Day 135: Mt. Rainier and an order to break down my tent and move!

Day 135
August 31
mile 2303-2329
26 miles

Of course, I didn’t get up very early… I thought it might be nice to eat breakfast on my little patio, but it was so cold out, that I ate my coffee and yogurt cup inside. I placed my insoles into my new and last pair of shoes, packed everything up, and headed out. Instead of taking the road back to the trail, I took the trail that started behind the motel and wrapped around the pond. As usual, I got a bit lost and headed towards the pond where I came upon some sleeping bags. I retreated back up the hill and took the other path. The sun was beaming brightly and made it hard to see the water.
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I made my way through the wooded path, which eventually intersected the PCT. At the same time, I was also trying to see if someone would be available to pick me up at the airport. I had thought for a long time about the possibilities of people who would do that for me, and came up with essentially no one! I still need to work on bringing more people into my life. I quickly lost reception and returned my focus to the 1,000 foot climb in front of me. The morning hours passed by with little excitement.
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Eight hours later, I reached a ridge top which gave me a nice view of the distant mountains. One of them stood out and I wondered if it was Mt. Rainier.
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Five minutes later, I rounded a bend in the trail and right in front of was the most incredible, unobstructed view of the actual Mt. Rainier.
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My jaw dropped. How could it be right in front of me like this and how had I not been able to see it at all before this? I was stunned. It was so big!
I headed down the ridge, still being able to see this mountain and before long, came across two teenage boys sitting on the side of the trail. One was examining his maps while the other snacked on his bag of trailmix. Neither one of them saw me until I was practically right in front of them. They must have been 15 years old. The one offered me some of his trailmix, which I thought was sweet, and the other asked me if I knew how far away the pond they had planned on camping at was. I did not. “Did you pass by any lakes?”. I had to think. I saw several of them, but none had been along the trail. I told them that they were going to come across a magnificent view of Mt. Rainier soon, though. I received a half, dis-interested smile and then realized they had probably already seen many views of it.
I walked on for a few minutes and suddenly, my hipbelt buckle snapped open. This had happened a few times before. I cinched it back together and continued walking. It popped open again after just a few seconds. What was going on? Was there a pebble or something it in that was preventing it from closing properly? No, it looked fine. Again, I walked, and again, it popped open. For the next 10 minutes, I was continually frustrated. If this thing was broken, there was no way I could hike the last 360 miles like this, and I had no clue how I could fix this problem. I continued to struggle with it for awhile, and then, for some reason, it stayed fastened for the remaining miles of the day.
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My goal was to make it to the tent site that my app had listed at Dewey lake. The sunlight had now diminished and I was very tired. I had already walked over 25 miles.
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When I reached the site, I found a tent already set up there. I was going to have to keep moving, not knowing what I would find. I began to hear the noise of children running around and soon came upon a large group of campers. It was Labor Day weekend and lots of people were out here! I continued on, searching both sides of the trail. I went up to investigate a possible place on a small hill, which didn’t turn out to be suitable and saw several llamas in the field below.
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I moved on, coming across a tent set up in a space that would have fit me, as well. I considered asking the person inside if I could camp there, too, but did not. Instead, I moved forward. Everywhere, I looked, people were occupying all of the possible places! Then, I noticed a flat spot near a pond. I decided it would work. I went about setting up my tent, hoping that if a ranger was checking on people, that he would have already made his rounds. I finally got everything spread out and set up inside my tent, and now the only thing I had to do was cook my dinner.
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I breathed a sigh of relief. I was exhausted. Just then, I heard footsteps approaching. Oh, no. “Hello? Are you a thru-hiker?”
“Yes.” My heart sank. Maybe, just maybe he would let this slide, since I had just put in a 26 mile day and would be up and out of here in the morning.
“You know you aren’t allowed to camp within 200 feet of the water.”
“So, I have to move?”.
This was the worst situation possible. I had just endured a huge amount of stress finding a place to camp before nightfall and had spent my last remnants of energy setting up my shelter. Now, I was being told that I had to break it all down, pack everything up again, and start hiking in the pitch black?
He said that he would be bathing just down from my tent.
I got out and started calmly taking each item out of my tent and placing it on the dirt. Then, I started talking to myself as I looked over at the ranger. I figured it wouldn’t be normal to not be upset so I started dropping things harder onto the ground. My voice got louder and the things that came out became more sarcastic. “This is great. This is just what I wanted to happen after I hiked 26 miles. I’m not tired at all. I love putting up my tent and having to move. I love hiking in the dark. I’ll just pretend I’m back in the desert!”. Finally, I hoisted my pack on my back and headed out into the night. I didn’t know how long I was going to have to hike for. I did know the trail was about to climb again. Part of me was relieved to get away from all of the people and the ranger. And then, before I knew it, I saw a semi-flat area to the side of the trail and decided I would just sleep there. There was no way I was going to set up my tent again, so I just spread out my groundcloth and sleeping bag, cooked my pasta for dinner, ate some chocolate for dessert, and looked at the headlamps in the distance. Just after 9:00, two hikers walked by me heading south. And then a bit later, two northbound guys who were talking to each other, started up the climb. They were saying something about Braveheart.


Day 134: White Pass

Day 134
August 30
mile 2293.1-2303 (plus 0.7 mile road walk)
10.6 miles

I sat up in the dampness, stuck my jetboil outside of my tent, and started a boil for my coffee. Puddles of water surrounded my tent. At least I only had just under 11 miles to get to White Pass, where I hoped to get a room. The only buildings there were the Kracker Barrel store where I had my resupply box sent, and The Village Inn. Although part of me didn’t think I could afford the time to spend the night there, I fantasized about getting a room for the afternoon so I could take a shower, dry out my gear, wash my pot, and take a nap! There wasn’t even a restaurant there. If you wanted food, you would have to hitch 20 miles to Packwood, and I definitely didn’t have time for that!
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I headed out back into the woods and soon began my next 1,600 foot climb.
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The higher I climbed, the more the clouds parted. I actually saw some blue sky! I was supposed to reach a spot where I would get my first view of Mt. Ranier, but the clouds were still too heavy on that side of the mountain and I couldn’t see anything. At the top of the ridge, I decided to sit down and have a snack break. I could see a shimmering lake below me and the bright sun had finally revealed itself, warming my body, and drying the outside of my pack. I could see the trail wrapping around the mountain and took a few minutes to absorb the beauty of my surroundings.
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After continuing on for a mile or so, I encountered a day hiker on his way up. He commented on what a beautiful day it was.
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I then passed by the weathered and broken sign announcing that I was now leaving the Goat Rocks Wilderness. I knew I would have to come back and hike this section again in better weather someday. I descended back into the woods and ran into a nice female day hiker and her dog. She told me that they had had an unbelievable and very rare summer with no rain at all, and that it had suddenly turned into November-like weather in the past week. She found these weather patterns to be worrisome. She told me that she hoped to hike the entire PCT some day, as well.
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Further into the woods, another day hiker approached, but he did not smile or acknowledge me in any way, which I found odd.
At last, I reached the highway and turned left. I crossed it and walked closest to the traffic that was going in the same direction as me, just in case anyone wanted to stop to give me a ride. There was a wide shoulder, and I didn’t feel like walking all the way over to the bushes, where the road was sloped. Instead, I stayed next to the white line of the second lane. All of a sudden, a van cut over and started driving directly in front of me, as if I wasn’t there! Umm… Excuse me! Can’t you see that I’m walking here?! I couldn’t believe it! I continued on my way and then, several minutes later, a huge semi trailer truck pulled up just behind me and started driving on the other side of me! What was going on? I was now walking between traffic on a highway! I guess I don’t know the rules about driving in Washington! In Massachusetts, people don’t usually drive on the shoulders!
I finally reached the Kracker Barrel store and saw a pack outside. I wondered who it belonged to. Once inside, I realized it was Story Time’s. I asked for my packages and then said I would return for them after I found a room. I walked up some steep stone steps and went by an entire row of rooms, trying to find the office. I then walked by the pool, down to a different building, and still couldn’t find anyone! Finally, after walking back up and walking through the building to get to the other side, I found the office. I went in to ask if they had a room and was met by a grumpy employee who looked like he was going to say no. He said there were a lot of hikers here and that all of the studios had been rented, but then came up with a last one for me! He took me to the room and asked if it was okay. I said it was perfect. I dropped off my pack and headed back to the store to collect my resupply packages. It turned out that the store sold some deli sandwiches, so I bought a turkey sandwich, bag of chips, and a soda for lunch. Then, I took out my damp sleeping bag and groundcloth and spread it out along my little outdoor patio. I ate lunch, took a shower, and started hand washing my clothes, as I started charging my electronics.
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I wanted to leave around 4 or so, but the time flew by and I decided it would be best if I took advantage of what I had here and stayed the night. It would save me a night of setting up and breaking down my tent and I needed the time to dry out my clothes and sort through my food.
After I had paid for my room, the employee became very nice to me and every time I saw him, he asked if there was anything he could do for me. I returned to the store for a latte, and enjoyed some of the candy that Molly had sent to me, while I took my wet clothes to the other side of the building to try to dry them now that the sun had moved. When I went back for a second sandwich for dinner, I found Braveheart, Halfway, and another hiker eating inside. I said, “You reunited!” when I saw them. They were planning on heading back out to the trail in the evening. Before the store closed, the lady let us take any of the fried food that we wanted. The boys loaded up, but I didn’t find any of it appealing. I went back to my room, hung my clothes up inside, started sorting, and then went to dip my toes in the pool. I liked this place. When the motel guy came around again, I told him that I had some candy for him, if he wanted. He said the girls would enjoy it. I didn’t know who he was referring to, but assumed he meant his wife and daughters.
And then, it was time for bed! I hoped to get an early start in the morning!

Washington update

August 31

Washington has not been the most pleasant state so far… Six of the first seven days, it has rained! And it’s cold! I miss the California sun. From the time I was in the desert, I have been hearing how awful the weather in Washington is in late September- how, if it isn’t snowing, it will be raining consistently for 2 weeks. I worked SO hard to get here before this bad weather and instead, it greeted me as soon as I entered the state! The worst day was when I climbed Goat Rocks, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful parts of the PCT. I could see nothing. I haven’t been able to see Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, or Ranier. Some locals told me it hadn’t rained all summer long and that this weather pattern just started. One woman commented on how unusual it was and that it seemed more like November than August!
The thruhikers are very spread out now and I have seen just about no one in Washington!
(A guy going south who has seen everyone (starting with the woman who broke the speed record) told me I am number 40 that he has seen! I can’t believe it- especially with all of my sickness!).
Through all of the adversity, my mind is still very strong and I am resolved to finish this!

Day 133: Goat Rocks in white-out conditions

Day 133
August 29
mile 2268.8-2293.1
24.3 miles

It rained all night. This time, I wasn’t able to prevent my sleeping bag from getting wet. Everything was saturated with moisture. I did my best to wipe off as much water as I could, but I had to stuff a very damp sleeping bag into its stuff sack and hope for the sun to come out.
The first several miles took me downhill and then along flat terrain. It continued to drizzle. As I rounded a bend and started the next climb, I looked out into an opening and saw the sky filling with dark clouds. Uh-oh. Today, I would be climbing to the highest point in Washington. A couple of southbound ladies passed by and seemed cheerful. I was not feeling the same way. It was cold, rainy, my possessions were all wet, and the clouds were obscuring the best part of the trail. As I climbed further, a loud boom of thunder pounded the sky. I found a couple of trees to stand under and have a quick snack as rain suddenly came pelting down. The trail quickly turned into a muddy river right before my eyes! I climbed higher and decided to take a break under another small stand of trees. By now, my body was extremely cold and my fingers weren’t functioning. I decided to boil some water for a cup of coffee. Fortunately, I was able to get my stove going, even without my fingers being able to work. I took out a packet of almond butter and a Snickers, but wasn’t able to open the wrapper of either one of them! I tried biting a hole into them, but my teeth weren’t strong enough. This was a big problem! After working and working, I finally got a small hole in the candy bar wrapper. (I also had another problem to deal with which my fingers were too frozen and numb for). I packed everything up and got out my rain mitts, which I was so thankful I had asked to be sent to Trout Lake!
Then, I headed on, trying to get some heat into my body. The coffee didn’t seem to have worked so well. A few miles later, I ran into a father and his young child. He asked, “There isn’t any rain that way, right?”. I had been hoping for the opposite. Unfortunately, it was everywhere!
I later met his wife who stopped to chat. She asked if I was keeping warm. “I’m trying to!”. She said it was good that I had mittens, but so far, they weren’t helping to warm my hands. She asked if I wanted any trail mix, and I said no and then told her about my stomach problems. She offered me some ibruprofen, thinking the inflammation was similar to menstrual cramps, but it was an entirely different problem that ibruprofen could not help with. I told her I wasn’t sure if I should keep hiking higher or stop and wait out the storm (knowing that would mean I probably wouldn’t make my flight). She said she thought the storm would blow over soon.
I continued on, finishing the current climb, and then walking through what felt like a magical landscape, even though I could not see much of it. It was a very lush area with green grass and cascading streams and pretty wildflowers. I passed by a nice waterfall and then saw several places where I could camp if I wanted to stop here. I decided that I would rather keep going, however. I thought I would just get even more cold if I sat around in wetness all day. And I wanted to keep making progress.
I was now at about 6,000 feet and had to climb to just over 7,500 feet. I reached an intersection and saw a few women day hikers and their dog approaching from another trail. One of them thought I was heading the opposite way and told me that I had a good chance of seeing some goats around Cispus Pass. They told me they had met Tumbleweed the day before.
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They let me go on ahead of them. Their dog would race ahead, find something interesting to sniff along the trail, and then run back to them.
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Eventually, I lost sight of them all. When I emerged around one bend, I found a little village of tents set up! No one seemed to be around and it felt a bit eerie.
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The trail split at this junction and I was confused about where to go. Part of me hoped someone would come out and direct me, but no one did. I decided that it turned and took the higher route. I was now surrounded by clouds and fog and could only see a few feet in front of me. If I had seen someone, they probably would have discouraged me from continuing to climb. I reached another part of the trail which also confused me. I could either climb over some rocks or head across the snow field. I started over the snow, but about halfway through, I decided I had been on the snow too long for this to be the trail! I turned around and went back. Then, I couldn’t figure out where the trail would be over the rocks… So I decided the snow field was the trail, after all.
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I finally made it across, and then emerged onto a ridge. There was a sign pointing to the “alternate route” which climbed, or I could continue walking on the path I was on. Since I was in white out conditions and there was no point in climbing higher, I stayed on the path I was on. It dropped off strongly to the left and I realized this is where a previous thru-hiker, who had written to me, had a scary experience of her own! As I made it across this section, I encountered a hiker going south. I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one out here! He had ice in his beard, but seemed to be in a cheerful mood, which also helped me. Then, I discovered that this was the stock route that I had taken. As I continued on, the wind picked up strongly. I had to plunge my poles into the ground (one of which kept collapsing) and crouching down in order not to be blown over. I could not see anything. My nose wouldn’t stop running and I was cold. I kept thinking, “Must get to Checka’s wedding… Must get to Checka’s wedding”.
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A little later on, along this knife’s edge, I met a man and woman who identified herself as Ice Axe. She was hiking the PCT this year in sections and I had seen her a couple of times in the Sierras and before Donner’s Pass. She gave me some information on the upcoming towns and her partner told me not to get blown off the mountain! I thought the wind was going to tear my pack cover right off my pack! Ahead of me was a large group of hikers, which took me some time to get around. The clouds started to lift a tiny bit as I started descending and I was thankful for a little glimpse of a view. I was very disappointed that I was not able to see much of this extremely beautiful part of the trail!
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I continued along, taking more pictures as the trail turned and the clouds lifted a little more. I was happy to be off of the ridge and out of the high wind.
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I saw a few nice places to camp, but I needed to keep moving. As always, I felt more and more tired with each successive mile that I hiked. I walked over tiny streams and saw pretty pink flowers on the trail.
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Eventually, I climbed back into the woods.
The rain started again. I found a little creek to collect and filter more water, walked by a couple who were sitting outside of their tent, and kept walking. I had decided on my goal for the night and kept an eye on my GPS, so I wouldn’t miss the camp site.
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After walking past it, I realized that it was tucked off the trail. As soon as I entered the area, the rain started coming down again! I had to hurry to set up my tent while the rain fell on my pack. I hoped it would cooperate with me, but again I struggled. At last, I was able to throw my damp groundcloth, sleeping pad and bag inside. I figured I could make it through the night and then dry everything out when I got to White Pass tomorrow. I cooked my dinner, zipped myself into my sleeping bag, and tried to get some sleep as the rain continued to fall. So far, I was not liking Washington! I had worked so hard to get here before the bad weather arrived, but as soon as I entered the state, the rain and cold began!

Day 132: Mt. Adams in the clouds

Day 132
August 28
mile 2242.8-2268.8
26 miles

It did end up raining, beginning around 3:45am. It got increasingly heavy throughout the night. I sat up a few times to see if water was coming into my tent, but it looked like everything was okay. I got up at 6:22 when it had appeared that the rain had stopped. However, it started right back up again! I ate my half portion of granola and my one poptart with my coffee and then got ready for the day.
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During a break in the rain, I got out of my tent to go to the bathroom. Inger had woken up by then and I told her that the spaceship was still here! I broke down my tent, packed everything up, and said goodbye to Inger. I told her that I hoped to see her again, but we both knew it was unlikely. I thought it was strange that I hadn’t seen Puma.
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I continued the climb, getting glimpses of the big mountains in the distance through the burned trees. After a couple of miles, I saw the pond that Inger had mentioned (which was actually off the trail) and then crossed Riley Creek, where I collected more water.
After a mile or so, I passed by a section hiker and then forded a couple of rivers before meeting his partner, who was waiting for him at a trail junction. I was now at the base of Mt. Adams and the water I was fording was run-off from the snow on that mountain. I could not see the top of the mountain, however, as it was heavily obscured in clouds.
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Around noon, I ran into two southbounders. The girl asked me if I was Wendy, which really surprised me. She said they had heard about me. I wondered what they had heard and from whom! She said that they had met StoryTime and he told them that I was close behind. They had started their hike northbound, but when they got to Sierra City, skipped up to the northern border and were now hiking south as they knew they weren’t going to beat the winter weather. I asked them if they had gotten caught in the huge storm that produced the washouts and they shook their head no. I also asked them if there was any snow in Washington. Dixie said there was only one section and that it wasn’t bad.
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A couple of hours later, I reached Lava Spring where I found a hiker drying out all of his gear and eating lunch. He looked slightly familiar, but I could not place him. I apologized and asked him to remind me of his name. It was U-Haul, who hiked with Cowboy and Birdman down Kearsarge and who stayed at the campground with his girlfriend that night. He then remembered me and mentioned something about Mt. Whitney. “You were on top of Whitney with me?” I asked him. He was also flip-flopping and was surprised that the northbounders were so spread out now. He expected to see everyone he knew within a couple of days! He told me that he had run into Cowboy in Snoqualmie and Birdman a few days later. They separated after Birdman got giardia and needed to take a couple of days off. Because Birdman’s wife was going to come out and hike with him for a bit, Cowboy decided to keep going. U-Haul also told me about being right in the middle of the storm that caused the washouts. Lightning was striking all around him and everything he had on him was wet. He wondered what he was doing out there.
He asked if I had seen Babyface and Dixie and wondered if he would catch them today. I asked him if he had seen Whistler or Hooligan, but he hadn’t. He told me that I was the 40th thru-hiker that he had seen from the border, which I nearly couldn’t believe! Later, we talked about the upcoming sections. He told me that he hated the section between White Pass and Snoqualmie and that there was nothing to see there. I wondered when I was going to get to the good views that I thought Washington had!
My short break turned out to be a lot longer than I had intended due to all the talking. I finally got up and thanked U-turn for the conversation and then continued on my way. I still hoped to get in 11 more miles today!
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When I reached Midway Creek, I stopped to fill up on water, as it was supposedly the last source for a long stretch. I would have to hike the remaining 7 miles with a heavy pack! The trail climbed a little over 1,000 feet and at last, I entered the Goat Rocks Wilderness, which I was excited about. I remember Roadrunner telling Salty that this was her favorite section of the trail back in Lake Isabella. I tried to take a photo of myself by the sign, but no matter how hard I tried to smile and look excited, all I could see was the exhaustion in my face.
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Today, I also felt like I was feeling hungrier than I had been, as well.
I reached my campsite at 7:26 and began to set up my troublesome tent. I was so tired!!

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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Day 130: More rain, more forest, more exhaustion!

Day 130
August 26
27.1 miles

I was so exhausted that I didn’t even want to sit up and check whether rain was coming into my tent last night at 10:13! I could barely open my eyes!
In the morning, I ate half a ziplock of granola with milk and then had one poptart with my coffee. It was a good combination of nutrition and sweetness! I wonder why it had taken me so long to figure that one out!
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I started hiking at 7:50. The air was cold and I wore my rain layers as I walked. The trail once again remained in the woods. The lady I had met at the Bridge of the Gods was right! Washington was very forested! I was not expecting this!
Immediately after I took a pee break, I reached a camping area with an outhouse! It was around 9:30 am, and a man was just breaking down his tent.
Once across the road, the trail climbed about 1500 feet. After a couple of miles, I passed by Sheep Lake, which my guidebook described as “gross, disgusting water”. It also seemed to be called “Duck Pond”.
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I continued to climb and found a sign that announced a shortcut, which seemed appealing. Not knowing where it actually went, I kept on the PCT.
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Just as I decided to take a break, the rain started coming down again! I hesitated and thought about continuing on, but then decided I needed a snack. I found a tree to sit under and since I was so cold, I boiled some water for my second cup of coffee. I found that I had reception and received a rare comment on my blog which gave my spirit a boost. It’s amazing what a few words can do! As I sat there, I heard some very loud voices approaching. A father and his three children eventually appeared and he apologized to me for the noise. He said he was giving them a botany lesson. They had been discussing the different colors of the berries along the trail and what the colors meant.
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Although the rain was very unpleasant to hike in and the temperature was cold, the miles were fairly easy. I listened to my yoga playlist music, which helped me get my mind away from things that have been bothering me. I also ate a second Snickers bar again. So much of my food was inedible to me now- either because it was stale, or because I could no longer stand it. My diet was starting to consist mostly of chocolate and coffee.
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I planned on stopping at the tent site right after Mosquito Creek, but when I arrived, I saw Story Time and a woman who I couldn’t see very well already set up. The woman waved to me and I waved back and then kept walking. I hadn’t collected water at the creek, as I had planned on walking back to it after I had set up. Now, I wasn’t sure what I would find ahead. According to my guidebook, the next source was nearly three miles away. The rain started once again and my spirits sank. Fortunately, I came across a nicely running creek and was at least able to collect water for the night and morning. Now, I just had to find a place to sleep! Thick plant growth lined both sides of the trail. I bushwacked down the trail a bit to check out a potential area, but it turned out not to be suitable. Later, I again went off the trail when the terrain flattened out. This time, I thought I could set up my tent in a small area in between some young spruce. It was now about 7:20. Again, I struggled immensely with my tent set-up. Knowing that it was going to be another wet night, I had to get it taut enough so the rain wouldn’t drip inside, but still be able to close my tent zipper. I cooked my dinner, washed up, and crawled into my sleeping bag. After another long and trying day, I finally closed my eyes.

Day 129: Rain, trees, climbs, and slugs!

Day 129
August 25
mile 2175-2200.8
25.8 miles

It seemed unusually dark in the morning. I didn’t know if rain was coming, or if it was just dark because I was in the thick of the forest. I ate my chocolate granola for breakfast. At 6:30, one of the guys who had camped at Rock Creek walked by! There was still no change with my intestinal issues.
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I packed up and started walking by 7:35. I came across a few more gigantic green slugs on the forested climb.
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By 9:43, I had passed the other hiker. Shortly after, I stopped for a snack break. We then leap-frogged each other for awhile. He wanted to know if this was going to happen all day. He asked if I was keeping a blog, as he had been reading several other hiker’s journals from this year, including Story Time’s, who he was happy to run into.
As I walked, I told myself that I needed to get all of the people that had been causing me stress during this hike to get out of my head and find some peace for myself instead. This was my final state and I now had just under 500 miles to hike. It would all be over too soon.
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I was aware of keeping my eye out for the wasp’s nest, and as I rounded a little bend in the trail, I suddenly saw the piece of paper on the ground, gasped, and turned around. It looked like the wasps were congregated on the right side of the trail. I took my rain pants and rain jacket out of my pack and put them on. Then, I prepared myself to keep to the far left of the trail and hurry through. I made it through with no stings! The air was quite humid, so I had to stop and take off the rain layers when I had a chance.
Rain started to fall before I reached Trout Creek.
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I had planned on taking a break here at the half picnic table, but now I wasn’t sure what to do. I put my pack cover over my pack after taking out my food bag and set it against the table. Then, I put on my rain layers once again. I needed to find another place to go to the bathroom and ended up scraping my leg on a big fallen tree on my way. Although the rain remained, it was light enough for me to stay and have an ice coffee and snickers before I headed across the bridge. On the other side, I saw a sign warning about recent mountain lion activity near the area in which I camped last night! Great! There were no signs on the side of the trail from which I had just come! (I actually thought about a mountain lion in the area as I was hiking last night, although I really thought we were long past their territory!). Muk Muk was not going to be happy about this!
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I continued on to Panther Creek, which was the last water source for the next 13 or so miles. It had been raining on and off, but once I stopped to go to the bathroom once again, it picked up again. I found a tree to sit under and snack, not wanting to go out into exposed territory to collect water. However, I had a limited amount of time for breaks! It was now after 2pm, and I had 11 more miles to get in and a big climb in front of me! I finally walked over to the creek to collect water, sat back under the tree to filer it, packed up, and headed out with my 3 liters of water.
The trail climbed just over 3,000 feet over the next 9 miles. It was a lot tougher than I expected. The rain stopped for awhile, but just as I stopped to take my second Snickers bar break, it started coming down again! I had no reception in this area, but I actually felt relieved about that, as I was able to stay more within myself and not worry about interacting with other people.
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Just before I reached a dirt road, I ran into a man and woman and their dog. The man had a German accent and asked me if I was doing the whole trail. “When did you start?” he asked. After I told him, he exclaimed, “Holy crap!”, which amused me. He then asked me if I was going to finish the whole thing. Several people had asked me this question since around mid-Oregon. Did they really think I was going to call it good enough to just end the hike somewhere in Oregon or Washington? Of course, I was going to hike the whole thing!
I reached my campsite at 7:23 and proceeded to struggle greatly with the set-up of my tent once again. It took me so long to get the tension adjusted so that I could zip it up!
I cooked my dinner and discovered that my winter hat now smelled like mold. Wonderful… The earliest that I could wash it would be in Trout Lake. I felt exhausted again. I am so tired of hiking 26 mile days!! That is one thing that I will not miss after the trail- the high pressure to consistently hike big mile days every day!

Day 128: Into the State of Washington

Day 128
August 24
mile 2155.1-2175.1
20 miles

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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When I reached a nice campspot in the woods near a creek, I decided to stop and enjoy my brownie!
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The boys passed by while I was getting ready to take off again. I followed them across a bridge and they later stepped aside as we climbed.
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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!

Day 127: Zero in Cascade Locks!

Day 127
August 23

I didn’t feel the need to get up super early for the continental breakfast in the hotel. When I made my way down to the basement room, I was surprised to find Ole! He told me that he and Trackmeat and Veggie had tried hiking out two days ago, but ended up at some bars and found themselves in no state to hike. So, they headed back across the bridge and took TrackMeat’s father’s offer to pay for a room here. He said they had spent the entire day watching movies and only left their room once to get ice cream! They were going to stay until check-out time today and get in a couple more movies. I told him that I wouldn’t be ready to leave until late in the afternoon, but wished I could zero. I was still so exhausted. I ate some cereal, yogurt, muffins, waffle, juice, and coffee and then headed back to my room. I thought about the words I had said out loud (I really want to take a zero) and realized that I needed to listen to myself. I had not had a day off from hiking since the 4th of July, which I could not believe!
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I headed to the post office to pick up my resupply boxes, brought them back to my room, and then went to use the pool for a few minutes. I needed to let the front desk know if I was going to stay another night, so I didn’t have much time to linger here.
In the lobby, I found TrackMeat using the computer. We chatted for a few minutes and then I said this would probably be the last time I would see him. He didn’t think so and reminded me that they take a lot of time off. He also said that he never applied for his Canadian entrance permit and would be hiking back to Hart’s Pass from the border and would see me then.
I paid for another night and went back to my room to open my boxes. Ham had placed some of my pasta dinners inside my rolled up sleeping pad and the bags had broken. Now there was a mess of dried cheese and macaroni to clean up! After a quick nap, I headed back to the pub for lunch, stopping in the grocery store to see what they had first. There was not much there! I could now see why it was recommended to resupply across the river!
After lunch, I returned to my room, finally having a chance to give my backpack a bath! I also hand washed a lot of my clothes, including my knit hat and then hung everything up and hoped it would dry!
I took some time to write some postcards in the nice room with tables and windows overlooking the river. Wall-E and his friend were having a beer outside and his friend asked if I wanted my picture taken.
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I went out to take a few pictures of the bridge, and then returned to the pub for dinner, eating alone for the third time there.
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Back in my room, I texted a bit with Muk Muk. She had reunited with UB after his many adventures (getting airlifted out of Washington several days into his southbound attempt, starting back at Echo Lake after skipping a good chunk of the trail, carrying a fawn for seven miles to have it die soon after, and hiking huge miles to catch up with Muk Muk). When they reunited at Shelter Cove, he announced that he was in love, and Muk Muk said they planned on hiking together to the border.
While I was here, I also learned how Slack got his name after finding him on Facebook. I saw a picture of him slacklining across a huge abyss between two mountains and my jaw dropped. He was the one that UB had seen at Forrester Pass? I was stunned…
I felt like I had to get an early start tomorrow in order to start to make up for the miles I had hoped to do today. I now had only 25 days to hike the entire state of Washington, which is longer than the entire Colorado Trail! I was now committed to hiking through any weather system that came my way!