Day 126: Walking The Knife’s Edge At Goat Rocks

Started: Walupt Creek Tentsite (2268.7)

Ended: Somewhere on the Trail #76 Clear Lost Trail

Total Miles: Your guess is as good as mine.

Achievements: Cispus Pass, Goat Rocks

This is going to go down as one of the most epic days on trail. Unquestionably, it has been a long and difficult day. I have no idea where I am. I wanted adventurer and I’ve had it in droves.

Today I hiked through Goat Rocks, some of the most beautiful and challenging areas to hike. The views area amazing and made up for all the green tunnel I have hiked the past couple of weeks.

The terrain is as difficult as anything I did in the Sierra Mountains. I’m in much better shape now and I did a good job of eating so I had plenty of energy.

From my vantage point on the knife’s edge, I could see the forest fires that was going to lead to an alternate trail.

At the Coyote Trail Junction, I had to leave the regular PCT and take a series of other trails that should lead to White Pass. My goal was to make it to town today.

These trails are seldom used and are neither graded or maintained like the PCT. My phone app, Guthooks, that I use to track my position on the PCT does not even show these trails. I’m in a canyon, so my GPS is sporadic.

At one point, I “lost” the trail. I went straight, but the trail actually turned. It led to a cliff of mossy stone. I went back a ways, figuring I missed something, but still missed the turn. With no other idea of which way to go, I started climbing down the cliff. I reached a position where I was about six feet up. I decided to drop my hiking poles and took off my backpack. I tried to slide my pack down the cliff. It didn’t work. I watched my backpack cartwheel down way further than I wanted it to. Unfortunately, my phone was in the front pocket

I slid down and walked down picking up my poles and the water bottles that flew out. I reached my pack and discovered that my phone was just fine. The case I bought to protect it did it’s job.

Now with my new vantage point, I found the trail.

I kept on hiking. Eventually I found some pink ribbon with PCT Alternate Route on a tree, so I know I’m on the right trail. I walked until seven. At that point I committed to walking to the next water source. When I found that I would find a flat spot and call it a day.

That is where I am. I’ll get up early tomorrow and find my way to White Pass. I have a resupply box waiting for me there.

Day 125: Big Miles In The Hills

Started: Lewis River Tentsite (2241.7)

Ended: Walupt Creek Tentsite (2268.7)

Total Miles: 27.0

I’m beginning to understand why Washington is many PCT’er favorite state. The views are getting better and better.

The smoke and fog lifted overnight and the view from where we camped for the night was excellent.

We had an aggressive goal of 27 miles, so I did not dilly-dally. At 11, I reached some of the best trail magic yet. Surprisingly, they were from Wisconsin. Not only that, but they went to the same high school I went to, Hartland Arrowhead.

So, I had a hamburger with an egg and bacon on top for lunch.

For the most of the day I was in a green tunnel. There was a climb at the end and I had a wonderful view.

Mother Hen waited for me to point out where they were camping. I guess we are hiking together. I certainly enjoy their company. They hike much faster than me, but do the same daily miles, so it works.

Tomorrow is Goat Rocks. I cannot wait.

Day 124: In And Out Of Trout Lake

Started: Trout Lake Creek (2223.8)

Ended: Lewis River Tentsite (2241.7)

Total Miles: 17.9

Today was a personal record for getting resupplied and out of town. We got in at 9:30 and left at 12:30.

Our day started with an easy five mile hike to the forest road. There we were picked up by the Trout Lake volunteer shuttle. We were dropped off at the store where my resupply box could be picked up. They had a charging station ready to go. I picked up my resupply box and took it to the lawn in back.

My daughter is my quartermaster for the Washington phase of the hike. The resupply box was perfect. I didn’t need to buy anything to supplement it.

Khaleesi had a visitor, a member of her church back home in Houston. He bought lunch for the three of us.

We were back on the 12:30 shuttle with plenty of food and full power. We hiked 12 miles in. These 12 miles were bonus miles for me. My schedule assumes that I would spend the night in Trout Lake.

I’m beginning to see why Washington is everyone’s favorite state on the PCT. It is quite beautiful.

Tomorrow, the plan is to do about 25 miles. There is plenty of water, so my carry will be light. I have plenty of calories in my food bag. It is a bit colder. I’m sleeping with my water filter in my pocket so it doesn’t freeze. I prefer hiking when it is colder, so I’m ready to go.

Day 123: 2,200 Miles

Started: Dirt Road (2197.9)

Ended: Trout Lake Creek (2223.8)

Total Miles: 25.9

Achievements: 2,200 Miles

Not much to say about today. There were no big climbs, so I hit 14 miles by noon. As we were planning a 26 mile day, I was free to take it easy the rest of the day.

I did hit the 2,200 mile marker.

At one of the trail heads they had a log book. It was one of the first I have run into in a while. It was good to see some of the names of hikers I know in there. I know Stuck on the Ground is way ahead of me. It seems that Superstar is with her. I’ve passed Napoleon without seeing her.

As we continue, the number of hikers dwindle. In the end, according to the PCTA, 86% will drop out. Despite all odds, I’m still going strong.

Mother Hen, Khaleesi, and I have a reservation on the 9:30 shuttle to Trout Lake. I have five miles to hike to meet it, so tomorrow morning is going to be relaxing.

My goal is to charge my power bank, pick up my box, supplement it if necessary, get some lunch, and hit the trail. Ideally, I still do 20 miles.

With the Terminus open, my estimated ending date is September 25th. My wife and my anniversary is the 26th. I’d like to be home by then. I need time to get from Manning Park to Seattle to catch a flight. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that, but that is a problem for later. Right now, my goal is to shave off a couple of days. Ideally, I’d finish the hike on the 22nd or 23rd. I still have some chances to do that. Entering and leaving Trout Lake in one day will help.

I’m so glad this hike will get a proper finish.

Day 122: Back To Big Climbs

Started: Dirt Road (2172.4)

Ended: Dirt Road (2197.9)

Total Miles: 25.5

Achievements: Wave to the Kitty

I’ve been hanging around a new group of hikers. Mother Hen and Khaleesi have hiked together since the beginning. They taught in Indonesia as part of the Peace Corps. I’ve run into Crumbs many times. In fact, he shared a room with Nap, Bubbles and I in South Lake Tahoe. Crumbs is Swiss.

Here is a really old tree that was cut down.

Todays hike featured a ten mile, five thousand foot climb. You would think that would be easier now, but you would be wrong. I shlogged up the hill. It took forever. When I reached the top, I was surprised to see Mother Hen, Khaleesi and Crumbs. There was cell phone service and they had good news to tell me. The fire situation in Northern Washington has changed. There is now a path to Canada and the Northern Terminus. My hike will not end early!

Until that point, I spent most of the day thinking of what I was going to write. My wife has been pushing me to get off at Stevens Pass if the Northern Terminus remained closed. That would have me home about the 16th or so. Her argument is that Stevens Pass is much simpler to hitch. In fact, they have not shipped the resupply box there.

Now, things are different. I can go all the way. I hope so. The views look promising.

One interesting note. If this was the AT, I would be at home. My hike would be completed.

We went down together. We saw a mountain lion. It ran when it saw us. I waved to it.

Tomorrow should be much easier. I need an easy day after these big climbs the past two days.

Day 121: Walking The Bridge Of The Gods Into Washington

Started: Cascade Locks (2147.1)

Ended: Dirt Road (2172.4)

Total Miles: 25.3

Achievements: Cross the Bridge of the Gods, Washington

I was up at five, ready to go. I wanted the luxury of a real breakfast, so I had to wait until seven. I ate at the same place as Ian and I did the night before.

After sitting with an older couple who were curious about my hike, I was finally on the trail by eight.

The very first task was to cross the Bridge of the Gods into Washington. It was a strangely moving experience. I couldn’t believe I was finally entering Washington. It is the last phase of this hike. I’m almost done.

The first climb in Washington was bigger than anything in Oregon.

I’m now with a new group of people. As I’ve not taken zeros and my speed is improving, I’m closing in on the back end of the bubble of hikers.

The Fight To The Finish

Tomorrow this hike enters the third and final phase – Washington. Talking to previous hikers, Washington is the most beautiful state. It is also as challenging as California.

First, the resupply strategy completely changes. To this point, I resupplied in town. This is not an option in Washington. All the resupply points have nothing more than a gas station at best. All my resupply boxes are being sent from home. My daughter Julia in charge of this.

Second, the race is on. The weather is a concern. Rain and snow become more likely each day. My gear is for three seasons. Winter is not one of the seasons. I should be in good shape, as I’m entering in late August. Hopefully, my rain strategy will ensure I keep dry.

Third, the terrain becomes much more difficult. The climbs like Northern California are back. I will still need to do 25 mile days. Fortunately, I’m in shape to do it now.

My evacuation points are much more remote. I may not have phone reception, even in these little towns.

Finally, there is still the fire question. The Northern Terminus remains closed. There are four closures as it stands.

That being said, my health is excellent. I have no injuries. I’m hiking at full speed. I have some concerns about my lack of reserves. I’ve increased my calories in my food bag. I lost 20 pounds in the Sierra Mountains. I don’t have 20 to loose now. The Northern Cascades are as physically demanding as the Sierra Mountains.

Mentally, I’m gunning to finish this. My morale is high. I’m confident in my conditioning. I’m frustrated that is probably all for naught, as I don’t expect to be able to get to the Northern Terminus. However, there is no question that the hike has been a success.

The only gear issue is that the zipper to my next insect netting is still broke. It has been too cold for mosquitoes, so this has not been an issue. The tent keeps me dry, and that I know works. All other pieces of gear are fully functional.

Body says go. Mind says go. Gear says go. Will the trail let me get to Canada?

Day 120: Last Day In Oregon

Started: Wahtum Lake Tentsite (2130.3)

Ended: Cascade Locks (2147.1)

Total Miles: 16.8

Thanks to some solid pushes the previous two days, I only had 16.8 miles to get to Cascade Locks. If I was up at five, I could be in by noon. It was mostly downhill.

Hiking on a ridge early in the morning makes for some interesting lights and shadows.

It wasn’t the best quick jaunt into town. The downgrade was unusually steep, so I couldn’t keep a good quick pace. There was plenty of scree for good measure. There was one spot that had an excellent view.

Once I was down, Cascade Locks was a pretty nice hiker town. The motel let me check in early. The laundromat was close. The food store carried Mountain House and fuel canisters, and wasn’t too expensive. There were plenty of options to carb up.

My good friend Ian, who I had not seen in years drove out to see me for dinner.

Tomorrow I cross the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River and leave Oregon behind. Washington promises to be quite the adventure.

Day 119: Wet, Wet, Wet

Started: Tentsite (2106.3)

Ended: Wahtum Lake Tentsite (2130.3)

Total Miles: 24.0

It rained all night. I was a little worried that my tent could handle it. I tested it with a Wisconsin thunderstorm and it kept me perfectly dry. I was concerned that putting it up and taking it down a hundred times meant there were some holes I didn’t see. I also strapped it to the outside of my pack when I didn’t have enough room to carry everything, like in the Sierra Mountains when I carried a bear canister and nine days of food.

I woke up in the middle of the night and checked the state of things, but the tent kept me dry. I’m good for Washington.

I had checked the weather report the day before, so I knew that it should stop raining in the morning. That gave me an opportunity to sleep in. By 7:30 I could hear that the rain subsided and I started getting ready to leave.

The pack was heavy and I was sluggish. Between the wet pack and tent, I was probably carrying an extra liter of water. Back-to-back 28+ mile days probably had something to do with it as well.

I reached a point where electric is brought up the hill. The electric company cuts down all the vegetation, so it made a good place to lay out my gear while I ate lunch.

With 15 miles to go, I was running late. I broke out of the green tunnel and had some excellent views.

I maintained a good 3+ m.p.h. pace for the afternoon. I’m 16.3 miles from Cascade Locks. I’m getting up early to reach there in time to do laundry and resupply for three days. I’m going to meet my friend Ian for the first time in years.

Assuming I get everything done, I will not zero in Cascade Locks. That will cut another day of my hiking schedule. My morale is excellent, but I’d like to go home as well.