Day 131: Trout Lake ( “So, what made you decide to walk 2,200 miles?”)

Day 131
August 27
mile 2227.9-2242.8
14.9 miles

I got up at 6:24. It was still raining lightly, but fortunately, everything remained dry in my tent!
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At 7:44, I started walking. I had less than ten miles to get to the road from which I would get into the town of Trout Lake, which was my next resupply point. After stepping over Steamboat Creek, I came across a big bullfrog scrambling up the bank along the trail to get out of harm’s way. He was the biggest frog I had seen on my journey so far!
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I watched him for a couple of minutes and then moved on, heading down to the road. Once I crossed it, I had to pee really badly. I almost couldn’t wait until I got back into the woods, but somehow managed to. As I was peeing, I saw StoryTime heading across the road! Why now?! There was nothing I could do. Actually, I didn’t really care. I was doing what I needed to do. When he saw me, he turned back and waited for me to tell him that I was done. He went on ahead, but in a few minutes, I found him sprawled across the trail. He said that he hadn’t been able to charge his solar panel in the last few days and was going to take full advantage of the spot of sunlight coming through the trees. (Why he couldn’t sit along the trail, instead of right in the middle, I don’t know…). I was very pleasant with him, taking a couple of minutes to chat, and felt very proud of myself afterwards. I had one more climb of just over 1,000 feet ahead of me before the next road from where I would hitch. It was all in the forest. Luckily, the rain had stopped. When I reached the ridge, I decided to take out my iphone and listen to some music to help me with the last few miles. While doing so, I managed to trip. My iphone flung out of my hand, and my body hurled forward. Very slowly, I sat up. Was my body okay? Where was my phone? I wasn’t sure what had gotten hurt and how bad it was if so. Somehow, everything seemed to be okay… It was my second face plant on this hike. I guess one every 1,000 miles isn’t so bad… Hopefully, a third one wasn’t coming!

Right before the road, I found a garbage can with some stray items in it as well as a register left by The Mount Adams Zen Buddhist Temple. There was also an ornamental house with a statue inside, meant to be the “patron of travelers and all beings in hell”. I was very amused at this. I thought Buddhists didn’t believe in hell in the first place, and why were travelers grouped together with beings in hell?
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I headed toward the road and was surprised to see another hiker waiting for a ride! At first, I didn’t recognize him, but then I saw that it was Puma! Yay! I asked him where Tumbleweed was and he said that he was probably 8-10 miles ahead by now. They had separated last night because Tumbleweed was not resupplying in Trout Lake. I asked Puma if he planned to stay the night there and he said he would decide when he got there. I planned on doing the same thing. I could only afford to take one half day at my first four Washington stops and 3/4 of a day at the final one. Puma had been having a hard time hitching here. I mentioned that my guidebook had said that if we walked a mile down the road, we would get reception and could call for a possible ride. Puma wanted to spend another half hour here first. The first car that passed took no notice of us. It was a very low traffic road in the first place. Fortunately, the second one stopped! The woman in the passenger seat asked us where we needed to go. She looked at her husband, who agreed they could take us the 13 miles to town. Puma and I were going to get into the back of the truck, but the woman was worried they would get in trouble. They were pulling a trailer, but she said it was too bumpy to ride in. Finally, she decided to take one of her daughters with her to sit in the trailer and gave Puma and I spots in the truck. We felt bad and told her we would sit in the trailer several times, but she was insistent. We talked about our journey with the father and learned they were returning from their vacation in the mountains. He thought Puma and I were hiking together. I hadn’t seen Puma in awhile, so we caught up on stories such as what had happened to us with the wasp nest. Tumbleweed ended up getting 8 or 9 stings and Puma got three. We pulled into the gas station in front of the restaurant and headed for the store to find our resupply boxes. They were scattered about in no order and it took me awhile to find mine. I was expecting one from John, but could not find it. Then, I headed out to try to get a room at the B and B. I ended up getting permission to walk through someone’s yard, as I got mixed up on how to get there. It turned out that they were all full. Maybe I would just head back to the trail after all. I walked along the road and found the family who had given us a ride still there. The engine light had turned on in the truck and the father was trying to figure out what the problem was. The wife asked me, “So, what made you decide to walk 2,200 miles?”. (I had told her that was how long we had walked so far back at the trailhead.) I smiled and tried to answer her question as best as I could. “What do you learn about yourself on such a long walk?” she then asked. I told her that you learn how incredibly strong you are, for one thing. After hearing about my illness, she offered to drive me to my next stopping point at White Pass, but I told her I wanted to walk the whole thing. She realized that her offer didn’t fit with my statement about my own strength.
I headed to the picnic tables outside of the store and put my pack and boxes down. I didn’t even notice that Puma was also sitting there until several minutes later. When I was about to head into the restaurant to get something to eat, I was startled to see Warner Springs Monty headed towards me. He said that someone had told him that someone named Wendy was sick. He checked my blog and discovered that it was me. He offered to take me to a hospital if I needed it. I went inside and ordered a hamburger and lemonade, which I had planned on eating outside with Puma, but now felt like sequestering myself away… At least I could charge my electronics while I was in here. I was also able to text a bit with Connie, which was nice. Monty came in and asked if I would be ready to head back to the trail soon. I said that I still needed to sort through my resupply and organize everything. Peter Pan had offered to take Puma and I back. Everyone was fine with waiting, so I got a piece of chocolate cake and a coffee for dessert and bought a huckleberry scone to take with me on the trail. As I sorted through my things outside, a nice older couple began chatting with me. The man had been suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s, but was having a good day today. They love visiting Trout Lake and don’t mind making the long drive. Before they left, I got a hug, my picture taken, and a promise to look for my book in their local library (they don’t have the internet!). I told them it was going to take awhile…
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Once I packed up, we got into Peter Pan’s car and headed out, only to turn around when Monty wanted to see if any other hikers were at the store. Finally, we were on our way back to the trail. We stood outside the car for awhile. Monty always has a lot to say… I was antsy to get going, but didn’t want to be rude. At 4:20, I finally peeled myself away and headed back into the woods. A climb of over 2,000 feet was awaiting me.
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After my brief stop in town, I was feeling good and strong. I had loaded up on water like I always do in town, so I didn’t need to take the time to stop and filter water from the creeks. When I reached a sign pointing to a spring at mile 2240.7, I stopped to check it out, just for curiosity. I saw a bucket tied to a tree which was meant to be lowered into a ravine to collect water. However, there didn’t look to be much water! I headed on and soon saw a woman ahead of me, moving very slowly. I said hello to let her know I was there and she let me by. When I heard her accent, I asked where she was from. “Washington,” she said. She wanted to know how far I was planning on hiking tonight and I told her just a couple more miles. We were now in a burn area and she commented that she hadn’t seen any camping spots in a long while. “Oh, I’ve seen lots of them!” I said.
“In the burn area? I wouldn’t camp here,” she replied.
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She mentioned the lack of water at the last spring and that she had planned on collecting water from there. Her guidebook had made it seem as if it was a sure source. Mine did, as well! I told her that I was carrying a lot and offered her some of mine, but she declined. She said she would just have to hike to Sheep Lake. I knew that that would take her into the night…
I discovered that the campsite I was aiming to reach was a huge, open grassy area! I arrived at 6:35, which seemed like a luxury to me. First I needed to take care of my female issue. I headed back into the woods after dropping off my pack. When I returned, I saw the woman in the field. I guess she had decided to stop here, too! I set up my tent, struggling once again. This time, I didn’t think it needed to be extremely taut because I didn’t think it was going to rain. Inger came over and I offered her some of my water again. This time, she accepted. She said it would be useful to boil water for her dinner. Since her dinners were meant for two people, and she was never able to finish them, she offered to share one with me in exchange for the water. We decided on sweet and sour chicken.
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While outside my tent, I noticed some miniature frogs hopping around and was instantly amused. They were the tiniest frogs I had ever seen! I had to take some pictures. I looked up at the sky and noticed the clouds coming in. They weren’t looking so good… I joined Inger in front of her tent and realized that she was the hiker that had waved to me the night before. She had come out here to hike the Washington part of the PCT. She had planned on hiking with a friend, but she had backed out at the last minute. It was probably for the best, as the friend had never backpacked before and got stressed extremely easily. Inger said she wouldn’t have been able to deal with the fact that there was no water at the last source. She talked about a section of the trail in northern Washington that had been washed out due to some heavy storms earlier in the month and it took me awhile to realize that this had happened this year! It was the first I had heard of this situation. She said she had watched a video of a hiker’s sleeping bag roll down the mountain in that section and terrifying accounts of people trying to get through it. There had been a call put out for trail crews to come out and work on it, but she didn’t know the current state of it. A highway near the area had also been shut down! I learned that Inger was originally from Norway and that she owned an independent travel agency.
While we ate, Inger commented on my tent looking like a spaceship and joked that it might fly away during the night. I looked over at it and started laughing. It did look like a spaceship!
The sweet and sour chicken tasted amazing! I was so grateful for a different and pleasant taste, as well as some companionship and laughter!
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