Thursday, September 30, 2010


Day 170-September 30th
Destination: Yosemite Park (via Tuolumne Meadows)
Miles: 9.5 (plus 1.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2511

It was a cold morning when we woke. Due to the nature of air temperature and our position in a valley, we found ourselves hiking out in moderately cold temperatures. The walk was very flat and easy going, which made it difficult to generate our own body heat for warmth. As we wound along the serpentine stream, we were treated to views of a golden yellow meadow of short grass frosted white from the cold night. Seven to eight foot dome like shrubs sprouted periodically out of the meadow as the sinuous water idly slipped slowly down the valley floor misting in the cold morning air.

After a few hours of peaceful morning walking we started seeing and hearing signs of civilization. We were approaching the road at Tuolumne Meadows. Our resupply strategy was to mail a package to Tuolumne Meadows, which was just off trail. Unfortunately the post office there was closed so we had to hitch to where our package was sent. Fortunately, this meant hitching to Yosemite Valley, the heart of Yosemite National Park.

Daniel, Karen, and Matt picked us up. These three were returning from a Mt. Whitney summit trip. We crowded into the small car, with our packs stacked upon our crunched bodies; five campers with packs in a compact rental. We arrived at the valley, exploding out of the car and promptly became disoriented in the tangled web of tourist villages and streets and shops and sights.

We first made our way to a deli for lunch. Then after adequately stuffing our bellies we waddled over to the showers. We showered and did laundry, losing all motivation to get back up to the trail. Naturally we chose to go eat pizza and drink beer to develop motivation to go back to the trail tonight.

Now we are staying in a "not-tent-cabin tent-cabin." Guess we'll head to the trail in the morning. As we sit over dinner, a neighboring camp has a violinist providing us with dinner entertainment.

Apricots would like to personally thank California for the real summer, which Oregon and Washington seemed to forget about.
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Still Alive

We are at Yosemite.... no reception to send out blog posts.
hopefully we'll be able to soon.
We should be in civilization again in four days...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Island Pass + Donahue Pass

Day 169-September 29th
Destination: Lyell Creek
Miles: 10 (plus 7 alternate trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2501.5

We slept in an extra forty minutes this morning. Sleeping at higher elevations is always less restful. When we hit the trail, we were excited about the lakes we would be walking past. The alternate route was supposed to be far more scenic, and one mile shorter than the PCT.

What we failed to notice was that there were several significant climbs between the aptly named gem like lakes. Ruby Lake and Garnet Lake were both magnificent, though not red. The trail had fairly significant climbs between the lakes, and another decent climb before reaching the PCT again at Thousand Island Lake. This lake quite possibly could have a thousand islands in it, but we never counted. We were fairly tired, wondering how it took us four hours to go only seven miles.

After lunch at Thousand Island Lake, we made our climb toward Island Pass. Island Pass, at 10,207 feet didn't feel like a pass, but rather just another high plain that we walked across. The ascent from Thousand Island Lake, and the drop down afterwards were both fairly minimal. We had larger climbs and drops over unnamed saddles on the alternate route we took. Both times we hit high points this morning on the alternate route, we were above 10,000 feet.

Just past Island Pass was Donahue Pass, which stood at 11,064 feet. The ascent to this pass was long and exposed. The entire hillside was covered in enormous granite slabs, often serving as stepping stones for our trail. Once we reached the top and started our descent, we passed the last place we'll be above 11,000 feet on our trek.

The north side offered a descent worthy of being the most difficult. At first we lost the trail, following a dry river bed thinking it was the trail. A few minutes down the river bed we realized that there were rock cairns to our left. We cut over to the rocks to try to follow the trail. Psycho looked back at Apricots and said, "Finding the trail is easy, just look for the stack of rocks in the stack of rocks."

Eventually the trail became more easy to follow, but not easier to walk upon. The trail was incredibly steep and rocky. At times it felt like we were walking across a very old, poorly laid, cobblestone road which cut down the hill at nearly 45 degrees the entire time. Apricots slipped and nearly hyper-extended her knee, and Psycho trudged on at a pace which would make a turtle look fast.

When we reached the bottom of the descent, we were both beat. We stopped at the first flat site and set up camp, two miles shy of our goal.

Woohoo!!! 2500 Miles

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Red's Meadow Pit Stop

Day 168-September 28th
Destination: Gladys Lake
Miles: 15.5 (plus 6 alternate trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2483.5

Rising a little later than usual, we began our 13.5 mile trek toward Red's Meadow, where we hoped to grab a few supplies, lunch, and a shower. We noticed that as we work our way further north in the Sierras, the rock formations are starting to include some volcanic rock. The trail wound its way through the trees, passing lava rock, red and pockmarked with gas bubbles.

Our morning hike seemed very slow and difficult. We had eaten such a large breakfast at VVR that we took a late lunch yesterday. By dinner time we were not hungry, so we just snacked. This had the adverse effect of not giving us the necessary energy to hike this morning. Slowly and with frequent breaks we trudged toward Red's Meadow.

We arrived at Red's Meadow around 1pm and immediately hit the cafe for a filling lunch, and some coffee. Afterwards we bought a few supplies to get us the rest of the way to Tuolumne Meadows. Then we went to the campground to grab some showers.

When we arrived at the hot spring showers, there was a high school class there on a field trip of some kind. All shower stalls had lengthy waiting lines. Disappointed that we didn't have time to wait for the lines to exhaust themselves, we walked down to the creek and took a quick splash bath before continuing down the trail.

Our first mile after Red's Meadow took us past Devil's Postpile National Monument, an impressive display of columnar basalt, which had been glacially polished at the top. Along the base of the towering basalt columns, large hexagonal basalt lay piled in mounds which have grown over time. The area was designated a national monument in 1911, and is considered part of Yosemite Park.

We continued on, taking a suggested alternate to the PCT, which is part of the official JMT. The alternate is slightly shorter, but has more climbing and takes us past a few more lakes. We arrived at Gladys Lake just after 6:30pm, and set up camp for the night.
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We're alive

We have no cell reception so we can't get posts out often. But wanted to let you all know we're alive and should be in cell reception in a couple days. Today we are at red meadow. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Silver Pass

Day 167-September 27th
Destination: Purple Lake
Miles: 14.5 (plus 1.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2462

There is no better way to start a day on the trail then to sleep in and roll out of bed to eat homemade pie and drink good coffee. Everything about our stop at VVR was worth it. We caught the ferry back to the trail and started hiking around 9:30am.

We heard it was supposed to get up to eighty degrees at 8000 feet, and it felt that way. Our climb up Silver Pass was fairly warm, bordering on hot. When we reached the top, at 10,910 feet we took a break and sought shelter from the subtle wind. As we continued down the pass, we were amused by the pint-sized chipmunks which would scurry out, see us, and then flee to shelter. At these higher elevations the chipmunks all tend to be half the size of their lower elevation counterparts.

We dropped down into a small valley for lunch, where the autumn colors made an otherwise plain walk something to revel in. After lunch we made a rather large climb up Tully Hole. The top might as well have been a pass, because by the time we reached the high point of the trail, we were just above 10,500 feet. We descended five hundred feet to Purple Lake where we set up camp for the night.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Side Trek to VVR

Day 166-September 26th
Destination: Vermillion Valley Resort
Miles: 4.5 (plus 1.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2443

We woke up this morning without any bear incident. It seems (for us) Bear Ridge was a name only, as we did not see any last night or this morning. After packing up we made our descent off Bear Ridge.

We have added a day to this leg, which was a result of slow acclimatization and a late start at Kearsarge Pass. The miles in the Sierras are difficult. Not only do we face higher elevations and serious climbs and descents, but the trail is also knobby. Often we are walking carefully across loose talus or boney granite. Sometimes we have to lift our body and pack up a two foot step, or slowly drop down two feet trying not to roll an ankle.

With the additional day of hiking, we found ourselves low on food. Fortunately at Mather Pass we met two Canadian women who gave us a little, and the group we camped with the night before last gave us some Top Ramen. This set us up fairly well to make it all the way to Red's Meadow. We, however, had it in mind to side trek to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR), but we did not know if it was still open.

When we reached the trail junction to VVR, we sat down to decide whether to take a gamble. If VVR was closed, we would have added three unnecessary miles to this leg. A shower, a burger, and more food was mighty tempting. We were more or less resigned to testing fate and heading down, but we decided to flip a coin. Tails came up, telling us to head toward VVR. Feeling a little hesitant, we flipped again. Tails again. We donned our packs and moved quickly down the trail towards the ferry.

When we arrived at the ferry landing, we were happy to find out VVR was still open, and the ferry would be arriving in half an hour. We met a section hiker who was leaving the trail, and had a surplus of food. Once we had ferried across Lake Thomas A Edison, he walked us to his truck and dumped all his food on us. Then another hiker offered us food. He is hiking the John Muir Trail, and misjudged his food needs.

Now with all the extra food given us, we will be able to bypass our next town stop, offsetting time lost by heading in to VVR. Once again, everything always works out on the trail. People's generosity continues to restore our faith in humanity. We are getting well rested after a hard leg. Tomorrow morning we will take the ferry across the lake, and start our four day leg to Tuolumne Meadows. Hopefully it is still open.

Time for homemade pie.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Selden Pass

Day 165-September 25th
Destination: Bear Ridge Trail
Miles: 22
Cumulative Miles: 2443

It is safe to say that we are acclimated to this higher elevation hiking, or maybe the trail was just easier today (which it was). We started with a long slow gradual descent, before making a long mostly slow climb of nearly 3000 feet to go over Selden Pass at 10,887 feet.

At the top of the pass, we had a stunning view north to Marie Lake. The blue water was interrupted by several islands and crooked peninsulas. We descended off the pass taking a few switchbacks down before walking along its shore. Passing the lake by we continued our gradual descent down into Bear Valley, where we rock hopped across Bear Creek, another creek which proved to be dangerous and difficult for the hikers who entered the Sierras in June.

A few miles later we started our steep climb up to our camp on Bear Ridge. We are hopeful that all the "Bear" names does not imply that bears will be bothering us tonight.

We would like to thank Andrea and Leslie for the care package sent to us. We are making good use of all the tasty food, and your coffee gets us going in the morning. We can't wait to make use of the lotions for our feet.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Muir Pass

Day 164-September 24th
Destination: MM 852ish
Miles: 20
Cumulative Miles: 2382

So technically Mather Pass was our last pass over 12,000 feet, as it stands 12,087 feet above sea level. Muir Pass, our challenge today should get a fair mention though as it is 11,976 feet.

Apricots woke first this morning and crawled out of the tent to do the necessary. While squating in the dark, she saw eyes looking back at her, reflecting her head lamp. She came back to the tent to tell Psycho that there was a bear roaming around, but upon further inspection with the head lamp, we realized it was just one of the deer that had been roaming around our campsite all night long.

As we made our six mile climb up Muir Pass, we were given a false hope. We saw a dip in the ridge and assumed we had made good time to the pass. Unfortunately, just as we achieved that point on the trail, we realized it was not the pass. We still had another mile to go, and another 700 feet to climb.

At that point we passed a large flat lake, casting a perfect reflection of the mountain ridge wrapping the water. The only disruption to the surface were several ducks swimming here at Helen Lake. Occasionally they would dive under the water seeking food. Circular ripples grew out from them, calming shortly before they popped back up to the surface making new ripples.

Passing by the ducks at play, we made the final climb to the top of Muir Pass, named after John Muir the naturalist who first postulated that the Sierras were glaciated mountains at one time. Atop the pass, a small stone hut is built in honor of him.

We took a short break at the top, chatting with Giraffe, a southbound PCT thru-hiker. Then we made our long gradual descent down the pass towards evolution valley. As we passed Lake McDormand, we scared several frogs off into the water. Leaping from the bank, where the trail skirted the lake by a few feet, we watched as they kicked their little legs to flee from our wrath.

Late in the day we arrived at Evolution Creek. Signs directed hikers towards a location for a safer crossing when the creek is more like a swollen river. Our friends who went straight through the Sierras had one of their most difficult stream fords with this creek. For us, it was more or less a rock hop across, where our feet barely got wet.

We made the last bit of a descent down a rocky and root filled trail, arriving at a campsite with four other section hikers. We talked with them over dinner before crawling into our tent for the night. Tomorrow we have a long hike before going over Selden Pass late in the day.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mather Pass

Day 163-September 23rd
Destination: 5.5 Miles south of Muir Pass
Miles: 18
Cumulative Miles: 2382

Last night was cold, but not as unbearable as we expected. Our bags kept us warm through the night. The tent was covered in frost. We packed up and set out for our two mile climb up and over Mather Pass.

The ascent up the pass was fairly easy, but crossed a steep rock chute. After witnessing the rock slide last night, we were a little uneasy. We made the climb with greater ease than the previous passes, as we are finally getting adjusted to the higher elevations.

So far this pass has been one of the most beautiful passes we have gone over. However the descent was quite difficult. The initial descent took us past the Palisade Lakes crossing massive slabs of granite, with rocks aligned to direct us where the trail was. Then we hit a grueling descent over talus. The trail lost nearly 2000 feet in elevation over two miles.

We eventually emerged in a valley rich with the aromas of dirt and trees, ferns and Southern California forest. The sun had worked up a fierce heat rivaling yesterdays abundant cold air. We dried out our tent over lunch, and continued our hike towards Muir Pass. Ultimately we were aiming to stop a few miles shy of the pass, but we met some section hikers who had a great campsite, and a fire.

We decided that camping at a lower warmer elevation would be nice, and a campfire and company would be nicer. We ate dinner and talked around the campfire with Jim and Ryan. Ryan hopes to do the PCT some day, so he was full of questions for us. We were happy to share many of our stories with him.

Tomorrow morning we have a 2700 foot climb up to Muir Pass, the last pass over 12,000 feet for us.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pinchot Pass

Day 162-September 22nd
Destination: 2.5 Miles south of Mather Pass
Miles: 14.5
Cumulative Miles: 2364

We woke up to clouds this morning. This made us a little uneasy, as we were afraid we brought the Washington rain with us down to the Sierras. Fortunately the clouds burned off within an hour of us starting our long arduous climb up Pinchot Pass. Our ascent took us from roughly 8600 feet all the way up to 12,093 feet at the pass.

We were cold for most of the climb, and remained awestruck at the ability of other thru-hikers to make this climb in the snow. Perhaps the snow made for more level terrain to walk across, thereby making it easier. However, the non-existance of a trail to follow would require time consuming navigation. Furthermore, walking on snow is also very fatiguing. By the time we reached the top, we had covered seven miles in five hours, making our hopes of going over Mather Pass look less realistic.

Our slow moving, and acclimatization to these higher elevations has required us to add an extra day to this leg. We have nearly enough food for that extra leg, but are light on snacks to power us between meals. As such, we were very thankful when we met two hikers who are a day ahead of schedule. They were able to give us a small portion of their food making it easier for us while lightening their packs.

After passing over Pinchot Pass, we dropped down a few miles to a small creek where we had lunch. The clear blue sky started filling with clouds, making our ascent up Mather Pass look daunting. Just after lunch it started snowing for a little bit. We were not sure how long the snow would last, so we had to stop to cover our packs and put on rain gear.

By the time we started our climb to Mather Pass the snow had stopped. It started to warm just enough that we shed our jackets. All the time lost over the long slow climb up Pinchot Pass and the short snow flurry set us up with a tight window for making it over Mather Pass.

Rather than potentially running out of daylight on the steep northern descent, we chose to stop shy of our desired camp. This puts us even further behind schedule. The days are very short here in the Sierras, and the miles are quite difficult. It looks like we have our work cut out for us for the next five days.

While sitting at one of the best campsites we've had, we prepared our dinner. On a neighboring mountain a massive rock slide occurred. We saw a boulder which was easily a couple tons lead the crashing rumble down the mountain.

We're camped just above 11,000 feet and the sky has pretty much cleared up. We expect a very cold night. Hopefully our water bottles don't freeze overnight.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kearsarge Pass + Glen Pass

Day 161-September 21st
Destination: Paradise Valley Trail
Miles: 11 (plus 5.3 off trail Miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2349.5

Getting back into these higher elevations takes a bit of time to acclimate. Unfortunately, we don't have time to do so. We just have to hike, and hope that we'll be adjusted in a day or two. We started our day with an immediate ascent up to Kearsarge Pass at 11,760 feet.

We exited the Sierras a little over three months ago through this pass, and the extreme difference was amazing. All of the snow up to the pass was completely gone, and once we topped the pass we looked out and saw a total lack of snow. Kearsarge Pinnacles and the neighboring mountains stood without an ounce of white on their faces. Kearsarge lakes and Bullfrog lake stood in their blue beauty, unfrozen. We expected the snow to be mostly gone, but not completely.

The wind was blowing heavily, so our stay atop the pass was short. Thankfully the heavy wind also blew most of the smoke from the nearby fire away from us, and we had relatively clean air to breath, albeit thin. We dropped down from the pass, only to begin an ascent up our next pass, Glen Pass.

Glen Pass stands at 11,978 feet, the last thousand feet gained over a rough mile. We climbed slowly, frequently taking breathers. By the time we reached the top, the wind had died down. Our energy levels also dropped. Shooting for four miles past the pass for lunch, we only made two. We stopped on a large land bridge between the Rae Lakes and ate our lunch in the afternoon sun. It is so nice to be back in dry air, where lunch is enjoyed rather than inhaled between cold wet shivers.

We continued our descent down towards Woods Creek, where we realized our speed today was less than desirable. We may need to add an extra day of travel to this leg, if we don't pick up our pace. It is very likely that we were slowed greatly today due to the fact that we went over two passes, both nearly 12,000 feet. It is, however, more likely that we are still acclimating.

On the agenda for tomorrow is two passes that are both over 12,000 feet. We will wake early and make the near 4000 foot climb to the top of Pinchot Pass, and hopefully have enough time left over to go down the other side and up and over the next pass, Mather Pass.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Back to the Sierras

Day 160-September 20th
Destination: Gilbert Lake
Miles: 0 (plus 2.5 off trail Miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2338.5

We woke this morning and drove the final seven hours to the trail head. As we approached the trail, we noticed heavy smoke in the area. We learned the smoke was a result of a forest fire started months ago from a lightening strike. The forest service is watching it as a controlled burn now, but the air is thick with smoke.

Jumping from sea level two days ago, to near sea level this morning, to a camp just over 10,000 feet is very noticeable. Hopefully we acclimate tonight a fair amount, because tomorrow we are going over two passes that are both around 12,000 feet in elevation.

The sun began setting around 7:30, and the temperatures are cold. However, it is dry, which is a great change from our last few weeks in Washington. We are almost done. Hopefully the bears present us with little to no problems with these last few legs.

Time to face the Sierras...again.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Driving South

Day 159-September 19th
Destination: Rocklin
Miles: 0
Cumulative Miles: 2338.5

Yuck, long hours of driving. Our legs are not used to sitting for fifteen hours. Thankfully we had a generous host (Psycho's sister) to welcome us at the midpoint of our drive.

Tomorrow we will drive the remaining eight hours back to the trail, and then enter the Sierras.

This will likely be the last time you hear from us for the next seven days.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Video's From Washington

Hiking in the Goat Rocks Wilderness

Hitchhiking in the rain.

Crammed into a truck

Zero in Oak Harbor

Day 158-September 18th
Destination: Oak Harbor (via Manning Park)
Miles: 0
Cumulative Miles: 2338.5

We stayed with Psycho's parents last night and tonight. Tomorrow morning we will start our long long drive back down to the Sierras. A single rest day to do our "work" and then 1.5 days of driving. Sure, we won't be hiking, but it will not be fully restful.

Psycho's mother watched as we went through the process of drying gear, washing clothes, and preparing food for our last few legs. She commented that our "zero" days are not true rest days, because we have all sorts of town chores. We couldn't agree more, but that is the nature of the hike. We only have two more weeks of hiking, and then we'll be done.

We did find some time to relax. We ate pizza while enjoying a Duck football game. The Oregon Ducks smashed on the Portland State Vikings (which was expected), running the score up to 69-0. They continue to average one point per minute of play, leading the nation in most points earned in the season.

We have been trying to eat a great deal of food, to rebalance our depleting bodies, but we can't keep up. Psycho has lost roughly 35lbs since the beginning of the trail. Apricots continues to complain that she isn't losing any weight (except the initial ten), but it is visibly apparent that she is becoming a well oiled machine of muscular pistons that push her over passes, down valleys, and through forests with simplistic ease.

Tomorrow morning we will drive most of the way back to the trail. We are very thankful that Psycho's parents are helping us get back down for the final chapter of this epic adventure.
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Video of Washington Pictures

Friday, September 17, 2010


Day 157-September 17th
Destination: Oak Harbor (via Manning Park)
Miles: 15
Cumulative Miles: 2338.5

It was rough sleep last night, on a very uneven campsite. Yet, despite our poor sleep accommodations, we moved out ambitious for the border crossing. We headed out largely as a train, six of us marching closely together talking away the miles.

Motor's boyfriend planned on hiking south from Manning Park to meet her on our final day. When we finally connected with him, a happy reunion was had. While Motor and Isaac hugged and kissed, the rest of us broke out in a horrible bad attempt at singing "A Whole New World," from Disney's Alladin.

Three miles later, we heard whoops and screams in the forest below us. A few minutes later, there were more screams. Then a few more minutes later we were screaming ourselves. We had arrived at Monument 78, the marker on the trail distinguishing the border between the United States and Canada. There also is a wide clear cut swath of land along the entire perimeter of the border between the two countries. There is probably some cynical comment that could be made about the fact that our Mexican Border is a barbed wire fence next to a steel wall with hired gunmen, whereas our Canadian Border is a wide open swath of land, but we'll leave that alone.

Enjoying wine, whiskey, candy, butter sticks, maple syrup, vodka, Stehekin Bakery goods, and the remains of anything good and tasty, the nine of us jumped and celebrated, indulged and screamed, drank and posed. It was a very wonderful opportunity for us to get to cross the border with others, celebrating in the company of finishers, and almost finishers like us.

We may not be completely done yet, but this is certainly the beginning of the end for us. We just need to head down to California and pick up a few hundred missed miles. But first we had to hike the nine miles from the monument to the highway at Manning Park. What a cruel joke it is, to celebrate being done, only to have nine miles and 1000 feet of elevation gain to deal with.

We got it done, and then ate a meal at the lodge. Afterwards we showered and soaked in a hot tub before Psycho's parents picked us up for the drive south. Tonight we are sleeping in Oak Harbor in the San Juan Islands. Sunday we will head south.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

One More Night

Day 156-September 16th
Destination: Hoskins Lake
Miles: 23.5
Cumulative Miles: 2323.5

(The attached pictures are for yesterdays post...but the views expressed are similar to today's experiences)

We woke up this morning to Shroomer singing the old 80s song "One More Night." He was, as always, one of the first to rise. He was singing the chorus to the rest of us as a motivational speech. We have two days left before we are done, today and tomorrow. We aren't "not having fun," but we are all a little ready to be done. The eight of us will cross the border together tomorrow, five having completed their full thru-hike. Three of us still need to get a few miles completed in California.

The weather today was cold, and it was hard to stay warm, even while moving. The clouds did part for a bit, allowing the warm sun to strike our bodies, which was a pleasant treat for us. It, sadly, disappeared again before the day was done. Sprinkles started falling around 4pm, and now a full rain is singing us to sleep, or something like "singing".

The views were spectacular, and the clouds were high enough to allow us to see them. Rocky ridges flowed in all directions, with deep forested valleys between them. Our hike took us up and over several passes today, but fortunately there was no real big climbs like in the Glacier Peak Wilderness last week.

Near the end of the day we walked up and over the highest point on the PCT in Washington. From there it is all downhill to Monument 78 at the Canadian Border. We didn't go the full distance to the border today, but rather stopped shy six miles to camp at a lake. Tomorrow we will hike to the monument of our monumental achievement, and then hike 9 miles out to the nearest road.

Tonight, while being loud and setting up camp, three deer walked through our campsite. They seemed to be interested in us, more than afraid of us.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kinda Like the Ivy League

Day 155-September 15th
Destination: Hart's Pass
Miles: 28.5
Cumulative Miles: 2300

The sun lasted for the first half of the day. We woke to a sky bordered in light pink lipstick. As the sun rose, the clouds lost their color, and slowly evaporated. We made our climb up to Cutthroat Pass, and were given our first fantastic view of the North Cascades, from the center.

The rich yellows and whites of the rocks we walked across were occasionally interrupted by red rocks. As we hiked northward on the trail, we saw red mountains with long tendrils of green trees growing up them like ivy on bricks.

Around 3pm, the rain started. It was light infrequent sprinkles, but the sky looked daunting. We donned our rain gear and pack covers. As we neared the next pass the wind picked up and flung cold horizontal rain on to us. We discussed setting up camp early, but we wanted to catch up with all the hikers we left the Dinsmore's with, so we could celebrate at the border together.

We pushed on. Thankfully the trail dipped behind a hillside and out of the wind. The rain eased a little, and we continued on towards Hart's Pass, our revised further goal for the day. When we hit a road two miles before the pass, we met a woman who offered us a ride so we could get to camp before dark. As it was only two miles, and we were wet, cold, tired, and hungry, we took her up on the offer. When we arrived, she shared some Grand Marnier with us, before heading back to her campsite.

To add to the trail magic, we caught up with our hiking mates. Now we don't have to pull 30 miles tomorrow. Yay!!

We just hit 2300 miles. WooHoo!!
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Long Slow Uphill

Day 154-September 14th
Destination: Porcupine Creek
Miles: 21.5
Cumulative Miles: 2272.5

Shadows! All Day!!

Today's hike was relatively dry. The only thing that got us wet was the fact that we were sweating from sun beating on us on an exposed trail. We'd be happy to take that any day over rain.

We left Stehekin this morning at 8am, stopping at the bakery to buy more fantastic goods. Reading something somewhere while in Stehekin, we learned that if Lake Chelan was drained, the lowest point in the lake would be considered the lowest land point in all of the United States, which puts the lake well over 1000 feet deep. This impressive depth is easily understood, when one looks at the steep hill sides dropping down to the lake.

We walked a long river valley, deep in steep hills today. The mountains loomed beside us and ahead of us, with their craggy peaks. When we reached Rainy Pass this evening, we began our climb into the heart of the North Cascades. Views are opening up, and we are both very excited for the final days of Washington, especially of today's weather holds out a bit longer.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Weather, What a funny thing

Day 153-September 13th
Destination: Stehekin
Miles: 5
Cumulative Miles: 2251

"That's the problem with this. They did it wrong. I want everything. I want cake. I want frosting. I want ice cream, and they are all separate, making it difficult to eat."
-Apricots on our dessert

Waking before sunrise, we packed quickly so that we could catch the first bus to Stehekin. We needed to cover five miles to High Bridge Campground, where a shuttle bus would pick us up for a eleven mile ride down to Stehekin Landing. We would resupply here.

As we walked the five miles, the weather got better and better, until we had clear blue skies. We are afraid that we'll have perfect weather on our "nero" day, and the rain will continue when we decide to leave town. Psycho has been warned to step carefully, lest he should fall and bring the rainstorms.

Once at the campsite, we had thirty minutes to wait for the bus. When it arrived, we took a tour down to the landing. The bus stopped at a ranch, an orchard, a waterfall (pictured above), and most importantly a bakery. The bakery is famed for its amazing baked goods, and it did not let us down at all. The danish was delectable, and the cinnamon roll was unfathomably fantastic. We suspect that if we weren't thru-hikers, we would still be overwhelming impressed with the quality of the food. We are already planning on hitting the bakery one or two more times before heading out of town.

We checked in to the resort to get a solid dry nights rest before doing the final Washington leg. Stehekin is located 50 miles up Lake Chelan and is accessible only by boat, float plane or hiking in over the mountain passes. We hiked in, and took a shuttle bus that will take us back up in the morning.

We spent our day drying gear out while indulging in obscene amounts of delicious fattening foods. The weather offered amazing views of the stunning lake. Tomorrow, on to Canada. We should be there by friday evening. We just hope the weather we had today for the remainder of our hike.

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Falling Down Causes Rain

Day 152-September 12th
Destination: Five Mile Camp
Miles: 26
Cumulative Miles: 2246

Last night, while hiking in the dark, Psycho stepped off trail falling down for the second time in the week. Two hours later, at camp, it started raining. It rained off and on through the night. In the morning we woke to a lack of rain. We packed quickly, and started moving just as it was getting light.

Half a mile down the trail, Psycho stepped on his gaiter, which had started to come off his boot. This tripped him up, causing him to fall to the ground, banging his knees and pulling a shoulder muscle in the process. About ninety minutes later it started raining again. We have concluded that since Psycho fell 3 times and rain followed shortly afterward, there must be a causation (or at least correlation) between the two. Apricots has advised Psycho to watch his footsteps more carefully for the rest of the hike.

We found the campsite we were looking for last night. It was about ten minutes past where we camped directly on the trail, if only we kept going last night. Of course if we had, we would have had to contend with the enormous downed tree we came across this morning. The nearly ten foot diameter tree had fallen across the trail, and reached 100 feet into the woods in both directions (when you considered the other tree of equal girth that had also fallen there). A small tunnel of sorts was dug into the ground under the tree, allowing us to crawl under it.

The next few miles, up to the Suiattle River, were riddled with downed trees. While it was not as bad as our experience a couple months ago on Girard Ridge, it certainly was trying. Four miles into our day we came to the Suiattle River. A flood a few years ago took out many of the bridges crossing the streams we have been crossing. Fortunately, trail crews have been hard at work rebuilding damaged trail, and adding bridges that have been washed away.

The bridge over the Suiattle River is supposedly built, but no trail to it exists yet. As such, we had to do a log crossing of the river. Sitting on a wet log, sliding our butts slowly across it with a raging river five feet below was more than unnerving. At one point we had to lift our leg over a branch, being careful not to shift our weight to far to the right, as we would fall in. A few feet later, we were forced to transition from a seated scoot position onto our hands and knees. Waddling on all fours with a loose pack atop our backs we inched closer to the other side. Then we dropped back down to a seated butt scoot for the final few feet. At this point the tree widened and we were hitting the root structure of the downed tree. We were forced to climb back onto all fours, and grab the roots to climb over onto the other shore.

Shaking with adrenaline on the other side, we hugged and continued our hiking. Psycho told Apricots (after the crossing) of the unfortunate drowning that occurred two years ago when a hiker fell off the downed tree. She in turn told him of one who fell this year, but survived. This southbounder decided that he was done hiking for the year, which is sad because this would have been his last difficult stream crossing for the remainder of the trail.

After crossing, we climbed up and over Suiattle Pass. The weather became nice long enough for us to take our rain jackets off. Ten minutes after we took our jackets off it started raining again, pretty much for the remainder of the day. The clouds never really lifted, but occasionally we would catch faint glimpses of what we were pretty sure was stunning landscape.

We trudged onward, sloshing through mud pits, stopping only once for lunch and once to fix the broken shoe laces on Psycho's left boot. Late in the afternoon the rain stopped. Unfortunately we were repeatedly walking through heavy brush, which dripped copious amounts of water down our bodies filling our boots with water. Our feet have been nothing but soaked for four days straight.

It's miserable at times, but we are very close to the end and will and determination is pushing us along. Tomorrow we get a town stop in Stehekin where we will get to dry everything out, and start the final leg fresh and rested.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Mysterious Miles

Day 151-September 11th
Destination: 2 Miles S. Of Vista Creek
Miles: 21.5 (plus approx. 3.5 mystery miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2220

The day started with a climb of a couple thousand feet. This was good, as it warmed us up. The morning temperature was not too bad, but as we gained elevation it became cooler, and started to mist and rain a little. The clouds still blocked much of our views, but as the day progressed more views opened up.

Midday, Psycho pointed out his shadow to Apricots. He thought it was gone for good, but it was just away on vacation, avoiding the nasty weather. As soon as blue patches returned to the sky, it came back. Both of us were ecstatic to see blue, even if small and distant.

Psycho had heard the fording of Milk Creek was difficult, and felt a little anxious as we approached the rushing water. Fortunately a new bridge had been built over the creek which washed away the last bridge a couple years ago. Unfortunately, two extra miles of trail was added, which threw off our rhythm and timing for replenishing our water. We arrived at the creek a little thirsty, and there was no safe way down to the water to get some.

We had to hike four miles up a very steep hill before we found a tiny tarn to pull water from. After rehydrating, we walked across some of the most beautiful hillsides. Yellow-orange corn lilies covered the land, complimenting the multicolored granitic rocks which have slowly tumbled down the glacial carved valleys.

Towards the end of our day, we saw a bear in the field we were walking through. We tried to scare it away, but it just looked at us with those "I've-had-a-short-summer-and-I'm-hungry-leave-me-alone eyes". We cautiously trudged on, keeping an eye pointed in the direction of the bear.

As we descended to Vista Creek, the miles seemed to be extra long. We think new trail was added, entirely throwing off our camping plans. After hiking for over an hour with our head lamps, we chose to set up camp in the middle of the trail. Low on water, a little dehydrated, and beat from an exhausting day, we didn't like this option. Walking another 2-3 miles by head lamp was not a better option.

So, we camp directly on the trail. We will have to rise early, so that we can break camp before our tent blocks the trail for any hikers.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

A Better Day

Day 150-September 10th
Destination: Sitkum Creek
Miles: 23.5
Cumulative Miles: 2198.5

Our new gear kept us dry through the rainy night. It rained all through the night, but stopped by the time we crawled out of the tent. The only hard part about getting up this morning was sliding our warm feet into wet cold socks and boots. Once that was done, we moved quickly to start getting warm.

Low clouds and heavy fog dominated our morning. At one point, Psycho reached out to the cloud covered valley (or mountain for all we could tell) and told Shroomer and Apricots of the serene beauty that was down (or up) there. Miles later the fog cleared, and the clouds lifted. We were offered amazing vistas of long sweeping glacial carved valleys. The steep slopes were covered in lush green plants. The corn lilies broad pleated leaves were changing from green to yellow, creating hillsides of green and yellow. Other shrubs added splashes of red and maroon, rendering the hillside with a full spectrum of color, as the peaks disappeared into the clouds.

To combat the cold temperature, we kept ourselves moving, covering all of the distance with only one sit down break. It was our desire to do 27 miles today. Near hitting our goal of 27 miles for the day, we ran into the collective of thru-hikers we left the Dinsmore's with. Wolf Taffy came over and told us their plans to slow down enough to pull into Stehekin the morning after we were planning to. We talked it over, and decided that we had enough food. The weather seems to be getting better, and arriving at camp early sounded nice.

We sat around together eating dinner. Shroomer, who we met on day two of the trail, fried up fresh picked mushrooms to have as appetizers to our dinner. Also here is Johnny Law and Missing Link, fellow Portlanders who we met in the Sierras, Motor and Mike. Two more thru-hikers rolled up as this was written, bringing the total at this campsite to ten.

During dinner, Wolf Taffy played his ukulele and sang a song, warning us of the woes of giardia.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to It

Day 149-September 9th
Destination: Saddle Gap (by Benchmark Mtn.)
Miles: 6 (plus a repeated 16.5)
Cumulative Miles: 2175

The weather called for a good day. Sadly the weather was mildly wrong. It certainly wasn't the torrential downpour we experienced last time we left the Dinsmore's, and we did have some blue patches early in the day. By ten miles, the sun was gone and the off and on sprinkles came.

Our better gear, and the company of other thru-hikers made the trek easier. Sadly, the landscape was shrouded in thick clouds and fog, so we were unable (for a third time) to see what we hiked through. As we head north, we will also be heading eastward, which means the rain should clear up.

We arrived at camp at dark. The last uphill trudge was wet, slick, and a little worrisome. We did not know if there would be a campsite, and neither of us wanted to night hike in the rain. Once we arrived, we quickly set up the tarp, and then set our tent up under it. So far, it seems to be doing the trick of keeping us drier, which means we are happier campers.

It is a little cold, and we have a long day tomorrow.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zero at the Dinsmore's

Day 148-September 8th
Destination: Steven's Pass (Dinsmore's Hiker Haven)
Miles: 0
Cumulative Miles: 2169

"I call it the morning dose of self-loathing."
--Johnny Law on Pop-Tarts

Today, we reassessed our plans to move forward. We are not giving up this close to the end, we just needed to figure out how to move forward, without putting ourselves at risk. This meant getting some more gear, drying out our existing gear, and waiting out the rain while we developed our strategy.

Psycho's parents came to Baring, to take us into an REI to up our rain protection. We bought pack covers and a tarp to pitch over our tent to help keep our bags drier at night.

The benefit of our return was coming back to a small herd of hikers. After all our jumping around, we have hiked the majority of the hike outside of the culture of fellow thru-hikers. Now, as the good weather returns, we will be hitting the trail with a collective of hikers we have known for a long time, but not hiked with in several months.

The ten of us (or so) here, all have roughly the same goal time for hitting Monument 78 at the Canadian Border.
This means that we should all be hiking roughly together, which will be a nice change up from our rather solitary hike we have had for most of Oregon and Washington.

Tomorrow we will hit the trail at Steven's Pass, covering the 16.5 miles for a third time. This time, however, the weather is supposed to be better, and we should be able to see the very scenic section of the PCT. While our decision to turn back set us back 2-3 days, everything that has resulted seems to be working out. Things work out on the trail. They always do.

We are probably going to be without phone reception for the next 8-9 days, so take care. See you all after we get to canada (lest we find some random place with a signal).
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rewind and Retreat

Day 147-September 7th
Destination: Steven's Pass (Dinsmore's Hiker Haven)
Miles: 0 (plus 16.5 repeat miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2169

Our tent dripped profusely on us through the night. We woke with wet sleeping bags, and a decision on our mind. Retreat, or forge on. As we hit the trail junction we had a decision to make. The difficulty of the decision lent itself to possible regrets in either direction. If we continued on the trail, we might regret arriving at camp with wet sleeping bags. If we headed back to town, we would possibly regret heading out prematurely.

In the end, we have no real regrets. We made the decision which carried no ill-effects to our health and well being. We could possibly face hypothermia if we continued, so we have decided to retreat back to town to dry out our gear, and visit a store to purchase a better tent, some pack covers, and better rain jackets.

It is annoying that we had to hike the same miles back, and may have to hike them a third time. It is annoying that we are further behind schedule now. It is, however, not annoying that we have a warm dry bed for the night. The Dinsmores are hosting close to 20 hikers here tonight, and we are all feeling pity for those out in the rain.

We of course will have to face it soon enough.
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Monday, September 6, 2010

500 Mile Countdown

Day 146-September 6th
Destination: Wenatche Pass
Miles: 16.5
Cumulative Miles: 2169

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear."
--Some Pompous Rich Outdoorsman

I don't generally write our blogs in the first person, but I think I will do so for this one, because it will be a lot of my emotions. I cannot fully speak for Apricots' emotions.

It is exciting to know that we are 500 miles from the end of this long journey. Sadly though, fall is here in the Northwest, and there is no denying it. We have had several bouts with rain, and it's not letting up. This morning we debated on whether to hit the trail or not, but we felt we should despite the bad forecast. If we waited around for good weather, we would be waiting until next August.

It is important for us to finish Washington quickly, so we can get back to the Sierras before fall sets in down there. As it stands, we are already behind our desired schedule by several days, maybe even a week or more. As such, despite our anxiety, and the weather forecast, we chose to hit the trail.

I was okay with this decision at first. I am no longer okay with it, probably because I am miserable. The first half of the hike was cold and misty, but not bad. We were moving, so we were warm. All our gear was still dry. This changed.

The further we got from Steven's Pass, the worse the weather got. We are now in a tent, and the rain is pounding heavily on the tent. Some of the seams are leaking, so we're getting the occasional droplet getting in on us. My temperament was positive pretty much all day, but that changed once we slid into our tent, and I discovered that my "dry clothes", which are strictly for sleeping in, had become damp.

I have a little extra clothes that was dry, so I am not entirely miserable. This rain, however, is supposed to last for three days. The trail is a slick mud already, and I slipped once today, catching myself on a high embankment. It's only going to get worse.

I find myself walking down the trail, asking myself "Why am I out here?"

I chose to do the hike for several reasons. First, for the enjoyment of it. Second, for the scenery. Third, for the challenge of it. I have come to realize that this rain takes away all the joy, and makes it impossible to see the scenery. It is a serious challenge, but I would be lying if I said that I came out on the victory side of all the challenges I have faced.

Tomorrow morning, I want to hike the 16.5 miles back to Steven's Pass. From there, I wish to get our way down to the Sierras, and knock those off before fall and winter sets in down there. We would miss about 175 miles of washington, making it an incomplete thru-hike. We would have to come back next year to finish these miles, but it would give us a "Monument 78" (Canadian Border) finish to our hike, rather than some strange unmarked middle point.

I have to reconcile these wants with Apricots, my love and hiking partner. She tends to be in higher spirits than least while in the tent.

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Ten Days

We have about ten days to the border...bad weather forecasted.

No reception points until then.

See you all on the flip side.

Pray for us.
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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wet... What's New?

Day 145-September 5th
Destination: Stevens Pass (Dinsmore's Hiker Haven)
Miles: 8.5
Cumulative Miles: 2152.5

It was raining all through the night. Our tent was situated in a place where puddling occurred, resulting in a very damp tent floor. While our sleep was fairly warm, our gear did get a little wet through the night. Fortunately, we were heading to town. We packed our gear, donned our rain coats, and hit the trail.

It wasn't long before we were uncomfortably wet, but it wasn't much longer before we hit the road. Standing in our dripping wet gear, we held our thumbs out for about an hour before a nice couple picked us up for the ride down to Baring, the tiny town that plays host to our fabulous hosts tonight.

Arriving at town, we immediately changed out of our wet clothes and went into the store for a hot coffee and an excellent breakfast. It wouldn't look like it, but the breakfast were some of the best we've had on the entire trail.

Now we are drying out our gear and relaxing at Hiker Haven. Gerry and Andrea are providing much loved accommodations. Gerry just cooked up a dandy meal of burgers, and while gorging ourselves on meaty goodness another hiker arrived. He was picked up in Glacier Peak wilderness by Heather "Anish", someone who Psycho hiked with in 2005.

Psycho looked at her and said, "You look familiar." When she looked at him, recognition clicked, and Psycho said her name. Hugs were given, and catch up was had. It was nice to see someone from his 2005 hike.

The weather looks grim for the next three days, and we are going to sleep with high levels of anxiety about the next leg. This section is very remote, very difficult, and the weather is certainly unfavorable.

Anxiety...what a miserable emotion.

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Was that a bird? Nope just Pikas and Marmots.

Day 144-September 4th
Destination: Hope Lake
Miles: 22
Cumulative Miles: 2144

It was a cold morning, and thankfully we started with a good healthy 1000 foot climb. Naturally this was followed by dropping about 1000 feet only to climb 2000 feet, drop 1000 feet, and climb another 1000 feet before descending a little over 1000 feet to camp.

The guidebook described a stream crossing as treacherous, and suggested an alternate route. We chose to ignore the guidebook, and head towards the treacherous waters, only to find a relatively difficult but completely manageable stream crossing. We did take our boots off to ford the water, but it never went above our knees and only sounded intimidating because of the fierce rapids above and below the crossing point.

After crossing, we made a 1000 foot climb up to Deception Lakes, where we found a stunning campsite to do lunch at. The sky was patched with clouds, but there was enough sun for us to dry our slightly wet gear.

Marmots and pikas were abundant in today's hike. As we passed over large fields of white and black granite, we heard the whistling of the marmots. We had thought until recently the whistling was some sort of bird, but now we have seen the marmots whistle. Also the "eeep" or maybe "eeeek" or perhaps "peeeeh" of the pikas, we had thought were birds. Now we have seen the small mouse like mammal peer at us over the granite and make the sound. All through the crossing of the granite boulders and rocks, the pikas chattered all day long.

All total for the day, we climbed roughly 6700 feet, and dropped the same. While this is not a large number for a day, it is significantly higher than your typical day on the trail. The rain is starting to fall on our tent, tomorrow may prove to be another wet monstrosity. Fortunately we are only 8.5 miles from town.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

A Warm Day in Washington

Day 143-September 3rd
Destination: Deep Lake
Miles: 24.5
Cumulative Miles: 2122

This section is particularly difficult. We have great climbs, and great descents. The trail is often along cliff sides, or across steep slopes of talus, where the rock slides have created difficult footing. Yesterday we had a 3000 foot climb.

Today as we reached the summit of a 2000 foot climb, we ran into two section hikers. The couple was 84 years old. We were impressed. Further down the trail, we came to the realization that they had braved the torrential downpour that we experienced a few days ago, and after arriving at their destination, they have turned around to hike all the way back to where they started for a total of 152 miles.

The morning started with a simple descent down to Delate Meadows. By some unfortunate oversight, we found ourselves down a side trail into Lemah meadows. Fortunately, the trail reconnected with the PCT, and we didn't gain or lose much mileage. Unfortunately, we had to ford a stream, rather than walk a bridge across it. The stream had split into two sections, and we both agreed that the second section had to be several degrees colder than the first. Afterwards we donned our boots for the 2000 foot climb.

Stopping briefly at a mountaintop tarn to grab water, we met an injured hiker who was slowly waddling her way back to Snoqualmie Pass. We asked if she was good on food, she was. She, however, said she was low on toilet paper. Psycho offered up some, as he seemed to be carrying an abundance this leg.

Carrying on, we made our descent down the other side of the mountain. Our timing was great today, as our long ascent was in the shade, and we crested the hill around noon, allowing for a largely shaded descent down the other side. When we made our final 1500 foot climb, it was late enough in the evening that the heat of the day was not really a factor. It was somewhat bizarre having a warm, almost hot, day in a state which has been largely gray and overcast.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Alps in Washington...Who knew?!

Day 142-September 2nd
Destination: Delate Creek
Miles: 19
Cumulative Miles: 2097.5

"In all, this section will challenge your legs, lift your spirits, and probably confirm your reasons for backpacking"
--Wilderness Press PCT Guidebook

Our legs were challenged, our spirits are renewed, and undoubtedly today was easily in the top five of the entire trail. The hike started with a relatively arduous 3000 foot ascent, starting first in fir and hemlock, before reaching the higher unforested ridges. The descent was equally difficult, almost a mirror image of the climb, but the views were ever changing.

As we made our climb, we had stunning views of Snoqualmie Mountain and Red Mountain. It wasn't too long before we could look south to Mt. Rainier, and north to Glacier Peak. Exiting the forest, we began a long on-again-off-again crossing of talus. The views opened up, the Hemlocks became smaller, and vast valleys swept away under the steep slopes we trod across.

Looking up we saw craggy peaks of many shades and colors, matching the talus we walked across. Looking down we saw fir filled valleys, filled with shrubs starting their autumnal color changing. At times the hillside was so steep, we actually walked on a trail blasted into the cliff face. Hiking along the flank of Alaska Mountain, we could peer down into the blue green depths of Alaska lake, its perimeter highlighted by rock slides scattering into its crystal depths.

Taking a tight chute down the mountains in the evening, we made at least 40 tight switchbacks before reaching a beautiful waterfall at Delate Creek. We are camped at a tiny campsite just before the waterfall, and will have the pleasing sound of the cascading river to lull us to sleep.

Our camp is being visited by a small mouse, or perhaps it is a Pika. Hopefully the critter doesn't chew its way into our tent. On a side note, Psycho's spider bite from two days ago has caused his leg to swell a bit. It looks as though he is trying to grow a softball just above his sock line. If we see any other hikers, we're going to see if they have anything that could help, because he notices a subtle pain with every step.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Out to Dry

Day 141-September 1st
Destination: Snoqualmie Pass
Miles: 19.5
Cumulative Miles: 2078.5

We woke from our mostly miserable sleep with mixed emotions. Psycho was set on leaving the trail, or skipping the remainder of Washington at the very least. He wanted to call someone to drive up to the trail and pick us up, but Apricots' kept her head square upon her shoulders motivating him to "face the music and dance."

We donned our wet clothes, and packed up our wet gear. Once you get moving, you start to warm up, so being wet is only a small discomfort. It's the initial prospect of slipping into wet clothes which is so difficult.

Our hike started with some early trail magic, in the form of oranges and sodas. The sky was still fully grey, but the rainfall was minimal, and the overgrowth was largely non-existant. After two miles, we passed an abandoned camp with water for hikers. Had we hiked just two miles further yesterday, we would have had warm chilly and hot dogs, as well as a temporary shelter to put our tent under.

We continued on. The sound of the water buzzing on telephone lines was loud and energetic, perplexing us until we saw what it was that we were hearing.

Shortly after arriving at Snoqualmie Pass, we discovered that Psycho's parents had driven here to see us. Today is his mother's birthday, and she wanted to see her son for her birthday. It was a very pleasant surprise to see them, particularly because it was unexpected and they brought fudge, more warm clothes, and more rain gear.

We shuffled through everything today, drying out our entire collection of gear. The great news is that the next few days are supposed to be very nice, so we should be able to get ourselves further north while staying dry. The hotel is overrun with hikers who have amassed here to dry out and seek break from the grayness.

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What A Day

Day 140-August 31st
Destination: Abandoned Weather Station
Miles: 13 (plus 0.5 off trail miles)
Cumulative Miles: 2059

We started our hike with a decent descent down to our first water source for the day. Shortly before arriving at the water source, Psycho rolled his ankle just enough to cause him to go flailing about and falling to the ground. He didn't hurt himself at all, except for a small bruise on his bum.

Then, after refilling our water supply, we continued down the trail. About five minutes into the walk, Psycho's trekking pole snapped into two pieces. He still has one working trekking pole, and has become less reliant on his poles, but the uphills will now be more difficult.

Around 9:30am, the rain started coming down. We put our rain gear on and kept moving. Unfortunately, the trail was winding through dense huckleberry overgrowth, so by noon we were soaked clean through to the bone. Our rain gear is good for a few hours, but the added droplets of water coming off the brush spelled wet disaster for us.

As we were heading largely downhill, our bodies were not generating enough heat to keep us warm. We decided we would find a dry-ish patch to throw our tent up, and wait out the passing rain storm. We made a lunch and hot tea to warm ourselves. It was still raining at 1pm. We napped for an hour, it was still raining at 2pm. We continued to nap.

When it was still raining at 3pm, we realized that we had to go hike in the rain, or else we would have too many miles to cover the next day. We slipped on our wet socks, a most miserable feeling, rivaled only by the far less pleasant experience of sliding into soaked boots. We of course had to pour the water out of our boots first.

Packed up, and still soaked, we started hiking again, to churn out a few more miles. Shortly after starting, some sort of spider bit Psycho's leg. For the remainder of the day, every left step reminded Psycho of the bite.

The good thing about being soaked, is that you can't get any wetter. We stepped through trail puddles and rivers with careless abandon, and tried to lift our spirits by shouting how "fun" this was.

Eventually we arrived at an abandoned weather station, where we hoped to find shelter from the now down pouring rain. All the doors were locked, and the windows were boarded over. We found one unlocked door, but sadly the door behind it was locked, and the alcove was only large enough for one person to stand in.

We fought off the very strong desire to break into the building, and instead settled for a 3'x5' covered porch. We huddled our drenched gear and bodies into the porch. We decided to layout in the small confines of the porch. We stretched our ground cover over the steps, and draped our tent in a way that would best keep out the rain.

After dinner the wind picked up, and beat the tent furiously against the metal walls of our cramped quarters. The wind did not let up all night, and neither did the rain. Our sleep was perhaps the worst on the trail, and our sleeping bags were soaked by morning. Fortunately, we stayed warm, huddled close together.

Psycho was thoroughly impressed and shocked by Apricots' positive attitude throughout the mostly miserable experience.

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