One State Down, On to Oregon!
I’m currently writing from Stevenson, WA, the town right at the Oregon/Washington border. It’s been an eventful few weeks since I last posted.
From Leavenworth it was 3 days to Snoqualamie Pass. While that was the part where we wanted to ramp up our miles, it was tough. Between the heat, bugs, smoke, and rocky trail it made for a harder than expected stretch.
After two days of lower milage than we had hoped for, we hiked 29 miles into Snoqualamie Pass, which required hiking over lots of rock fields and into the night. I remember finally getting there and just lying on the hotel floor hugging my knees to my chest while my feet throbbed in pain thinking “and this is after 29 miles?? We’re going to have to start doing this milage every day?! How?!” Thankfully Dabbles procured an orange soda for me while I was in this disheveled state and it made everything ok.
My friend’s mom, Tizzy, ended up meeting us in Snoqualamie Pass for lunch with bags full of lovely treats for us to take with us, providing a much needed morale boost 🙂 By this point Jordan decided he was not up for the smoke and viewless terrain so Tizzy took him to Seattle where he would hang out and then find his way to the part of the PCT he left off at two years ago. Since then, we’ve hung out with a few other southbounders here and there, but it’s pretty much just been Dabbles and I.
South of Snoqualamie Pass the terrain changed pretty drastically, the trail leveled out and the mountains went from sharp and tooth-like to rolling mountains more akin to what you would find in the northeast. We were pretty instantly able to ratchet up our daily milage to high 20s, and then low 30’s, without too much extra effort expended. While 29 into Snoqualamie Pass felt impossible, we quickly learned that not all 29 miles are alike. The trail became largely soft dirt and pine needles, which is way easier on the feet than the rocks further north. We even did a 40 mile day into Trout Lake a few days ago! My fear of whether or not we could get the high-miles necessary to finish in time have been completely quelled.
Sadly, there haven’t been too many jaw dropping views for this last stretch due to a mixture of smoke, rain, or cloud cover – but I suppose you can’t hit all the good views every time. Missing stunning views is one of the unpleasantries of thru-hiking like skipping around wildfires or ill-placed chaffing. You just have to accept it and move on.
It was raining all day on the day we were supposed to get grand views of Mount Rainier. I was very impressed at how many people were out for a weekend hike despite the rainy weather. Washingtonians are hardy people! I decided to listen to podcasts to keep me moving through the chilly and damp day.
I spent most of the afternoon listening to My Favorite Murder, a true crime podcast, and if you recall from my last post my headphones broke a while back so I was just listening to it out loud. I was pretty good about pausing the podcast when I knew I was crossing paths with families, but I couldn’t always see them in time and I got more than a few odd looks passing by people as my podcast was discussing death and dismemberment.. whoops, really should get some headphones here soon. One girl gave me a smile and said “killer podcast!” Which gave me a chuckle. Once I exhausted my saved episodes of that show I moved on to a Disney podcast, and definitely experienced less judgement from passersby on that one. When the day was done and I reflected on how I had spent the cold rainy day listening to true-crime and Disney I thought about how a similarly gloomy day at home wouldn’t actually be all that different!
We got to White Pass the next morning and hitched into Packwood to get what we had heard were some of the best burgers on the trail – and they did not disappoint! What did disappoint, however, was that every hotel room in town was already booked up. The only option was to camp behind the convenience store by the trailhead. The night was actually pretty fun, and it was nice that so many hikers had converged on this spot, since no one else was able to get rooms in town either. The store itself (called Kracker Barrel, but note, is NOT a Cracker Barrel restaurant) was great, they offered showers, and the staff were super nice to us and didn’t mind one bit when I came to the register for the fifth time to get another orange soda.
Goat Rocks was the next notable landmark we were poised to hit, and we’ve been told all trail to this point that this was going to be one of the highlights of the state. The weather forecast was partly sunny, so we thought it would make sense to chance it when we did. Sadly, we got the wrong part of partly sunny, and were in a cloud on the ridge for the whole part that was supposed to be really awesome.
Dabbles ended up getting a bit turned around on an alternate route with no visibility (example: see above) and I unknowingly ended up ahead of him. When I got to the campsite we had agreed to camp at, he wasn’t there and I figured he had gone further – as he tends to do if he gets in early and is feeling good – so naturally I decided I’d go further to find him since there was still some daylight left. Needless to say, I didn’t find him and camped on my own that night. I was shocked the next morning when I heard him calling “Sparky!” from behind. This is the kind of circumstance that makes one grateful for cell service when it exists.
Then that night we were only going to go 30-something miles and save the last 5-10 into Trout Lake for the next morning. The day passes and again I get to the campsite we discussed and there’s no Dabbles in sight. Did I somehow get ahead of him again? Did he hike on? I ended up going another 2 miles to the next campsite, no Dabbles. I go another 2 to the next one, still no Dabbles. At that point it was only another 2 to the road where a shuttle takes hikers in to Trout Lake every morning and I decided “ok I’m doing it! Let’s hit 40!” And I was off! I got a second wind and my feet that wanted to stop around 30 miles pushed on without too much complaint. It was getting dark by the time I got to the roadside tentsite, but I made it and it felt really good knowing that I could do a 40 mile day if I put my mind to it. Those last 10 miles were probably the fastest of my day!
The next morning I got the shuttle in and, as I thought, Dabbles had made it to town the night before.
Trout Lake is awesome. They are so friendly and accommodating to hikers, and they have huckleberry milkshakes to top it all off. After lounging for an afternoon we got back on the trail in the evening.
The last 3 days on trail have been VERY hot and smoky. The bugs have thankfully gotten much better at least, and like I said before I’m choosing to see it as trading one headache for another. For the last two days we’ve taken breaks around 4pm just lying in dirt, pine needles, and sweat waiting for the heat to break and reminding ourselves that this is the vacation we chose. Fortunately by early next week we’ll get back to more reasonable temperatures.
We got to the Bridge of the Gods, the WA/OR border, late morning today and hitched in to Stevenson. For the last few miles of Washington it felt like the state didn’t want us to leave – the trail was lined with black raspberry bushes with perfectly ripe fruit and we lingered picking handfuls of berries and stuffing them into our mouths as we approached Oregon.
I am beyond excited to get to this milestone! 505 trail miles complete, we’re on to a new state, I’ve worn through a pair of shoes already, and man! It finally feels like I’m really doing this thing!
Day 14: 20 miles
Day 15: 22 miles
Day 16: 29 miles in to Snoqualamie Pass
Day 17: 0 miles in Snoqualamie Pass
Day 18: 28 miles out of Snoqualamie Pass
Day 19: 31 miles
Day 20: 32 miles
Day 21: 7 miles into White Pass/Packwood
Day 22: 26 miles out of White Pass
Day 23: 40 miles to Trout Lake shuttle stop
Day 24: 5 miles out of Trout Lake
Day 25: 31 miles
Day 26: 32 miles
Day 27: 12 miles in to Stevenson
Trail Mile: 505
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