Day 141: Washington is killing me!

Day 141
September 6
mile 2434.5-2456
21.5 miles

I survived the storm. My tent was now covered with sticky, wet dirt, including the zippers, which made me worried they weren’t going to last another minute. And they needed to work for another 235 miles! My groundcloth was equally wet and dirty.
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I strapped the wettest things to the top of my pack and headed down to the Waptus river.
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There, I saw two guys. They were probably the ones that passed by my tent last night during the lightning storm.
I took a short break as the trail continued to descend, and when I got moving again, I found a guy stopped on the trail. He said that he thought I was a bear and was too afraid to move forward, which I thought was funny! His friend was a tiny bit behind him, followed by a third guy who appeared to be in a very bad mood. He stepped aside as I approached, but made no eye contact with me. Not everyone is happy in nature!
When I reached the bridge spanning Spade Creek, I decided to stop for a break. It was easy to collect cold water for my ice coffee. Due to the sounds of the waterfall, I didn’t even hear the next hiker approaching! His name was Mark, and I found out he was hiking with the first two guys I had run into (the grumpy one was not with them). Mark stood before the waterfall, admiring it for awhile, as if he had all the time in the world. Then, he started chatting with me. He finally excused himself as he needed to catch up to his friends.
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It soon started to rain again. I put on my rain layers and covered up my still wet tent, groundcloth, and sleeping pad with my pack cover and headed up the mountain. After five or so miles, I began to get very tired and hungry. I needed to stop and eat something, even though the rain was coming down hard! I found a little bush to the side of the trail and scrunched myself up as much as I could underneath it. It did not offer much protection, but at least it was something.
A short while later, I reached Deep Lake outlet and as I turned to follow the trail to the right, I saw several trail crew workers with their shovels and axes walking towards me. I said to the first guy that I thought the front was supposed to pass through this morning! He said that the forecast had changed. It was now supposed to rain all day today and tomorrow! Great. Another lady asked me how I was doing. I didn’t respond so enthusiastically. I carefully stepped on the laid out rocks to get over the creek and then continued to climb. I still had over 1,000 feet left to get to the top of this pass. Part way up, I passed by a guy huddled underneath a tree, eating something that he had just cooked. I continued on until I reached a more open, rocky area, and then the sun made an appearance! I decided to take the opportunity to spread my groundcloth out to try to dry while I ate another snack. My intestines were still problematic.
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The other hiker passed me by while I was here. Not long after I headed on, I met two nice, happy, confident guys who were headed down to Deep Lake. They asked me where I intended to get to tonight and when I said Deception Lake, which was 10 miles away, they looked at each other and said that was a long way. They also warned me about an “intense” ford coming up and told me to take my time and not fall in! “But you’re a thru-hiker. You’ve got this!”.
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I made it to the top of the pass and found a group of loud guys taking a break. Within several minutes after starting the descent, it started raining once again. I stopped to put back on my rain layers and cover my pack up. Shortly thereafter, I met a man on his way up the mountain who wanted to know how far it was to the top. His friend was struggling behind him and he was trying to decide if he had time to hike to the top, drop his pack, and then go back and carry his friend’s pack up.
A couple miles later, I reached a stream with some rocks laid out to make the crossing easier. I thought this was the “intense” ford that the kids were talking about and was amused. That was no problem! I found the other hiker who had passed by me on my break on the other side. He was pondering about whether or not to camp there for the night. I had just stopped to check the current mileage on my phone and had just shut it off when he asked me if I knew if there were more campsites coming up in the next couple of miles. I turned my phone back on and gave him the information I had. He decided to move on. We saw the other hiker’s friend make his way down. He seemed in very high spirits and didn’t look like he was struggling to me!
I took the lead as we continued the descent. At the bottom, I could hear the sound of rushing water and my stomach got tense. The other guy commented that he wasn’t worried at all about this crossing. I think he changed his mind when we reached the part we actually had to cross! I held back and waited to see what path he took. He boldly scrambled up some big rocks, but then seemed to be stuck. He ended up taking off his boots in the middle of the crossing after slipping down from a rock that he tried jumping onto. I decided to keep my shoes on and just get wet.
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The current was strong and I took my time with each step, as I did not want to slip. The further in I got, the scarier it seemed to be! It kept going and going. “This is crazy!”. I had to walk through a little waterfall at the end. Thankfully, I never slipped, and now that I had finally duct taped my broken pole, I had two secure balance points. The other guy sat on the trail and changed into dry socks. He never looked up at me, so I just headed on. As I walked, I noticed the campsites I had pointed out to him, and assumed he would stay at one of them. I still had six more mostly uphill miles, myself.
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I began to grow more and more tired. Washington was killing me! I was disappointed with my low mileage yesterday, and today, I did not feel like I was making good progress, either. I needed to hike an average of 25 miles a day to reach the border in time to catch my flight!
With three miles to go, and daylight running out, I had to sit down and eat a snack to boost my energy. I met another hiker headed the opposite way shortly after, who was in a good mood.
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When I crossed a tiny stream and looked down the hill to see a campsite, I made the decision to stop early. It would not have been possible for me to make it to Deception Lake before dark and I was absolutely exhausted. I headed down the hill and then looked at the elevation profile for the rest of Washington. All I saw was extreme spikes- lots of big climbs and descents. With my energy gone, I stared at this information in disbelief, hiting my forehead with my palm. How was I going to do this? Just then, I looked up and saw the other hiker walk by. “You’re still hiking!” I called to him. He had thought about stopping five miles ago! He asked me how far it was to the next campsite, thought for a second, and then asked if he could camp with me.
I struggled with my tent set up more than I ever had that night. It was ridiculous! Every time I tried to stake the back of it, the front stake would come flying out and my hiking pole, holding the thing up, would fall over. The other guy had his tent set up in minutes. And I was the thru-hiker? All of the extra minutes I had from stopping early were now gone. He asked if I needed help. I said I could do it, but after struggling some more, I finally agreed to let him help. He thought it was because I was set up on uneven terrain. I collected water from the stream and went back to my tent as it started to rain again. After I got into my sleeping bag, a mouse came running up to the edge of my tent! It’s beady little eyes were glowing in the dark! I then remembered that my guidebook had mentioned that this campsite was full of bold, unafraid mice! I hadn’t planned on camping here, so I had forgotten about that! They continued to dive-bomb my tent near my head as I tried to go to sleep.
A little while later, a huge light lit up the interior of my tent. What was that?! I figured it must have been a night hiker with a very bright headlamp passing by.

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