Day 1 – 15.9 miles

Hitching out of Mazama was harder than advertised. For two and a half hours we stood with our thumbs out, growing increasingly discouraged, we drank beers to help with the pangs of rejection.

Finally, someone takes pity on our souls and takes us to Harts Pass, she even knows the ranger there. The ranger is hella cool and is super understanding about our weird permit issues. It’s nice when people aren’t jerks about it.

It’s a late alpine start of 1:00 p.m., and I was hoping for 19 miles today. I remain hopeful that somehow I can pull that out of my ass. I hike with a new friend, Tree. We talk about our trails and the scenery. I have to take an emergency poop (thanks energy gels) and lose him. I don’t take many breaks, and the ones I do are very short. My feet feel awful, but it’s just cause I’m not taking breaks and have been walking around in town on asphalt for two days.

The terrain is flat and nice, totally unexpected. I’m sure it’ll get really hard really quick though… or maybe the AZT had turned me into a machine (I am almost absolutely certain I will eat these words later). I appreciate the switchbacks and thousands of shades of green. The mountains look so alpine but aren’t nearly as high as they appear. I see some that remind me of the Minarets.

I fall short of my goal, I don’t feel like doing three more miles and the glorious thing is that I don’t have to. I find a banger campsite, but someone has decided to be an asshole and hang their food there. So I settled for a super awkward spot but it’s cool cause my tent is (almost too) tiny.

It just so happens that Tree is also here, he didn’t make it either. It be like that sometimes. I think we did pretty good for a 1:00 p.m. start.

The deer are huffin and puffin around, which I actually kinda like. Last week in Lassen I woke up to an elk licking my tent and decided that the deer are actually kinda fun (will probably eat these words later too).

Day 2 – 21.1 miles

I didn’t anticipate for today to be even half of what it was.

The scenery was breathtaking from the moment I broke camp to (sorry but it’s true) two miles before the monument. Flowers of every color, peaks of all shapes and variations, rocks that I don’t even recognize, gorgeous evergreens and shrubs. Every shade of green.

The trail was nice again. Every grade extremely manageable and gentle. A little rocky at times but nothing compared to the Mazzies back in Arizona.

I had a thought. I am either going to have to pull a 21-mile day today or tomorrow, and today I would have the option to slackpack…. It would be two rough days in a row to start, but it would probably be tougher if I do the big day tomorrow with the extra elevation gain and no option to slackpack.

Now, am I going to do a 18.5-mile day, or 21.5-mile day? I make a decision and leave everything at the further camp. A bee stings me in the lip as I set up my tent. Bee stings hurt so fucking bad.

I continue on. I run into Tree, I had noticed he made the decision to pull a 30 to the monument and back, dude is a crusher, I’ll never see him again probably.

I finally reach the monument. The last two miles are lame in comparison to the scenery of the morning and I find myself getting bored, until I am surprised by the monument, it just sorta happens awkwardly.

Pez is there, and a new friend Ally is on her way back up from the monument when I meet her. Pez takes my picture despite being viciously attacked by biting flies.

I start to say where I am out loud and I am a bit dumbfounded that I’m even here. Sometimes life feels like it’s getting away from me and I kinda come to at random moments and really realize the commitment I’m making. Every time I feel proud and exited, and also small pangs of sadness because I know today won’t happen again.

I touched the monument, and just the fact that I’m here is kinda amazing. I start my hike now, officially.

I’m ready to get back to the lake. My feet feel terrible and my lip hurts. I’m kicking myself for choosing the further option.

I stop at the next camp to eat some dinner, and Ally is there. She shares that she also lost her home in a fire and I am amazed with how small this world really is. Evan also shows up and decides to camp there also. I have to leave, cause all my shit is at the lake.

For the first time I pop in my headphones and knock out the last few miles. I rawdog some water and take a chance. I hope you’re proud Billy.

I walk by the PNT and know my buddy is out there tearin it up. The Dream Team is still on trail. I’m overcome with how grateful I am that I’m here, and went to Arizona, and hiked with Billy, and decided to finish the miles in the Mojave. And for all the great people I’m already meeting, and all the ones I’m gonna meet. And for the sights and sounds. The pains. The highs and lows. The hordes of mosquitos, and the gentle warm breeze. The warmth of morning sunlight, or the muted colors that dusk casts upon the mountainside.

How the hell have I gotten so lucky.

Day 3 – 19 miles

I woke up early on my own. Somehow, I slept great and that rarely happens even under the best circumstances.

I decided I should probably pack up camp before the swarms of mosquitos and bees woke up, and that’s just what I did. Since I camped near the lake, everything was wet.

The first five miles flew by, I listened to music, and unfortunately discovered that my pandora is deleting my stations again, so soon I won’t have any music at all until I can find Wi-Fi (which seems to be in short supply out here). I took a break and dried out my stuff.

I ran into an old friend from the PCT last year – Trashonista. She looked so happy. It was so cool to catch up and I’m stoked to hopefully see some more familiar faces in the upcoming months.

As the day progressed, I felt aware of the fact that I was just back tracking and it made me feel unmotivated.

I met a lot of new people today. Some were really awesome. Some were assholes. Most were awesome. I met Desert Jesus while I was taking a break and I made a bet with myself that despite him being two full days behind me, that I was going to see him tomorrow. Guy was an absolute beast.

I was going for another big day, but at mile 15 I ran into Pez and Ally. They were taking a siesta. Those two really have grown on me and I can’t help but stop and chat.

I carried on reluctantly, I didn’t wanna go as far as I planned, I just felt generally tired and worn out. I think because I’ve been going nonstop since I landed in Seattle.

I stopped at the last water for the day to eat the rest of my cold soaked risotto, I had accidentally already eaten most of it around 3:00 p.m. when I was checking to see if the rice was soft yet. Ally and Pez weren’t far behind, and they had planned to stop there for the night. We all hung out for a while and just talked about life. I taught Pez what “trailer trash” is.

The campsites were mostly all full, so Ally had to carry on. As did I.

I decided to call it early. My feet feel pretty bad still and I’m just tired. I was also concerned that my projected camp may be full and it was described as “enough space for two tents”…. It’s not a race anyway.

Earlier today, Ally told me I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I decided to listen to her.

Day 4 – 22.1 miles

I had a decision to make today. I was either gonna send it and do some 22+ mile days to make it to Stehekin in time for a delicious nearo, or I could take it easy now and probably get to Stehekin late.

Somehow, my body decided it remembered how to do this today. Walking felt natural and nothing hurt, I blasted through the first six miles to Hart’s Pass and I was very excited to finally be making forward progress instead of just backtracking (in my head that’s what it felt like even though it’s technically not true).
I retrieved my food from the bear locker and looked around for a nice shady spot to sit. I spied a picnic table, but I opted for a different table once I saw Ally. We talked about the usual hiker stuff – TP, peanut butter, how I wish I had left a beer in there for when I got back. Pez showed up shortly after and we all hung out for a good two hours.

They were both tired from the day prior and opted to have an easy day today. I of course had decided the opposite, so I bid them adieu and I was sad to say goodbye to my new friends. I hope I see them again.

I walk through a burn scar. I think about how Lassen was a harder hike than this has been so far and I’m so glad that I trained there. I talk about NorCal a lot to people I meet. It’s a lot more beautiful here, I’ll be honest, but I still like that stupid burn scar, I dunno if I’ll ever leave that place.

Speaking of beautiful. Wow. The scenery made me cry. I can’t believe the mountains here. I’m totally in awe of them. For a moment, I stand on a steep ledge and just take it all in. I can’t believe I’m here. Pez said how we’re very privileged to be out here, and he’s right. I’m overcome with gratefulness that I am not only physically able to do this, but also just to have the opportunity, and the means, and the drive. I’ll never forget today.

The hype about Washington isn’t a lie, I think this is the most amazing place I’ve ever seen.
I push on. My feet periodically taking a shit on me. After a good break though I could carry on for a good while before they started giving me grief again.

As I suspected, Desert Jesus passes me on a downhill. His plan is to finish in 55 days and even though I’ve only known it for a day, I believe he can do it. I meet two other hikers, one is Fun Fact and he tells me you can’t make mayo in a light in storm – a fun fact indeed.

The blowdowns began, and I found myself oddly not annoyed by them. I counted them for fun, 52 so far. Someone on the app said 75 between here and the pass… I am starting to think they may have undercounted but I’ll find out for certain tomorrow.

I finally get to cowboy camp tonight. I’m feeling really happy and just plain good about things right now. I hope the miles weren’t a fluke today, cause I kinda made a commitment and have to do it again tomorrow…. It’ll be ok. Might even be kinda fun or not, won’t know til I’m there.

Day 5 – 22 miles

I awoke to something hitting my face. Rain. Fucking awesome. It’s 5:45 a.m. and raining and I’m cowboy camping. I frantically feel around to assess the damage, miraculously dry! It must have just started. I packed up quick, feeling thankful that things weren’t worse off.

I started the big climb. It was actually kinda pleasant. Until then rain picked up and then persisted for the entire first half of the day. Views were obstructed by clouds, my feet were cold and wet, the freezing wind whipped at my face – this is my least favorite weather.

I felt myself becoming increasingly grouchy as I reached where I had anticipated on taking a break. The rain wasn’t letting up, but I wasn’t about to keep going without a rest. I begrudgingly put everything down in the mud and threw my Tyvek over me. I propped my aching feet up and laid in the mud.

This is garbage, I thought to myself.

I wasn’t the only one feeling grouchy. I met a couple – Mary and Joey. Joey was also a grouch, so we were able to bond over that the next time I saw them. I talked to Mary for way too long, I liked them a lot.

Eventually, the rain let up and I could take a proper break. My feet were killing me and I was in my head about being injured. I’ve been going pretty hard right out of the gate and I know I’m pushing my luck right now.

Thankfully a 45-minute lunch seemed to fix all my worries and I was on my way. I stopped and chatted with everyone. I love meeting people out here.

Around the last five miles I started really feelin it. My body is not happy about these huge days and it doesn’t wanna hike anymore today. And that’s when I met Calcium. A very charismatic 20 year old who’s on his first thru. He totally turned my day around. We hiked the last seven miles into camp together and he really got me through my last (for a while) long day. I plan to take things a little slower from here on, now that there aren’t awkward camping restrictions to work around.

I got to Stehekin tomorrow and I’m hoping they have a room available at the Inn. I hear the next stretch is kinda rough so I wanna rest up well before tackling that.

Oh, there were 67 blowdowns by the way. That’s the unofficial count.

Day 6 – 11.6 miles

First town day!

I decided why wait til after town to take it easy. That’s the beauty of this, I can do whatever the fuck I want. I slept in, didn’t even set an alarm.

The campsite had a crazy steampunk toilet, which I used and holy hell was it nice to sit down and take a shit. It’s the simple things.

Early in the day, I met back up with Mary and Joey. We ended up hiking together for the rest of the day, and I had a lot of fun taking it easy and connecting with new people.

We caught the 3:00 p.m. bus to Stehekin, and I realized I’ve done the first 100 miles of this trail already (counting the out and back to Harts Pass anyway) and that is so wild to me!

Stehekin is cute, everything is kinda expensive but it’s understandable given how remote it is.
Mary, Joey, and I got a good dinner and shared some good laughs. The 6:00 p.m. bus brought more friends, Ally and Calcium are here too and it was fun to reconnect with them. I’m looking forward to a nice zero, I’m having a ton of fun.

I think I’m starting to understand what they say when they say it’s all about the people.

Day 7 – 0 miles

Zero day.

Went swimming in the lake and tried to run across a log, I only made it halfway.
Slept in a historical cabin that had a mouse that tried to eat my food.


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Comments 1

  • clash : Jul 29th

    “it just sorta happens awkwardly”- my experience at any monument of a trail, HA, well worded. HAPPY TRAILS!!!


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