Adventures in Washington – Part 1/3

“I can’t believe this is happening!!!” is a phrase I shouted more than once as I walked – or waltzed, rather – across the long-awaited Bridge of the Gods.

To the flow of vehicular traffic that frequented this route, the bridge was likely just an ordinary piece of infrastructure that allowed them to cross the Columbia River to work, or wherever their Monday was taking them. For me though, this bridge represented the culmination of a 2,100 mile-long journey and marked the entryway into my third and final state.

I promise I didn’t hold up traffic for too long!

“Wall-E, take a picture of me!” I’d yell, grinning dorkily from ear-to-ear. A stream of cars would pass by, leaving what felt like just enough space for our pedestrian selves, and then I’d resume frolicking and dancing around. I could hardly contain my excitement – I had dreamed of this moment for so long and now, it was actually happening.

I wasn’t celebrating prematurely – I was simply allowing myself to appreciate how far I’d come, both in geographical terms and regarding my inner journey. I was aware of the distance that still stood between me and the Canadian border and knew that anything could happen in that time. However, I was also confident that each step that had led me here had adequately prepared me.

Bring it, Washington!

We said our farewells to Oregon, and resumed our northerly trek – only to stop moments later. Blackberries! …and so many of them, too! I’d take a few steps and then another beautiful, gleaming berry would catch my eye and I’d feel that I had no choice but to stop again. I didn’t know it then, but there would be plenty more opportunities to gorge myself on nature’s bounty throughout this new and wondrous state. After our exciting (and consequently slower) start, me and Wall-E acknowledged that it was time to get moving, and we started our climb – another bountiful gift that Washington would readily offer to us over the next 500 miles.

Thankfully, we crushed our first climb – probably in part because of the berries – and before we knew it, we had made it the rest of the way to camp. I was content with how the day had gone and ready for a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, it just so happened that rest would be hard to come by that evening.

Cozy and unsuspecting of the events that would transpire come nightfall

The midnight visitor

I awoke suddenly to the sensation of something scuttering across my sleeping bag. Oh no… I reached for my headlamp and paused for a moment, steadying myself before I turned to the light for answers. I clicked on the light and saw that there, in the corner of my tent, was a mouse. I stared in disbelief at the furry little thing, thinking about how I’d made it all this way without being visited by a single critter…until now of course. Letting the mouse know I wasn’t pleased with its surprise visit, I unzipped my vestibules, convinced it to make its leave, and then assessed the damage.

Thankfully my critter-resistant food bag, an Ursack Minor, was unharmed, but the same couldn’t be said for my tent. The damage wasn’t extensive thankfully, but I could see where it had made its entry through the side of my mesh wall. Figuring there wasn’t much I could do, I hoped that the mouse had been effectively scared off from our ordeal and did my best to fall back asleep. Yet, I had a sneaking suspicion that me and the mouse weren’t done with one another and sure enough, this proved to be true.

At midnight, we repeated the same ritual as before and this time, I was grateful that there were no new damages to report. Unsure of how many more times this scenario would play out, I considered my options, which in my sleep-deprived state, seemed to be few. I decided to place my food bag outside the tent (something I probably should’ve been doing in the first place) and keep my vestibules wide open. This way, the mouse could do as it pleased without gnawing a new door for itself and I could finally get some rest.

In the morning, I was pleased to discover that my food bag was still wholly intact – Ursack for the win! I recounted the events from my evening to Wall-E and proactively apologized for any ill behavior that I might accidentally display that day. It was indeed a tough day, but thankfully I held myself together fairly well and slept remarkably better the following night.

A goat-less Goat Rocks

The next stretch of trail contained endless opportunities to practice glute-strengthening exercises, but other than that, it was largely uneventful. Then, following our first resupply in Trout Lake, the days seemed to suddenly explode with huckleberries and grand views. We entered Goat Rocks Wilderness, and although we didn’t see any goats, we did encounter a brief and unpleasant return of mosquitoes, lovely waterfalls, and incredible views of Pahto (Mt. Adams). We traversed the highly anticipated Knife’s Edge, and I experienced love at first sight with Tacoma (Mt. Rainier). I obsessed over that mountain for days, appreciating it from every new angle that was revealed as the trail twisted and turned its way north.

Tacoma (Rainier), my love

From White Pass, I walked alone for a couple of days. I had been looking forward to some solo time, but when Wall-E caught back up to me, I realized that I preferred the company. We temporarily disbanded once more at Snoqualmie Pass – he was meeting with friends and I needed to stay on schedule so I could make it in time to meet up with my friends in Stevens Pass. Instead of going on alone, I decided to reach out to someone whom I’d been interested in getting to know better for some time. Caesar replied that yes, he would be more than happy to hike together!

After catching up with the guys over beer and pizza, I picked up my resupply box and assured Wall-E that we’d see him in the next town. With that, me and Caesar set off to the woods and started out on what would soon become my favorite section of Washington – Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

First morning in Alpine Lakes

To be continued…


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