The PCT – Washington – Days 151 – 161

Day 151: 20.8 miles

Lots of people showed up to my lake side tent site after dark. I assume they stayed as late as possible at White Pass before stumbling out into the night. So what was a peaceful evening turned into a wait-and-see game of how many people who would up.

The morning dawned cool and misty. The lake and trees were shrouded in fog. Despite the chilly temp I was soon drenched in sweat from strenuous climbing all morning. The air felt heavy with moisture and I didn’t want to stop too long at any one spot. There wasn’t much to see anyway.

The sun make occasional appearances but didn’t fully show out until after lunch. And then it just got miserably muggy. As soon as I got out into the open though the humidity just became straight up heat. The climbs were big and giving me Sierra flashbacks. I turned one bend and then Smack! there was Mt Rainier right up in my face.

Camped near Anderson lake where I was able to wipe some of the sweat off and thankfully there was a light breeze to keep the mosquitos off. I ate dinner with some other hikers I’ve been bouncing around and I joked thay we should raise our drink pinkies to Mt Ren-yay, cuz it’s all French and fancy.

Day 152: 15.6 miles

The first climb up out of Dewey Lake (which would have been nice to camp at if I hadn’t seen the large poop right next to the water) was a beast. Long and steep. There were lots of wildflowers to enjoy on the other side though, coming down into Chinook pass. There were also loads of day hikers smelling all fresh and perfumey.

There was no sign in the wilderness to prove it but I had been walking the outskirts of Mt Rainier National Park. So when I got to the pedestrian bridge over the main road in, I had to get a picture. There was some trail magic (sodas and muffins) in the parking lot. It was next to one of the stinkiest pit toilets I’ve ever had the misfortune to smell.

After guzzling some ice cold Gatorade I marched back up into the trail with all the others. There seems to be a rather large bubble of people around me and it is a bit distressing. Of course I’m always the slowest and that makes for a stressful day when you are competing for campsites. I got some cell service and found out there is a Norovirus outbreak in the group of hikers ahead of me at Snoqualmie Pass. So that’s other wrinkle in my anxious brain meat.

Also I was just feeling slow and tired which didn’t help the 2000 ish foot climb I had to go over. I stopped a bit early because there was a campsite available next to a cold spring and also the next 8 miles were a burn (which I wouldn’t want to camp in).

Day 153: 26.8 miles

Today I shot out of camp like a bullet. I credit the instant Folgers for the burst of caffeine that enabled me to get 6 miles in 2 hours. I skimmed through an old burn area and in the early morning light the trail was bearable. The scarred toothpicks of old pines were spread out amongst the outrageous bloom of fireweed. Pinks and greens went by in a blur. I stopped at Mike Urichs cabin to check it out, but didn’t stay long because hordes of other people started dropping in. They were from PCT days and had gotten back on at Chinook Pass. Probably carrying Covid to add to the mix of fun surprises on trail.

I managed to get 15 miles in before I stopped for lunch, which blew my mind. I felt strong and full of energy. I’m not sure what the right mix was to recreate this, because I need to feel that more often. I was thinking today how I can actually finish this thing. The end is nigh. And when it’s over and I’m back in my “normal life” how I’ll be longing to be back out on trail all dirty and tired. I’m getting nostalgic for the thing that hasn’t even ended yet. Lol.

Day 154: 23.3 miles

Today started slow. I don’t think the Cafe Bustelo instant packets work. You’d think they would have all the caffeine, but no. It was a lot of steep ups and downs in a green tunnel until I got to Stampede Pass. There was some trail magic there which I sat around for awhile. Then I took an alternate I’d found in the comments on Guthook.

Basically I’d walk down the Forest Service road to a bike/hike trail and then take that into Snoqualmie Pass. It was relatively flat and easy and I was in! Once down on the trail the walking was on cruise control. I zoomed past Purple Foxglove and Tansy, large rock walls and thick Pine forest, a low level lake and back country campsites. It was at one of these campsites I decided to stop, Cold Creek boasted of picnic tables and pit toilets. I saw a couple there that I met on the first day and hadn’t seen since Tuolomne Meadows! I fell asleep to the sounds of the creek and the hum of I-90 across the lake.

Day 155: 4.2 miles

I got going early so that I could get to town and have some pancakes. Snoqualmie Pass boasts of one diner attached to the hotel, two coffee shops, and one gas station. It was the gas station I’d sent my resupply and new shoes to. They charged $8 a box to pick up. I’m willing to pay my due, but that seems a little outrageous. Especially since the boxes were all out in the store where anybody could pick them up.

I ate my pancake breakfast and managed to get checked into the hotel early. I promptly wiped everything down with some Purell wipes because there was a GI big or perhaps Norovirus blazing its way through all the hikers. No wonder, when it’s a badge of honor to not shower or clean oneself for weeks at a time. I spent the rest of the day napping and eating.

Day 156: 0 miles

I’d been feeling very tired and weary lately so I thought it might be time for a zero. I spent it eating, napping, and watching Sandman. Woah! What a good show! SPOILER ALERT

I thought it was weird that the show was so delicate around showing a baby’s death (not visualizing the body or the mothers reaction), but then they were brutal with the kittens. As soon as I saw what that douchecopter was going to do I threw down my phone in horror. But otherwise, I thought the whole show was well thought out and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Day 157: 14.3 miles

I kept dawdling leaving town. The lure of coffee was too strong. I got back on trail about 1030 and it was immediately a climb. It wasn’t too bad though – lots of switchbacks and a gentle grade. At the top was the famed Kendall Catwalk, where you could see both sides of the range and then walked along the ridgeline with a gorgeous open view to the east. There were lots of squeaky meeps from the Pikas and angry chittering from the Squirrels.

As the afternoon wore on, clouds rolled in and obscured all the views. And then it started drizzling. The trail got very rocky and started to get steep. It was an unpleasant walk and getting to camp became my all consuming goal. There were 10 tents there already but I managed to find a cove of trees. Slanted but cozy.

Last new pair of shoes!

Day 158: 20.5 miles

Everything was wet or damp when I woke. It was still drizzling and soaked into my bones as soon as I started walking. My hands got numb and my nose ran freely. Then it started raining in earnest and I seriously considered stopping and setting up my tent. I started to descend into a green valley and the rain came to a stop. The clouds still hung around, threatening to ruin a good time.

I started to climb up 5 miles and a zillion switchbacks to my lunch spot. The little pond was like many of the alpine lakes – clear and blue green. I set up my tent so it could air dry, but also had the added benefit of being able to eat in peace away from the infernal mosquitos. The walk down to Waptus river was easy, but long. I set up camp and met two other hikers who were nurses too!

Day 159: 16.4 miles

I’m still feeling exhausted. Today was okay, just slow and I couldn’t muster the energy to go further.

Day 160: 15.6 miles

Three big climbs today. Lots of alpine lakes. On the second climb I finally got a picture of a Pika. I saw it dart underneath a rock as I was rounding the corner and for some reason (read: I was out of breath) I thought to stop and wait for it return. Sure enough a little nose poked out of the hole. It kept darting to and fro and finally crossed the trail to another hidey hole. Also on this climb was a hillside of blueberries, all fat and juicy. I learned the value of a sun ripened blueberry straight off the stem.

The third climb was horrendous. Mostly because it was steep and in the full sun. Also I’m just so so tired. I feel like a clock winding down. Making the miles seemed to be easier a couple of weeks ago, and yet again I’m fighting my body. The only real reason I keep going now is that I want to finish.

Day 161: 4.2 miles

Today was town day so my feet should have been feeling swift. But then the trail was overtaken by blueberry bushes and I had to keep picking them. THE ANTIOXIDANTS! They are so sweet and four hikers ran by me before I finished. Incidently 2/3 of the Ultralight Bros will offer asinine commentary on what you are doing. Can’t get any hiking done if you’re picking berries! Hurr. You sure do have a lot of berries! Hurr Durr. Whatever. They’re just jealous they don’t have a bag full of juicy bois.

I got down to Stevens Pass and picked up my resupply box. I had planned on hitching in Skykomish (which sounds like it is a town that belongs in Michigan) and had a ride offered as I was about to head down to the road. Anthony owns the outfitters and serendipitously was also who I’d contacted about a place to stay. I now have a nice travel trailer to stay in and fried chicken in my future. Things are looking up.

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