Rock Pass to Hopkins Lake

Unexpected Movements

The thing about spending days off trail is that it has a way of throwing your poop schedule off. I had my normal morning movement today, which was expected. The other two poopings were very unexpected. If you don’t like to read about poop stories, skip to paragraph #5.

Cold temperatures pushed Brianna and I into the tent at 7pm last night and allowed us to sleep until 7am this morning. A refreshing night with a late start of a morning is a great thing when you’re not in a heat wave like we were in Oregon. A rocky 2-mile switchback on the side of a mountain greeted us early into our day, and that’s where poopmergency #1 happened. Brianna said, “I might have to pee.” and I quietly responded with, “I might have something brewing.” With nowhere to dig and nowhere to hide, our only option was to run to the end. I barely made it to tree cover in time and still had a brushy climb up the side of a hill once I got there.

The second poopmergency happened shortly after a conversation I had with Cornelia Marie. I’m not sure if it was the chat that loosened up my bowels, but the crisis hit just as I started to raise Brianna & I’s food bags into the trees and was attempting to tie them off. I’m not sure if you’ve had a poopmergency when trying to finish off a simple task, but everything gets blurry and the only thing you can think about is trying not to shit your pants. I had to call Brianna over to finish the tie-off knot while I ran into the trees.

The poopmergency ran me into the woods, away from the lake, and as far into the trees as I could go without having an accident. The fortunate part was that I did dig a hole and get my shorts down in time. The unfortunate part was when a gentleman wandered into my area looking for a campsite. I pulled my shorts up as quickly as I could and exchanged one of the most awkward, “hello”s ever. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I had a bit of a mess to clean up afterward. That same gentleman did eventually find a campsite… 10 feet from ours.

Kissing the Northern Terminus

Brianna and I did something today that we have never done before. We arrived at Hopkins Lake around noon, about 10 miles into our day, and decided to set up our tent. The theory was that if we put our tent up, emptied our bags into it, and hung our food in a nearby tree, we could make it to the northern terminus faster and all of our stuff would still be there upon our return. This is a thing that a lot of people do in this area but also felt especially risky for us given all the effort we made to make it back up to Washington. How silly would it be to have made it this far just to have all our stuff trashed by a person or animal?

The hike down and back to the Canadian border / northern terminus was not difficult at all, certainly not as difficult as people make it out to be. We took our time and were able to arrive at the moment by 4pm. No one else was around when we arrived, so most of our time was spent trying to position the camera for good pictures. It took a few tries but we even got one of us kissing over the monument!

This was another Crater Lake moment for us and it too lived up to the hype. It took us 500 miles of hiking, but we finally touched a terminus. You see the pictures and you watch the videos but you never really know if you’ll ever get there. We got there.

We made it back to camp by 6:45pm. It’s always nice to have over an hour of sunlight left at the end of the hiking day. Our tent and food were completely undisturbed, so we spent the time cleaning our bodies and baby wiping our feet. I especially needed extra time to clean up after the poopmergency gone wrong.

Lots of wildlife on the trail, too! No bears, thankfully. Brianna spotted a big white mountain goat, we got chatted at by a grouse with chicks, and we saw a brown and white fisher. My favorite animal sighting happened while I was filling water at our lake home: small fish jumping out of the water to feed on insects.  Great days.

Gear Thoughts

Quick gear updates:

(I’m not sponsored by any of these companies, as cool as that would be)

Hoka Speedgoats: Are my new favorite shoes. Sorry, Merrill, these things are like walking on clouds. They also have a convenient tongue on the heel to hold my gators in place. My model is not the wide version, because REI did not have them in stock, but keeping the laces loose gives my swollen feet the room they need to shimmy and shake.

Katadyn Be Free: Is my favorite water filter. It’s fast! It gets slower as it collects dirt, and I did have some trouble cleaning it, but consecutively using both the ‘shake’ and ‘swish’ methods restored the flow. I managed to get a pin-size hole in the bag and couldn’t replace it(out-of-stock at REI); still filtering like a champ.

Patagonia shorts & sun hoodie: Are the perfect clothing combo. Even in colder temperatures, I have zero regrets about ditching my pants. Patagonia knee-high socks + shorts do the trick. If I need extra warmth, my Mountain Hardware puffy keeps my core toasty.

Dirty Girl Gaters: Love these for covering my shoes and preventing some dirt from getting in. I never had much luck attaching them with Velcro. Many trail running shoes like Altras and Hokas come with built-in hooks or tongues to hold them in place.

Glacier Gloves: Are just ok. I use these gloves to protect my hands from the sun while hiking. Stitches on 2 of the fingers ripped pretty early on, but they are still usable – 80% isn’t terrible? I may look for something more rugged in the future.

BDU(Battle Dress Uniform) Hat: Is my most non-standard piece of hiking equipment. What it lacks in breathable holes and odor-resistant material, it makes up for symbolistically. While I did not get this hat from my time in the service, it serves as a reminder that things could always be much worse.

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