Thursday, September 25, 2014

Day 127 Hiker Haven

Day 127
September 24
0 miles 
The Dinsmore's Hiker Haven, Baring, WA

A true rest day! By the end of the day yesterday there were about 15 of us thru-hikers packed into the Hiker Haven. The Dinmore's turned part of their large garage into a hiker hangout, complete with bunk beds and a lounge area to watch movies, also there is a separate outbuilding with a shower and laundry area. We watched movies until 11pm last night and then lights out. I slept amazingly...there were 12 others spread out on the bunks and the floor, but not a peep was to be heard from any of the others, just the soothing sound of the rain pattering on the roof.

Andrea came and woke us up after 8am..."We're all going to breakfast, time to get up." Baring has a cute little cafe/store/post office across the street from the Hiker Haven, where most of us went for breakfast this morning.

Baring Cafe
Hikers at breakfast

My huge omelette 

I spent the rest of the day going through my packages and repacking. I had a surprise package from Mark and Cami, friends back in San Diego, with some great snacks and my favorite: split pea soup.

My mom's package was the best, several things bringing tears and smiles to my face. I had about 10 handwritten cards, from friends of my mom's, most who I've never met, with words of encouragement and congratulations to get me to Canada. And then there were these:

"Waiting to bring you home"

From my baby...Izzy (my dog-I miss her so much and can't wait to see her) I'm carrying this just in case I get caught in a storm and have to hunker down...something to keep me busy. 

The "Princess" wand. Once or twice I've been known to be called a princess by the boys of the Caboose Crew. And I owned it too, telling them my name means Princess. It lights up, and yes I will be carrying this into Canada!

And one last fabulous treat to carry those happy feet to Canada
New nail polish and a pedicure kit...keeping those feet happy!
Even the finger nails get painted for the last hoorah!  

Those of you following my blog I've been told that from here on out there is no cell service or Wi-Fi, so there may not be any more uploads until I get to Canada. I will still blog everyday but you all my have to wait in suspense. I should be done in 9-10 days!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 126 "I don't know what to do"

Day 126
September 23
7.5 miles
PCT mile 2476 Hiker Haven via Steven's Pass

My determination and frustration from yesterday's slow day had me up early, packing up camp, and hiking by 7am. I even sacrificed my morning coffee to get an early start. I had 7.5 miles to Steven's Pass, where I was picking up a resupply package. I figured get there by 10am, take a several hour break to rest, get some coffee, get my package to repack and reorganize for the next 104 miles, then get back on the trail for another 10 miles or so, by late afternoon.

I got to Steven's Pass right at 10, which was perfect. It turned out the ski lodge didn't open until 10am anyways, so had I done more miles yesterday it wouldn't have mattered much, as I couldn't have gotten my package before they opened.

Then I looked at the weather and got caught up in some hiker drama. It was going to start raining this afternoon with a 100% chance of rain all day tomorrow. Everyone that I was hiking with and around was going into town from Steven's Pass to Hiker Haven in Baring, WA. Hiker Haven is the trail angels' home of Jerry and Andrea Dinsmore, a well known stop for thru-hikers. This is the last hosted spot for hikers to stay before the last 184 miles to Canada. 

To back track a little, my brother, Adam, is getting married October 11th in Wisconsin. My goal/deadline to finish the trail was no later than October 4th. That gives me one week to get to the wedding from Canada. Once I get to the border, I have an additional 8 miles to hike into Manning Park, British Columbia. From Manning Park I need to take a bus to Vancouver, and from Vancouver I will take a second bus to the Seattle Airport where I will fly standby to my parents' home in Minnesota. I still need to get fitted for the dress, as I am a bridesmaid in the wedding. Lucky for me, my mother will be doing the alterations for me last minute.

So back to the drama...I got caught up in the weather forecast, fearing the worst, starting this next section (which is known for its difficult terrian) wet, cold, and tired. I didn't know what to do, I didn't feel like I had the luxury of time to go to the Dinsmore's as the other hikers were doing, I was on the verge of tears. So what do I do? Call Mom in tears, "I don't know what to do" I said, trying to fight back tears, explaining my current situation to her. She quickly assured me not to worry, "So take tomorrow off, it's OK. You are going to finish and you will get to the wedding. So what if you finish a day or two later than you planned. I may be altering your dress in the car on the way to the wedding, but we'll figure it all out." We both agreed a day of rest may help me finish stronger, then trying to push on today through the rain and fatigue. I took a deep breath and took her advice, accepting the fact that I deserve and need to take the day off tomorrow. I am not going to feel guilty about it or wish I was out there pushing on through the rain.

Acceptance is a wonderful thing and the weight was lifted, happy to enjoy some R&R with my fellow hikers, before our last push to Canada. My body truly needs the rest too, besides feeling overall fatigue my ankles and feet are pretty beat up from the last section of difficult rocky terrain.

Day 125 Slow Forward Progress

Day 125
September 22
19.5 miles
PCT mile 2468.5

It started raining at 4:30am, which had me awake and quickly throwing my rain fly over my tent to prevent any of my stuff getting wet. I crawled back into the warmth of my sleeping bag and fell back asleep. 

I got a little later start due to the early morning rain. I waited until it had let up to pack up my stuff. Not even a mile into the day, it started to rain again, heavy enough to make me stop and get out my rain pants and poncho. That only lasted for less than two miles, the sky started to clear and I was getting too hot in my rain gear, so I stopped again to take off the rain gear., I can't keep up with the rain and find the right combination of clothing to keep me dry, warm and cool all at the same time.

The rest of the day continued without any rain, the miles seemed to be going by slowly, painfully slow as the day turned into evening and the daylight turned to night. 8pm and I got to camp at Wig Lake...not even 20 miles for the day. I was frustrated by the days slow progress, I would have preferred and been much happier with even three more miles, but hiking on seemed nonproductive at this time considering my two mile-per-hour pace. Rest, food, and sleep is what a needed and I conceded for the day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Day 124 The Four Month Mark

Day 124
September 21
21.5 miles
PCT mile 2449

Four months ago today, I left the California-Mexico border by foot. I looked north on that day and took it all in with a big breath and a mind full of excitement, awe, and wonderment. I knew then I could never imagine or predict the experiences that would unfold in front of me. 

I no longer have months or even weeks ahead of me, merely days. As every day comes to an end, it is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this journey is almost over. It brings sadness to me that my days are numbered. The wilderness and trail have become my home. It is where I feel peace and comfort on a daily basis. I have learned to carry only the essentials I need to live this simple life. There is very little I miss from the civilized world, because I don't need it out here. The wilderness has become a part of me, my soul and passion, or perhaps it always has been a part of me, I just didn't know it. 

I am eternally grateful for every mile of this journey, the memories, the people, the views, the sites, the weather, the towns, and everyone back home cheering me on and supporting me...keep it coming, just over a week, this is where it all counts and comes together for a grand ending!!!

Day 123

Day 123
September 20th
22 miles
PCT mile 2427.5

A beautiful day with lots of climbing, 7000 ft, in 22 miles. Reminded me a lot of the Sierras as the terrian was pretty rocky too. Got another glimpse of Mt. Rainier:

Had some interesting things happen to  today. One that I'll share. This afternoon I was walking along and unbeknownst to myself I walked through a yellow jacket nest. Before I even had time to comprehend what was happening I began yelling obscenities, all I could feel was sudden and extreme pain in both my lower legs. I look down and see the culprits. I got stung five times, three on my right leg and ankle and two on my left calf. All through my compression sleeves and socks. This is the third time I've gotten stung on the trail, the other two were single stings on two separate occassions, both on my calves and both through my compression sleeves. They come out of no where, every time I've gotten stung I have no idea there's even yellow jackets around, until I feel the piercing pain in my legs. It catches me off guard every time as I'm usually off in another world daydreaming or deep in thought about one thing or another. Needless to say I am fine, just have a bit of stinging sensation in my legs, that will most likely turn to itchy sensations tomorrow, as that's what's happened in the past. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Day 122 In And Out of Snoquolamie Pass

Day 122
September 19
9.5 miles
PCT mile 2405.5

Though I didn't make it to Snoquolamie by Thursday night, like Hornsby and I had discussed, I was happy with my attempt and mileage I had put on the past 3 days. I pushed myself harder than I had days prior and hiked later into the evenings than I usually would have otherwise. 

I had 6 miles into Snoquolamie, it was still raining when I woke at 6am, so I let another hour pass and the rain let up, happy to pack up without the rain, getting myself wet again. Once I got into Snoquolamie I spread things out and let things dry out from the day before. I just wanted dry socks and to recharge my battery pack more then anything before continuing on. Well as it always does, time passed quickly and it was late (like after 6pm) before Hornsby and I got back on the trail. "Let's just do 3.5 miles to get out of here" I told Hornsby. He agreed and we were finally in our way.

I would like to make another attempt at a big push and get to Steven's Pass in 3 days, which is 72 miles from where I camped tonight. It's a lot more climbing, especially tomorrow, so we'll see, but I'm putting the effort forward again. The weather looks good for the next 3 days and we really need to take advantage if those days.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Day 121 Rain in Washington

Day 121
September 18
23.5 miles
PCT mile 2396

We knew it was going to rain today, we kept hearing..."rain on Thursday" from others (trail angels, day hikers and section hikers) we encountered on the trail the past few days. So I was prepared for today's rain. In fact I had been prepared the past few days, keeping my rain gear at the top of my pack, instead of smushing all the way to the bottom like I usually do. 

I made it 11 days in Washington without rain and was grateful for every single one of those days and continue to be grateful for the wonderful weather Washington is providing me. 

I had hoped to get about 5 miles in before the rain started today, but I got about 2 instead. Needless to say I continued on and pulled off 20+ miles in the rain, hiking well into the dark. Once it got dark there were times I could barely see with my headlamp, due to the mist and fog, I had to keep my eyes focused only on the ground right at my feet. My headlamp batteries were dying too, so my light was pretty dim, I didn't want to stop to switch them out until I had stopped for the day. Stopping in the rain and rummaging in my bag was too much of an ordeal, so I managed until I found I camping spot.

Rain selfie 

Stumbled upon some trail magic too.

Day 120

Day 120
September 17th
27.5 miles
PCT mile 2373

I really wanted and tried to push for a 30 mile day today. However, about 24 miles in, my feet were screaming in pain...there was a lot of downhill and this was during a several mile downhill section. The pounding of the downhill on the feet is no good especially when the downhill lasts for several miles. I sat and took a break at 24 miles, really wanting to stop for the day because my body was hurting, but I was able to get up and push myself for a few more miles, before 7:30 rolled around and it started to get dark. By then, I was happy to call it a day at the next campsite I came across, Day-Glo came up right behind me as we rolled into camp together. Hornsby was a bit behind  but joined us soon enough, starting an awesome fire for us to enjoy before retreating to our tents for the night.

Day 119 Mt Rainier National Forest

Day 119
September 16
24.5 miles 
PCT mile 2345.5

Hiked through Mt. Rainier National Forest today and had some spectacular views of Mt Rainier: 
Morning view

Rainer at dusk

I encountered lots a day hikers today, as we crossed Highway 410 at Chinook Pass, which is an access point into the National Park. One of the things that happens as a thru-hiker is that your sense of smell becomes heightened and quite sensitive. This may sound funny to the "non-thru hiker" but we can smell day hikers approaching and their lingering smell they leave behind. You can smell their soap, deodorant, laundry detergent, shampoo... You name it...we can probably smell it. As we comment about it amongst ourselves..."did you smell the day hikers today?" I often wonder if the day hikers say to each other..."wow...did you smell that hiker?" And what we must smell like to them.

I was hoping for a 27 mile day, but then I came across this:

At Chinook Pass we had the fortune of having Trail Angels: Bear and Happy Tu-Tu providing some awesome trail magic.


From left to right: Happy Tu-Tu standing, her husband, Bear, standing behind Cheeseburger, Biscuit, and Hornsby

So I took a longer than usual midday break. And made less miles, I even hiked an hour in the dark, but I was traversing the side of a mountain and not making very fast time with the lack of visibility, so called it quits once I found a flat spot and was joined shortly by Hornsby who was right behind me. It's sad how early it gets dark now. I remember being able to hike until almost 9 without needing a headlamp. Now by 7:30pm I'm digging in my bag for my light.

Selfie of the day with "Happy"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 118 Renewed Energy

Day 118
September 15th
18 miles 
PCT mile 2321

Staying the night in White Pass is just what I needed to get some rest and renew my energy. I was able to connect with some family and friends, just hearing their encouragement helped me dig a little deeper for that motivation I was looking for the past few days. 

I slept in, enjoyed my coffee, and got myself organized for the next few days on the trail. Oh yeah...and I put on my Badger Flare

Hornsby and I left together for the trail, shortly after noon. It was Hornsby who brought up the idea, to pound out the miles the next few days and get to Squolamie Pass in 4 days, that's 99 miles by Thursday. I agreed, this is the perfect section to do so and get another hundred quickly behind us, before the terrian gets harder and the weather gets colder or wet. So we are holding each other accountable for our miles and getting started at a reasonable time in the morning.

This evening after a large group of hikers stopped to camp 16 miles out of town, Hornsby and I continued on at dusk to get two more miles and 1000 feet of climbing in. We finished in the dark, but now we have the climb behind us, so we can start tomorrow on some flatter easier terrian.

As we were setting up camp, we could hear elk nearby, making whatever noise you call it they make, it's kind like a high pitch whining sound a large animal would make. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 117 White Pass

Day 117
September 14th
15 miles
PCT mile 2303 White Pass

Resupply Day!!!! I was using this as my motivation to an early start. I was looking forward to some extra surprises sent by my brother and his wife and my dear friend, Kim, who had both let me know they had sent me something to White Pass and of course all the extra goodies my mom and dad stuff into my resupply. 

But first things first, I was famished and craving real food when I got to White Pass, I started with a slice of pizza, a ham and cheese sandwich and half a corn dog, before opening my boxes.

I realized quickly that when I picked up my boxes I had too much stuff and I want to carry as light as possible, my next planned resupply was 175 miles, that could be 8+ days of food, that's too much. Luckily talking to other hikers and doing some research I am splitting this resupply and sending part of it 100 miles ahead, so I'm only carrying 5 days. What a relief!!!

Now for the awesomeness of my resupplies.
Badger flare from Chad and Jane. Go Badgers!!!

Kim went above and beyond and sent me a huge box of the best snacks and drink stuff a girl would want on the trail. She knows me well and what sorts of healthy snacks I appreciate and talked to my brother, Adam, to get me just the right types of nutrition that makes me happy.

Mom always sticks in something fun...this time it was a pack of 5 bouncy balls. Which was distributed amongst myself and four other out for some bouncy ball fun on the PCT.

So after resupply my plan was to get back on the trail for a few more miles. I'm really focused on trying to finish by October 1st, so I have a few extra days in  the bank in case weather gets bad. However, everyone in the big group that has been around me (about 15 hikers or so) and that all got into White Pass sometime today had gotten rooms, including Hornsby who I finally caught back up to after losing him the day I was not feeling well. So when Switch asked if I wanted to share a room, I didn't need any persuasion, I was already overwhelmed with organizing my resupply and knew that would take some time and resting for the day was right up my alley.

Hiker dinner...I bought fresh smoked salmon at the store for some good protein, pudding packs and kale chips were from my resupply.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 116 Goat Rocks

Day 116
September 13
21 miles 
PCT mile 2288

Today I hiked my favorite section of the entire PCT. The whole day was beautiful as we entered the Goat Rocks area and the weather was perfect.

Morning view...not sure if that mountain is Rainier or Adams...I think it's Adams

Entering Goat Rocks area

Hoff Zombie and Switch taking a break at Cispus River

A herd of wild mountain goats

So my favorite part was climbing up to the base of Old Mt Snowy and then traversing 1.5 miles of the knifes edge ridgeline between two glaciers. There were some sketchy parts with loose rock and some rock slide areas but it was oh so fun and thrilling! There was a large section of loose slate at the top which sounded like you were walking on broken glass which was pretty cool too!

Traversing glacier to reach the base of Old Mt Snowy

At the base of Old Mt Snowy with Mt. Rainer in the background 

The start of the knife's edge traverse

Switch coming down the loose slate

We came down that, right at the middle where it peaks 
And went up all that

Living on the Edge!