This morning I left Lolo Pass in the dark around 4:30. I wanted to get to Timberline Lodge about 17 miles away in time for the lunch buffet. I have heard about this lunch buffet from so many people for so long. My trail map even comments that it is many peoples favorite meal of the whole trail. It is traditional to do a 50 mile hiking challenge to the lodge and finish it at the buffet. I might have attempted this if I was hiking Northbound Because the terrain is so easy going in that direction. Hiking southbound to the lodge you would gain 13k of vert in 45 miles from Cascade Locks if you take the Eagle Creek trail. That is an insane amount of vertical and more than double what it would be coming from the opposite direction. We did all this vert over 1.5 days and I was absolutely wrecked by the time we arrived at Timberline Lodge.
I hiked in the dark for well over an hour. I miss the days when it was light enough to not use a head lamp at 5am. Now if I start before 5:45am I am in the dark for longer than I’d like. The day started uphill and I tried to unsuccessfully catch up to Midnight. It was cold but as soon as I was moving uphill I was sweating in my puffy jacket so I stopped to take it off. By the time I got to Ramona Falls which is another small alternate off the PCT, it was light out enough to see everything and enjoy it. I’m glad I didn’t camp any closer, otherwise it would have been dark. On my way to the falls I realized I left my new gravity filter bag hanging on a tree at camp. I was so upset because 1. It’s yet another piece of gear to replace and 2. Now it will be ultra annoying for me to filter water, my least favorite camp chore. Luckily at Ramona Falls I had the idea to ask a Northbounder to bring it to trail days if they spotted it. I offered to buy her beer and or camping at the event in exchange. Ramona Falls was so pretty and so was the trail up to it. I’m not sure why the PCT isn’t routed next to some of these incredibly falls located directly near the trail had they just chosen to make the official route for by them. Either way, I am someone who chases waterfalls. Midnight and I took a break together and waited for Trail Diva. I shared with Midnight that I was feeling so stressed about all the miles we were doing and how bad my body was feeling too.
After our break, we continued on uphill. The PCT joined up with the Timberline trail, a 40 mile trail around Mount Hood. It was very popular and I passed so many backpackers on the loop. I’d love to come back and do it someday! The wildflowers in the area were so pretty and occasionally we got a glimpse of Mount Hood up close. It looks like most of the glaciers/ snow up there are melting. It also doesn’t seem to look like that intimidating of a peak but I’m sure it is. It is the Oregon High Point at 11,249 feet. The trail became sandy and difficult. I was not a happy camper when my feet, legs, and everything else was hurting. I just wanted to get to the lodge!
I made it to the lodge right at noon. I got to see so many people I knew from the desert along the way. It is crazy to see where everyone is on the trail. When you hike the opposite direction you can find out! Right before the lodge, the trail passed under some ski lifts for the resort. They were running and people were skiing in the remaining snow way up high on Mount Hood. How wild! It’s Mid August. I also couldn’t believe how close the ski lifts get to the top of such a big mountain. At the lodge, the first thing I did was drop all my stuff in the shade next to Diva and take off my shoes to clean my feet. I was so sore and tired. The day isn’t even over yet! We finally went into the lodge at 12:30 for our lunch time buffet reservation. The lodge was incredible. It reminded me of the Gryffindor common room from Harry Potter. It was a large octagon with massive windows and a stone fireplace in the center. The buffet was incredible and did live up to all the hype. The thing I’ll remember the most about it is the butter for the dinner rolls was made into tiny little balls. There were many vegetarian pasta and veggie salad dishes. I’m not sure what most of it was but it was delicious. There was also a charcuterie board with nice cheese including my favorite, blue cheese! After stuffing myself with three plates, I started to do some of my town chores including going to pick up a resupply box from my mom. She sent it here over a month ago when I thought I would have been here. I’m glad they still had it! I did call to check and make sure they would hold it for me. I’m glad I didn’t have to carry an excessive amount of food up the mountain over the last two days. I also was excited for all the electrolytes I got. It feels so long since I’ve used them.
Midnight and I hung out together all day long at Timberline. We relaxed in the comfy couches and used the wifi while we charged everything. Diva left early so she could be a day ahead of us to spend some time with her boyfriend Kurt before he picks us all up at Ollalie Lake. At Timberline I got to hang out with Doggone and Taxi lady for a little bit. I was so happy to see them! Before leaving we got a beer from the bar. It was 6pm by the time we hiked out. We decided to do 5 more miles instead of the 10 we had originally planned. Luckily it was all downhill. I got a crazy amount of sand in my shoes after only two miles. I had to stop and dump it all out and wash off my feet in a creek. We camped with two SOBOs. I also talked to Vulture and Passport walking northbound today.
This morning I woke up and got ready in the dark at Cascade Locks. I hiked out of the Marine park with Trail Diva and Midnight as the sun came up. We began the day by walking towards the bridge of the gods. Today we will start hiking Southbound on the PCT. The first two miles were a very flat and nice paved walking path next to the main road. The trail was sheltered from the noisy road with a tunnel of green trees fuzzy with moss and rows of bushes with juicy black berries on them. I stopped to pick some occasionally as I tried to keep up with my friends. They tasted like candy when they were good. Eventually we ended up on the Eagle Creek Trail. This is technically an alternate route to the PCT and a very popular day hike as there are many famous water falls along the trail. I was excited for this day!
Despite the crazy elevation gain I saw on my map, the trail sloped gently upwards for the first eight miles or so. We walked through a deep narrow gorge with a creek running far below us down the middle of it. The trail hugged the side of the gorge walls. It was incredible that anyone could build something like that there. A fall off the side of the trail would probably result in severe injury if not death. The trail was wide enough to not have to worry about that though. I was glad we were on the trail early so we didn’t have to pass too many hikers going the opposite direction. I had a lot of fun hiking together with Diva and Midnight. The best part of the eagle Creek trail was tunnel falls. The trail goes through a tunnel made behind a tall gushing waterfall. The tunnel is completely covered with green moss on all sides so it looks like something from Alice in Wonderland. About a mile after Tunnel Falls the trail became less popular and wasn’t maintained very well. Right before I got back on the PCT, the trail went very steeply up for two miles. The sun was very hot and I was so fatigued the whole way up despite just having a zero day. Just like Shasta, the grade was so steep that it worked totally different leg muscles I haven’t had to use in so long.
Once back on the PCT, I took a nice break at some picnic tables near the trail junction. It’s always so nice to have a place to sit especially in the shade! We continued on 14 more miles to camp. I hiked on and off with both Diva and Midnight. We got our first on trail view of Mt. Hood from Oregon. Tomorrow we should be walking up to it! We only saw three other south bound hikers today and about 20 north bounders. When getting water late in the evening right before camp, I wondered how all the hikers we saw would even find a spot to camp tonight because there were not many spots on the thickly wooded ridge we just crossed. We set up camp for the night at Lolo Pass just as nightfall hit.
This morning chewy was supposed to pick us up at 10am. She was actually supposed to come last night but decided to make the trip in the morning. I was glad because we got in so late last night and I needed as much time as possible to relax. Chewy ended up twisting her ankle so bad in the last 10 miles of Oregon that she had to call search and rescue to get help getting off the trail and carried out. She has been off trail for four days now. When she found out that we needed help getting back to Oregon, she offered to drive us as long as we paid for all the gas. Given how crazy our trail logistics are, she provided help to us in such a big way. She was able to drive Tuzi’s car. The guy who found my wallet on the trail near Belden. Chewy didn’t end up picking us up until 1pm which worked out perfectly. I ended up sleeping until 9:15 and only woke up because Trail Diva woke me up. I had a great hotel breakfast and took advantage of the hot tub. We were able to get a late check out at noon. I was so glad to stay in bed all morning. I was so tired somehow. At noon we walked to dollar tree across the street where we resupplied for the next four day stretch. We were hoping that Chewy could drive us to Ollalie Lake so we could hike 100 North miles into Trail Days. Dollar Tree was one of my best resupplies On the trail. I got about 20 different snacks all for very cheap. I love that they sell snacks in small quantities so I am able to buy a variety and keep my appetite up.
When chewy picked us up at 1pm, we went to REI first because it was three miles away. For the last section, I started with brand new trail runners. Within the first 15 miles the bottom half of my shoe started to peel off. It was crazy and I had no traction! I didn’t want to walk the last 500 miles like that. Luckily REI let me exchange them for a brand new pair. I also got a spiky ball for rolling out my feet, and both Diva and Midnight had to get new shoes as well. At least I don’t have to worry about them again on this trail! Chewy drove us about three hours towards Ollalie Lake. When we were one hour away we found out the road to get to the lake is closed over 16 miles away. We had to figure out a new plan.
We thought of all the possible ways to run the logistics of hiking as many miles as we could and getting back to Cascade Locks for Trail days. Unfortunately we had to settle on hiking southbound out of Cascade Locks, the lowest point on the PCT. This means we are making this section as hard as it could possibly be. We really wanted to avoid doing this but it just made the most sense. To be honest I have felt so thrown off my game and frustrated by all these logistics. I think next time I might just suck it up and hike on a road near the fires to continue North and not worry about driving in a car so much. The whole point of thru hiking is to get to hike long distances without having to worry about traveling outside of foot travel. It’s the simplicity of it that I really miss. Ultimately I am thankful to be hiking out here at all and I keep reminding myself of that.
We ended up staying at Cascade Locks for the night, camping at the PCT area in the park. We are at the Brewery and ran into Galleleio. It was great to see him again and know he will be hiking back south from trout lake for trail days!
Today everything was soaking wet when I woke up. Meadows usually produce a lot of condensation over night so I wasn’t surprised. I was also very cold for the first time in a long time this morning. I quickly packed up my things and started walking fast because I was so cold. The day started with a downhill and I stopped to eat breakfast at a gushing creek with clear water around five miles in to the day. Right after, I got a little lost in a bunch of blown down trees that covered the trail. I eventually found the trail again. At the bottom of the valley was a cascading creek. It was gushing full force and I walked up and down it looking for a place to cross. Not only did it look like I was going to get my feet wet but also there weren’t a lot of safe looking spots. After ten minutes of analysing the best decision, I jumped across as far as I could into water on a bunch of loose rocks. I was soaking wet but glad I didn’t twist my ankle. It was risky but there wasn’t really any other good choices. I kept going wondering if my friends were behind or ahead of me since I was lost off the trail for a minute and took so long to get across the creek. I took a bunch of breaks to wait on them but they never caught up. I kept going to the top of Piper Pass. It was really pretty as I made my way back down into the next valley. I had a great view of Surprise Mountain and all the lakes around it. The day was warming up but large clouds were still hanging low over the mountains. I thought it was pretty. Diva caught up to me when I was taking a snack break. She told me she fell into the creek I took forever to cross this morning. We hiked together almost the rest of day and found Midnight about 15 miles from camp. We all took a break together and dried out our wet tents and sleeping bags in the sun that finally decided to come out. 10 more miles to the road at Stevens Pass.
I took a break at a lake four miles from Stevens Pass. Then I walked through the ski area and down to the lodge where I met Midnight and Diva at the Pub along with Danielle who came to drive us to Olympia! Danielle is Diva’s best friend from High School and we met her at White’s Pass as well. I was really thankful that she was able to help us with the crazy logistics. We drove to Olympia stopping at her bus where she lives in Tacoma on the way. It was such a late night and I was so exhausted from waking up at 5am, hiking a marathon, and then doing a ton of town chores and traveling at night. My feet were swollen really bad. I think it was from sitting in the car for so long. Our room was gifted to us by Camelback Santa from the Appalachian Trail. Diva has stayed in good contact with him. I was so thankful for the gift! It was such a nice room and I felt so exhausted. I was glad to have somewhere super comfortable to spend the night. I fell asleep quickly once I had most of my chores done.
This morning I started hiking by 5:15am. The day started with a downhill and amazing views of the Cascades. I saw Midnight around mile five at a really nice waterfall. I stopped to eat breakfast and filter some water before continuing down to the bottom of the valley. Next we had a big long climb back up to another Ridgeline. At the top we all stopped to take a break with an awesome view of all the surrounding snowy mountains. We passed quite a few section hikers on our way up the climb. A group of maybe ten people or so. After some snacks we continued on and went straight back down to another valley where we took a break by the Walput River. Here I was rolling out my feet with my cork ball when it rolled into a hole near the bridge. I was really upset to lose it. I looked for it with my headlamp and trekking poles with no luck. I guess I’ll be massaging my feet by hand now!
We ended the day with another really big climb up to deep lake and then the top of Cathedral Pass. A mile from camp, I ran into three people I knew from the CDT last year. Frisbee, Stubb’s, and Star Lord were all going sobo and we stopped to chat on the side of the trail for a while. It was great to catch up with them and a total surprise to see them! I pitched my tent in a meadow next to Diva for the night. I was tried. It was the second hard day in a row!
This morning I still woke up early at our hotel. I’m so glad I got a bed last night. My sleeping.psd has been deflating within two hours every night and I keep waking up to blow it up in the middle of the night because the ground feels so uncomfortable. I took the time to find some more holes in it using the bathtub and patched them with tenacious tape. Maybe it’ll work! This morning I did all my town chores I didn’t do last night including laundry, sorting through and packing my resupply from my friends Teresa and Nate, back flushing my filter, and uploading blog posts. Teresa and Nate sent me one of the best resupply boxes I’ve ever gotten once again. It was the perfect variety of foods and lots of snacks from trader Joe’s. I’m so thankful and excited to eat this section! I definitely will not be running out of food this time!
We left the hotel at check out time to get back on trail. We didn’t want to waste any of the time we got there at all! It was 11am when we were walking down the road back to the trail. I knew today was going to be hard. We had 5k feet to climb over 15 miles. In Oregon we weren’t even getting that vert over 35 miles. Crazy! The climb was long and slow. I hiked with Trail Diva and Midnight and got to talk to my mom and Pop Rocks on the phone. I also read the itinerary for Trail Days to get everyone excited about it! We took a break at a lake at the top. It was gorgeous. After the lake, the trail continued to go up. It went on some of the coolest ridges and over lots of screw that made my feet hurt and me hike slower. We ended up camping 15 miles out of town Because we were so exhausted. I was glad to be done at 7pm.
Last night it rained for about 20 minutes. Honestly it was nice because it hasn’t rained on me in so long. I slept in this morning and didn’t start getting ready until around 5:30am. I slowly packed up my things and got on the trail around 6am before both Trail Diva and Midnight. The skies were overcast and gloomy. I was excited about it. I walked through a burned forest for quite a long time today. All the mountains surrounding me were covered in dead timber. It seemed like quite a massive burn from several years ago. There was lots of grass and flowers growing in it and occasionally some still live conifer trees in patches. I stopped to eat a 660 calorie cranberry oat cookie for Breakfast. Midnight caught up to me here and we hiked together for a little bit before the water source at mile 7. She told me that I had the only foot prints on the trail this morning since the rain last night and there were fresh cat tracks following the before they veered off. It creeped me out. I haven’t thought about cats since the desert.
At the water source I ate some snacks before hiking on to the cabin I was looking forward to. It sprinkled a bit of rain on and off the whole way but not enough to make me get out my rain coat or anything. The cabin was big and I sat on the front porch taking a break. It overlooked a large meadow. The cabin is owned by the forest service and snow mobiling club and is free to use. I was so thankful for it! I stayed there for over an hour hanging out with Trail Diva and Midnight. Eventually I left at 1pm excited to only have 12 miles left to camp. I was so excited to get there early today! On the way I stopped at a water source for a half an hour and then continued on. I ate about 8 red huckle berries I found. We have been walking by so many but none of them have been ripe yet. Within 30 minutes, my stomach was hurting so bad. This happened to me a few times on the CDT too. I was hoping my stomach was a lot stronger this time then it used to be. Turns out it’s not. I was in so much pain for about a mile before I had to sit down and take a break. I felt like I was going to throw up. I ate half a bagel with some peanut butter and eventually the feeling passed. I think it’s because the berries were so tart and acidic. I can have a really weak stomach ever since I got sick last summer.
I hiked on uphill listening to my favorite podcast: backpacker radio. I got some cell service so I stopped a few times to chat with my friends. Downhill to camp and I found that the four person tentsite we were aiming for already had four people in it. I sat and waited on my friends to see what they would want to do. We could squeeze but it wasn’t ideal at all. I looked ahead on the map tomorrow and found a good site to aim for. I was going to tell them a good plan when they showed up. Trail Diva was happy to set up camp despite having a sloped spot. I was so happy to be at camp before 7pm today! I fell asleep incredibly early tonight. I woke up at 9pm thinking it was time to leave for the next day already. When I realized what time it was I fell back to sleep.
Today I woke up pretty early. I woke up on and off throughout the night thinking it was time to leave already. It was weird and I had some strange dreams. I left camp at 5:50am before anyone else. I hiked downhill for a mile and a half before running into Trash Panda who I was surprised to see up so early. Normally he sleeps in. Before I ran into him I was pushing spider webs out of the way off the trail. Being the first person down the trail in the morning usually results in this. I had my trekking poles in front of my face sometimes to prevent the webs from getting on me. I didn’t want to run into any big spiders. I did see a pretty big one suspended in the middle of the air. I would have ran straight into it if I wasn’t paying attention. They creep me out.
I got water a little over four miles from camp. I had to take a 0.2 mile side trail to a stream to get it. I passed Midnight on my way back to the trail. Trash Panda and I hiked together for the morning. It was nice to have the company of someone new for once. Especially to take my mind off of how hungry and weak I felt going up some of the steeper climbs. I feel like I haven’t been able to eat enough for the past two days. I am short on food and have been trying to ration but it’s been so hard when I feel absolutely ravenous. I decided to assess my food situation at the next water stop. My stomach was already growling and I couldn’t help but stop to pull out a trail mix. My pack felt really light and my food bag empty for how much walking I still needed to do today. At the water source 11 miles in to the day, I realized I had almost no food left. One couscous meal with ghee, a handful of peanuts, and a handful of chips. Definitely not even close to enough for the next 20 miles. Shit.
Midnight showed up and asked how I was doing on my food levels. I told her I screwed up and didn’t have close to enough. She told me she was in the exact same boat. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever messed up a food carry this drastically before. I think I am totally underestimating how much food I need to eat now. I haven’t had a normal menstrual cycle since the first month that I started this trail. I have been feeling pretty low every and depleted since Mile 400 which is bizarre for me. The last month has been one of the hardest to over come fatigue. Definitely all signs I’m somehow not eating enough. I felt like such an idiot for screwing up this bad on my food. At this point I know I can’t afford to under eat for the rest of this trail. Lately I have been feeling so burnt out physically. I mentally don’t want this trail to be over but I am so tired of feeling dreadfully fatigued every day now. I just want this feeling to go away but I don’t think it will until I finish this trail. I want to take an entire week to rest my body and not hike. I was originally thinking about continuing to hike into the late fall like I did last year but the closer I get to the end of this trail the more I question how much I really want to do that.
Midnight and I talked about taking an alternate route we both individually found on Guthook from Stampede Pass in four miles. We were both bummed about missing out on camping at a cool lake we were looking forward to if we did this. We also both felt so hungry and screwed to not have enough food. We really hoped there would possibly be trail magic at this road crossing. We decided to make the decision on what to do when we got there. Trail Diva had enough food but she was totally down to take an easier route and get to town quicker. At the pass we decided to do just that and Midnight and I ate the rest of our food knowing the next 15 or so miles would be challenging. We walked the first three miles all downhill on a gravel road. My best friend Teresa called me and I was so stoked to get to talk to her for an hour. We don’t get to talk too much because I never have cell service and she is incredibly busy with graduate school and work. It made the time fly by. After the road, we turned onto a gravel bike path that essentially functioned as a road for a few utility cars we saw. The trail followed a large lake and Interstate 90 was on the other side. We passed by a signed “backcountry campground” with a picnic table, tent pads, and a pit toilet that even had hand sanitizer. I was absolutely stunned by the amenities. How nice! I wish we could camp there. We took a break. I pretended not to notice how hungry I was. Thankfully the trail was totally flat. I saw signs for Snoqualmie Tunnel and got excited that we might get to see something cool. Some bike packers with paniers passed us. It seemed like we were on a long distance biking trail. Eventually we ended up at Hyak TrailHead. This is where I found the nicest trailside bathroom ever. It has flush toilets, mirrors, outlets, and heated showers for $1.75 for 7.5 minutes. The cheapest shower on the trail! I was blown away. I just paid $10 to take a cold shower at Whites Pass a few days ago. From the Hyak TrailHead I could route us using Google maps to the Chevron at Snoqualmie Pass in walking distance on the PCT. It didn’t go through Snoqualmie Tunnel but I found it was close by on the map and wanted to go check it out. I figured we could do a short bushwhack up to the road we needed to be on once we got to the other side of the tunnel.
The tunnel was tall, dark, and creepy. Mist was rolling out of it and it was dank and cold. A really cool gate was open at the entrance. It said the tunnel is closed November to May. It looked like we were walking into something from Harry Potter. The inside reminded me of the Chamber of Secrets. It was wild how big the tunnel was. The ceiling was so tall and looked like it had long thin stalagtites on it. I could tell it was an old rail road tunnel. We kept walking into the dark eventually turning on our head lamps. We were so creeped out and it just kept going on and on. Eventually I realized this tunnel might not end for a long time. Crazy enough I actually had cell service in the tunnel. I googled how long it was. Well over two miles. Wild! I couldn’t find where it came out but it didn’t seem like it was going near where we needed to go. We turned around and it felt like a long walk back out. I couldn’t believe how far we walked in before turning around. Probably almost a half mile. Once again I was so glad for my awesome high power headlamp. Once out of the tunnel we bushwhacked up a steep hill to the road and walked three pavement miles into town. My feet were killing me and my stomach was too. I needed to eat so bad. When we got there I went straight to the Chevron to pick up my new shoes and a package that my friend Teresa sent me. I told her I needed three days of food and she sent me a box that weighed almost 12 lbs. Well at least I will definitely not run out of food this time! I was glad. The post office lady had a really hard time finding my box. I was so stressed until we found it.
Afterwards I went to find Midnight and Trail Diva at a restaurant across the street. My arms felt so weak carrying the boxes. I felt like I was going to fall over in exhaustion and I could feel my muscles wasting away. Dramatic but true. I could barely function to plug in my electronics. Trail Diva and Midnight we’re laughing at me. They helped me order a beet salad and a falafel wrap with chips for dinner. We also all had frozen Palomas. I thought I would be instantly drunk from it since I had such an empty stomach and I am an extreme light weight when it comes to drinking. It turns out I was already so energy depleted the alcohol didn’t change too much. I could barely function as it was. I ravenously ate two whole meals within 30 minutes. Absolutely everything was gone from my plate. It was some of the best food I had on trail. It was also the most expensive meal I ate on trail. $70 after tip! Insane for me to treat myself to something like that but it was so great and I didn’t really have too many other choices. The waitress was really rude which sucked but I was just glad to be in town. I couldn’t believe her walking around yelling at people to get out after we spent so much money on the meal. The other guests were a bit shocked and I 100% would have been fired for doing that at any of my last jobs. Wow.
We were going to stay in bunks at the Washington Alpine Club but we decided to get a hotel across the street. Both Midnight and I were feeling crazy tired after not having much to eat today and then stuffing ourselves for the last hour. She ended up getting the hotel room for all of us herself which was incredibly nice! We were all so glad to have a private room to sleep in a bed instead of a noisy hostel. As much as I would love to be around other hikers, I needed a night to chill out and recover with way less chaos. The hotel had a hot tub and it was amazing. It wasn’t very hot but we had a nice time relaxing before taking showers and going to bed. I had such a fun day hiking the alt with Midnight and Trail Diva. It definitely was not how I expected the day to go at all. I was so stoked on finding such a cool tunnel off of the PCT. I told so many other hikers about it who were interested. I also wrote up detailed instructions on the route and made a link to a map using Gaia. I had so much fun doing this and was so proud of myself for making it. I want to do more of this in the future or make up and hike unique routes for fun one day! Before we fell asleep Trail Diva and I somehow found the energy to talk to our friend Flamingo from the AT on speaker phone. It was great to catch up and I couldn’t believe he answered us when it was so late on the East Coast! Today was was of my favorite days on the trail.
This morning I left camp at 4:30am. I didn’t sleep well at all last night and when I was awake at 4am I figured I might as well start hiking. We planned to do a long day today since there is a small fire near Chinook Pass we wanted to get around before it gets worse. We also only hiked 17 miles yesterday so we need to make up some more miles to keep our average around 25 miles a day. We are trying to make it to Stehekin by the 18th so Trail Diva’s boyfriend Kurt can pick us up to go to Trail Days in Cascade Locks. The forest was almost silent in the dark. It was kind of creepy. I’m so glad I got a new head lamp after hiking out from the fire in the dark last week. It has so many different lights and a really bright setting. It makes me happy just to use it. I scared off a large animal next to me at one point. I think it was an elk because I could hear hooves hitting the ground and it sounded heavy. In the first hour I hiked 3.8 miles. I was so motivated.
I passed by a lot of people sleeping in tents and crossed quite a few rushing streams and a small river. I didn’t stop until I was 11 miles in for the day at the Mount Rainier National Park border. I sat down for about 25 minutes in a cloud of mosquitoes while I ate a bagel with cream cheese and had a tiny bit of cell service. I just wanted to stop and wait on Trail Diva and Midnight who left after me. I also wanted to stretch and roll out my feet so they didn’t hurt me today. They have been feeling so much better lately with doing lower mileage. After I saw Midnight I started to get up and start hiking again. I was tired of sitting in a cloud of mosquitoes and knew she wouldn’t want to sit there either. I saw a black bear. It was running up the hill away from me. So much wild life today!
After my break, I got some awesome views of Ranier for the rest of the day. It looked like I could see the glaciers on it melting. I would really like to climb it in the next ten years or so as long as it’s not crazy scary. I know it’s super technical and I don’t have the skills needed to do it. I have no idea if that goal will ever happen or not but the mountain sure looks epic! I stopped again for a quick snack break and to rest my feet. Once again there were mosquitoes but not as bad as earlier. I hiked the list five miles down to Chinook Pass with Trail Diva. We passed a very large gorgeous lake with some llamas grazing near it. They were leashed to the ground. We also started passing tons of day hikers. A mile before the road I saw the most perfect blue lake to get in. There were tons of kids swimming in it. The bottom was purely sand and it made me feel so comfortable in it. Water freaks me out a lot sometimes. I was so glad I took the opportunity for a quick dip. It was getting hot outside. I checked the time and my map, we hiked 20 miles before noon. We blasted down the the parking lot to take our break. I needed to use the restroom and didn’t want to dig a hole. I love when there are out toilets at trailheads. We sat around in the busy parking lot for over two hours hoping someone would come over and give us a cold drink. With no luck I decided to hike on two more miles to the next lake. I took a swim in that one too. I can’t believe I got in two lakes in one day!
The rest of the day was mostly up hill and walking along a ridge. I had great cell service so I called my dad for a while. It was absolutely gorgeous out. My feet were really hurting the last five miles to camp. I think it’s because we hiked a long day today. I’m glad we did it but I hope we don’t do that again for a long time. Before camp I got water from a piped spring. It was ice cold and delicious. We had a perfect campsite tucked away into the trees. I was glad to be all set up and ready to go to sleep at 7:30. As soon as I woke up today I felt excited to go to bed. That’s how tired I’ve been feeling.
This morning I left camp at 4:50am. I think it’s the second earliest I have been on the trail hiking on the PCT. The day started with a five mile uphill climb. I was glad to get an early start to the day because I wanted to hang out at Whites Pass for as long as possible. The snowy mountains were so pretty in the morning light behind the trees. I am amazed there is still so much snow here in August. I think a lot of it just melted recently and that’s why the mosquitos are so bad. I took an alternate route that added 0.3 miles to Shoe Lake Because the comments about it spoke so highly of it. It was pretty but idk if it was necessarily worth it.
After the lake I climbed to the top of the pass where I waited for Midnight and Trail Diva. I can always hear them talking from so far away. The view was incredible. We all descended together down to White Pass. Once there I walked 0.5 down the highway to the store called Cracker Barrel.
We ended up hanging out at the Kracker Barrel all night long. It was great. I drank a few beers and an equal amount of Powerade. I bought my resupply and lounged outside behind the building hanging out with Trail Diva’s friend Danielle who drove up just to hang out with us. She was really fun and had her pet cat Stella with her. We also got to charge everything and take showers.
We didn’t end up hiking out until five pm. It was actually pretty hot today for the first time in a while. I think we left at the worst timing for mosquitoes. I hiked the seven miles to camp in just over two hours. The bugs were attacking me the entire time. I had my head net on but kept sweeping multiple of them off my legs at once. I was driving me nuts. I couldn’t wait to get my tent set up and dive in it. I did exactly that when we got to camp at the lake. I smelled a campfire but I didn’t see one anywhere. It turns out someone left the fire ring next to my tent smoldering and unattended. I was so mad because of the risk with wildfire season. There is currently a fire ban as well. I ate a bagel and cream cheese for dinner.
This morning I woke up at 4:30 without an alarm. I noticed that the mosquitos were not out and I got excited. I closed my eyes for fifteen more minutes before packing up as fast as I could. I didn’t want them to come out and attack me first thing in the morning. Only a few did and I killed them all. I was walking down the trail by 5:10am. Since I passed Trail Diva and Midnight last night I was wondering when I would see them today. I booked it the first 13 miles because I really wanted to stop for a long break on top of Cispus Pass. The first pass we have gotten to climb in a while. I only stopped to eat a breakfast of oatmeal, protein powder, and peanut butter. It was a crisp cool morning that felt like fall. I was craving huckleberry pancakes and wished so bad that I could be curled up somewhere eating them. I thought about that all morning until I got to the top of the pass. On my way up I caught an alarming whiff of smoke and hoped I wouldn’t see anything bad over the next ridge. I didn’t. I think it was just ambient in the air from all the fire in Oregon. More and more fires keep popping up all around the trail confirming that we made the right decision to go to Washington right away. If you remember my friend Hummingbird from the CDT, she told me she just got dispatched to a new fire in Oregon recently.
Cispus Pass was gorgeous. The peaks surrounding it had patches of snow and there was green grass, wildflowers, and waterfalls everywhere. I took an hour and a half break at the top. I got out my sleeping bag to dry it and took a cozy nap in the warm sun. I wished my weiner dogs were with me. I also tried to super glue my sunglasses that I broke yesterday since I will be hiking through some snow today and didn’t want to be blinded. I did a poor job. I’ll definitely have to buy another pair in the next town. After an hour and a half I left the top because I had to go to the bathroom and there were no trees or places to dig a hole. I went quickly down hill into the next stunning valley. I crossed a few creeks, one of them I did over a snow bridge. I went really fast because I was scared to bust through the snow. There was also an incredible waterfall I wish I could have spent more time at. I continued on with views of Adams and Ranier. It was an incredible day. When I started going uphill again I felt so exhausted. The rest of Washington is going to be so hard for me. I feel like my body is just falling apart and wants me to be done so badly but I still have to go over 600 more miles! No breaks yet!
I took a break at the junction of Old Snowy peak and the PCT. It was a nice long break in the hot sun. The view was absolutely stunning and I was glad I got to sit there for so long before Diva and Trash Panda showed up. We all hiked the Alternate together up towards the peak. Trash Panda bagged it but I had no desire. It looked sketchy. I made a sign out of rocks in the snow to celebrate hiking 2000 miles on the PCT today! This is the third time I’ve gotten to hike over 2k miles on a singular trail. It’s a big number for sure and my body definitely feels it. I think I feel equally tired as every other time I’ve hit this milestone. After Old Snowy Peak, the trail went on a crazy Ridgeline. It was so cool but definitely made me nervous. Diva and I went slowly. I was following her and just kept getting more anxious because it felt never ending and I just wanted it to be over. There were crazy steep drop offs on either side of us and the footing was loose but stable enough that it was safe. It just took a long time to go two miles. Once we got off the ridge into a valley by a stream, I was so glad. This part reminded me a lot of Colorado and the Continental Divide.
Diva and I hiked the last five miles downhill together to camp with Midnight at the bottom of the valley. She passed us during our last break. Today felt so long and I was so exhausted. The burrito I was so excited to eat for dinner turned out to be moldy and I was so sad. I was out 660 calories and had to carry around 10 oz of food I couldn’t eat. That’s a lot! On the hike down I had to get out my peanut butter jar and eat it by the spoonful because I got so hungry. We got to camp at 7pm and I was so glad to be done early for once.
Today I barely made it on the shuttle back to trail in time. I opened my eyes at 7am. Thirty minutes before it left. I packed up my things quickly, back flushed my filter, and got a breakfast burrito and juice from the store. I was throwing everything in my pack as fast as I could and then I ran over to the vehicle. The town of Trout Lake has volunteers who drove hikers to and from the trail on a schedule. It is pretty nice to be able to count on it! I gave my driver Doug some gas money when I got out of the car. Before I got back on trail I got to talk to “Blue” who was getting picked up to go into town.
The trail entered Mount Adams Wilderness. I could see the massive glaciated peak from the car on the way up and I got a few sneak peaks of it the last few days. It looks incredible. I stopped to delayer my clothes and all my friends passed me. Turns out I wouldn’t see them again until the end of the day. I got my permit checked for the first time today by a forest service ranger. He told me you need a permit to be in the Mount Adams and Goat Rocks Wilderness. Good to know. I took my first break seven miles in at the top of the climb. I ate blue cheese and crackers and enjoyed the views of all the volcanoes around me including Ranier, Adams, Hood, and St. Helens. It was incredible. Giggles and Nugget stopped at the view and took a break with me. It was nice to chat with people. I really like them!
I continued on through a burn zone of years past. There were tons of meadows with rainbows of flowers. It was so pretty and one of my favorite days on the trail. The creeks were a bit silty and grey colored. I read on my map that it is because they are glacial run off. Today looked just like a post card and I took so many pictures. I listened to backpacker radio and music to keep my mind occupied. I kept hoping to see my friends at some of the water sources but turns out they didn’t wait for me. The mosquitos were bad after the first ten miles but especially the last ten miles of the day. On one of my breaks I put on my pants and bug net. They swarmed all around me but I needed to sit down.
At mile 20 I made it to Lava Spring. It was one of the coolest water sources I’ve ever seen. It was a gushing spring coming out of volcanic rock. Someone built a rock retaining wall around it. I took the opportunity to soak my feet in the cold water. I couldn’t keep them in for long but it definitely helped! I was really bummed to not see my friends here because it was still early in the day and I know that Trail Diva loves springs like this. I really hoped they didn’t go too much farther because I didn’t want to hike a long day out of town. After Lava Spring I got attacked by bugs for the rest of the night. Every tent site I passed was empty. Eventually I was going to give up on catching up to Midnight and Trail Diva. It was 7:30 and I wanted to set up camp. At the campsite 27 miles in the only two spots were taken. I was upset just because I felt so tired and didn’t want to keep going. I stopped to get water but walked as I filtered it because the bugs were so bad and I just wanted to get to camp. I finally found them at the next campsite 29 miles into the day. There were no tent sites for me. They know I don’t want to hike more than 30 miles in Washington so I was surprised they went this far out of town. Trail Diva said she tried to wait on me but the bugs were too bad. Unfortunately I had to keep hiking. I was so done with today. I hiked one more mile to a spot that seemed promising with a good view and service. Both were mediocre. I camped with Trash Panda. I think I must have set my tent up on a mosquito nest because they were the worst they had been all day. I threw my pack into my tent and got in with my shoes on. I zipped the doors shut as fast as possible because they were swarming all over. I made a protein shake and wrote my blog before going to sleep.
Today I woke up at 4am without an alarm for the first time in over a month I’d guess. That means I slept well and finally got enough rest to wake up this early naturally. I was stoked. Since I was still sleepy and in no rush to get to town today, I stayed in my bag until 5am. Last night I was shivering before I went to bed but it wasn’t too cold this morning. I think it will be time to pick my cold weather gear back up soon. For breakfast I made a protein shake with granola in it. I thought it was delicious for the last two days but for some reason I found it revolting this morning and made myself choke it down before leaving camp. The air was filled with a thick fog and everything was partially wet. I didn’t mind it. No fire danger today! It also made me reminiscent of the AT. I hiked the first ten miles alone. For some reason they were going by so slow despite being really easy. I realized my feet weren’t hurting as bad as they have been lately. A victory! I hope the lower mileage and longer recovery times help me heal my feet by the end of this trail. I was not too hopeful my feet would remain this way but at least it was a nice morning! I passed by several foggy lakes and it reminded me of Maine. The air smelled like fresh pine needles.
I took a long break 10 miles in at a nice picnic table. I stretched, ate, and rolled out my feet with my cork ball before continuing. I met up with Trail Diva and Midnight at Mosquito Creek. No Mosquitoes for once. After another short break and getting more water, we were on our way again. The shuttle to Trout Lake didn’t come until 4pm and we were way ahead of schedule. We just figured we would hitch if we got there early.
The rest of the miles went by so fast. A quick break at Trout Creek and we were on our way up the climb to paved forest road 23. The sun came out and dried off my puffy jacket and the air got warmer. It was a beautiful day. At the road, we ran into three other people trying to hitch. Soon there were fifteen hikers waiting at the road. All of us got there before the shuttle. The road wasn’t busy but the cars that did come just passed us. Eventually a trail runner emerged from the North Side of the road and gave Trail Diva, Midnight, Giggles, Nugget, and myself a ride into town. I was thankful! He hiked a lot of the PCT last year before getting off because of an injury. He dropped us off at the Cafe 30 minutes later. I ordered a huckleberry shake, a huckleberry mimosa, and a Ruben with Fries. The service was fast and the food was great. I’m so happy to be somewhere we’re huckleberry everything is back on the menu. Reminds me of Montana.
After fueling up at the Cafe, we went to the general store where I resupplied and hung out. I got a shower at the park and pitched my tent at 8pm per the rules. There were about 20 other hikers here. I was glad to have a chill evening and planned to get on trail at 8am tomorrow. I stayed up late catching up on the last few days of blog posts since I haven’t had time to write on the trail. I wanted to be completely caught up so I don’t have to stress about it too much in the next section.
Today I woke up at 5am to Midnight packing up her Hammock. I lazily packed up all my things since I’m used to cowboy camping and I wasn’t motivated to pack up my tent. I was the last one down the trail today. The morning was gorgeous. The trail was still heavily lined with all the ferns I’ve been loving. I kept my eyes out for berries. I’ve been seeing so many different kinds lately! These include: huckleberries, blackberries, black raspberries, and salmon berries. The morning felt foggy and slow. I took my first break next to Wind River near a bridge with Trail Diva. I wondered if it was the same Wind River that runs to Wyoming. Midnight passed by us and we continued on. I got a mini Dr. pepper at a road side trail magic and it was a boost I needed for the day. We met up with Midnight at a campground next to a road where we planned to take an alternate that Midnight found with a cool water fall. I was a little hesitant since it involved so much road walking. It did cut off six miles of the trail but I justified it with the six miles I hiked SOBO to avoid the Windigo fire a couple of days ago. The road was pavement for eight miles. I feel like one mile on the pavement is like two miles on a trail especially when my feet already hurt. We ran into a guy named Trash Panda. It’s his 27th birthday today! We convinced him to go to the water fall with us. The first four miles of the road went by fast because I was excited to see the water fall. Panther Falls was absolutely amazing and one of the coolest water falls I’ve ever seen. Totally worth the painful roadwalk. We climbed all the way down a very steep social trail to the bottom of the falls where we hid from the sun in the cool most for over an hour. I caught up on some writing and took lots of pictures. I was so happy that Midnight found the detour.
After Panther Falls the remaining six miles of road felt painful, especially the last two in direct sunlight. I was miserable and picked up my pace just to get it over with so I could sit down and take a break at the trail junction. I sat there for at least 45 minutes rubbing my feet before continuing on. The day ended with a climb up to Blue Lake. I got some cell service on the way so I stopped to upload some posts and then continued. At camp, I pitched my tent immediately because the mosquitos were out and hungry for my blood. The lake was pretty and I wanted to sit by it but there was no way I was going to get out of my tent so the evil bugs could have a feast. It was another early night and I was happy.
This morning I woke up at the Cascade Locks Park in my cowboy camp. I was too tired to pitch my tent last night despite sleeping in town. Usually I prefer to have some privacy when sleeping in public. It was a cool night. The first cool night on the trail in a long time. We took our time packing up in the morning and saying goodbye to Rigo. I’m so thankful he drove us all the way here from Bend! Midnight, Trail Diva, and myself all left the campground together. We walked down the street of the town called Cascade Locks. I remember going on vacation and visiting this place when I was 18. I had no idea the PCT went through here. I recognized an ice cream shop I ate at then. We stopped for coffee at a local place and I noticed a PCT monument across the street. It looked just like the one at the Northern Terminus. We made our way up to the toll bridge called “Bridge of the Gods” it is called this because it is believed that an ancient rock bridge spanned the Columbia River here. It is hard to imagine a rock formation that existing. Luckily it is free for pedestrians to walk across the bridge. There is no sidewalk but the toll guard was very nice in letting us through. It made me feel safer about walking across knowing that people do it all the time. Walking across this bridge is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I just thought I would be able to walk all the way here on a continuous footpath. Regardless I am happy we made the decision to flip flop up to Washington. I’m sure it will feel weird for a few days. The bridge was windy and I held on to my hat afraid that it would blow away. The bridge also had holes in it so I could see the river beneath my feet. It was a bit frightening. I was mostly worried about dropping my phone or poles down there. We passed a “Welcome to Washington” sign and it became official. On the other side of the bridge we all got our pictures taken in front of the iconic “Bridge of the Gods” sign. Luckily there wasn’t too much traffic at 8:30 in the morning.
We crossed the road and headed on to the trail. It was a magical wonderland of green ferns and moss everywhere. I was immediately in love with Washington. It felt wet too. Like I wasn’t in danger of fire. I was sweating like crazy. It is way more humid here than anywhere else on the trail. Cascade Locks is the lowest point on the PCT at 77 feet above sea level. As you can imagine the climb out was a big one. Despite the double zero my feet still hurt but I didn’t feel the extreme fatigue I’ve been having the last two weeks. I needed those two days off so bad. It really helped me get out of the funk I was in. I told myself I didn’t want to hike any more 30 mile days unless it was in Oregon. Washington is time to slow down and enjoy myself a little more. To take longer breaks and get to camp early. To see all the scenic things and hang out with my friends. I’m so glad Trail Diva, Midnight, and I all decided to do this together. Even though it was a big climb I was so distracted by how pretty everything was and the trail felt easy. At the first break I filtered some water and made a little pizza for lunch with a Boboli crust, tomato paste, and pepperoni. It was good but acidic and greasy.
I continued climbing and then stopped at the top where I could see a view of Hood and Adams peaking through the trees. My shirt was drenched in sweat. We all took our evening break together at Rock Creek and it was amazing. There were lots of SOBOs there, the most I have seen at once. I ate dinner and relaxed for about an hour. The perfect amount of time. I chatted with the SOBOs and confirmed that we didn’t have any snow ahead to worry about. After dinner we climbed up to our campsite on a dirt road. On the way I spotted a side trail that went steeply up. It looked like a view at the top. I dropped my pack and climbed up for about ten minutes before I was rewarded with an amazing view. I could see both Hood and Adams at the same time. I cried. I couldn’t believe I was in Washington. The final piece of my wildest dream. I was so glad I took the time to go up there in the evening and check it out. It was the first really nice view I got in Washington and really hit me how close I am to the end of this journey. I think I will cry every day in Washington just like I did in the 100 mile wilderness on the AT. Something about a journeys end is emotional, especially this one because finishing this hike is about way more than just the PCT. It’s about all the hiking I’ve done in the last four years and all the things I’ve sacrificed to get here, even before I set foot on the Appalachian Trail. After taking the time to myself, I hiked one more mile to meet everyone at camp.
It was 8pm and I took my time setting up. I was so happy to have a chill day for once and I’m looking forward to many more days in Washington to be like this. Overall it felt like an easy day. I’m expecting things to get harder I just don’t know when.