Day 145: The Land of Gigantic Mushrooms!

Day 145
September 10
mile 2516.7-2541.6
24.9 miles

The bruises on my shins were now big, raised welts. Even though I hadn’t cleaned out the open wounds, I dotted some neosporin on them. My new goal was to catch the 3:00 bus into Stehekin if I could. That way, I wouldn’t be racing to get dinner and find a place to stay. It would take nearly an hour to get into town from the High Bridge Ranger Station. I ate my breakfast and looked out at the cliffs in the morning light as I packed up. Everything looked bluer and darker.
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Then, I began my decent into the wet lowlands, where I crossed numerous glacial creeks and brushed up against the wet bushes lining the trail, soaking my legs.
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In the forest, I saw the biggest mushrooms that I had ever seen in my life!
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I was also stopped by more gigantic trees that I had to find my around. At times, I would have to take off my pack, shove it under the tree and then crawl under myself.
The lower the terrain got, the more muddy it became, as well. It took a great amount of time to find rocks to place my feet on or try to step to the side of the mud pits. Eventually, I gave up trying to keep my feet dry. The last in the series of creeks had a bridge across it which was broken in the middle. I wished someone had been around to take my picture with it!
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Grabbing the handrails, I slowly made my way down to the center point and then back up the other side.
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Then, I began the next 1,700 foot ascent. Near the top, I found a fallen log in the forest to sit on for a break, but the flies wouldn’t leave me alone. I found it especially annoying that they wanted to land in my wounds! As tired as I was, I decided to keep going. I came out into more open terrain, and although scratchy plants lined both sides of the trail, I needed a break. I took my sleeping pad off the top of my back and sat down in the tall grass. The sun was burning down strongly.
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A short while later, I reached a nice creek where I stopped to collect water and take my ice coffee break.
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I kept backing myself further and further into the evergreen tree on the side of the bank in order not to be burned by the intensity of the sun. I covered my legs the best I could with my bandana.
The trail climbed again and headed into snow filled mountains.
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The landscape opened up, but the rocks made the hiking slow going. I kept looking at the time and knew that I could only afford to take a couple of very short breaks for the remainder of the day.
When I saw Mica Lake, I wished I had time to stop, but I did not. I felt exhausted and stressed. I had to keep going. It was now 3pm and I had only hiked just under 15 miles for the day.
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After descending towards Milk Creek for several miles, I needed to stop for a snack to boost my energy. I looked at my watch and figured I could take two 5 minute breaks for the rest of the day. This was not fun! Two ladies made their way past me in the opposite direction. They were in much better moods than I was. After I crossed the bridge, I had to start a 2,600 foot climb! It was so hot out that I was sweating! How could it be this warm in September? The weather always seemed to be at an extreme. Slowly, I huffed my way up the mountain.
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In the evening light, I found myself in an open, rocky, exposed landscape that was reminiscent of the Sierras. There was definitely no place to camp in this area!
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A small marmot peaked out from behind a rock and stared at me, which made me laugh. I realized that was the first time I had smiled the entire day! I felt like I had not had a moment to enjoy myself! When I reached a cascade, I stopped to collect and filter water, hoping the process would go as quickly as possible. The air was now very cold and I needed to race against the setting sun. I continued to climb higher and saw the sliver of moon in the sky.
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On the other side, towards which I was heading, the sun had cast the mountains in purple.
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I still had miles to go before I would reach a camping spot.
As the sun disappeared, I found myself in a grassy landscape at high altitude.
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It became harder and harder to see the path in front of me. At last, I reentered forest and found my camp spot in a grove of trees. It was 7:48 and now completely dark. I set up my tent by headlamp, cooked some dinner, and then crawled into my sleeping bag, thankful to finally be able to lie down and rest.

Day 143: Beginning the penultimate stretch

Day 143
September 8
mile 2476-2492
16 miles

I was dead tired in the morning. The lack of sunlight in the garage didn’t provide any incentive to wake up, and I did not sit up on my mattress until 8am! After asking if there was a bathroom at the store, I bypassed the outhouse outside the garage and headed across the train tracks. Inside the store, I found Ole, Trackmeat, and Veggie. They welcomed me to join them. When I returned from the bathroom, they had moved us to a bigger table, as Geared Up had also come over. Unfortunately, there was no cell service in this town, so I couldn’t send any e-mails out. “You guys, this is our second to last stop! Can you believe it?”. I thought about how far we had come, all of the obstacles that we had overcome, and all of the effort that we had put into this. “We’re amazing!”. I remembered Texas Poo telling me about all the people who had dropped out, who I had assumed were somewhere behind us. Each time I had mentioned someone’s name and asked if he knew them, he would tell me something I hadn’t known. “Whistler didn’t make it?!….Oh, no!… How come? Sexy Legs is off the trail?!… Tejas broke her leg?!”. After hearing about all of these people that didn’t finish, I realized that making it the entire way really was a big achievement.
There were Continental Divide banners hanging up in the store and the guys started talking about what was next. For now, the general consensus was that we all just wanted to sleep for awhile. “I just want to lie down for 10 days,” one of the guys said. It’s always good to hear that other people feel similarly to you!
The waitress was very nice, but seemed a bit overwhelmed with our second orders. She said it would be awhile before I could get some french toast. Veggie had ordered the circus waffles, which apparently created a problem because the cook didn’t have an open outlet for the waffle maker! “Meathook! You’re causing me problems!” the cook shouted over to him. Last night, he apparently ate a quadruple patty hamburger and was renamed Meathook by the staff. We thought his order had been forgotten, but finally the circus waffles arrived! The boys had had a great time in this restaurant in the time that they had been in town. Last night, they had turned on some music for them so they could dance. I felt like I was just quickly passing through and didn’t have a chance to get to know the place. Ole told us his embarrassing story from Shelter Cove. Apparently, a girl on the porch commented on how skinny he was and Ole assumed she must have known him from earlier in the hike. He wrapped his arms around her and asked how she was, while her boyfriend stood by, looking on warily. She had actually never met him before. I told him that reminded me of when a young guy came over to me after my yoga class at kick-off and I immediately reached out and hugged him!
The boys were already packed up and ready to go, so after we finished our food and paid, they headed out to hitch a ride back to the trail. The waitress wanted me to sign the guestbook, but halfway through, I decided I needed to run out and take a picture of the guys as this might be my last time seeing them! “I’ll be right back!”.
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I still needed to head back to the garage and do all of my sorting and packing for the next stretch! Besides repackaging the cookies and graham crackers that the girls had sent me into ziplocs, I needed to get rid of some extra weight in my pack for the next 100 miles. It was too heavy during the last stretch. Although it was Sunday, I hoped that if I gave someone money, they could mail out a box for me at the store. I dropped my extra cookies into the hiker box and then headed back to the store, where Andrea was. She wanted me to walk my box back to the house, but luckily, I was able to find a piece of paper for the address and she let me put it into her car.
Now it was time to hitch a ride back to the trail! Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long! A nice guy picked me up on his way to the start of his own hike. After he dropped me off at Stevens Pass, I took a few moments to myself in the parking lot. There was reception here, so I let Ham know that I got my box with the passport in it and watched UBs most recent dramatic video. Then, it was time to find the trail again. Once again, I had no idea where to go! I headed one way, then another, and was completely lost! Finally, I saw two women standing in front of an information board, and decided it must be over there!
The trail was flat at first and wove a path through very tall grass and weeds! It felt like a very different landscape from the rest of the PCT and the flatness caused me to keep checking my GPS. Was this really the PCT?
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Finally, it started to climb and I began to feel more at home.
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I found a nice little area to the side of the trail to take my first break. I made an ice coffee and enjoyed a couple of the Polish cookies from a woman in my lab and then had a few Junior Mints. They gave me such a burst of energy and I felt very happy. I wondered why I had never packed any of those before! My goal was to hike 17 miles today, with my noon start time. So far, I was making good progress.
I continued on my way and soon saw a familiar face. It was Seeking, taking a break on the side of the trail. He, too, was doing a flip-flop hike and expected to finish in late October or early November. He asked me if I still had giardia. I told him that I didn’t have that anymore, but that I had something else! He couldn’t believe I was still going, and more than that, he couldn’t believe that I was at the front of the pack! He had his tent drying on some bushes and told me about his scary experience in the lightning storm. As we chatted, the other hikers who were staying at the hostel all started passing by. Maverick and Lodgepole, Geared Up, Kiddo and Laura. I began to worry about my campsite being taken! Seeking wanted to keep chatting with me, though! He offered me some of the sardines that he was eating, which I declined, and told me about his stay in Stehekin. Finally, I offered to give him my e-mail in case he wanted to keep in touch after the trail. I had now lost at least a mile’s worth of time and knew I wouldn’t make my original goal.
One by one,I overtook the other hikers from the hostel and took the lead again. I was feeling strong, but pressed for time. At least it was not raining and I was able to see what was around me!
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At an intersection in the trail, two white dogs came running down the path in front of me, both of whom had bear bells on their collars. Their owner was running after them, trying to keep them under control. I could understand why the dogs had bear bells, but still thought it unnecessary for people! I headed on, descending through the woods, before beginning the next climb. Although it was not raining, the trail was still very wet, muddy, and slippery from the last stretch of bad weather and caused my pace to slow. I saw a man ahead of me, but before I could pass him, he had decided to head down to a campsite on the side of the trail. Further up the climb, I found a couple taking a break. The man was smoking. I wondered how far they planned on hiking tonight. Once I reached the top of the peak, the trail opened up along a ridge.
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The sun was now setting and I had to move quickly if I was going to make my modified goal of 16 miles.
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The trail descended and all I could see was wet looking meadows. Then, I saw a very narrow path into some bushes and followed that to a nice patch of dirt underneath some trees! I had made it! I had to re-stake my tent several times, which was difficult to do with the huckleberry bushes behind it. As the last remnants of the sun disappeared, I brought everything inside my tent, cooked my dinner, and went to sleep. My goal was to make the 6pm bus to Stehekin in four days.

Day 142: Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Day 142
September 7
mile 2456-2476
20 miles

Although it rained on and off throughout the night, it never got very heavy which was fortunate for me. I’m positive that if it was, water would have flooded into my tent because it was set up on a slope after all! While I ate my breakfast, the other hiker headed out, giving me a few minutes to myself.
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I headed back up to the trail in the mist, climbing towards Deception Lake. I didn’t see anywhere to camp until the trail turned and climbed away. There, I saw a nice campsite underneath some trees. I guess that is where the guy that passed by last night stayed.
Soon, I saw my campsite companion just ahead. He would stop for several seconds, see me coming, and then start climbing again. Once I caught up to him, I finally learned that his name was Nick. I asked him if the mice had bothered him last night and he said that one had run into his tent! I had been envious of his more solid looking shelter, but after he told me that, I felt more satisfied with my own! I asked him how it got in and he said that he had left one of the zippers partially open! The rain started coming down again. He let me go on ahead as I was stronger on the climbs, but caught back up once I stopped to take a snack break under a tree on the descent. I passed by two hikers headed in the opposite direction who said the rain was supposed to clear out in the afternoon! They both seemed in much better spirits than I was! I kept looking at my watch, wondering if it was after twelve yet.
The next climb was even steeper than the previous one! I was not happy! I passed Nick on the way up again and said, “This grade was not made for horses!”. I didn’t understand how a horse could make it up that! I felt completely drained. The descent was also slow going because the trail was now a water trough or very slippery from the mud! Every step was taking triple the energy! I let Nick go ahead of me again. He was the one non-thruhiker who was able to keep up with me for an extended period of time. We now had two short climbs and two decent ones left.
Several mile later, I needed to stop to take another snack break. Nick stopped, too, although he didn’t eat anything. I guess he wanted to stay with me. We’re both quiet people and don’t speak loudly, so together, our conversations consisted of a lot of “What’s?”. “What did you say?”. He said that I was only the second person on this hike that actually talked to him. The first was Mark, the guy that I met on the bridge, admiring the waterfall. He chatted with Nick for about 10 minutes and was very pleasant. I asked him if he had seen the grumpy one. It turned out that he got the same reaction from him! I asked him if people had been asking him if he was hiking the PCT. He was definitely skinny enough to be a thru-hiker! They had, and when he said no, they didn’t have much else to say. I felt bad for him. He had started at Snoqualmie very early in the morning on the day that I had started. He said he was interested in doing the next stretch of the PCT, but that it was too long to do alone. A friend of his had agreed to hike back from Stevens Pass yesterday and meet him to camp and then return to Stevens Pass today, but he had yet to see him. Neither one of us had had any reception for this entire stretch so he didn’t know if he had left a message.
A short while later, we ran into another couple. “Are you thru-hikers?”. I said I was and thereafter, they only spoke to me. I felt even more sorry for Nick. I suggested that maybe he just pretend for the day, but he said it was fine. No one owed him anything.
I told him that I was feeling like a CDT hiker that I had met on the Colorado Trail. Now that I think about it, he couldn’t have been thru-hiking the trail, but when I met him, he said he had 200 miles left. He seemed very down. His calf was hurting and 200 miles seemed a long way to go to him. Here I was in a similar position. I had less than 10% of the trail left, but I felt exhausted, my knee was hurting, I was still sick, and I was tired of being in the rain. I felt like I should have been more positive. I wasn’t making thru-hiking look like an enjoyable thing to do!
We started the final climb of the day and ran into another young, happy couple who were headed the opposite way. The girl had a bear bell attached to her pole. I had seen several Washington hikers with these and wondered what the point was. To me, the jingling sound with every step was incredibly annoying! The guy asked if it was as foggy in the forest as it was up here. I said it was. We commented on the supposed clearing up and wished each other well. Although the rain had picked up in intensity and I wanted to reach the top of the climb, I was running out of energy and needed another snack break. I told Nick that he could go on, but he stopped with me, and then got out his stove. “Are you cooking something?”. He told me that he purified his water by boiling it. In this weather, he didn’t mind drinking warm water. Once I was satisfied with my snacking, I looked down to see my wet stuff sacks. Wonderful. We hoisted our packs and headed on. At the top of the mountain was a ski lift, which, in the fog, was an eerie sight. We headed down the other side, and reentered the forest. These last miles were so tiring! We had heard that there was a cycling race going on today and that it would probably be easy to catch a ride into town. I started imagining eating a nice warm meal at a restaurant and then getting a room at the Cascadia Inn. After awhile, I asked Nick if he had hiked this section before. He said he had. Then I felt I could ask the question that wasn’t leaving my mind. “Are we almost there yet?”. He said we were. Before I knew it, I could see buildings! And something that looked like a clock tower. Maybe we could stay there! As we got closer, I saw mountain bikers and a guy hosing off a bike. “I need a hose!” I said. I needed to get that dirt off my tent zippers! And my rain pants were now covered in mud. We followed the switchbacks down to a parking lot, where several tents were set up. We walked by a few people sitting around, but no one said anything to us. Then, we saw some restrooms. A guy named Maverick introduced himself. He was thru-hiking with his son and told us that we could get burgers at one of the buildings in the resort. The rain was still coming down. I asked Nick what he wanted to do. I felt like I wanted to get to my stopping point and warm up more than get a potentially free hamburger, so we headed to the highway to try hitching. Nick wanted to get back home to Everett, which was the same direction as I was heading, but further away. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the highway. We decided to wait and see if anyone leaving the cycling event might be able to give us a ride. Unfortunately, they all seemed to be headed the other way! We decided to split up to double our chances. He would wait here for someone leaving the event, and I would walk across the bridge to the other side of the highway. Before I got to the road, I saw a car and waved it down. Unfortunately, there was only room for one, so I told them never mind. It turned out they weren’t going that way anyway. I walked down to the highway and stuck out my thumb. Car after car careened by. Not one slowed down. This was not going to be so easy! After quite awhile, a car horn beeped and I realized that someone had stopped for me, but I hadn’t noticed. I ran up to the van and the man asked where I was going. Meanwhile, Nick was talking to a driver on the other side of the highway. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. Did he already have a ride for us? I told the van driver that I might not need one after all and yelled over to Nick. He yelled something back and I figured I was all set. I told the van driver that I didn’t need him after all, but thanked him for stopping. Then, I saw Nick holding up a finger. “He only has room for one” he called out. Are you kidding me? The car pulled out onto the highway and swerved past me without even a look from Nick or the driver. Not cool, buddy! Not cool! I just gave up a sure ride in a nice, warm, spacious van and now I was left to stand in the rain again for who knew how long! I thought we were working as a team to help each other out! I wouldn’t have accepted a ride if there was only room for me!
A little while later, a car stopped. It was a woman driver and she opened up her trunk and let me put my pack in. Everything turned out to be fine. She said she could tell right away that I was a nice person and she felt comfortable stopping. We talked about my reasons for hiking the PCT and then talked about her work as a therapist. I asked to be dropped off at the Cascadia Inn, although my resupply boxes were sent to the Dinsmores. I felt like I wanted to get some food, and get dry and cozy, and tomorrow I could worry about getting my boxes. Before she left, she said she wanted to tell me that I was the first hitchhiker that she had picked up in 25 years!
I went inside, and found no one at the checkout desk. After waiting around for awhile, I finally went into the restaurant and found the owner there. He checked his book for room availability. He didn’t have anymore private ones left, so I decided to call the Dinsmores and see what she recommended. She laughed when I told her my name because Ham had called her several times about making sure my box was safe and kept in her actual house, as it had my passport in it. “Your mother is funny,” she said. I told her that wasn’t my mother. She said I should come stay with them and when I asked if I should hitch to their place, told me that she could pick me up in 45 minutes, which would give me a chance to get some dinner. All of my clothes were now wet and I was freezing cold. I ordered some tea and soup along with a burger. The people at the table near mine started chatting with me and were very impressed when they found out what I was doing. Later, Purple Haze came down from his room and sat at the table next to me. He was talking about how he had escaped most of the rain and that it wasn’t so bad. I, on the other hand, was not so lucky!
I kept looking at my watch and trying to flag down the waitress so I could pay my bill, but she was now busy taking orders. Andrea arrived and had to wait a few minutes, but she found some hikers to talk to. We then headed back to the hiker dorm. It seemed that all of the bunks in the garage were taken, so she said I could stay in the mechanic shop, where all of the resupply boxes were being kept. That way, I could have my own girl area. She let me take a shower and I gave her a pile of my dirty clothes to wash. On the way back to the garage, I ran into Ole, Veggie, and TrackMeat! “Wendy! What are you doing here?!”.
“What am I doing here?”. That was a funny thing to say. Ole told me that Andrea said there was a girl coming who was hiking alone and they had all thought and thought, but couldn’t figure out who it was. How quickly they forget…
I took all of my wet things into the other room and dragged the mattress over to the spot in front of the work bench. Then, I tried to spread all of my wet possessions out as much as I could. I had asked my friends in my former lab if they could sent me a few things here, including some Junior Mints, a small bag of F
ritos, cookies, a small jar of Nutella, and some graham crackers. They came through! I also got a nice note of encouragement.
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I looked around at my surroundings and thought that this was probably the most grimy place that I had stayed, but I knew it was only for a night. I could hear the guys watching movies in the bunkroom, and was thankful that at least I had my own area where I had some privacy and would hopefully be able to get a little more rest. As I closed my eyes, a horn blared as a train sped across the tracks on the next road over. It shook the doors of the garage.
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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.

Day 140: The biggest lightning storm!

Day 140
September 5
2412-2434.5
22.5 miles

The rain came down quite heavily for a period of time, but everything seemed okay in my tent. Of course, this was one of the few nights that I needed to get up and pee. I waited for the rain to lighten before putting on my rain jacket and getting out of my tent.
In the morning hours, the rain was light. I packed up my possessions in a similar manner as I had unpacked them last night, trying to find the driest ground I could to set down my stuff sacks. As I started walking, the sun peeked out from behind the trees.
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I climbed another thousand feet, emerging from the forest, and rising above the clouds.
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The landscape was quite beautiful. Once I followed the curve of the trail back to the same direction I had come from, I sat on some rocks to have a snack. A couple of pikas and marmots were close by and kept me company.
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As I walked on, I met a man headed in the opposite direction. He wanted to know the name of the mountains that I had just come from, but I was unable to tell him. “I’m just walking,” I said. He laughed.
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The trail turned and started a descent. The landscape reminded me of the Sierras.

A couple of hours later, I ran into a couple more people. A woman was sitting on the side of the trail, waiting for her husband. She asked me to tell him she was there when I saw him. He seemed in no rush. He asked if I knew that the bridge over the creek had collapsed, and said that people were walking across a fallen tree, pointing down to where an older man was just emerging. This other man came up to me and asked if I was Wendy. A bit startled, I said yes. He told me that Story Time had told him I was close behind. (I don’t know why he was telling everyone that!). We chatted for a minute and then he pointed to the fallen tree that started well before the water.
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It was of a large width and didn’t seem to be much of a problem at first. Still, my breath shortened and my heart started to beat faster. As I got closer to the water, the tree became narrower. I was doing fine until I looked down at the rushing water underneath me. Suddenly, I felt dizzy, and got scared. Because my pack always leans to the left, I was pulled over that way and fell into the water blindly. It was up to my mid-thighs, but I landed on both feet. I felt embarrassed about falling and hoped that no one was watching me. Now, I had to pull myself back up onto the log. After only a couple more steps, I made it back onto the dirt. My body was shaking. Luckily, the water did not damage my phone or camera. My hands were scraped and my skirt was wet, but I seemed to be generally okay. Getting up the steep embankment with the dirt giving way was almost harder than crossing the creek. Once I made it back to the PCT, I looked down at the water and saw a person sitting across from the broken bridge. If they hadn’t seen me, they surely heard me fall in! Oh, well. It was time to get moving!
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I had another huge climb in front of me. It was six miles long and over 2,500 feet. I grew more and more tired as the afternoon turned into evening.
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I made it to the top of the ridge and watched the clouds turn color from the setting sun.
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Minutes later, thunder boomed overhead. I needed to hurry to find a place to camp. I wanted to get off the ridge, at least. I moved as quickly as I could. In the near darkness, I found a flat spot just off the trail and got to work setting up my tent. I knew it was about to rain, so I tried to get the lines as taut as possible. I threw my groundcloth, sleeping bad, and sleeping bag in, followed by my stuff sacks and backpack and then went to find a place to pee. Just as I got into my sleeping bag, big flashes of lightning lit up the sky. The bolts turned everything red and they were sustained for longer than I had ever seen before! At first, my heart started to race, but then I put my hands on my stomach to calm myself down. Nothing was likely to happen. And if I did die, I wouldn’t feel anything anyway! Thunder roared through the sky and bolt after bolt lit up the entire interior of my tent with the color red. Even when I closed my eyes, it reached the back of my eyeballs. After a few minutes of staying awake to watch the intensity of this show, I realized I was too exhausted to keep my eyes open any longer.
The rain poured down as I lied in my sleeping bag and the wind kicked up the dirt and blew it inside through the mosquito netting, covering everything like it had done in the dessert. Only now, it was wet dirt.

Day 139: “You’re Gonna Die!”

Day 139
September 4
mile 2402-2412
10 miles

I barely slept during the night because someone had put their clothes into the washer, but didn’t get to dry them before I went to bed. I thought it was someone who wanted to leave early in the morning and would be mad at me for locking the door. I did get up around 6:30 to put the clothes in the dryer and start them drying, but the noise was too loud to sleep with so close to my head.
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When I did get up, I walked into the kitchen, couldn’t find any clean coffee cups or coffee, and decided to go back to bed! In the few minutes I had left the room, the owner of the clothes had turned on the dryer. I decided to boil some water for my oatmeal and instant coffee. I asked when Kara was coming back and found out that she was gone for the rest of the day! How was I going to get back to the Chevron to get my other package? Someone said there was a list of trail angels on the wall by the phone. I saw three names and two clearly lived far away. One person was in Seattle. I couldn’t call someone who lived 60 miles away to give me a ride 2 miles into town! I called one number of a local woman, but she said she was going for a hike today and wouldn’t be back until the late afternoon. The call got dropped. When she called back, she asked if I was ready to go right now, as she was just heading out. I said yes! StoryTime also wanted a ride. I would just have to hang out for a couple of hours. When we got dropped off at the Chevron, our driver asked Dan, the owner of the Aardvark, if I could hang out with him. He said, of course!
Screen shot 2013-12-26 at 1.23.41 AMScreen shot 2013-12-26 at 1.22.37 AMScreen shot 2013-12-26 at 1.23.00 AM I got a nice cup of coffee, made from a French press and after looking at the breakfast menu, decided to order the bacon filled pancakes wrapped around vanilla ice cream! It was something I had never had before! StoryTime also sat in there and decided to get something to eat, after originally planning to eat at the restaurant attached to the Inn. He was also headed back to the trail today, but didn’t seem to be in a rush. A big series of storms was forcasted for the next several days. Everyone else back at the hostel was going to take another day or two off. I had no choice but to hike through it.
Later on, two hikers who had stayed at the Inn came in for breakfast. I recognized them from Independence- Split and Two Step. They were also going to take a couple of days off. Two Step was talking about a huge ford that would be dangerous with all of the rain. My eyes got wide. I kept my eye out for the postal woman, but she didn’t appear to be coming, even though it was well after 11. Dan said it was usual for her to be late.
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At last, the blue van appeared and I headed into the Chevron with the signed form. “Are you Wendy?” she asked. “Thank God! Tell your friend that I want to ring his neck!”. John had shipped his package Fed-ex to make sure I would get it, not knowing that this wasn’t a real post office. She went back out to her van and brought in a large box for me. It was filled with food! Unfortunately, I couldn’t ship anything ahead. I shared some of it with her, as she was very excited to see what was in the box! Her son was in the Boy Scouts and did a lot of hiking and she said this was going to make his day! John was also kind enough to send me a warm scarf for the cold, stormy weather. Another lady came by to pick up her mail and somehow, she ended up bringing me back to Kara’s place. Dan had offered me his van, but I told him I was too afraid to drive it! We went to the wrong house, at first, but soon enough, I was back at the Mostel and had to start sorting through all of my things! I ended up having a huge box of leftovers that the other hikers picked through in a couple of minutes. They wanted to know why I had so much stuff!
A friend of Texas Poo had driven out from Seattle to take him back to his place for a night or two and said he could bring me back to the trail. First, we had to wait for Let it Be to get his stuff together. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to go to Seattle or stay here. The afternoon was ticking by, and my goal for the day had to be readjusted before I even started! Braveheart said, “You’re leaving us?”. I told him I had a plane waiting for me! (Besides, I wasn’t leaving anyone. I’d hiked the whole trail alone from the beginning).
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We finally loaded up the car and headed out. Texas Poo said I should listen to heavy metal music to help me through the storms. He started making up words. “You’re gonna die! Slipping on scree…PCT!”. He kept emphasizing the dying part.
When we got out of the car and I showed him my pole that immediately collapses, he told me to duct tape it up. “That’s dangerous!”. It was dangerous. I didn’t have much duct tape left, which was why I hadn’t tried taping it before. I told him I would do it tonight. “You’re gonna die…!” he said again.
“No, I’m not!” I smiled.
Then, I started climbing.
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I had a 2,500 foot climb to start off with. I was feeling good, despite my heavy pack, from my town interactions. Before long, I met a group of women, and they were full of enthusiasm about my hike. They told me that I looked good! I laughed a lot and definitely seemed in a good mood, which made me feel stronger. Awhile later, I met a man who asked me if I was hiking the PCT and then bowed down to me! I think that was definitely a first. He said he was now too old to hike the whole trail. Before he went on, he asked if he could give me a kiss. Since he was originally from Switzerland, I didn’t know if he was talking about a European kiss or an American one. He ended up kissing me on the cheek.
I continued on, climbing into the fog as the trail emerged from the woods. The I couldn’t see any of the views.
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As I neared the top, I ran into another man headed down. He asked where I was going to camp. I didn’t know! I told him how far I wanted to hike, but he didn’t think I would make it! He said there were some sites coming up in a meadow and mentioned something about the cat walk being slow-going.
I stopped to look at the fog and clouds overtaking the sky as the sun started to sink. I could see the tip of a mountain, like an island in the sea.
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I hiked on, thinking about the cat walk. I liked the sound of that! I decided to listen to some music because that part sounded like it deserved some dancing! I enjoyed that part, but wished I could see the views!
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Later on, the sky got even darker, and rain started coming down. I stopped to take out my rain layers and quickly put my pack cover on. Here we go… The temperature had quickly dropped. I walked past a rocky area and heard the pikas making their sounds and saw a couple of marmots down below. They were awaiting the storm, too!
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It began to get darker and darker and I needed to find a place to camp. I had passed the meadows a long time ago and was nearing my goal of 10 miles for the afternoon.
I spotted an area in the grass below the trail, and knowing that it was going to be a rainy night, set up where the ground was higher. I did my best to minimize getting my things wet while I put up the tent and then spread out everything inside, bundled up in all of my layers, including my new scarf, and cooked some dinner. I hoped I was set up well enough to avoid water rushing into my tent! All I could do now was wait!

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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