The anxiety I had last night about all the wildfires was significantly better this morning. I packed up my tent at 6:00 a.m. and made oatmeal for breakfast at the lodge while I waited for the school bus back to trail at 7:45 a.m.. The bus was packed full and all 44 + hikers paid $10 each for the one-way ride back to the trail. Doing the math, that bus made $440 to drive less than 15 miles one way and would make more money picking up hikers on the return trip. The bus stopped at the bakery which was nice but I didn’t get anything since I ate so much the day before and my pack was so heavy with 5 days of food. At 9:00 a.m. We finally got back on trail. The plan today was to hike approximately 25 mi. Trail diva and midnight were going to Mazama while I stayed on trail since I had a resupply box sent to Stehekin. I hiked with Trail Diva for the first 10 miles before saying goodbye to her and Midnight at our lunch break. The day was really hot and all uphill. Thankfully the smoke from last night was all clear now! At lunch I cooked a chicken and rice mountain house meal and dunked my shirt in the cold stream to cool off. I hiked alone listening to a book for a few miles before I had to go off the trail to collect water because it was so hot and I was drinking so much. I ran into Ricochet, Eager Beaver, and Magma at the next source. I was happy to see them and hiked with them all day. It was great to have new company! At Rainy Pass, we got trail magic from a lady named Kim! She was about to start a section hike with her daughter. It was so good and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The last trail magic before Canada! It was a big surprise. I hadn’t had trail magic in so long that I forgot it was a thing. I hiked the last four miles to camp with Eager Beaver. We camped with a bunch of others tucked away off the trail. I fell asleep waiting for Trail Diva Midnight to show up.
This morning I went down to the lodge on the shore of Lake Chelan to wait for everything to open up at 10:00 a.m. I needed to pick up my package and purchase Wi-Fi. There was a whole herd of hikers waiting to do the same thing. Since only 30 people a day can purchase Wi-Fi, it felt stressful. Everyone started to line up early. Despite opting to go to the post office first, I was still able to buy Wi-Fi and get in line before a whole new bus load of hikers arrived and added to all the chaos. I received two packages from my mom. One was my last resupply box with my passport and the other was a box of party supplies with a crown she made me. I can’t believe it is my last box! After getting all the chores done, Midnight and I walked two miles down the road to the famous bakery where we met up with Trail Diva and Kurt. I got Thai noodles in a sticky bun. They were just as good as I hoped! After hanging around for a while, we walked down to a local cabin. Kurt had helped them fix a boat the previous day and scored us canoe access and exchange. After hanging out with the very sweet and well traveled family, we got to go out on the water. It was epic to say the least. The water was deep blue and calm. The reflection of the mountains was perfect. The lake reminded me a lot of Waterton on the CDT. I felt so lucky just to be here! Lake Chelan is the third deepest lake in the USA. I think it is so cool that we got to visit the three deepest lakes in the US this summer. The deepest being Crater Lake in Oregon, and the second deepest being Lake Tahoe in California. We paddled down to the lodge where all the other hikers were swimming. I jumped in the lake multiple times. The water temperature was absolutely perfect! Once I swam to my heart’s content, we paddled some more to check out some cliffs and then back to the cabin. The mountains on either end of the lake were getting obscured by smoke. It was pretty dramatic. We walked 2 miles back to the camp where I opened most of the things my mom sent me in the party box to share with everyone. I found out about several new wildfires east and west of the PCT near the border. I was so anxious about not being able to finish because of them. I am so tired of the wildfire complications. I’m excited to go tag that border and not have to worry about them affecting me anymore. They have honestly impacted my thru hike in a big way and not a good one. I am so glad I took one last zero in Stehekin. It was really important to me to spend one last day savoring the journey and all it took to get here. On the Appalachian Trail I took a zero in Baxter State Park five miles from the end. I was frustrated about it at the time because I was waiting on other people to go finish with. In retrospect, that was so important to me. Taking a moment to respect my body before finishing one of the hardest things I’ve asked it to do feels right.
Today I left camp at 6:00 a.m. after making two packs of Carnation breakfast with coffee. I hiked alone for the first 10 miles of the day. I only passed a few older couples. The trail passed by quite a few prominent mountain peaks. I had to wonder what they all were since I didn’t load anything on my peak finder app gifted to me by John who picked me up at Onion Valley Trailhead in the Sierras. When the trail went over a particularly rocky section, my metatarsals on my right foot started to hurt very badly again. It was bothering me a lot before trail days and then went away. It feels like I re-aggravated something. It continued to bother me for the rest of the day. Thankfully today was mostly downhill and easy. My quads and calves are so sore and tired from the last few days of hard terrain. Midnight caught up to me at Agnes Creek 10 mi into the day. We hiked all the way to High Bridge together. Trail Diva left camp before us and got to town hours earlier, presumably with minimal breaks. I was not interested in rushing to town today as I like taking many breaks these days if I can.
Midnight and I got picked up by the shuttle bus to go into Stehekin at 4:10 p.m. I saw so many other hikers getting off to go hike the last 80 miles of trail. It was overwhelming! The bus stopped at the bakery first right as they were closing. Once we got dropped off in “town” Trail Diva and Kurt thankfully had everything figured out for us. We were already in line for showers and laundry and had a place to camp. I didn’t want to do anything right away but I’m glad I did because it seemed to take everyone hours to do chores. We had a fun time hanging out at camp and went to look at the stars on the dock at night. It was memorable for sure!
The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was make coffee. I usually don’t drink coffee because caffeine makes me feel nuts. I plan on drinking it everyday for the rest of the trail to give me the energy I haven’t been able to find for the past month. It was nice to have something to warm me up. I packed up my wet tent and hit the trail at 7:00 a.m. The day started with a steep descent with lots of switchbacks. As soon as I got down to a milk creek at the bottom of the valley, the trail went straight back up. The climb was steep and felt long. My quads were burning and I was so exhausted from climbing up and over so many fallen trees. It was a full body workout. I considered taking a break because I was mentally and physically so beat. It wasn’t even 9:00 a.m. yet! I took the opportunity to listen to music for the first time in ages to motivate myself up the climb. It was really nice. At the top, I took a long break in the sun to dry my tent out, eat second breakfast, and filter water. The view was absolutely stunning. I thought I could see Mount Baker covered in glaciers in the distance as I started to descend.
The descent had even more blowdowns than the climb. Some were massive and I had to take off my pack to go under, or make a big, scary leap off the top of them. Several times I banged my knees and scratched and bruised them. Today was so hard! After lunch, I had an amazing time walking 5 mi to the raging Siuattle river. The trees were massive in the stretch and oftentimes it was a bit dark in the forest from how much shade they provided. Four more miles uphill to dinner at a clear and cold Miners Creek. There I ate instant mashed potatoes with Velveeta cheese. I continued uphill the camp at a different location 5 mi north of Miners Creek. I arrived at 8:00 p.m. Just behind Diva and Midnight. The temperature didn’t drop as fast as it did the other days. It was a cozy evening in my tent before I fell asleep around 10:00 p.m. My butt muscles were sore from all the steep climbing in Washington!
This morning I was freezing. The moment I popped my head out of my sleeping bag. I accidentally dumped a whole pot of water in my tent. When I went to start my stove. I wiped up the mess with my socks. I cooked a mix of oatmeal, carnation breakfast, and coffee for breakfast. It warmed me up very well while I packed up. I didn’t leave camp until 7:00 a.m.. It was nice to take my time today!
The whole day was incredibly beautiful. After all the big clouds went away and the sun came out all I could see were Mountain peaks were miles and miles. It looks like a screensaver. Some of the peaks even had snow on them. Upon closer inspection a lot of the snow was actually glaciers. Midnight, Trail. Diva and I all took our breaks together today and it was really fun. After going over red pass, we descended to the valley to eat lunch. We crossed Kennedy Creek today which I was really nervous about because I heard it was dangerous. The trail was gnarly leading up to it. Lots of mud down trees and bushes in the way. The sound of the rushing water made me nervous. When I got there, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected but definitely sketchy if you were not careful. The chocolate milk colored water was going fast, but the Rocky River wasn’t too wide. At least. I watched some people cross upstream on a log that was partially wet. Since my feet were still dry, I decided to give it a try. I was successful and so were the rest of my family. We had a big 3K foot climb to end the day. My quads were tired but I powered through it. Thankfully my body has felt a lot better lately. I ate ramen for dinner at Fire Creek before climbing up to the top of Fire Creek Pass. We wanted to camp at Mica lake but every campsite was taken. It has been so hard to find a campsite everywhere we go in Washington. Sites are really small and there are so many people! We continued on another mile before setting up camp and some grass. I stayed up writing in my journal since it was too cold to do it last night.
I got amazing sleep last night despite it being cold and a little rainy. I didn’t wake up until 6:00 a.m. I plan on sleeping in for the rest of the trail and I am so excited for it! When I went to light my stove for breakfast this morning. I found out that my lighter wasn’t working. Bummer! I was really looking forward to my first hot breakfast since somewhere in the desert? I ate my oatmeal cold. When I said goodbye to midnight. She will still bundled in her hammock, luckily she was awake and gave me a lighter to borrow! My morning started slow because it was so cold and rainy out. I kept stopping to change layers until I got it right. It was lightly raining on and off all morning but I was getting soaked from water off the plants next to the trail. There were blueberries absolutely everywhere today. I was stopping to pick them constantly. I saved some for later. I ended up stopping on top of grizzly Peak 10 miles into the day. Since I had a lighter now, I took the time to make oatmeal and added maple walnuts and the wild blueberries I picked. I was quite proud of the creation and it was delicious. I moved on downhill for a while. Clouds kept blowing through the mountains keeping everything wet. I took my next break on a hillside in the middle of a ton of massive rocks. Diva caught up to me around 2:00 p.m. and we hike together for the rest of the day. The last 2 miles to camp at Sally Ann Lake were absolutely stunning. Despite being cold and wet all day, the views were totally worth it. I was so happy to be at camp by 6:00 p.m.. I cooked a breakfast skillet for dinner and then immediately got in my sleeping bag. I shivered until I was warm and then fell asleep.
Today I successfully slept in until 7:00 a.m. I was happy to be in a clean, comfortable bed last night. We took our time getting ready for the day. I organized my pack and wrote a few blog posts. I am over a week behind right now and it is a bit overwhelming. I have been way too tired and anxious lately. I have even had a hard time finding the motivation to text anyone back. Kurt made us cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast before we left for the long drive at 11:00 a.m. Four hours to Steven’s pass.
It was slow getting to Stevens Pass, but I didn’t mind. It was very hot in the 1967 Biscayne with no air conditioning. We kept the windows down and had bags of ice to keep us cool in the 90° weather. We stopped to get Thai food for lunch and at many gas stations along the way. Eastern Washington looks like a desert. A slow going as traveling in a really old car is, it is honestly really fun. When we go 50 miles per hour it feels like 100. The car drives like a boat and sounds like a tractor. Kurt is a great driver and seems like he must get a full body workout to make so many tight turns without power steering.
We didn’t get to Steven’s pass until 6:00 p.m. A bit later than I was hoping to. I wanted to hike 7 mi out tonight so we could average 25 miles per day until Stehekin, the next and last town where I will take a zero. Trail Diva stayed behind with Kurt while Midnight and I hiked out four easy miles. My pack is extremely heavy with food, layers, and new things I brought along since it is a long time before I will be thru hiking again. I brought the multicolored string lights from my mom and $2 purple bat lights that all run off of batteries. It made my tent feel very cozy. I am sad it will be my home only for a few more nights. Before I went to sleep, I ate a bagel with cream cheese and wrote this journal/ blog post. I am really excited about having a paper journal for the first time. I am carrying it to save my phone battery and motivate myself to write. I plan to convert it all to digital text later. Hopefully I don’t regret it!
I woke up and started hiking North from Rockpile Lake at 6am today. I was planning on taking lots of breaks but surprisingly I felt really good. I made it 17 miles before stopping. The views were gorgeous today until the burned section. This section of trail goes through Mount Jefferson wilderness. It is the Lions Head Closure that just recently opened after being closed for three years. The trail was totally fine. I’m not sure why it was closed for so long. They said it was dangerous but I think people should be able to assume their own risk. It didn’t seem any different than any other part of the trail to me. I ran into both Cam and Booster hiking southbound. We just found out the last section of trail I had been evacuated from just opened. Unfortunately I was already hiking the opposite direction with plans to get to Washington tomorrow. I’ll come back and do it when I’m done with the trail in Canada. I found trail Diva and Midnight around lunch time. After the really ugly burn zone, there was a pretty part that was saved with great views of Mount Jefferson. I ran into a ranger who checked my permit. The second time I’ve had it checked on the trail.
Trail Diva went ahead to be with her boyfriend and Midnight and I lazily hiked the last ten miles to Ollalie together. We are both falling apart and are so tired of all the logistics. I can’t wait to be back in Washington hiking north! Back at Ollalie Lake, Kurt gave me an orange soda and a sandwich. Perfect for dinner! I was thankful. We drove three hours out of the woods and across the Columbia River into Washington. We stayed at an air b and b to charge all of our things, take showers, and do laundry before heading back to Stevens Pass.
Today I left camp earlier than Trail Diva so I didn’t have to keep up with anyone. I road walked from the campsite back to the trail where it crossed McKenzie Pass. I did this to avoid an extra mile of walking in the terrible lava fields, visit a roadside observatory, and get to use a pit toilet so I didn’t have to dig a hole in the rocks. The Observatory was one of the coolest roadside attractions I’ve ever visited. It was a circular castle completely made out of lava rock with a paved path up to it. It had windows all around it and tiny windows that lined up perfectly with all the surrounding mountain peaks. They had labels of all the mountains on them. You could also walk up to the top of the small hut for a better view. It was pretty at sunrise. Eventually I entered a five miles stretch of the lava rocks. I’m glad I got them done first thing this morning. I was also glad that I was slack packing so my feet didn’t hurt as bad.
After the lava fields Trail Diva caught up to me and we hiked to Big Lake youth camp together to get water. The camp had a really nice section with amenities for PCT hikers. I didn’t need to use any of it, but it would have been awesome if I did! The next stretch was 14 miles without water and it was hot out so I made sure to drink a lot and fill up all my bottles. We met Kurt for lunch at Santiem Pass. I ate a salad I bought at the grocery store last night and some blue cheese. I left so Trail Diva and Kurt could have some alone time. Plus I wanted some time to myself to hike to camp and get there early. On my hike another hiker asked me for water while I was on the phone. I was honestly pissed they didn’t prepare for themselves. I gave them 3/4 of a liter without saying much and just kept going. Now I only had one liter left for myself. Whatever. I’ll live. I don’t know how those other thru hikers didn’t bother to look at their maps and carry more water. I guess it happens but I certainly shouldn’t suffer for it. It was really nice to talk to my brother and dad for quite a while. I had cell phone service all day and totally drained my phone battery without thinking because of it. The last four miles I walked to camp through a burn zone in silence. I filtered water from a gross pond on the way. There were huckleberries everywhere. I camped at Rockpile Lake. Trash Panda and Trail Diva showed up later.
This morning I left Elk Lake around 6am with Trail Diva. Midnight left about an hour earlier so she can get to the road early and hitch in to Bend to hang out with her boyfriend Zach before he flies home. The day started in some dense woods before opening up into a large view of a meadow with the “Sisters” in the background I believe. They are three photogenic volcanic mountains in Oregon. I think they would be cool to climb, but after Mount Shasta I am in no hurry to climb a volcano again. Speaking of which we also hit our first field of volcanic rock to hike through today and it absolutely sucked. The tiny rocks and slippery ash slowed my pace significantly. Thankfully it didn’t last too long. I was feeling tired and so annoyed I had to hike thirty miles today. My body feels so bad. I just want to be done or at least keep the miles way lower and slower. Luckily I was still able to keep up with Trail Diva all day but I hurt even worse by the end. We got to walk through fields of Obsidian stone which was so cool! The shiny black rock is said to have protective properties apparently. By the time we got to Lava Camp Lake it was 4pm. We headed into the town of Sisters for food after.
This morning I left camp around 6am. It was nice to leave late for once. I was sleepy the first part of the day and it went by slow. Despite having a fully weighted pack, it didn’t feel too bad today. I hiked mostly alone until Midnight caught up to me about six miles away from Elk Lake. I highly debated staying on trail since I already had all my things. I could use a night to myself and break up the mileage over the next two days better. Ultimately I decided to go in to Elk Lake with Diva and Midnight because it sounded fun. Even though I only hiked twenty two miles today, the bones in my legs were aching and I felt wrecked. We finished hiking around 2:30pm. The first thing I did when we got to Elk Lake was take off my shoes and rub down my feet.
We ate lunch at the restaurant next to the lake. I had a Ruben Sandwich which I’ve been getting a lot lately in towns. I was so excited to go to be early tonight. After dinner while everyone else went to the lake, I took a shower and went to lay down at camp. I was so exhausted. Midnight let me use her Hammock tonight and helped me set it up. It was so cozy and warm. I absolutely loved being off the ground in a cocoon of feathers.
Today began with a five hour car ride South to Shelter Cove. Midnight, Zach, and I, left the trail days at camping island at 6:15 am to be picked up by Kurt and Trail Diva. I surprisingly had a lot of energy today despite having a late night. It was still nice to have a long car ride as a buffer between the rest days and getting back on the trail. The only thing was, it took us until noon to get there so we started the day super late to hike as far as we had planned to. Especially for Zach who is joining Midnight for the section. It’s really hard to keep up with thru hikers who have been hiking long days for months on end. Usually regardless of how fit you are, your feet and joints just get really irritated because they are not used to the constant movement. The good thing about today is that we were slack packing so we didn’t have to carry all of our gear. Kurt was supposed to meet us at Irish Lake where we would camp for the night. We all set off together and soon Trail Diva was in front of us all and Midnight and Zach were in the back. We passed by some gorgeous lakes that I really wish I had the time to stop and swim in, I know there will be plenty more. Eight miles in I stopped to take a break at a really nice cabin open to hikers and the public for free! It even had electricity for light bulbs that came from a solar panel. Midnight and Zach caught up here so I took a break with them. Despite my feet hurting, I made it ten more miles to another lake before I took a break near it’s shore. On the way there, it got really smoky outside. The Cedar Creek Fire is burning nearby on the West side of Waldo Lake. Luckily the PCT runs on the East side of the lake. It’s a 4k acre fire that is not contained at all and has been burning since around the time we left Oregon for all the fires. The PCTA had issued a warning that the trail might close in the area. I’m glad we could hike through with no issues yet!
After the lake I ran into Kurt and Carly at the next road crossing. There was a problem. Kurt’s car couldn’t make it up to Irish Lake. He didn’t want us to be screwed so he talked a Jeep into dropping our food and sleeping bags off at the trail head there. I was glad Kurt was smart enough to not leave us stranded. I grabbed my tent and things for the rest of the night and kept hiking. I talked to my parents on the phone for the last four miles to camp. It was 8pm and it was getting dark by the time I arrived. I set up camp and waited for everyone else. I was glad to be done for the day.
PCT Days is an event where PCT hikers get together to camp for a weekend and attend an expo with lots of gear vendors who do fun give aways and activities. I think it is based off of the better known “Trail Days” that occurs on the Appalachian Trail in the town of Damascus around the end of May. I didn’t get the opportunity to go to Trail Days on the AT in 2019 and ever since then I’ve wanted to go to Trail Days really bad but it never worked out. Before I started hiking the PCT, I knew that I wanted to make every effort possible to get to trail days on the PCT this year. It even played into our flip flopping decision. I knew that no matter what I did I’d have to get off trail and come backwards to trail days.
The first day of Trail Days I had extremely low energy. I tried to visit as many vendor booths as I could. I got lots of free stickers, a free mini cork ball, chapstick, a pack towel, and some other goodies. We all hung out in the shade drinking beer for a while. Everyone was looking for a party at the end of the day but nothing was planned. I ended up laying down in my tent and hanging out with my friends. I fell asleep as we were hanging out I was that tired. It was still a really fun night despite not being filled with action. I was glad I had a day to lay down a rest. I was hoping to party the first day so I could recover on the second day but I really needed to recover from hiking first.
The second day of trail days was a lot more fun because I actually had the energy to run around and hang out with everyone. My friends won a lot of the giveaways and I was super happy for them. It seemed like everyone else had more energy today too. We ended up partying the second night despite everyone needing to get back on trail and hike tomorrow. I don’t want to feel unrested while hiking but these things are worth it sometimes.
Today I woke up feeling super sore but I knew I had to do the remaining miles to Ollalie Lake by 10am. I hate having a deadline to meet on trail but I want a ride to trail days! I started hiking in the dark. Despite not having long between camp and the lake, I still stopped for some breaks because I hurt so bad. Right before Ollalie Lake we started going through a burn zone that has been closed for three years. They recently just opened the whole closure so we will be able to walk through the whole thing! The burn zone was depressing and when I showed up to Ollalie Lake I wondered how on earth the resort was still open. The place looked so depressing and offered almost no amenities besides a roof over the head. They don’t have electricity, laundry, or showers. Somehow they do have a cash only camp store with some semi cold beverages in a fridge I suspect they turn on via a generator for an hour a day. I got myself a beer and a post card. Trail Diva was there with her boyfriend Kurt. He showed up in a 1967 Chevrolet Biscayne that he restored. It already broke down on the way here. It was a cool car for sure but definitely not practical for all the driving we are about to be doing in it. Especially on dirt roads…
It was a three hour drive to Cascade Locks and Kurt pulled over to fix something on the car multiple times. Luckily he knows what he is doing. I think you kind of have to if you drive a car you restored. We stopped in Hood River to get some groceries and car parts. Afterwards I was dropped off in Stevenson, Washington with Midnight at the hotel she got for the night with her boyfriend Zach who was going to meet us in Cascade Locks later in the day. At the hotel, I took a shower and sorted through my pack along with picking up a package at the post office across the street. After we were ready, Midnight and I hitched down the road to Bridge of the Gods. We walked over the bridge to the campground at the Marine Park where I would stay the night with my friends Pop Rocks and Tiger Lily who surprised me by coming to trail days. Once I got my tent set up and we hung out for a while, I went over to another campground to say Hi to Morgan of Blaze Physio. Everyone is in town today and it’s so exciting! I got to check out Blazes Van she has been living out of full time for the past four years in detail. I ended the night with everyone else at Thunder Island Brewing company where a DJ was playing for a Trail Days Pre-Party. It was so much fun to see everyone again and just hang out for the night. A lot of people were dancing and I joined in for a little bit but ultimately my feet still hurt, my knees were aching, and I just did not have the energy to party with everyone else. I don’t know how anyone else could be jumping around after walking 2000 miles. I was relieved to go to bed around 11pm. I’m looking forward to the next few days of hanging out with Pop Rocks and Tiger Lily.
This morning I started hiking in the dark. I knew we had to do a big day so we could catch up to Trail Diva at Ollalie tomorrow morning. I personally don’t want to be hiking days this big right now but I don’t have a choice if I want to make it to trail days. The trail was easy for the first ten miles. I listened to a podcast and took a break at the first water source where midnight caught up to me. Midnight and I had so much fun hiking together today. I have been hiking with her for a long time but I don’t think we have gotten to know each other very well until recently because there are always so many other people around or so much chaos. Today wasn’t crazy significant but we did get to see Little Crater Lake. It was a small very deep and very clear blue lake with lots of trees in the bottom. It stays 34 degrees all year round. It was cool to see. I did see a few people jump in it but no way would I want to! We saw a horse on the trail today. It looked very panicked with it’s movements. I’m not sure how the rider stayed on but it definitely scared me a bit. We took a break at Timothy Lake and at a creek on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation that the trail goes through. It wasn’t until 8pm that we got to camp and I didn’t feel like I took enough breaks. I think it’s just so much harder to do the same amount of miles I was previously doing with a very tired body.