Reunions & Goat Rocks

Day 101

What a fun break in Vancouver, WA! Yesterday I kayaked with my good friend Rebecca on the Tualatin River in Portland. The day prior I did trail magic. I drove to Szydlo Road, about 10 miles north of Cascade Locks. On the way, I found Sky-Hi road walking. I gave him a ride to the road crossing where Sandbag, Miki & Barrett (the two I had fun hanging out with at the youth camp), and Cowbell were waiting. Though the cold drinks and chips were welcome, people were just as excited to pet Squeak & Desmond, my pet-sit pups. I hung out for a couple hours; Sky-Hi kept me company the entire time and 12-15 hikers came by.

Mid-morning I picked Sandra up at the airport. We drove along the Oregon side of the river to Cascade Locks, where we stopped for lunch and coffee. Then I drove us across the Bridge of the Gods, a different perspective from my earlier crossing on foot. Back in Trout Lake, I said goodbye to my friend and the pups, then hoisted my pack.

At the grocery store, I ran into Barrett. As we chatted, I got a tour of the town’s hiker facilities. We found Miki and Cowbell next to the church, lounging at picnic tables under an awning. There were hugs and a quick catch-up. Poor Sandbag’s back had painful bruises from her pack.

Hobble-it and I caught the 4 pm shuttle back to the trail. Sandbag stayed in town to rest her back. I was tempted to stay with her, Miki, and Barrett. Yet I had caffeinated energy coursing through my body and after four zeros I was ready to hike! It felt wonderful to be back in the woods. The trail really does feel like home. After six miles, the caffeine had dissipated and I felt mentally tired. Hobble-it and I camped at a neat spot across a tiny meadow and beside a rocky hill.

Day 102

I am now in no rush and I took that to heart. While I ate breakfast, I watched a Netflix cartoon. Shortly after 7 am, I set out through a semi-recovered burn zone where pools of tiny purple flowers added bits of color. As the trail wound around the western flank of Mount Adams, I stopped to take many pictures. When I felt tired mid-morning, instead of pushing through, I took a 15 minute rest break, laid on my foam pad and elevated my feet.

Thoughts ping-ponged around my brain and I did nothing to obstruct their progress. I love that hours of walking allow time for that. When my mind quieted, I soaked in my surroundings. The day was overcast with two very light and brief periods of drizzle. I noticed that my pack cover doesn’t fit as well over the bulky foam sleeping pad.

Many of the streams I came across were cloudy white with glacial runoff. The largest, Adams Creek, I crossed on a series of logs. It took me all day to catch up to Hobble-it. We stopped after 21 miles at a flat, wooded site next to several shallow ponds. It was only 5 pm, but I was mentally tired. After dinner, I watched My Octopus Teacher (so good!) then slept well and deeply.

Day 103

When I emerged from my tent, the world was covered in fog. My tent fly was damp from overnight rain. It was chilly, good thing this is Washington’s dry season, it could easily be much colder. I started with multiple layers on top. Luckily, we gained elevation straight away and I warmed up. By the time Hobble-it and I ate lunch with several other thru-hikers, it was a warm, sunny day.

When hikers speak of Washington, they always mention Goat Rocks Wilderness. The views were beautiful as I ascended Cispus Pass. There were green meadows with flowers, knobby hills, and dark pines. From the pass, I looked into a lovely valley around which the trail curved. Along the curve were tumbling streams of snow melt and a roaring waterfall. I admired the Indian Paintbrush and a fuzzy flower. The first valley was followed by a second, strewn with rocks, and the trail climbed up toward Old Snowy Mountain. Goat lake was a brilliant blue in the distance.

The PCT route climbed sharply across the face below Old Snowy’s peak. (FarOut comments recommended the alternate stock route and I soon saw why.) As I crossed the first sloping snow field, two large rocks came careening across the shale ahead. It freaked me out and I hastily crossed the rest of the face. At the end, it rejoined the knife’s edge of Old Snowy, a long ridge line that I hiked up and down for miles. The views were pretty, but it was also windy and chilly. Honestly, I was still a bit rattled from before and couldn’t sink into the experience.

My favorite part of the afternoon was four, yellow-bellied marmots. I stopped to watch the first two and after initially hiding they came out to stare at me. The last one was gigantic! After the knife’s edge, the terrain flattened into the lovely alpine land that I love. I passed the first two tent sites; the third was more protected with good hammock trees. As I settled in my tent, Hobble-it arrived in camp. We did a 25 mile day which left us with only 14 miles to White Pass.

Day 104

It was another chilly morning. I put on warm top layers and left my lower half in my sleeping bag as I ate breakfast. Still reluctant to leave my warm nest, I journaled and chatted through my tent door.

Several hours later, I neared the top of the day’s climb and got a magnificent view of Mt. Rainier. I joined Hobble-it and a handful of other hikers, all taking a snack break. Afterwards, I finished the climb, the turquoise waters of “C” shaped Shoe Lake sparkled to my right. Then I popped over a ridge, wound along the edge of a scenic valley, and descended through forest with sporadic deadfall. At Highway 12, I walked a quick half mile along the paved road to reach the White Pass Kracker Barrel store.

At the store, I picked up my resupply box and purchased a couple snacks. Under a shade awning out back, there were picnic tables. I spread my stuff on one, eventually joined by Hobble-it. The two of us planned our three remaining WA resupplies, calculated our finish date, and coordinated with our support team. My Canada permit application was rejected due to attachment issues and I sought Sonic’s help.

While planning, Hobble-it and I met Quaking Leaf and his 14 year old daughter Dig Dug. During our NorCal days, we relied on Leaf’s fabulous FarOut comments so I was excited to meet him. Pluto showed up with Luna and Martin, friends he made in SoCal. I hadn’t seen Pluto since before I rushed ahead! Later, Sky-Hi arrived and we gave him grief over the lack of road walks the past three days.

While the guys camped at the store, first Hobble-it, then myself, returned to the trail. It was forest with the occasional pond. After nearly five miles, I spotted my friend’s hammock and stopped to set up my tent.

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