Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 135 Hart's Pass

Day 135
October 2nd
21 miles
PCT mile 2630

There's a group of ten of us now and it looks like we'll stick together till the end. I ran into everyone taking a lunch break at Brush Creek, where we headed out together to Hart's Pass our final destination of the evening.

No Mayo, Danger Spoon, and Testament keeping warm in the sun.

Lunch time

At the top of we thought was our last big climb.

Continuing on to Hart's Pass

Selfie of the day

The group from left to right: Synik, Whispers, Sarge, Gypsy, No Mayo, Danger Spoon, myself, Testament, Stomper, and Can't Hike 55 (down in front) 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 134...Rainy Pass, Cutthoart Pass, and Granite Pass

Day 134
October 1st
21 Miles
PCT mile 2609

Stomper left camp about an hour before me this morning, so I was on my own again...that was until Rainy Pass (12 miles into my day). I was pleasantly surprised to find Stomper with Gypsy, No Mayo, Testament and Danger Spoon...all hanging out in the parking area of Rainy Pass, devouring some trail magic left by some awesome trail angels.

I hope everything's ok...I thought to myself. I thought everyone but Stomper would be well over 10 miles ahead by now. Luckily, nothing was wrong, the crew was just enjoying the last days of the trail. It was great to catch up to them and have more company. My daily miles were getting harder and slower, as I could feel my body was never getting enough recovery and perhaps teetering the fine line of a few nagging injuries of overuse, which I continued to ignore...telling myself it's normal to feel this way after so many miles. With the others around it was a distraction outside myself and comforting to know we were all doing about the same daily mileage as one another and I wasn't falling as far back as I imagined in my head.

I sat down and enjoyed the chips and salsa left for us. There was a log book...Hornsby had been here four hours earlier, about a half day ahead.  Stomper and I were the last ones to leave Rainy Pass. Our goal to get up and over Cutthoart Pass...there was a rumor Cutthoart may get a dusting of snow today. 

The five mile climb from Rainy Pass to Cutthoart was nice and gradual, the skies were clearing, which made for a beautiful late afternoon hike.

Coming up to the top of Cutthoart Pass

Cutthoart Pass

When we cut over and dropped into Granite Pass the wind picked up and it got cold quickly as the sun was getting lower in the sky. Both Stomper and I stopped to put on jackets and gloves. At this point we were on the side of Granite Pass, the trail cutting through the side of the mountain's ridge line. "Two more miles," I told Stomper. There was a camp and water in two miles. At that point the terrian had gotten rocky and the bit of descending from Cutthoart had beaten up my ankles, and my feet were ready to be done. I put in my earphones and blasted my music. "Two miles...that's like 10 songs," I told myself and started jamming to distract myself from the unpleasantness of the last two miles. 

It was really cold when we reached the camp. The camp was exposed with zero tree cover. If we get any wet's going to be snow. I set up my tent, my rainfly was still wet from condensation from the night before, it was so cold my rainfly froze when I put it over my tent and the remaining condensation turned to ice. I crawled into my tent and cooked dinner from the warmth of my sleeping bag, calling it a night after eating dinner.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 133 Stehekin

Day 133
September 30
12 miles
PCT mile 2588

I awoke baffled, yet grateful...that I had made it through the night without a mouse intrusion. I was quite sure I was going to wake in a state of disarray with the mouse and I battling it out in the confines of my tent. A winning point for me...only a few more nights...could I come out victorious in this vicious mouse territory, I sure hope so. is an awesome last resupply. Once again overwhelmed with emotions...I found myself in tears over the next four miles. I'm going to leave Stehekin today and there will be no turning back, my next stop will be "The End" Manning Park, BC, Canada. How is this possible? Am I really going to do it? It's hard to wrap one's mind around the fact that one's feet can carry it's body and mind on this amazing journey for four and a half months, walking day in and day out, with the goal of 20+ miles a day. But it's true! It's really happening.

Stehekin is a very remote town on the north side of Lake Chalen, so remote there are only 3 ways to get in or out:
1. Hike into North Cascades National Park and take a bus 11 miles into town.
2. Take a hydroplane to and from the town of Chalen.
3. Take a four hour ferry to and from Chalen.
Population of permenant residents <100.

Entering North Cascades National Park

I made the four mile hike to the bus stop and was there by 8:30am. I was shortly joined by Stomper, who made it in last night, and was camping nearby.
I made us coffee as we waited for the bus and we enjoyed a nutritious breakfast of Almond Joy's and hot coffee.

On the way into town the bus stops at the Stehekin bakery. For weeks we have heard talk of this bakery and their delicious baked goods. So of course for the last few days I have been dreaming of all the baked goods I am going to indulge once I reached the bakery.

One of each please!!!
Warm out of the oven...gooey yumminess.

We got to town and found Testament, Gypsy, No Mayo, Danger Spoon and Eeyore. All who got in last night and heading back out to the trail on the 11am bus. I wished them well and said our goodbyes, uncertain if I would see them before Canada, as they would be a half day ahead of me. 

I then stopped at the post office to pick up my package, or two. "I think I have 2" I told the postmaster. "No, you have 5." He replied. "Five!!! How am I going to get out of here." I have four days left, I'm tired and want to carry as little as possible. Luckily, two were envelope size. Besides my normal resupply box, I also got a box from my brother, Adam, and his fiancé, Ashley, and the third was the best resupply box ever!

The party box from my brother, Eric. Complete with a disco ball, Canadian Flag, Mexican sombrero...and a bunch of other fun things....Coolest resupply ever!!! Thanks Eric. Love you!!!

And some fun things from mom stashed in my resupply box
I can't believe they make these in single sizes!
 Squeaky tied to my pack.

Gummy Eggs from Ashley and Adam.

Passport in hand!!!

I quickly sorted through my resupplies and repacked my pack...goal was for Stomper and I to catch the 2:30pm bus back to the trail. Once that was complete, I headed over to the pay phone to call home. There is no cell service or wifi here. Just one satellite pay phone. I called mom first..."I'm in Stehekin..." was all I could blubber out as I started crying again. These were proud tears of happiness and accomplishment, I was sharing with my mother.

Back on the 2:30pm bus, we made a second stop at the bakery...I loaded up with some more treats...well actually just some soup and a cookie for lunch this time.

Back at the trail, I ran into a day hiker who had taken the bus to the trail this morning. She passed the message onto me that she ran into Hornsby, who opted not to stop in Stehekin and was now in front of me. "He's hoping you have something good from the bakery for him." Crap!!! In all my gluttony I ate everything...sorry Hornsby.

Stomper and I continued on together for 8 more miles, leaving only 72 miles to the border...securing the fact we would be done in 4 days!

The biggest leaf.

Stomper up ahead.

Day 132 Pesky Mice and Squeaky Trees

Day 132
September 29
26 miles
PCT mile 2576

All I had on the brain today was..."Must get to Stehekin, must get to Stehekin." Stehekin is my last resupply stop of the PCT. I knew once I got in and out of my last resupply town, there would be no turning back and I was really going to finish this thing. It's an emotional feeling...that words are difficult to describe, I cried several times today and pretty much everyday the last few days. Everytime I envision myself reaching the monument at the Canadian border it brings tears to my eyes. It's a feeling of overwhelming awe and accomplishment, it's hard to wrap my mind around what I am about to finish, but I know there is greatness in what I am about to complete . That being said, I am weary of being overconfident and know it hasn't happened yet, I still have several days and just under 100 miles to go and there's still a lot of weather and other things that could happen between here and there.

Did I say just under 100 miles? I broke the 100 mile mark today!!! 84 miles to the Canadian border, wow!!!

I had 30 miles to get to the bus stop to take me to Stehekin, I didn't think I had anymore 30s in me, but I was going to go as far as my body allowed and get as close as I could today. That ended up being 26 miles. My ankles and feet were screaming after 25 miles and I pushed another mile, but to do another 4 miles in the dark wasn't in the books for me, I felt it would push my body past it's limit and make for a tough day tomorrow. The first bus to Stehekin was at 9am tomorrow morning. It was much eaiser for me to get up early and get 4 miles down before 9am then continue to walk in pain tonight. Stomper, who I had been hiking with since the Dinsmore's, was going on to do the 30 and camp near the bus stop, "I'll see you around 8:30 tomorrow morning," I told him as he continued on down the trail. Hornsby was somewhere behind me and wasn't sure if I'd see him yet tonight or not. So I set up camp solo, ate dinner, and settled in for the night. I was exhausted and looking forward to sleep. The alarm was set for 5:45am to ensure I'd make the first bus into Stehekin tomorrow.

It wasn't even 5 minutes after I'd zipped up my tent and was getting comfy that I heard some scurrying around the outside of my tent. Ahhh...mice. Northern Washington has a serious mouse problem. For the past week we've been invaded by mice every night in camp. I looked around my tent and made sure I had everything that could possibly attract a mouse sealed up in my Op-Sak bags (odor proof bags). Then the ridiculousness started. This mouse crawled under my rainfly and onto and over my tent and perched right above my head on the netting of my tent..."get out of here"...I shook him off my tent. Not three minutes later he was back. At this point as I shook him off and screaming obscenities at this little sucker. He came back a third time and started chewing on the ties to the tent zipper, so I tucked those into the tent and zipped up tight, so he couldn't get at them. "Great," I thought to myself, "I'm going to wake up to this mouse inside my tent in the middle of the night," imagining what a scene that would be to witness.

As I laid there trying to fall asleep keeping my ears open for the mouse, the wind picked up causing a nearby tree to squeak and moan as it blew in the wind. It didn't help that I encountered this sign earlier today:

I was camped in a clear area so I was quite sure I was safe from whichever tree was on its last root of life, but nonetheless listening to it was a bit unsettling as I was also trying my best to guard myself and my tent against a potential mouse invasion.

Somehow, sleep eventually came, and luck be on my side, no mouse holes in my tent.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 131 Obstacle Course On The PCT

Day 131
September 28th
21 miles
PCT mile 2550

The PCT has turned into a natural made obstacle course. It appears unbeknownst to us hikers that a storm has blown through the PCT tearing this section up. There was a trail diversion due to a land slide, which turned into me sliding down a small mud ravine on my butt, as to prevent myself from falling and ending up on my behind anyway. Landslides, mudslides, rock debris, and fallen trees everywhere, had us crawling on our knees, sliding on our behinds, hopping over and under trees and rocks for almost 18 miles today.

Hornsby crawling under a tree

Fallen trees ostructing the trail:

A view of Glacier Peak this morning:

Day 130 Sun

Day 130
September 27
19 miles
PCT mile 2528.5

I awoke to rain drops falling on my tent this morning, I groaned, "Not another day of this." Then snuggled deeper into my sleeping bag for warmth. Eventually I could hear voices gathering around the campfire, the others were stirring, I guess it's time for me to do the same. I unzipped my tent and rainfly to start my morning coffee, and much to my surprise I was greeted with blue sky!!! The rain drops I was hearing was only from the trees I had slept below, shedding their water from the previous days rain. I smiled and yelled out, "Blue sky! It's going to be a glorious day."

And that it was, I had a beautiful day of hiking with some magnificent views and scenery:

The first half of the day we were climbing through Glacier Peak National Forest which was more exposed, then we dropped down into this lush green forest, which was so green it was magical:

Unfortunately pictures do no justice

Broken Bridge

New Bridge

More bridges

Another broken bridge

All of our moods were uplifted from yesterday's rain. We were all giddy with happiness and grateful for the sunny day and the beauty the PCT has laid out for us today. I'm praying for at least one more day of sun tomorrow.