doesn't look like it could be here. Sure glad it was! This is the first time we haven't dry camped in a while.