The PCT – Washington – Days 141 – 150

Day 141: 3.7 miles

I caught the bus back out to Cascade Locks, after eating something called a cruffin from a place called Twisted Croissant. It was a croissant in the shape of a muffin and filled with apricot custard. It was a mess to eat, but quite tasty. After I got back to the trail, I began my walk across the Bridge of the Gods. It was made famous by the book and movie “Wild”, being the end point to Cheryl Strayed’s PCT hike. What they don’t tell you is that you are literally walking in the road and there is nowhere to have life altering revelations or poetic recaps of your journey. Also it was very windy and my hat kept trying to start its own journey away from my head. So I just walked quickly across the Oregon-Washington border and took a bunch of pics on the other side.

Back in the woods I could still hear traffic as I walked along the path bordered by large amount of berries. I’ve often wished I enjoyed any berries other than blue and straw, because I’d have a veritable feast. But I don’t like them, the seeds get stuck in my teeth and their flavor is just meh. I made it to a nice little campsite next to a lake and set up early. I wasn’t really planning on going far today anyway.

Day 142: 15.4 miles

My sleeping pad apparently had a hole in it and kept deflating through out the night. I got about 4 cumulative hours of sleep. I had to go down to the lake to see where the hole was in my pad which made me late getting started. It was all uphill and so so humid. I was drenched in sweat and miserably sleepy so I stopped early for lunch and took a nap. I got to Rock Creek early and claimed a pretty sweet spot right next to the swimming hole. It would’ve been sweeter if a huge group of SOBOs hadn’t hung out in front of my tent for hours, but once they left it was peaceful.

Day 143: 19.5 miles

There was a traffic jam on trail this morning. A mama deer and her fawn were in the trail. I stepped forward and the mama deer daintily picked her way into the foliage but her fawn stubbornly remained behind on trail giving me a side eye. I stepped forward again and the fawn bounced down the trail a bit and stopped to pick at some snacks. We kept up this routine for a couple minutes with the fawn getting further and further down the trail. Meanwhile mama deer is placidly munching in the greenery, seemingly without a care in the world. Eventually we came to a bend that formed a gully where the fawn flounced down into the underbrush and back towards mama, who I’m sure didn’t even know her child was gone.

The restof the day was unremarkable. More humidity and more climbing.

Day 144: 19.6 miles

The days are starting to blend together in one long walk in a green tunnel. I don’t mind the trees, I love them. But it makes for unremarkable notes on my day. More walking. More podcasts. My sleeping pad is still leaking despite the patches.

Day 145: 18.6 miles

Miles went by fast today. Not much thinking, just walking in the humidity.

Day 146: 6 miles

My sleeping pad continues to defy efforts at fixing it and deflated five times last night. It made it quite difficult to get any rest with numb arms and painful hips. I didn’t get an early start like I wanted to either. Today was town day and there was a shuttle to Trout Lake at 0800. It was five miles away. I thought I might have to wait for the 1000 shuttle, but I somehow managed to hike those five miles in under 2 hours.

In Trout Lake I laundered, showered, and picked up my resupply box. The General Store caters to hikers and had a hiker hang out spot with a charging station and shade. I hung out in the grass, all clean like while I waited for my battery to charge. I also got some super glue to plug the hole in my sleeping pad. After it dried, I blew it up and lounged on it to make sure it’d stay inflated.

A lot of hikers came and went. Everyone is talking about the PCT trail days. It’s a festival type event held at Cascade Locks. Everyone is trying to figure out rides back there and mileage, etc etc. I’m excited because it means the trail will be less crowded and if I time it right I might be able to maintain a smaller bubble for the rest of the trip.

Around 1530 I gathered my things and got on the shuttle back to trail. I only went a mile to a nice little creek full of frogs. Or toads. I’m not sure which. I spent the afternoon napping and reading on my fixed sleeping pad.

Day 147: 19.6 miles

About a mile into my day I came upon a huge hillside of huckleberry bushes. I had to stop and pick some. I kept narrating to myself like I was on a TV show. This season on Alone…But Not Really, Compass is in huckleberry heaven. Will they help her survive the harsh terrain? Tune in to find out! Lol. Picking berries really slows down your pace, but totally worth it.

The trail climbed to an alpine ridge that skirted the base of Mt Adams. All day it loomed to the east as I went in and out of tree line to lava rock fields. I crossed a muddy river that was raging with snow melt. It was actually worse than anything I ever saw in the Sierra. After that I put myself in cruise control and listened to podcasts.

Camp was at Lava Springs, a lovely site with the clearest and coldest water in Wahington so far. It was snow melt filtered through lava rock and delightful.

Day 148: 22.9 miles

Today started out fast and stayed that way all day. I’m not sure how I maintained my pace but I did and even passed someone, a first! The bugs were bad, like real bad. Mosquitos kept trying to fly into my eyes and ears and flies would swarm any unprotected skin the second you stopped. I set up my tent to eat lunch in peace. I saw a huge line of hikers that filed past, all hurrying to White Pass so they can hitch back to Casacde Locks.

In the afternoon the trail started climbing ever upwards. The sun beat down on my hood. The trees began to thin out as I rose in elevation. At some unnamed pass, I crested the top of the ridge and the spectacular vista of the Goat Rocks spread out before me. The imposing towers of lava rock and sandstone rose up sharply reflecting the sinking sunlight.

The trail climbed along the valley wall to Cispus Pass and crossed over to another valley. Wildflowers dotted the hills and creeks flowed down the rocks to the basin below. I found a campsite next to Cispus River with a glorious view of the mountain crest above. I had it all to myself.

Day 149: 14.5 miles

I didn’t wake up until late which is just as well because walking in the dark would have been a crime in this section. I kept stopping to take pictures and using my plant app to figure out the wildflowers exploding on the hillsides. The usual suspects were in abundance: Lupine, Asters, Columbines, Corn Lillies, and an usual shade Indian Paintbrush. It was a stawberry pinkish red that seemed to glow. New flowers I observed were Sitka Valerian, Braced Lousewort, Ranger’s Buttons, and Bistort. I also saw a Dr Suess puffball looking flower that I later learned was a White Pasqueflower. I think they should be renamed.

The huge spires of Goat Rocks stood guard over the lush forested valley below. Glacier fed streams tumbled over lava rocks into waterfalls and the air was heavy with moisture and the smell of pine tree needles. I rambled along the trail barely noticing the climb. The trail wound into a large alpine meadow with the last views of Mt Adams behind.

The trail started to get steep with a small patch of snow that was a bit butt clenching. I got to a trail junction where you could choose to go the lower easier route, but there were two more snow passes. Or you could take the high route with reportedly spectacular views. There was already a wide open view of Mt Ranier, and I didn’t feel like more unnecessary climbing so I chose the lower route. The snow wasn’t that bad, I just went slow and didn’t look down.

On the other side was the “Knife’s Edge”, a bit of trail that straddled the mountain tops where you see both sides. Mt Ranier was off to the northwest and slowly got closer. The trail got positively Appalachian with its extremely steep elevation changes but the exhilarating feeling of being up high with 360 degree views made the work seem like nothing.

Eventually the trail went back down into the trees where I started to hike faster. Incidently I also saw Jupiter of YouTube fame. I just kinda waved as I went by. There were more huckleberries to eat which slowed me down a little, but mostly it was a cruise to camp which had the coldest water ever! Yum!

Day 150: 8 miles, prolly more

Woke early because today is a “town” day! It was only 8 miles to the White Pass Kracker Barrel where I’d pick up my resupply. Word on the trail was that you had to get there early to get in the list for showers and laundry so I wasn’t counting on it.

On the way up that last climb was an absolutely breathtaking (both literally and figuratively) view of Mt Ranier and the surrounding mountain ranges. At the top I met two horsemen who’d I bounce around on the way down. They were slower on the rocky slopes and overtook me on the forested bit.

I made it to the highway and cruised into the store where to my delight the list for showers and laundry was very short! Huzzah! I get to be clean. I love that.

Now I’m sitting here waiting for my laundry after which I’ll probably head back out onto trail.

2 thoughts on “The PCT – Washington – Days 141 – 150

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