I decided it was worth it to get another breakfast in the lobby before I headed out. The room was crowded and noisy, with children running around and the TV blaring. One of the stories was about a huge fire raging in Yosemite. Today, there was no opportunity to make waffles for some reason. While I was eating, I texted my resupply people and learned that they had shipped my canister fuel to the wrong location. I had been having such a hard time getting information on how much I had left of certain items- my socks, especially, and also my canisters of fuel. And even though I had sent out periodic e-mails, asking for certain things to be sent to certain locations, a lot of the directions weren’t being followed. So much of my energy had been spent on worrying about what I would have to get me through each remaining stretch. Now, I was going to have to carry double the weight in fuel and not know if I had enough to get to the end of the trail.
I headed back to my room for the final packing. Unfortunately, my hat was still very damp. There wasn’t anything I could do about it now. Ever since I had arrived in Cascade Locks, I had been a bit worried about there being someone around to take my picture as I crossed over the bridge into Washington. Now it was time to head out and see.
As I crossed the street, two backpackers appeared right in front of me! Wow! I didn’t have to worry anymore! The road curved as we headed towards the stairs and someone driving by asked if we were hiking the PCT. The two boys did not answer, but I said yes. He said they were doing trail magic. Feeling the need to get off the road, he said he would be up by the restrooms. I didn’t know what to do now that I felt they were expecting me. I didn’t need any food, as I had just eaten. I just wanted to climb the steps and get to the bridge! I cut up the grassy hill and found the couple standing outside of the pick up truck. They understood that I had just eaten, but wanted to offer me something anyway. I said that the only thing I really needed now was someone to take my picture on the bridge. The husband volunteered to walk with me while his wife drove the truck across.
As we walked past the toll collector, she told the man that he would have to pay, but that I was all set. Only thru-hikers get to walk across for free. When he explained that he was only going to take my picture and then drive across with his wife, she allowed him access.
I had wanted to do a special pose in this significant place, but when the moment came, I did not feel comfortable, and felt rushed to stay out of the way of traffic. The wind coming up through the grate was also blowing my skirt up! I let my hope about that picture go.
The man said goodbye and I started my walk across the bridge. I felt so happy! The Columbia river was gorgeous and everything felt fine and hopeful in those few minutes.
As I reached the other side of the bridge, I saw the Welcome to Washington sign! No one was around who was willing to take my picture there, however.
I did see the couple further down the road and when I got there, I chatted with the wife for a few minutes. She told me how impressed she was by me and that I was the first girl thru-hiker that she had seen! “Really?”. She said that going it alone is an achievement in itself, but that I am also at the front of the pack! She said they have only seen guys so far!
She told me her husband was putting out some treats a little way into the trail and then they would drive about twenty miles to set up a barbecue for the thru-hikers. We talked about how tired I was and how I thought the open views in Washington would give me energy, just like I had felt walking across the bridge. She then told me that, actually, Washington was very forested. “Oh…”. Her husband came back and took a picture of his wife and I, and then I headed out to the trail.
I found the box of apples and power bars that he had just put out and decided to take an apple.
Soon after, I reached a trail sign with a ziplock baggie of individually wrapped ghiradelli brownies for PCT hikers, welcoming us to Washington! Wow! This was a nice state!
I headed into the woods and soon passed by the two male hikers who were just starting their trip. The couple who were doing trail magic advised me not to carry so much water. They told me I would come across a large pond a few miles in where I could fill up, but it turned out to be a fair distance from the trail.
Blackberry bushes lined the trail and I stopped occasionally to eat a few. I headed away from Cascade Locks and the activity on the river and continued to climb into the mountains. At one point, I looked down to see a somewhat startling sight. A huge, green slug that looked like it could only be from a world of imagination inched across the trail! I had never seen or heard of anything like it!
Later, I encountered a group of people headed south. I almost thought the leader was a southbound hiker before realizing that his pack was way too big for that to be possible. He warned me about a wasp’s nest on the trail around mile 2182 or 83. He said that someone had placed a note on the ground near it but advised me not to stop and read it, or I would get stung! He said that if I had pants, I should put them on, as they went right for the ankles, and to just run through that part as fast as I could!
I continued the climb and looked out over the pretty Columbia river for what was likely the last time. I couldn’t believe that I was now in Washington!
Further on, I passed by a bulletin board and saw a note left by Band Leader, wondering when he was going to run into Puma again. I knew by the date that I was not going to be able to catch up to him.
A little later, at a place where the trail diverged and I wanted to be sure I was following the correct path, Muppets and Stilts appeared. They told me that Wildcat and Baxter had chosen to take the road walk, which cut off twenty something miles of trail!
As I walked, it was hard to get some bad feelings out of my head. While I was in Cascade Locks, I discovered that after my doctor friend had sent me that message, that she had also unfriended me! She really was burning the bridge and offering me no chance to respond. I also discovered that my friend from the AT who had visited me early on in the hike had unfriended me. I couldn’t believe it. He did something and then wanted to get rid of me? Underneath it all, I know it is about them being unable to deal with their own actions. I also had the unkind words of my resupply people in my head. I wish people could know the power of the words they choose and take a moment to phrase whatever they have to say in a kind manner, at the very least.
I ate my banana that I had taken from breakfast near the top of the climb. My goal for the evening was to make it to Rock Creek. I trudged onward, growing more and more tired the longer I hiked.
The sunlight began to disappear. I finally reached the creek only to find two tents set up. I walked by, wondering if there were other open spaces, but saw nothing. I knew there was a second creek less than half a mile away and hoped there would be a camping spot there. Unfortunately, there was not. The growth along the trail in Washington was even thicker than that of Oregon! I learned that finding a spot to camp was going to take more planning than it had before. I stopped to rest my shoulders and regroup. The light was diminishing and I felt very unsure about finding a place to sleep.
I headed on and stepped over a tiny stream. I hadn’t even stopped to collect water as I felt like finding a spot to camp was a much more pressing problem at this time. By some great fortune, I looked down to see a flat spot in a grove of trees. I was going to be okay! And even better, was that there was water nearby! I grabbed my collecting bags and walked back to fill up on water, then set up my cowboy camp in the dark. It felt slightly eerie, but I had done this many times before and told myself not to worry. As I cooked my dinner, I noticed beetles crawling around the edges of my groundcloth. I wished I had been able to lie down before I saw them! I took out my still wet hat and decided that it would probably dry faster if I wore it. At least, that is what I hoped!