Day 135: Quick In And Out Of Stevens Pass

Started: Hope Lake (2455.9)

Ended: Lake Janus (2473.9)

Total Miles: 18.0 Remaining: 178.8

I received a reprieve from the rain last night. My tent dried a bit. I still took the floor out and put it into the dry section of my pack.

I had a pretty simple eight mile hike into Stevens Pass. There I would pick up a box sent by my daughter with five days of food. I charged my battery and my phone. I called home. There wasn’t much in the store. It is not a resupply option.

I did pick up a medium t-shirt off the 50% rack made of quick dry material for some extra warmth. It is going to be in the low 30’s at night.

The ten mile hike to Lake Janus was pretty simple as well. I found a tentsite that was perfectly dry. After the rain I’ve had these past three days, if there is a spot that is still dry, that is a good place to put a tent.

The Fight To The Finish ( 9/12 Update)

I still have a path to the Northern Terminus, so I’m leaving Stevens Pass.

The forecast is rain, rain and more rain with highs in the 40’s until I reach Stehekin. So far my strategy to keep my gear dry has worked. This is going to be uncomfortable, but I’m so close.

My wife texted me that all my boxes are in place. I can speed up if I want.

The difficulty of this past section was a 9.7 out of 10. The next two sections are 10 out of 10. There is no reason why I cannot do more than 20 miles a day.

I’m good to go.

Day 134: Cold And Wet Part II (Home Field Advantage)

Started: Deep Lake (2434.8)

Ended: Hope Lake (2455.9)

Total Miles: 21.1 Remaining: 196.6

It rained all night, but I stayed dry. It stopped at 6:30 a.m., so I was able to get packed up without everything getting wet.

One advantage of my tent is the removable bathtub. As it was dry, but the tent was very wet, I removed it and put it in the dry section of my pack.

Storyteller and I started the first climb. We reached a rather hairy river crossing and worked together to cross it. My confidence in my balance has improved since I started this hike. I used to fear river crossings. Today I did about twenty feet balancing on a four inch wide tree over a raging river.

We were teased by the sun breaking through the clouds. When we sat down for a break, the rain started — hard. It rained the rest of day.

One of the ultralight thru-hikers I’ve ran into in the past walked by us wearing a cheap poncho. He was very wet and quite cold.

I’ve only been carrying a pack ready for a day like today. My 14 oz. outer shell kept my dry all day.

Eventually, LOL passed us. She’s from Mississippi and not used to the cold. She was going to press on into town.

As the day went on, it kept getting colder and kept on raining. Storyteller looked at me and said, “I was calculating…”

“Push on into town.”

“You really want to camp in this don’t you?”

“This is my home field advantage. I’ve been carrying gear for these conditions since I started. I’m sleeping in the clouds.”

So, I feel I have this section all to myself. It was a challenge, but I found a dry spot between some trees next to a lake. I’m warm, dry and comfortable. I only have a couple of day on trail left. Why would I go into civilization a day early?

Tomorrow I’ll reach Stevens Pass in the morning and pick up my second last resupply box.

Day 133: Cold And Wet With Storyteller

Started: Lemah Creek (2413.8)

Ended: Deep Lake (2434.8)

Total Miles: 21.0 Remaining: 217.7

It started to rain last night, and it rained all day today. It is a cold rain that is supposed to be constant for the next four days. This is Washington after all.

Fortunately, I’m from Wisconsin. I got this.

I have a two layer rain protection strategy. All the things I need dry are in waterproof bags. All those waterproof bags are stored in a garbage compactor bag. The garbage compactor bags are just the right size and are made of a thicker plastic.

When I woke up, I was dry. I put everything in my pack in my tent. When I stopped for the night, everything was still dry.

Today I hiked with Nick, a section hiker from Seattle. We have much in common. He is where I was when I was thirty.

We both have political science degrees. We are both religious. We both love baseball and normally play fantasy sports. It says we walked 21 miles, which is true, but I don’t really remember the six mile climb. The conversation was so engaging, it wasn’t until nearly 1 p.m. before I was so hungry that we remembered to stop and eat.

Unlike me, he actually used his degree. He’s been a legislative aid and lobbyist in Washington DC. He is finishing up his master’s program.

He’s met many public figures, often in weird situations. As he worked as a lobbyist for good causes, he didn’t make much, so he also worked nights as a waiter and at the Fords Theater.

What he lacked was a trail name. I still had never given one, so I proposed Storyteller. He gladly accepted it.

After 21 miles we found a reasonably dry spot in some trees. Everything is wet and there will be no chance to dry anything, so it is critical that was needs to be dry remains dry.

Day 132: Difficulty Increase

Started: Snoqualmie Pass (2393.1)

Ended: Lemah Creek (2413.8)

Total Miles: 20.7 Remaining: 238.8

Achievements: 2,400 Miles

My resupply box going to Stevens Pass is not going to be there until the 11th, so there is no big rush. In fact, there is no longer any need to rush in general. My projections assume 20 mile days, and I’m finishing with enough time to make it home before my anniversary.

I might be able to chop one more day off if I really tried. However, the difficulty of these last sections is high. If fact, they are as difficult as the Sierra Mountains. So, I’m going to slow down a bit.

I reached the 2,400 mile marker.

It took a full 12 hours to hike these 20 miles. There were multiple climbs. There was scree. There were fallen trees to climb over. It was the Sierra Mountains all over again including the views.

I have a wonderful 2,400 foot climbs over five miles to start the day. Not looking forward to that

Day 131: Quick Rest In Snoqualmie Pass

Started: Stirrup Creek Trail Junction (2379.8)

Ended: Snoqualmie Pass (2393.1)

Total Miles: 13.3

After the big push last night, I thought I’d have a quick run into town. The thirteen miles were pretty rugged.

It rained most of the time, so my phone was kept secure.

I hiked in with LOL who is an avid dog lover. We had breakfast for lunch at the Pancake House. We sat with Trail Quail and Dead Zone.

The rest of the day was laundry, shower and rest. Stevens Pass, the next stop, does not have laundry.

Believe it or not, but I have just two resupply stops left. I have a three day hike to Stevens Pass, a five day hike to Stehekin, and a three day hike to Manning Park. This is almost done.

I’m having dinner with the trio tonight, but plan on leaving early tomorrow.

Day 130: Sometimes Big Miles Just Happen

Started: Spring Tentsite (2351.7)

Ended: Stirrup Creek Trail Junction (2379.8)

Total Miles: 28.1

Achievements: Marathon (6)

With forty miles to go to get to Snoqualmie Pass, my goal was to do about twenty-five miles. That was a pretty bold number based upon the elevation charts.

I was blessed with not just one trail magic but two!

The first trail magic was in the middle of nowhere. The host left a sign that said that he or she would return. I drank two sodas and ate a banana. They didn’t return by the time I left.

The second one was just five miles before where I planned to camp. He had sodas and cooked hotdogs.

That was extra calories that I would need. You see, my desired campsite was an excellent water source. It lacked one important thing — an actual campsite. I should have read more of the comments. The next site was a tiny site three miles away and it was getting dark.

So, I’m Tetris-ed into a one tent site with a hiker I just met ten minutes ago. She was kind enough to let me put my tent so close to her’s. My door is facing her door. The tie lines are crossed.

Did I mention it is raining?

It is all good. We are a community.

Tomorrow I get into Snoqualmie Pass and will pick up a box for three days. I’m not sure if I’m going to spend the night or laundry, shower and hike on. Honestly, I could use the rest.

Day 129: Back On Track

Started: Cliff Tentsite (2327.8)

Ended: Spring Tentsite (2351.7)

Total Miles: 23.9

Not much to say about today other than I was back to normal. My energy level returned to normal and I bounded up both climbs today. I made a strong push at the end of the day. Whatever it was that slowed me down yesterday was resolved with rest, food and plenty of water. There were some good views.

But, it mostly consisted of burned out sections.

Tomorrow I’ll make a strong push to position my to get to Snoqualmie Pass the day after. That will cut my hike down by another day. That means I’ll make it to the Northern Terminus on the 23rd.

I have one more adventure after this hike and that is getting home. Under the original plan, my wife would meet me at Manning Park with a rental car. Now I have to make my way.

You used to be able to take a Greyhound as there was a stop at Manning Park. That ended this year. Now I’ll have to hitch from Manning Park to the town of Hope and take a Greyhound from there. Once I’m in Vancouver, I will take the train to Seattle and fly home from there. It should be interesting. The trail has always provided, so something else might happen.

Day 128: Dogging It

Started: Unnamed Creek Tentsite (2307.3)

Ended: Cliff Tentsite (2327.8)

Total Miles: 20.5

I woke up to the sound of the unnamed creek. It was cold. I didn’t want to get out of my warm sleeping bag. For the first time, I really didn’t want to hike. I just wanted rest.

I guess the excitement of Goats Rock, getting lost on the fire alternate, and quickly going in and out of towns has taken their toll on me. I probably need a zero, but there isn’t any time to do that.

So I decided to look at the map and see what my options are. I found a good solution. My projections assume a twenty mile day. At 20.5 miles is a single tentsite that has Verizon LTE. I’ll hike there and update my blog.

I dogged the whole day. I ate extra calories at lunch, but it didn’t help.

Dogging twenty miles meant that I made the campsite by 4:30 p.m. so I guess that is still pretty fast.

So I’ve spent the afternoon updating everything and eating like crazy. Hopefully this rest is just what I needed. I still want to cut one more day off this hike to make sure I’m home by my anniversary.

Day 127: 2,300 Miles

Started: Somewhere on the Trail #76 Clear Lost Trail

Ended: Unnamed Creek Tentsite (2307.3)

Total Miles: Unknown Plus 2.5 Bonus

Achievements: 2,300 Miles

I woke up two times last night. The first was at 10 p.m. as a couple asked if I knew how far it was to the highway. I told them that I didn’t know and that is why I camped. I was awoken again at midnight by three male hikers night hiking. They apologized. They didn’t expect anyone to camp in that section of the trail as there was no campsites.

I got up and was moving by seven. The question in the back of my mind was “Did I make the right choice?”. By camping instead of making it to White Pass I was signaling to Khaleesi and Mother Hen to hike on without me.

I made the right choice. The hike was technical and included a gnarly river crossing that I would not want to do in the dark.

I did learn that the alternate was 18 miles long. I did 10 PCT miles and I’m going to guess 13 alternate miles on the first day. That left five alternate miles and 12.4 PCT miles today. I did both road walks today instead of hitching.

At White Pass, I took a shower and washed most of my clothes. I say most because I hand washed two pairs of socks in a creek, but forgot to put them in the washer. My socks need washing the most and I forgot to include them.

One of my two boxes was there. I called home and the second was to be delivered today. I was charging my power bank, so this didn’t delay me.

As I was putting together my resupply, I ran into Cashew. Cashew is the hiker who gave me my trail name. He has only named one person on trail. The introduction was awesome.

“Are you Cashew?”

“Yes.”

“I am Young Buck. You gave me my name.”

He looked at me astonished.

“No Way! No Way!”

“Yes, it is me. I’ve lost 70 pounds.”

“You did it. You look like that picture you showed us. You look amazing!”

That was pretty cool.

After finishing up packing, I was back on the trail. I reached the 2,300 mile mark.

I ran into Crumbs. He told me Mother Hen went to Packwood instead of the trail due to a sore knee.

Looking at my projections, I’m now scheduled to make it to Manning Park on the 24th. That was an important goal when my wife was going to be there. However, my kids protested, so I’ll come home alone so everyone can see me.

My projections assume 20 mile days that I can do in my sleep. To get from Manning Park to Seattle and catch a flight by my anniversary on the 26th might require more time, so I will continue to shave off days. Ideally, I’d like to make the Northern Terminus by the 22nd. and have a relaxing trip home.

This section is flat, so I should be able to shave off a day by just doing 25 mile days.