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No. 34- Stevens Pass to CANADA, 2015

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Stevens Pass: 47.746222, -121.085933
Manning Park: 49.063453, -120.786651
Northern Monument: 49.000042, -120.799999
Rainy Pass: 48.517903, -120.735211
Chelan: 47.844757, -120.019080
Wolverine Fire: 48.183028, -120.682068
Upper Skagit Complex Fire: 48.697306, -121.183319
Chelan Complex Fire: 47.919103, -119.967957
Hart\'s Pass: 48.720542, -120.669794

 

August 18- Hitching to Chelan

The Dinsmores' Hiker Haven

The Dinsmores’ Hiker Haven

The Wolverine Fire has closed a large chunk of the PCT between Stevens Pass and Stehekin. There is no going through it and the fire is still out of control, so it will be quite a while until that section reopens. We had two options once we left the Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven: 1) hike about 30 miles out of Stevens Pass to Suiattle Road and then either road walk or hitch about 110 miles up to Rainy Pass, which is north of Stehekin, or 2) hitch from Stevens Pass to Chelan and take a ferry across Lake Chelan up to Stehekin. The ferry sounds like a lot more fun and will probably be more scenic, so that’s our plan.

Awesome doodles from Artie on my Dinsmore's resupply box

Awesome doodles from Artie on my Dinsmore’s resupply box

After collecting my resupply box and admiring all the doodles my boyfriend put on it (it’s always easy to identify my box because it has the best doodles!), we set out for Chelan. Our detour started with hitchhiking from Baring to Sunnyslope with a tye-dye clothed kid named Nolan. He was driving to Montana to study ecology at one of the universities there. He let us out on the side of the highway and then we walked down the off-ramp until we connected to “Alternate Highway 97.” We’d planned on hitching from there to Chelan, but happened upon a bus stop that would take us there directly. Since buses are generally easier and nicer than hitchhiking, we opted to wait for the bus.

Waiting for the bus to Chelan

Waiting for the bus to Chelan

With the Wolverine and the Chelan Complex Fires only a few miles away, the town of Chelan is incredibly smokey and ashy. I couldn’t believe how many people had stayed in town with the air quality being so bad. It burned my throat and made my eyes water. After buying our tickets from the ferry office, we took refuge in a restaurant and went back and forth over whether to stealth camp or pay $24 to camp at the RV campground. I hate paying that much money just to pitch my tent and I really don’t like RV campgrounds, but stealth camping comes with its own set of problems. You’re lucky if only the cops bother you, but more likely you’ll have crack heads or homeless people thinking you’re “one of them.” That didn’t really bother Khalil, but, as a woman, it bothered me.

As we began our walk down the street toward the RV campground, a couple from the restaurant approached us and asked if we were hikers and needed a place to stay for the night. They had a great big house which they were in the process of converting into a Bed & Breakfast and they offered us rooms! They weren’t exactly trail angels, just local people who cared and were in the habit of helping anyone who’d been evacuated from the fire. Their names are Mark and Michelle and they are absolutely delightful. I hope I can return to their B. & B. some day to repay their kindness.

Angels Mark & Michelle

Angels Mark & Michelle

 

August 19- 7 miles, camping at High Bridge Campground

In the morning, Michelle drove us to the ferry that would take us to Stehekin. We met a hiker named Distance while boarding the ferry, one of the only other 30-somethings I’ve met on the trail. The three of us huddled by the snack bar waiting for it to open so we could buy expensive muffins and Jimmy Dean microwavable sandwiches for breakfast. The people behind us must have been miffed because we practically cleaned out the muffin selection and all the half and half.

Smoke over Lake Chelan

Smoke over Lake Chelan

Distance taught Khalil and I how to play Rummy 500 and we spent most of the four hour boat ride trying to master it. There wasn’t much point hanging out on the deck outside because the smoke was so thick and unpleasant.

Khalil & Distance on the Lake Chelan Ferry

Khalil & Distance on the Lake Chelan Ferry

About halfway across the lake, Khalil had the great idea to return to Chelan, rent kayaks, and then paddle our way across the 52-mile lake. Sounded like a great idea, except that we don’t know the first thing about kayaking and we have about zero upper body strength right now, so we wouldn’t really know how long it would take to kayak the lake. I’m all for spontaneous adventures, but I just wasn’t sure how well this one would pan out. He was so gung ho about the idea that he even offered to pay for the return ferry trip to Chelan and the kayak rentals.

Entering North Cascades National Park

Entering North Cascades National Park

Once the ferry landed in Stehekin, we talked to a ranger about kayaking and she, very sweetly, called every single kayak outfitter in Chelan on our behalf. Not one of them was willing to rent us kayaks for an overnight trip. They all said that only experienced kayakers should attempt paddling through the very windy and potenialy dangerous “Narrows” of Lake Chelan. I was secretly relieved and we began our road walk to the PCT.

The dirt road from tiny Stehekin to the PCT is about eleven miles, but about two miles in is a well known bakery. We stopped there for a huge lunch and then Khalil headed out toward the trail, determined to walk as much as possible. Since I’d forgotten to charge my phone, I decided to hang back for an hour, using the bakery outlets and enjoying more juice and cookies.

The Stehekin River

The Stehekin River

We’re camping tonight near the Stehekin River at High Bridge Campground. It’s practically glamping (glamorous camping) because the site has a shelter and a privy, complete with T.P. and hand sanitizer. I should sleep well tonight because I’ve put all my food in a bear box and the mice should have no reason to harass me.

High Bridge Campground

High Bridge Campground

 

August 20- 20 miles, camping at Rainy Pass Trailhead

Just before hitting the trail, a few section hikers recommended continuing along the dirt road until it connected with the PCT. We went for it and then, instead of reconnecting with the trail, we decided to stay along the beautiful banks of the Stehekin River, bushwhacking and rock climbing along an “impassable trail.” Khalil was loving it, exclaiming that THIS is how he expected the PCT would be before he came to the U.S. and that THIS is how he really wanted to experience nature- with no human signs around, not even a trail.

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Impassable… SHmimpassable!

 

Off trail along the Stehekin River

Off trail along the Stehekin River

 

The Stehekin River

The Stehekin River

Once we were back on the PCT, we were climbing north through a long, hot canyon. The elevation is really low in this section and there wasn’t much shade on the trail. The heat wiped me out and, even though the trail was pretty easy, I felt exhausted.

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As the sun was preparing to set, Khalil and I were struggling to decide where to camp. I was super tired and convinced him we should just camp at the Rainy Pass Trailhead, which isn’t really a campsite. We collected water from a nasty looking pond next to the highway and pitched our tents on the only flat spots around, right next to the outhouse. The smell isn’t as bad as you might think and I’m too tired to care anyway.

Camping at Rainy Pass

Camping at Rainy Pass

 

August 21- 20.5 miles, camping on Glacier Pass

Looking towards Fisher Peak

Looking towards Fisher Peak

I’ve been told that the North Cascades have some of the best scenery along the trail. Unfortunately, because of the detour and having to skip the entire section between Stevens Pass and Stehekin, I missed some of that beautiful land. Today, as we hiked out of Rainy Pass and up high along a mountain crest, I got to see a taste of that famous North Cascade beauty.

Viewing Hinkhouse Peak, Silver Star Mountain, and Vasiliki Ridge

Viewing Hinkhouse Peak, Silver Star Mountain, and Vasiliki Ridge

In stark contrast to yesterday, rain clouds threatened to dump on us today and a cold wind relentessly chilled me to the bone. Stopping for snack breaks was almost miserable and I actually hiked in multiple layers and my gloves, something I never do because hiking usually really warms me up.

Mount Hardy (left) and Tower Mountain (right)

Mount Hardy (left) and Tower Mountain (right)

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Appropriate for the weather today, our camp is located on what’s called Glacier Pass and I’m dreading how chilly it might get tonight. When it’s this cold, I start sipping my hot coco with a spoon to savor its sweet warmth and hopefully not go to bed cold.

 

August 22- 21 miles, camping near Shaw Creek

Anzurite Peak (L) and Mount Ballard (R)

Anzurite Peak (L) and Mount Ballard (R)

This day surprised me with a completely different landscape than I expected. Once we climbed out of Glacier Pass and up to a ridge, a view of rugged, rocky, and dry mountains stretched before us. The treeless landscape made the trail visible for miles ahead along the ridge and through distant passes. It reminded me so much of Southern California, specifically of the Southern Sierras and the Tehachapi Mountains that rise out of the dry Mojave Desert. Somehow, it seems appropriate for the end of the trail to remind me so much of the beginning.

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The very last road the PCT crosses before the Canadian border is Hart’s Pass. Any hikers not planning on entering Canada either hitch or road walk thirty miles from here to the nearest town. Lucky for us, someone left a last little bit of trail magic on the road in the form of a cooler filled with cans of Bud Light. Whoohoo!
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Hart's Pass Ranger Station

Hart’s Pass Ranger Station

Hart’s Pass is just a dirt road with a ranger station and an outhouse, but it has the last trail register before Monument 78 at the border. I didn’t see many of the signatures of hikers that should be ahead of us in this register and wondered if they weren’t able to hike onward to Canada from here. The section from Rainy Pass to Hart’s Pass was recently closed due to fire and had just reopened before Khalil and I set out from Stehekin. There have been so many fires, some small and some big, and they’re reeking havoc on the hiking season and the resources of the fire fighters and forest service. If I had to guess, it seems like many hikers chose to end their hike at or shortly after Stevens Pass because the fire closures made a direct route to Canada just impossible.

North of Hart's Pass

North of Hart’s Pass

After Harts Pass, the trail climbed up into golden grassy mountains that looked even more like Southern California. Smoke from an additional nearby fire at Ross Lake, called the Upper Skagit Fire, was blowing in and obscuring our views of valley floors and mountain tops. This is the most smokey air I’ve had to hike in and I had a really difficult time with it. I became nauseous and dizzy and even thought I might pass out during one climb. The nausea took away my appetite, so I wasn’t eating as much as I should have, and that just made me feel even worse. I was hiking so slowly, maybe a mile an hour. If I wasn’t such a mouth-breather, it probably would’ve been much better, but I think my nose is just too small for that.

A smokey valley

A smokey valley

 

A doe-eyed visitor

A doe-eyed visitor

We were visited by a couple of deer at our campsite tonight and one in particular was very determined to lick up Khalil’s pee near a tree. They love the salt and can really be a nuisance around camp. Khalil actually lost one of his shirts to a deer when he left it to dry overnight on a branch. The deer stole the shirt, he chased after it, but the deer wouldn’t drop it. The next morning, he found it half chewed up down the trail.

 

August 23- 20 miles, camping near Castle Creek in Manning Park

Hiking in smoke

Hiking in smoke

This has to have been one of this worst hiking days I’ve ever had. Smoke sucks and it’s mucking up my whole style. The nausea and dizziness hit me harder today that yesterday and, unfortunately, it put me in a really lousy mood for the majority of the day.

Powder Mountain

Powder Mountain

I could tell that we were hiking through some beautiful mountains, but they were barely visible behind the smoke. It wasn’t until late afternoon, when we’d finished most of our ascent for the day and the smoke lightened up, that I started to feel like myself again and could really enjoy the last few miles of Washington.

Near Devil's Backbone

Near Devil’s Backbone

 

 

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We reached the monument after a few switchbacks just as the sun was slipping behind the hills. There weren’t any tears or even shouts of joy- in fact, it was rather a quiet moment. I struggled to reflect on everything that had brought me to this moment and to find words to write in the trail register that could really sum up my hike. The best I could up with is that this journey has been about a sense of adventure and curiosity and, to borrow a phrase from John Luther Adams, connecting with something larger and older in this world that we usually forget about in our daily civilized lives. Living this closely with and really immersed in nature and weather has been humbling and inspiring. I will forever be grateful for this experience and hope dearly that I can do it again somewhere, sometime.

J.O.Y. at Monument 78

J.O.Y. at Monument 78

 

 

Camping at Crystal Creek

Camping at Crystal Creek

There’s an established campsite about a quarter mile after the monument within the Canadian border where we’re staying tonight. Two other hikers are here with us, a couple of 70-somethings who section hiked Washington. It’s hard to believe this is the last night in my tent and I’m savoring the comfort it gives me. Khalil and I are celebrating by cooking a double serving of potatoes and sharing our dinners with each other, a kind of hiker feast/pot luck. He even packed out a picnic-friendly half carafe box of wine so we could really toast to the trail.

 

August 24- Hitched to Vancouver

Not even on my very last night would the mice leave me alone. There wasn’t even food in my tent and they still helped themselves to exploring around and chewing on my gear. I forget the score now, but the mice have clearly won.

Last breakfast on trail: Fritos & coffee

Last breakfast on trail: Fritos & coffee

Since I ran out of fuel making dinner last night, my breakfast consisted of cold coffee and Carnations mixed in my little soda bottle and Fritos crumbs. Ah, I will miss this!

Last bit of trail into Manning Park

Last bit of trail into Manning Park

The Manning Park Resort is pretty much the only thing around the official end of the PCT. They offer thru-hikers a free shower and drink, preferably hikers take the shower before going into the restaurant for the drink. We were too hungry to care, so we bee-lined it to the restaurant first for lunch.
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Hitching to Vancouver

Hitching to Vancouver

It took us about an hour to hitch a ride, but we were lucky enough that the first car to stop was on his way directly to Vancouver, a two and a half hour ride. Our driver, Andrew, dropped us off in the middle of downtown where we then needed to take a bus to the hostel on the outskirts of Vancouver. We didn’t have any Canadian currency, so I just worked my magic on the bus driver, trying to explain how we just walked into Canada in the middle of nowhere and Manning Park didn’t have any currency exchange- needless to say, he let us ride for free. Vancouver is beautiful; I wish I could spend a couple of days here exploring. Tomorrow I’ll do some errands, hopefully visit the famous Museum of Anthropology, and we’ll have dinner with Kurt, who I hiked with in Oregon. By Wednesday, I’ll be on an airplane home to California and, soon after, back to my life of music and teaching.

View of Vancouver's skyline from Jericho Beach

View of Vancouver’s skyline from Jericho Beach

It’s been a wild ride ever since I started section hiking back in August of 2013. Like your very first love, the dreaming, planning, and experience of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail will forever hold a special place in my heart. I wish that everyone can have the vision, courage, and energy to fulfill their own dreams, whether they be outdoor adventures, educational or professional goals, or of personal growth. Life is short and, if we choose to see them, opportunities are all around us.
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Thank you to everyone who has followed along and supported me. Until the next adventure, HAPPY TRAILS!

 

Links

The Lake Chelan Ferry

Stehekin

Manning Park Lodge

Museum of Anthropology, U.B.C.

 

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No. 33- Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass

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Snoqualmie Pass: 47.392335, -121.400094
Baring, Wa: 47.773161, -121.485382
Stevens Pass: 47.746222, -121.085933

 

**UPDATE (8/30): Somehow I accidentally reverted this post to “draft” & lost most of my text. I’ve had to update and republish it.  Sorry, friends, the extra email!**

August 13- 8 miles, camping at Ridge Lake

It took me longer than I expected to get out of town this morning, but that seems to been the norm. I hiked up the 2,500-foot climb with a hiker named Seven, short for “Seven Summits.” Betwwen 40 and 56 years old, he summitted the highest mountains on all seven continents, and now, at 58 or so, he’s thru-hiking the PCT. I asked him to tell me his story as we knocked out the climb and it kinda got my mountaineering juices going. He’s such a modest man and said he was shy about having his picture taken, so I don’t have one to post here.

This is my foot's LEAST FAVORITE kind of trail.

This is my foot’s LEAST FAVORITE kind of trail.

The climb really took it out of me today. Maybe it was the four days of food I was carrying, maybe it was the smokey air, maybe my town stay has made me a softie, but I am absolutely drained. When I reached Ridge Lake, I went for a swim and filtered some water, with every intention of putting in another eight miles.

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Two southbound hikers said that all the streams for the next twelve miles are dry, though, and since I only have the capacity to carry two liters of water, dry camping in the middle of a twelve mile stretch is out of the question. It’s a dry year, but this is actually the first time I’ve come across usually reliable sources that are now dry. Lucky for me that the hiker community is really good at spreading news via word of mouth.

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I’ve found a really nice campsite near the lake and am bracing for some rain. The weather report said we’d have thunderstorms all tomorrow- I just hope there’s no lightning. : /

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Mac & cheese dinner

 

Camping near Ridge Lake

Camping near Ridge Lake

 

August 14- 15 miles, camping in Lemah Meadow

When I lost my old boots in Cascade Locks, I also lost my gaiters. I loved those gaiters! They had the cutest little pin-up girl print. I ordered new gaiters from Dirty Girl Gaiters and had then shipped to Snoqualmie Pass. This new pair has a sushi print and am posting a picture here before they get covered in mud and dirt.

New sushi-patterned gaiters

New sushi-patterned gaiters

The clouds completely engulfed the trail today; it was like hiking in another world. When there a no views to admire, I end up focusing on the small things, like details in the trail or plants and little animals. It also makes for a much more internal hike because I’ll really get absorbed in my thoughts.

A small thing... a pika

A small thing… a pika

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Delate Creek

Delate Creek

It was a wet and very cold day ALL day long. I hiked for most of the day with a Finnish college students named Bambi Magnet, who was vibrant and fun. His passion for everything on the trail, even getting slammed by super cold rain clouds, is really contagious.

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Lemah Creek and Bambi Magnet

Lemah Creek and Bambi Magnet

By the early afternoon, we were out of the clouds and skirting along the lower elevations of Lemah Meadow. I lingered just below the beginning of the climb up to the next ridge, eyeballing the rain clouds and wind. It looked like pretty unpleasant weather up there and my guide book described only a few, rather exposed campsites. I really didn’t feel like putting up with wind and rain all night, so, even though it was still the afternoon, I set-up camp. With so much time on my hands and stuck inside my tent, I busied myself with sodoku, reading, and snacking on treats. It’s super cold and I’m wearing EVER piece of clothing I have- I really hope it’s not too miserable tonight.

 

August 15- 21 miles, camping at Deep Lake

Overcoat Peak

Overcoat Peak

The rain turned out to be the least of my concerns last night. Washington mice have yet again demonstrated their stealth, cunning and determination to eat my food. With the zipper on my tent broken, I’m practically at their mercy. They walk in like they own the place and poke around for anything tasty to eat- last night, it was my chicken noodle soup. I’m really regretting not having my Ursack anymore because now I have to sleep with my food huddled inside my sleeping bag. I used to go to sleep in fear of large animals that would eat me, now it’s about the little ones that eat my chicken noodle soup. Mice 5, Katie 10.

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Drying out my gear above Waptus Lake

Drying out my gear above Waptus Lake

It turns out I made a good decision climbing the ridge last night. If I had, I would have missed out on the incredible views. These mountain are as rugged, beautiful and dynamic as the Sierras. After climbing out of Lemah Meadow and coming around to the north side of the ridge, I was greeted with views of Waptus Lake in a deep valley and grand, rocky peaks topped with clouds. With views like these, the day went by quickly.

Bears Breast Mountain

Bears Breast Mountain

Other than Bambi Magnet yesterday, I’ve seen almost no thru-hikers in this section. My guess is that most must have stayed in Snoqualmie to avoid storm and now I’m in a little vacuum between groups. The solitude has been nice and given me ample time to reflect on this summer’s journey, but it will be nice to hike with Khalil again once he catches up to me.

Waptus River

Waptus River

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A bunny!

A bunny!

I’ve made it 21 miles today and am camping near the beautiful Deep Lake. The wind has started blowing in the clouds are rolling in over Cathedral Rock. I’ve found a protected little campsite nestled in the trees near the lake, but it’s still so cold that I’m, again, wearing all of my clothing. I’ve tried to barricade my tent and have packed my food tightly under my pillow. Here’s hoping for no mice tonight!

Cathedral Rock above Deep Lake

Cathedral Rock above Deep Lake

 

Camping at Deep Lake

Camping at Deep Lake

 

August 16- 23 miles, camping at Mig Lake

Deep Lake

Deep Lake

It was another beautiful day today. The views were spectacular and the weather was great. Despite the cold and another sleepless night of mice, I was up early and heading over Cathedral Pass. At the top of the climb, I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a distant cloud, but turned out to be a snow-covered Mount Rainier.

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Wildflower

My opinion on trail nudity: It feels wonderful to swim or sunbathe with minimal to no clothing while on the trail. It’s a rare opportunity to be exposed to the elements and comfortable in your skin while NOT in the privacy of your home. As beautiful as the human body is, however, not everyone wants to see it and some decorum is required when in the presence of other people. I am always careful to never expose myself around children, anyone that may be uncomfortable with nudity, and anyone that may make ME uncomfortable. When I do chose to shed my digs, I’ll usually do it away from the trail in a spot where I can easily reclaim some privacy, if called for. If I or anyone else might feel uncomfortable, I’d rather keep my underwear on and maybe my bra, too. I try to remember that wilderness parks are still public parks and common courtesy should always be maintained.

 

By the way, the picture below was taken by member of a women’s hiking group and no one was offended in the process. : )

Lounging by Deception Lake

Lounging by Deception Lake

 

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Cathedral Rock on the far left

Cathedral Rock on the far left

It turned out to be a hot afternoon and the trail climbed up, then down, then up and down again over ridges. Reaching the pass near Surprise Mountain gave me views to the north of the jewel-like Trap Lake and a very smokey sky. The Wolerine and Chelan Complex Wildfires are raging through the areas just north of Stevens Pass and have even closed part of the PCT. I’ll have to get more information in town on the closure and possible detours, but the thought of having skip a section or even end my hike is disappointing. I know the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) runs near the PCT in this area, so it’s possible that I could always come back some year to hike the PNT and tag in the remaining sections of the PCT.

Trap Lake and smoke in the distance

Trap Lake and smoke in the distance

 

My feet actually felt rather sore from all the miles tonight, a feeling I haven’t had in some time. It was a good feeling! And definitely better than some of the other pains I’ve been dealing with during this summer. I ended up plugging into my iPod and listening to podcasts to motivate me through the last few miles to Mig Lake. There are two other tents across the lake, but I’ve found a small outcropping on the opposite side that will give me the illusion of solitude. It’s hot enough for another swim, but this lake looks pretty brown and I’d probably come out dirtier than I went it, so I’m going to pass on a bath tonight.

Camping at Mig Lake

Camping at Mig Lake

 

August 17- 7.5 miles, camping at The Dinsmores

The Dinsmores are a couple of PCT enthusiasts who live west of Stevens Pass in Baring, Washington. They’re some SERIOUS trail angels. They’ve built a couple facilities on their property to house, bath, feed, launder, and support thru-hikers and I’m really looking forward to staying there tonight. After hiking about seven miles to the highway, I taped a note for Khalil near the trailhead explaining how to find the Dinsmores, cleaned up in the parking lot bathroom and changed my shirt, then headed out to hitch a ride.

Lake Susan Jane and the Southern Divide Ridge

Lake Susan Jane and the Southern Divide Ridge

Cresting over the Southern Divide Ridge

Cresting over the Southern Divide Ridge

A nice local dropped me off in Skykomish so I could use the library and have lunch at the only restaurant around. Just as I was polishing off my milkshake and burger, in walked Khalil. He was supposed to be at least a day and a half behind me still, so I couldn’t believe he was waltzing into the restaurant. I watched him hobble around the tables and resist the waitress when she tried to get him to put his pack outside. He plopped down in the chair, completely facing me and still didn’t seem to realize I was sitting right in front of him. It was pretty funny, so I really just had to watch him for a couple more minutes and see how long this might go on.

Even after I called his name, he looked at me so dazed and confused. I was really laughing so hard because his expression was hilarious and then there was the absurdity of us arriving at the pass on the same day and finding ourselves in the same restaurant. He said he hiked a thirtyfive-mile day and at least one, maybe two, thirty-mile days to catch up. He’s one crazy Austrian, but I’m glad that I’ve got my friend back.

Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass

 

Links

Installment No. 34- Stehekin to CANADA, 2015

Dirty Girl Gaiters

The Wolverine Fire

Pacific Northwest Trail

Dinsmores Hiker Haven

 

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No. 32- White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

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White Pass: 46.637222, -121.391665
Snoqualmie Pass: 47.418796, -121.411972
Anderson Lake: 46.831543, -121.474972

 

August 6- 10 miles, camping below Naches Peak

With all my running around the little town of Packwood, trying to find Wi Fi strong enough to upload my blog, I didn’t have enough time to hitch back to the trail, like I’d hoped. Instead, I spent another night at the Packwood Station Bunkhouse with Kinky Camel and southbound hiker Sequoia. We repeated our family-style spaghetti dinner and waffle breakfast, since they were a hit. After breakfast, Kinky Camel and Sequoia decided they’d head into Seattle for gear and I did a couple more errands around Packwood.

Trail Magic at Chinook Pass

Trail Magic at Chinook Pass

I knew I wanted to hike with Day Tripper and 1-Step, but they were already a day ahead of me and I didn’t think I’d be able to catch them. Instead of hiking out of White Pass, I decided to hitch up trail about 30 miles to Chinook Pass and then hike southbound to see them. After receiving a bit of trail magic at Chinook Pass and hiking southbound for five miles, I found them lounging naked in the sun next to Anderson Lake.

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Hiking southbound from Chicknook Pass

They convinced me that I wasn’t missing anything too special between White Pass and Anderson Lake, so, once they were fully clothed, I made a U-turn and hiked northbound with them back toward Chinook Pass. Purists may scoff at me, but hiking north with them felt like the right move, even if it meant missing out on 30 miles of the PCT.

Day Tripper and 1-Step

Day Tripper and 1-Step

We’re camping just south of the pass, near Naches Peak. 1-Step wants to do 26-mile days so he can maintain his schedule. I hope I can keep up with them; it’s going to be an early start tomorrow morning.

August 7- 23 miles, camping at Urich Camp

Last night, I was awoken by the calls of coyotes roaming around the mountain – at least I think they were coyotes. Day Tripper and 1-Step get up early, so that means I was up and hiking with them by 6:30am.

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The views were beautiful all day, but Rainier remained shrouded in clouds. At times, it was difficult to tell the difference between the white clouds and the white snow of Rainier.

The most beautiful sight we saw all day, though, was a small black fox. We were sitting on Sourdough Gap admiring the view when I spotted the little guy walking up the switchbacks below us. We thought he’d sense us and turn another direction, but he stayed his course while we stayed as still and quite as we could. I didn’t dare take out my camera because I didn’t want to miss a moment of seeing this special animal. That handsome fox trotted all the way up the trail and went right on by, just three feet from Day Tripper and looking us straight in the eyes, as though he saw hikers all the time on his daily route over Sourdough Gap. It was magical!

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My foot seems to be recovering, but I stepped on a rock wrong mid-day and felt it achy and cranky all the way to camp. I left 1-Step and Day Tripper lounging at a lunchtime spring and hiked slowly ahead of them for the afternoon. I originally wanted to stop after 18 miles because my foot hurt, but with rain clouds building, it seemed like a better idea to head for a shelter called Urich Cabin.

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This shelter is nicer than most I’ve seen. There are three section hikers staying here also and someone else has left a trail magic cooler full of juice and chips. The section hikers have set up their beds in the loft and Day Tripper and 1-Step are sleeping near the door, so that leaves the back corner for me.

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Unfortunately, there are mice here, which is common for mountain shelters, but after my last dealing with a mouse, I’m not looking forward to tonight. I’ve packed my food in my backpack, wrapped the pack with my rain jacket, and stuck it under my feet. If any mouse messes with it, I’ll end up cuddling it in my arms.

 

August 9- 20.7 miles, camping on a ridge

It was a very misty morning and the dew collected on all the grass and leaves, looking like crystal frost. If I’d camped last night, all of my gear would’ve been soaked through with condensation. The mist cleared as soon as the sun came over the treetops. I had looked away for one minute and the world outside completely changed to blue skies.

Morning mist in Government Meadow

Morning mist in Government Meadow

In 1853, a pioneer party called the Longmire Wagon Train made camp on this meadow for two days before descending to the Puget Sound. Knowing bits of history like that make the hike so much more interesting. I love imagining how those people lived, what they felt and thought about during their own journeys and what they hoped the future would hold.

North towards the Wenatchee Mountains

North towards the Wenatchee Mountains

All day, I was hung up in huckleberry bushes. It became a compulsion to scan the sides of the trail for ripe, juicy berries and my hand would dash out to grab them as I walked. I thought about pulling out my pot and filling it with berries, but I was just too lazy. The trail seemed to provide plenty, so there was no need to stockpile them.

Wild huckleberries

Wild huckleberries

I finally got some amazing views of Mount Rainier today. Even at this distance, it’s such an impressive mountain: it’s base decorated with tall, jagged rocks like sentinels; blue, cracked glaciers draping its sides; and it’s peak wide and expansive, practically touching the sky.

 

 

Finding myself

Finding myself

I wasn’t sure how far I’d make it today with my foot, but I took it slow and steady and made it further than I thought. I found a lovely spot on a high ridge with views to the north of the rugged Wenatchee Mountains. I can also see what I think is the smoke from the massive forest fire north of Skykomish. I’ll have to detour around that fire, missing out on some beautiful land. In the meantime, the sunset is gorgeous and Day Tripper and 1-Step just showed up to camp with me.

Sunset over the Wenatchee Mountains

Sunset over the Wenatchee Mountains

August 10- 23.25 miles, camping at Lodge Lake

There was a light rain around 4 am that woke woke me up. I love the sound of rain on my tent- I feel so protected and cozy inside, as long as it’s not freezing cold. By 8am my tent was dry, I said goodbye to 1-Step and Day Tripper, and I was hiking off the ridge.

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Lunchtime

The trail wound down and up, down and up, and more down, down, down all day long. I saw a few southbound hikers, but no one else, and the trail was thick with view-blocking trees, which made the day pretty meditative. I went into trance mode and had to remind myself to look up and around so I didn’t miss anything.

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Interstate 90 near Snoqualmie Pass

Interstate 90 near Snoqualmie Pass

I’m calling it a night just two miles short of Snoqualmie Pass with its hotel and restaurants. My foot did really well until the late afternoon, when the trail became really rocky. My back tingles have also returned. It’s bizarre, they seem to pop up when my pack is at its lightest, but the pins and needles are super painful. I think it would be better not to push it tonight and then have a “Nero” Day tomorrow. I’m still hoping I’ll make it to Canada, but I need a healthy back and both feet to do it! I’m camping alone, for the first time in awhile, at Lodge Lake. At this point in my hike, I actually really love camping alone, a stark contrast to my first days on the trail.

Lodge Lake

Lodge Lake

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August 11- 2.5 miles, staying at the Summit Inn

This morning, I had a super easy 2 miles along the trail and then down a ski lift road to Snoqualmie Pass. I piled up on breakfast at the Pancake House and was ready to nap and do laundry when the Summit Inn clerk said there would be no check-ins until 3pm. Argh! I was SO ready to just relax and get organized, now I’m stuck hanging out in the hotel lobby for six hours. I was tempted to maybe hitch to another town and stay at a different hotel, but I ran into Blue Moon and Scarecrow who convinced me the Summit Inn was worth the wait.
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Seven hours later… I grabbed some Korean Bibimbap and convenience store junk food and settled in for the evening with some classic films. My resupply package seems to be M.I.A.- I may have to hitch down the road 20-40 miles to locate it tomorrow.

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August 12- ZERO DAY, staying at the Summit Inn

I must’ve been super exhausted because I slept about eleven hours last night and still could’ve slept more. For about an hour, I was hurrying to eat breakfast- which happened to be a bacon-filled pancake topped with ice cream- wash my clothes in the sink and pack my bag so I could check out on time. Thinking about everything that I still needed to do today, I decided I should just stay another night. I still needed to line-dry my clothes, call my bank, call Apple Customer Care, call loved ones, post to my blog, and locate my resupply box. A little more sleep wouldn’t hurt either.

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And so, here I am, another night at the Summit Inn. I’ll head out tomorrow morning and still won’t be behind in my schedule. Whoohoo!

 

Links

Installment No. 33- Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass, 2015

Summit Inn

 

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No. 31- Trout Lake to White Pass, 2015

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Trout Lake, WA: 45.997343, -121.528137
White Pass: 46.627749, -121.423645
Packwood: 46.606501, -121.670644

August 2- 10 miles, camping at Sheep Lake

We got really lucky with our hitchhiking this morning. While we were having breakfast in White Salmon, a young guy named Sklyer overhead us talking about getting back to the trail and offered us a ride to Trout Lake. After he dropped Khalil and I off at the cafe so I could charge my phone, he ran home and grabbed his baby girl, Nova, and came back to join us for a game of Monopoly. It was a lot more fun with three players and Nova was one of the sweetest babies I’d ever met.

Monopoly with Khalil, Skyler and baby Nova

Monopoly with Khalil, Skyler and baby Nova

Once Khalil had wiped Skyler and I clean of all our assets, we headed back to the road and hitched a ride with a girl. It’s incredible how much the locals support the hikers- even when they couldn’t give us a ride, cars would pull over just to chat.

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I think I may have overdone it on my food for this section. I made the mistake of shopping for snacks before eating lunch, so I grabbed all sorts of goodies that I probably don’t need. For lunch, I tossed out my homemade chicken veggie wraps in favor of salami wrapped in ghee and a tortilla- super, duper fatty!

Salami & ghee wrap

Salami & ghee wrap

The trail climbed up towards Mount Adams through recently burned forest. Since I’m trying to take care of my foot, we planned to hike only ten miles to a little pond below the peak of Adams. Honestly, today gave me some of the best views I’ve seen in Washington so far. The closer I got to Mount Adams, the more beautiful it became. Unfortunately, a smokey sky from a nearby fire and rain clouds blocked the views of Mount Rainier and Goat Rocks.

Mount Adams

Mount Adams

It was nice having lots of time at camp this evening. I went through all my food and listened to Khalil chide me on not eating enough in town and then carrying too much in my pack. He stopped lecturing me once I offered him some bars and jerky. Now he’s quiet in his tent munching away at that extra food I carried all the way up here.

I also had time to stretch and work on my sore foot. It’s hard to tell if it’s getting better, probably because it truly needs about a week of rest. *Sigh.* It’s a difficult choice between staying on trail with an injury and getting off trail when you’re so close to finishing. Tomorrow we head into Goat Rocks Wilderness, which is often featured in PCT calendars because it’s so scenic. I hope the clouds clear so I can really see it in all its glory

Camping at Sheep Lake

Camping at Sheep Lake

 

August 3- 22 miles, camping at a little unnamed pond

Today was so beautiful. The trail began by skirting around Mount Adams, as it usually does to these great volcanic peaks, giving us views of not only the surrounding area, but also the 12,281-foot peak. Unfortunately, the smokey and rainy clouds from yesterday still lingered in the sky, blocking the views of Mount Saint Helens and Mount Rainier.

Mount Adams and Adams Glacier

Mount Adams and Adams Glacier

Mount Adams has an incredible glacier pouring down along its northwest side. The guidebook describes it as a great frozen waterfall, and it truly looks that way. With strikingly blue ice, it’s edges stood like tall, vertical cliffs on the outcrops of the mountain, as through a great knife had sliced through and taken out entire sections.

Crossing Adams Creek

Crossing Adams Creek

 

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Glimpsing Goat Rocks

 

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Killen Creek

I was able to hike relatively pain free today, with the help of the doctor’s cream and some naproxen. Having dealt with repeative stress injuries in the past has made me very sensitive to the fact that I may be doing permanent damage while covering up the pain. When Khalil and I hit twenty-two miles, we both felt good enough to hike an additional three or four for a better campsite, but I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea for my foot. So, we’re camping near a mucky pond with no spectacular view. He’s been really patient with me and my injury. I appreciate that- I just don’t want to interfere with the way he would prefer to hike.

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Camping at the unnamed pond

 

August 4- 21.5 miles, camping below Tieton Pass

I had heard that Goat Rocks Wilderness was beautiful, but I really wasn’t prepared for how stunning it would be. It seemed that every turn around a corner or over a pass brought greater and greater beauty. We got our first clear view of Mount Rainier today, a queen towering 14,410 feet into the air and drapped with a diamond-like necklace of glaciers.

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Looking south toward Mount Adams

 

Crossing a small glacier below Snowy Mountain

Crossing a small glacier below Snowy Mountain

 

Mount Rainier viewed from Snowy Mountain

Mount Rainier viewed from Snowy Mountain

 

The trail itself was also more interesting than it has been in awhile. We climbed through forests and rocky shale, crossed snow, and teetered on the edge of steep cliffs. It was thrilling! It also brought challenges for my little foot, and I fell on my backside heading down the rocky north side of Knife’s Edge. I think the foot is improving, but not very quickly.

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Knife’s Edge on the left, Snowy Mountain glaciers on the right

 

 

Knife's Edge

Knife’s Edge

The first campsite we came to was near a grassy, muddy pond, and just didn’t look too appealing, so we hiked another mile to a trail junction near a stream. It’s really chilly tonight, maybe the first real chill I’ve felt in weeks. Still, I made sure to play some ukulele because I plan on mailing it home at the next post office I reach. My hope is that lightening my load will help my injured foot.

Camping below Tieton Pass

Camping below Tieton Pass

 

August 5- 12.5 miles to White Pass, staying in Packwood

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It was a delightful and scenic twelve miles to White Pass this morning. We had more views of Mount Rainier and Khalil has decided to attempt a summit. Since I’m on more of a schedule than he is and I don’t have the technical skills for a summit like Rainier, I will not be joining him.

Approaching White Pass

Approaching White Pass

We made it to White Pass around noon, after taking a “shortcut” along a ski slope. I picked up my resupply box and a sweet letter from my boyfriend’s mom and did laundry at the little gas station. After talking to other hikers, we decided the nearby town of Packwood would be a great place to stay for the night. A trail angel took Khalil, myself and two other hikers, Day Tripper and 1-Step, the 25 miles down into town. We’re all staying at a hostel-like bunkhouse called the Pack Station.

Off-roading down a ski slope toward White Pass

Off-roading down a ski slope toward White Pass

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Trail Mail! <3

I really didn’t feel like dining out and since the bunkhouse has a big communal kitchen, I made a big spaghetti and meatball dinner. It was so nice sitting family-style around the table and swapping stories with other hikers. This community of wonderful people is half of the joy of hiking the PCT.

Spaghetti dinner with Khalil, Sequoia, Kinky Camel, Day Tripper, and 1-Step

Spaghetti dinner with Khalil, Sequoia, Kinky Camel, Day Tripper, and 1-Step

 

August 6- Hoping to hike out!

Everyone got together this morning and pitched in to make a fantastic breakfast. We had waffles, French toast, bacon, eggs, fruit with yogurt and coffee. Khalil is heading out today to Mount Rainier National Park in the hopes of summitting the mountain. We said goodbye for a second time on the trail (the first was back in Burney). Who knows what the trail will bring and with a trail name like “I’ll be back,” we may just run into each other again!

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Breakfast with Khalil, 1-Step, Sequoia, and Kinky Camel

I hope to hikenout with 1-Step and his girlfriend, Day Tripper, this afternoon,vif I can get my blog uploaded. 1-Step isn’t a doctor, but he knows feet pretty well from years of hiking and did a bit of work on my injured foot. My next stop is Snoqualmie Pass and I hope to make it all the way to Canada, but I’m just taking it one day at a time.

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1-Step working on my foot

 

Links

Installment No. 32- White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass, Aug. 2015

Packwood Station Bunkhouse

 

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No. 30- Cascade Locks to Trout Lake, 2015

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Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks: 45.662374, -121.901348
Trout Lake, WA: 45.997343, -121.528137
White Salmon: 45.727619, -121.486462

 

July 27- 4 miles, camping at Gillette Lake

After a fantastic weekend in Portland with Art and good friends, I was back in Cascade Locks meeting up with some hikers I hadn’t seen in a while. Khalil, Blue Moon, Scarecrow and Chuck Wagon were there and planning to head out later in the day. Kurt was also in Cascade Locks and had just finished his section hike of Oregon.

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Blue Moon, Scarecrow and Kurt in Cascade Locks

I headed out late in the afternoon and only put in four miles before stopping at Gillette Lake for the night. I didn’t take any pictures because it really wasn’t too inspiring and my feet were aching a bit.

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Washington side of the bridge

Unfortunately, I now have a new pair of hiking shoes. I say “unfortunately” because I actually lost my old boots when I got on the bus to Portland last week. I must’ve set them down somewhere in town when I switched into my sandals, but didn’t realize I was missing them until I was boarding the bus. The new shoes are lighter, but not as comfortable and cushioned as my old boots had been. My feet are feeling a little tender and I hope I can break these shoes in soon, or it’s going to be a long 500 miles to Canada.

 

July 28- 21 miles, camping on a dirt road

Last night, I stepped out of my tent to make a phone call to Artie. I still had cell service because we were so close to the highway. When I came back to my tent, I found a fat mouse scurrying around inside. We both squealed as I tried to shoo him out. The damage was done, however. He had already chewed into my tortillas- I was so pissed at myself. Tortillas are worth their weight in gold on the trail.

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The Columbia River

After that, the fat mouse knew exactly where to find tasty food and spent all night trying to get at it again. I woke up multiple times, hearing him chewing at the side of my tent, but I didn’t think it would go beyond me having to occasionally slap the ground and scare him away. I was wrong. Hours later, I awoke to that same fat mouse crawling over my head trying to get the tortillas that I’d stashed under my makeshift pillow. I jumped up and mercilessly shooed him out again and then searched around the tent for the hole he created. I patched it up with duct tape and then examined all my food. This time, he managed to chew into a bag of cookies and my Nido milk; he also left me little bits of mouse poop to clean up. More than being woken up with the mouse crawling over my head and more than having to clean up his poop, I was heartbroken at the loss of my cookies. I saved what I could of the tortillas and milk.

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Lunchtime chicken & veggie wrap

Washington is similar to Oregon with its forests and Cascade Mountains, but the days of gentle elevation changes are gone. Here begins some of the steepest gains and losses on the trail with little to no flat stretches to recover on. The day was full of ups and downs through moss-covered trees and rocky stream beds. My muscles haven’t been used like this for awhile and my feet are still getting used to my new shoes.

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Mossy trees

 

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Great big clovers

It’s such a nice, warm, bugless night and it was already past sunset when I reach my campsite, that I decided to cowboy camp. It’s been awhile since I’ve done it because bugs were a problem through most of Oregon. My only concern tonight is keeping the rodents at bay. I’ve bagged all my food and wrapped it in my smelly hiking shirt- I plan to cuddle my treasured snacks like a teddy bear all night. No one will come between me and my food!

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Camping on a dirt road

 

July 29- 21 miles, camping at an unnamed spring

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Bunker hill

It was a beautiful day, but I really struggled with my feet and the big climbs. I hit a couple nice spots near rivers and creeks and was very happy to take big breaks.

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Wind River

 

Besides still breaking in my new shoes, my foot is still giving me problems from when I smashed it with my water bottle while crossing Russell Creek near Mount Jefferson. The ache is in the front middle of my foot and it’s very slightly swollen. I’m going to give it another five days to see if it gets better or not. I’m hoping it’s just a very bad bruise and nothing more serious.

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Mount Adams

I camping near an ice-cold spring tonight with some thru-hikers I’ve just met: Ice Cream, Thunder Thighs and Toasted Toe- all really fun and equally miffed about the sudden changes in elevation.

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Camping near an unnamed spring

 

July 30- 26 miles, camping near Mosquito Lake

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Our unnamed spring

Despite my achy feet, I decided to hike 26 miles today. The water was spaced out about ten miles apart at two places, a lake for lunchtime and a creek for dinner and camping. The heat has also really turned up, so all morning I was dripping with sweat and plopping down in the trail for water breaks.

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My lunchtime spot, Blue Lake, couldn’t have been more heavenly. It was deep with clear, turquoise water and lined with tall pines. I couldn’t resist jumping in along with a troop of boy scouts that was camping there. We rested on the lake shore for two hours, swimming, eating, and sorting through our food bags rationing out what we could eat.

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Blue Lake

 

I have been exceptionally hungry during this stretch. I think it’s because of all the elevation changes and the increase in calories it takes to go over them. Since I was so hungry and trying to do 26 miles today, I opted to have my big homemade pasta dinner for lunch. My veggie chicken wrap that I’ve been having for lunches doesn’t seem to have enough calories. I’ve actually been eating my tortillas with ghee that I grabbed out of a hiker box instead of the veggies and chicken because the ghee has more fat.

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Junction Lake

After lunch, it was time for more asprin and some tunes. All afternoon, I bounced down the trail to Billy Joel, Pharrell Williams, and James Brown. It’s amazing what a difference music can make in one’s mood. I’m not saying it took away my pain, just made it easier to cope with- and the asprin took the edge off.

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A glimpse of Mt. Adams through the trees

I reached the creekside campsite after 9pm and met up with Toasted Toe, who I met last night. Even before I could put my pack down, he requested some uke music. How could I refuse? I serenaded him with a few tunes until it was too dark to see and then had to set up my tent.

Since I ate my dinner for lunch and really didn’t feel like having the veggie wrap for dinner, I just had a protein bar, some chocolate covered sunflower seeds and a cup of cocoa. Seems like a good enough dinner to me!

 

July 30- 10 miles, camping at the Trout Lake County Park

With only ten miles to the Trout Lake turn off, I slept in until 8:30. It was a hot, but shadey hike all morning and I even caught some trail magic at the road. An old Mexican man who’d been mushroom hunting in the forest picked up a few hikers and he blasted classic rock through his beat up minivan speakers all the way into town.

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Toasted Toe

 

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Cream soda trail magic

My right foot is in a lot of pain, so I’ve decided to head 25 miles down the road to White Salmon where I can see a doctor and maybe get an x-ray. I really hope I don’t have a stress fracture or anything like that, but I at least need to know if continuing my hike would do more damage.

I had lunch at the diner, got a campsite at the county park— for a whooping $18 and not including the shower!— and am now hanging out in a tiny cafe where I can charge my phone. There’s a Monopoly board game… maybe I can convince Khalil to play and take my mind off discouraging thoughts.

 

August 1- ZERO DAY

I hitched into the town of White Salmon and I found myself back on the beautiful Columbia River. A second hitch took me to the local emergency room to check out my foot pain.

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The good news is that no fracture is showing up on the x-ray. The bad news is that my injury could really be anything from a developing fracture that’s still too small to see, to nerve damage, to a basic overuse injury. The doctor recommended rest and prescribed a topical cream for pain. Since I’m so close, I don’t want to throw in the towel just yet. I plan to take at least one rest day and then continue my hike with a conscious effort to take it easy. If it gets worse, I’ll know I need to get off trail and finish some other time.

 

Links

Installment No. 31- Trout Lake to White Pass, Aug. 2015

Trout Lake