September 7, Day 139 – Canada!

Today’s the big day and the energy was in the air this morning. We were out of camp before 8. The five of us stuck together most of the day. We went swimming in Hopkins Lake on our way to the terminus. It was cold but super refreshing. And it’s the last Lake on the PCT so we had to go for a swim. We got to Canada just before noon and all cheered a lot. There were a few other people there when we got there but they left soon after and the 5 of us had it to ourselves for the rest of the time. We spent over an hour there taking pictures and sharing food and drinks. It was all smiles and laughter. We eventually had to head back though. We had 30 miles to do to get back to Harts Pass but only half of that today. Approach, Wiesel Dick and I stuck together for 11 miles until we got back to our camp. We had left Approach’s tent set up with most of our stuff so we could have lighter backpacks for the day. I grabbed my stuff and headed out to cover the last few miles solo. We were all together in camp around 7 and saw a few others we had known who were on their way to the terminus. We saw OB, Colonel Sanders, Microbe, Dijon and Tigger. We then all sat down and had dinner together and tried to eat as much food as possible since we only have 15 miles to go tomorrow to get to the road. We finished our night with Nighty Nights again. I’m really sad this hike is ending but I don’t think reality has set in. I’m still happy for the most part but I’m sure I’ll be sad it’s over soon. We saw a big shooting star tonight too. The weather is perfect for star gazing again tonight. Approach and I also watched the last 2 episodes of “You”. I’m going to miss all of this. Sleeping outside under the stars with good friends is a privilege.

I have a lot more I’d love to write here about everything this hike meant to me but it’s really tough to put into words. This has been the best 139 days of my life. I don’t know how to explain how amazing a long distance thru hike is but it was more than I could have ever imagined. This definitely won’t be my last one. I’m already thinking about next summer.

Miles: 11 Total Miles: 2653.6

Approach, myself and Wiesel Dick at the terminus. We got matching pants and all had colorful shirts so it made for a pretty ridiculous terminus photo.

September 6, Day 138 – High fives for everyone

We took our time getting out of camp and left around 8. Approach, Draggin’, Wiesel Dick and I walked together until we got to Harts Pass around 10. This would be the last road we would cross before Canada and would be where Approach’s parents will pick us up in 2 days. Koviet also caught up to us here and we all hiked together until seeing Atlas and Beekeeper. We all chatted for a bit and congratulated them. They were on their way back from the border. We then all kind of split up for a bit. Koviet and Draggin and I chilled for a bit on a hill with a good view but I wouldn’t hike with anyone else the rest of the day. I saw them at water sources a couple times but I spent most of my day listening to all of the music I had saved over the course of the hike. I’d been saving songs that were meaningful to me along the way and took a trip down memory lane. Everyone was giving each other high fives today. There were a lot of hikers coming back south from reaching the border. Everyone was so happy and excited for each other, even if we had never met before. I got to camp at the top of Woody Pass to find Approach and Wiesel Dick with a spot already picked out for us. We all set up our cowboy camping arrangements then went to the west side of the pass to chill in the sun and hang out for a bit. As we were there, Rambo and Surefoot showed up. They had reached the border that morning and had big smiles! We all celebrated together for a bit before they headed 4 more miles south to set up for an easier day tomorrow. Approach, Draggin’, Koviet, Wiesel Dick and I all ate dinner together and laughed a lot. We then watched Pineapple Express until 9:30 and did Nighty Nights afterwards. We also got really lucky with the weather tonight. It’s a new moon and there’s not a cloud in the sky so the stars are some of the best we have seen all trail. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my last night on trail before Canada. We have 11 miles to do to get to the border in the morning. I can’t wait. We could also see Jupiter shining really bright and I saw 3 shooting stars.

Miles: 25.3 Total Miles: 2642.6

The crew at Woody Pass, 11 trail miles south of Canada.

September 5, Day 137 – I’m in love with thru hiking

We woke up at Denny and Lorry’s cabin and the first thing I did was take a piss in front of a trail cam. Denny had trail cams set up around the cabin so he could see what animals were coming around. Approach also made the same mistake as me but didn’t see the trail cam. As soon as I saw it I panicked and walked inside to the toilet. Once everyone else was awake we made coffee and waffles and bacon and eggs and had breakfast together. While we were eating, I spotted my first bear of the whole trail. It was walking across the hillside outside their cabin. We took our time relaxing before heading back to trail around 9. When we got back to trail we took pictures with them and hung out with Sam’s grandparents for a bit. They were doing trail magic and we had also seen them just north of crater lake. We then climbed 2000′ up to a ridge where we saw a mountain goat and were greeted with spectacular views that would continue all day. We saw Rambo’s parents just before we reached Methow Pass. They are out hiking from Rainy Pass to Harts Pass and back. We then took a nice lunch break at the top of the pass. The next stretch of trail took us down into some old growth forest and flat trail for a few miles. We took our next break at Brush Creek before ascending 2500′ up above Glacier Pass. When we reached the top of the climb we saw one of the best views we had seen all trail. We are pretty sure we saw Canada today. It was a special moment that made us realize how soon this will be over. It hit me pretty hard. We took a nice break as the sun set behind the mountains to our west and then continued 1.4 miles to our campsite for the night. We all lined up and cowboy camped together and watched a movie while eating dinner. After the movie we did Nighty Nights. This is where we talk about the good and bad parts of our day, our hero of the day, our goal for tomorrow and we say nice things about the person next to us. It’s a great way for us to think about the details of our day and show appreciation. We didn’t have many bad things so it was really positive tonight. The sky is partly cloudy tonight so the stars come and go but when they are out it’s beautiful.

I’m in love with thru hiking and don’t want this hike to end. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a summer. I’ve made so many friends and memories out here that will stay with me the rest of my life. I hope to do this again next year on another trail. This summer was the best experience of my life.

Miles: 25.2 Total Miles: 2617.3

We were pretty happy. Can’t you tell?

September 4, Day 136 – Everything always works out

Stehekin has been a great town stop for us. The best part of it was the bakery and we were making one more stop there on the way out of town. About 30 hikers were on the 8:00 bus out of town and we all got off for the bakery stop. I had some quiche and a yogurt parfait since I already had a cinnamon roll packed away for later. We were on trail by 9 and Draggin’, Wiesel Dick and I hiked together all day. We took a break about every 5 miles and hiked slow knowing we were only doing 19 miles. We got to Rainy Pass trailhead just before 5, our planned camping spot for the night. Rambo had said I should look for her parents car so we could go into town easy but I was unable to find it. I think Rainy Pass trailhead is the biggest one I have ever seen. We ended up hitching into Winthrop to get Mexican food and buy celebratory drinks for when we reach the terminus. After drinking a giant margarita, Approach wanted a few shots so we headed next door to the saloon. While I was filming them taking the shots, a guy offered to take pictures but I wasn’t drinking so we didn’t need him to. After drinking and buying some champagne for the road, we sat outside the general store while Wiesel Dick and I got milkshakes. Approach said hi to the couple that we had seen in the bar and they offered us a ride to the trailhead. As we were loading up in their truck, they offered us the option to spend the night in their cabin down the road. How could we say no? Approach, Draggin’, Wiesel Dick and I got to go to a beautiful cabin in the woods where we were greeted by a friendly chocolate lab dog named Baker. We stayed up late telling stories from the trail and having a great time. They had a shot ski that we got out to use too. This was hands down the best random trail magic we had gotten all trail and we were only 3 days from being done.

Miles: 19.2 Total Miles: 2592.1

Shot ski at the cabin.

September 3, Day 135 – Wiesel Dick’s Birthday!

I spent the entire day eating way too much food. I went to the bakery twice, got to see Rambo and Surefoot, ate a lot of carrot cake and had some pretty good clam chowder. Approach and Wiesel Dick returned from Chelan around 4 and we celebrated his birthday with lots of baked goods. Draggin’ bought us all dinner that night too. We got really lucky and got to eat at the only restaurant in town the last night they would be open for the season. If we had gotten there a day later we would have missed out on the amazing food there and been stuck eating our hiker food or cinnamon rolls from the bakery. We went for a swim in the lake, did laundry and took showers and got ready for the last stretch of trail. When we walk out of Stehekin tomorrow morning, we will be 80.4 miles from Canada.

Miles: 0 Total Miles: 2572.9

I seemed to have once again not taken many pictures but here are the pastries I got at the bakery. The cinnamon rolls from Stehekin Pastry Company are probably the single most talked about food item on trail.

September 2, Day 134 – Last town on trail, Stehekin

I packed up pretty quickly this morning and was out of camp by 6:45. We had 31.3 miles to do to get to Stehekin. However, the town is 12 miles from the trail and we needed to be at a road crossing to catch a bus into town by 6:15. We had one big gradual climb to start our day and then it was downhill for 20 miles. The sun was shining and we were excited to get to our last town on trail. We hiked last Beekeeper and Atlas first thing in the morning but would see them both later that day. Beekeeper ended up catching and passing me pretty early on but Atlas would end up showing up to the bus stop about 30 minutes after me. I had a lot of foot pain today so I was moving pretty slow and downhill made it a lot worse. I had been wearing the same pair of shoes since Ashland, Oregon, 800 miles ago. This was way longer than I intended but the post office had let me down in our prior town stops. I ended up spending most of the day with headphones in listening to a podcast with 20 minute episodes. This meant every episode was one mile done. It really helped me get through the pain. After getting to Stehekin, I found Beekeeper and was told Approach and Wiesel Dick had gone into Chelan to get his staph infection looked at. They had somehow gotten a hitch on a boat 50 miles down to the other end of the lake. I spent the night hanging out with Beekeeper, Atlas, and Koviet. I was able to get my new shoes and my feet instantly felt better. We ended up cowboy camping behind the bathrooms at the local campground.

Miles: 31.3 Total Miles: 2572.9

These shoes had more holes than Swiss cheese. The rip on the right toe went all the way across the shoe.

September 1, Day 133 – Hiking slow for the views

We woke up to sunshine! Approach and I decided to just dry out our stuff first thing so we didn’t have to pack anything up wet and could keep moving all day afterwards. This meant we didn’t leave camp until around 9 but it was nice taking our time this morning. I will say I don’t have much detail from today since we arrived in camp late and I didn’t write that night but here’s what I can remember: taking about 30 photos of alpine lakes, roaring streams, mountain ranges poking the clouds and a wonderful sunset. Even though I had fun with the snow yesterday, one day was enough. I was very happy for sunshine today. We passed by one of the most beautiful lakes on trail, Mica Lake. The water was a beautiful deep blue with hints of turquoise near the shore. After passing Mica Lake, we descended down into a river valley only to climb right back out the other side. But I didn’t mind any of the climbing we did today. The view at the top was always worth it. I took a 15 minute break at Dolly Vista to watch the sunset. It was one of the best I’d had all trail. Afterwards, I scurried downhill to find Approach eating dinner at our planned campsite. We had caught up to Draggin’ who told us that the rest of the crew was not far ahead. Approach and I decided to push another 5 miles to catch them and set ourselves up for an easier day into Stehekin tomorrow. I ran most of those 5 miles. It was beautiful wide trail and as flat as can be. I got in to our resting spot at a large bridge just before 10 and scoped out a site for us. We couldn’t find anyone else but there were a lot of campsites at this river and it was too dark to go looking for them. We found out 2 days later we had passed Rambo and Surefoot in those last 5 miles and we would get into Stehekin the day before them.

Miles: 35.1 Total Miles: 2541.6

The view from Dolly Vista at mile 2532.5. The pictures don’t do it justice.

August 31, Day 132 – Snow day

Condensation is a fact of life out here some times. We woke up with a wet tent and damp quilts. I crossed my fingers in hope that the sun would come out later today but we were not so lucky. It was a wet and dreary day most of the morning that turned into cold and very wet in the afternoon. Approach stayed out in front as usual and I spent the entire day hiking a slow and steady pace without breaks. I wanted to stay moving since it was colder out. I also hiked sans headphones the entire day for probably the first time since mile 500. As I was ascending up to Red Pass at mile 2504, it started snowing. I’m not sure what is wrong with me but I really enjoyed it. We had been gifted blue skies for too long and I wanted to feel challenged for once. I laughed and ran and jumped around as I made my last few miles to camp. Approach was not so patiently waiting for me since I had the rain fly to her tent. I had agreed to carry it all day but never had the chance to dry it out. We set up the wet tent with our wet quilts and hoped for the best. I luckily was able to keep my spare set of socks dry and was excited to sleep in them. As usual, we ate a lot of candy and watched some episodes on Netflix before falling asleep.

Headphones have become one of my most used items of gear. When I want to go fast, I put on music. When I want to let my mind wander, a podcast is played. When I need help breaking up the monotonous routine of day to day trail life, music helps a lot. But today, I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. I’m not sure why at the time I picked this day but looking back I think it was because I was dealing with such a drastically different hiking experience than I had almost all trail. It was really nice to wander through the woods thinking about all of the amazing experiences I’ve had on trail. I’m really going to miss this, even days like today.

Miles: 31.7 Total Miles: 2506.5

I didn’t take many photos today because of the weather. This was probably some of the best visibility I had all day. Everything in this picture was wet.

August 30, Day 131 – Got my old backpack back

The first part of our day consisted of rolling hills over 13 miles to get into Stevens Pass. I got in not too long after Approach and when I got to the highway we saw a van pull over for another hiker so we walked over and were able to get a ride immediately. He was driving this super cool Ford van from the 70’s that he had converted so he could live out of it. He dropped us off right in front of the restaurant in Skykomish. We were able to dry our stuff out on the patio while we ate. I had a fish sandwich, a chili cheese hot dog and a bowl of chicken vegetable soup. I had not eaten enough on this last stretch and was very hungry. I then headed to the post office so I could get my old pack back. The gear repair company had mailed it here. I’m pretty excited to have it back. While it was fun to test out a prototype for Atom Packs, my old pack from them fit me better and felt better on my back. Once done with the post office, we headed to the deli and gas station to ressuply and for some chai tea and potato salad. I was still hungry some how. Our town time took longer than usual and we didn’t get back to trail until 4:30 so we decided to only do 10 miles instead of the 15 we told the rest of the group we would do. We will have to catch them another day.

Miles: 23.7 Total Miles: 2474.8

For some reason this was the only picture I took this day. You can see the storm clouds rolling in that will end up raining on us that night.

August 29, Day 130 – Playing catch-up

Today was a beautiful day with perfect weather and amazing vistas. It made doing 35 miles a lot easier but it was still pretty tough. We had to climb over 8000′ total throughout the day. Approach and I hiked together off and on throughout the day but I spent most of the day with headphones in hiking a bit behind her. I enjoyed going a slower pace and taking less breaks. I find it’s easier to do bigger miles that way. I’m a little torn on if I’m glad we stayed in snoqualmie an extra day. On one hand it was nice to get some more rest but I feel like I used it all today. I’ve gotten lazy doing only 25 miles per day so doing 35 was harder than I expected. I got treated to a beautiful sunset while going over Piper Pass around 8pm.

Miles: 35.6 Total Miles: 2451.1

Sunset from Piper Pass at mile 2449.2

August 28, Day 129 – The catwalk above Snoqualmie

Approach and I ended up waiting until noon to leave town in hopes that my shoes would show up. They never did and we were on trail just before 1. It was a Saturday and there were a lot of day hikers. I understand why though. This was a beautiful climb that ended in a catwalk with stunning views. The clouds from yesterday were all gone and we could see for miles. We hiked together most of the day and ended up doing 20 miles by 7:30. We settled into camp early so we could get a good nights rest for the big push we wanted to do tomorrow.

Miles: 21.4 Total Miles: 2415.5

We walked behind some goats for a few minutes while on the catwalk.

August 26, Day 127 and August 27, Day 128 – Double Zero

Approach, Beekeeper, Dragon, Wiesel Dick and myself all took a zero on August 26 and watched movies all day in the cabin we were so lucky to have. It was really nice to have a house to ourselves with everything we needed within a mile of us. For dinner, Wiesel Dick and I decided to walk up to one of the restaurants even though it was raining. Soon after getting on the main road into town, we get picked up by Vice and Banjo. Vice hiked the trail in 2018 and was now working and living out of her van with her dog Banjo. We convinced her to come to dinner with us. Afterwards, she came back to the house and we let her shower and do laundry while we watched more movies.

The next day everyone except for Approach and I got on trail at a reasonable hour. I wanted to wait to see if my shoes came in the mail and she just didn’t feel like hiking yet. To kill time, we went to the pancake house and ate way too much food. When we realized how awful we felt, we decided to take another zero. It was maybe a little irresponsible of us but we justified by saying we wanted to push ourselves again. Hiking 25 miles a day had gotten easy and we missed the high we felt after doing bigger mile days. Our new plan is to do two 35 mile days so we can still get to Stevens Pass at the same time as the rest of the crew. Plus, we got to check in to our hotel at noon and lay in bed all day watching movies. It helped that it was still dark and dreary outside and tomorrow is supposed to be sunny.

Miles: 0.0 Total Miles: 2394.1

The clouds were hanging low while we waited for our large Huckleberry milkshakes on our second zero.

August 25, Day 126 – Halfway through Washington

We slept on the side of a dirt road that would take us 4 miles down to a side trail along Keechelus Lake. We had found an alternate that allowed us to get into cell signal sooner and do a lot less climbing. We like taking alternates every once in a while to change things up. This alternate granted us the opportunity to walk along a nice wide trail with a view of the lake. The trail also had several privies and we formed a line outside of the first one we came across. We had eaten a lot of food the night before knowing that we would be in town today. The town of Snoqualmie Pass doesn’t have a lot of options for lodging or dining but it does have a house of a good friend. Alex let us stay at his cabin and it was just what we needed. We were able to drop our bags before heading to lunch. The rest of the day we spent watching movies and eating pizza.

Miles: 13.0 Total Miles: 2394.1

Keechelus Lake southeast of Snoqualmie Pass

August 24, Day 125 – Taking the road less travelled

We took our time leaving the cabin this morning by making a fire and warming up before setting out on an adventure. We found an amazing blue blaze opportunity today that ended up allowing us to only hike a few miles on trail and the rest of the way on a nice dirt road. The four of us walked together all day. We had an amazing lunch break at a creek where we went for a dip and played a game where we threw small rocks and tried to land them on a big rock. It was really fun. We then played “gross or not gross?” while we walked a very flat road. The views were great to start the day and we got a great glimpse of the northern cascades. We found a huge huckleberry bush right before camp and got to eat several handfuls. We have a good thing going here. I’m loving Washington. I had trouble falling asleep tonight because I was so happy. I kept thinking about how much fun we had today and have been having the last few weeks and I don’t want it to end. We only have 11 or 12 hiking days left and I’m not ready to have to say goodbye to the trail, my friends and this way of life.

Miles: 33.1 Total Miles: 2381.1

The swimming hole we took a 2 hour lunch break at.

August 23, Day 124 – Finding reasons to take breaks

The four of us slept in again. We had a short climb first thing and as we crossed the ridge we saw blue sky and sunshine for the first time in a few days. It put a pep in our step. On the way down the hill to cross the highway we met some section hikers and took pictures for them. They then offered us homemade pie if we met them in the parking lot. We got down before them and dried some of our stuff out while we waited. They also gave us fruit and drinks. After a short break we climbed a few miles up to a lake and all went for a swim. When we got to the top of the climb we were greeted with an amazing break spot to take in the view of Mt. Rainier. We had walked through Mt. Rainier National Park for several miles yesterday but had yet to see the mountain. The day only got more magical after that. We found ourselves frequently running with joy. We had to walk through a burn area for a while but it gave us grand views of the mountains around us. We all split up for a bit after a water break and then met back up on the side of a hill and ate candy and watched the clouds. They were exceptionally puffy today. After that break we had an easy 4.5 miles down to a cabin on the edge of a meadow. This cabin had a wood stove, sleeping loft and pit toilets. It was just what we needed to finish out one of our best days. We watched a movie in the loft and stayed up way past our bedtime.

Miles: 26.4 Total Miles: 2348.0

We went for a swim in Sheep Lake just after Chinook Pass

August 22, Day 123 – Hiking together makes time fly

Continuing with our 25 miles per day plan we didn’t leave town until after 8. Approach, Beekeeper, Wiesel Dick and I hiked the first 13 miles together then split up at our own paces. I stopped and ate at least 50 blueberries. They were growing all along the trail today and were delicious. We got to camp at 5 and all piled into Wiesel Dicks tent to watch Hot Rod. It was pretty cold out so putting 4 people in a 2 person tent was an easy way to warm up. Washington has proven to be colder and wetter than I expected this early but tomorrow night we get to stay at a cabin.

Miles: 25.7 Total Miles: 2321.6

Beekeeper, myself and Approach snacking at our one break for the day. We spent a lot of time here throwing food in the air and trying to catch it in our mouths. We ate a lot of food off the ground. Photo credit to Wiesel Dick

August 21, Day 122 – Short way to go and a long time to get there

Wiesel Dick got out of camp before Approach and I but we only had 15 miles to town. The two of us hiked together for a bit before I put my headphones in and slowed down. She ended up running a lot of the downhill and catching Wiesel while I strolled into town 30 minutes later. Once there we found out Beekeeper had some extra space in a room so we stopped hiking for the day and stayed inside where it was warm and dry. I ate way too much food and watched When Harry Met Sally then Forrest Gump. After the movies the 3 of us went for a swim in the heated pool. Staying in town was a welcome relief from the cold. It’s supposed to be cloudy and wet and cold the next few days so we were able to prepare a bit.

We are really trying to make the trail last as long as possible at this point. We have a few deadlines to meet but for the most part we can decide to spend extra time in town or hike less whenever we want. Today was one of those times. A heated pool and comfy couch sounded way nicer than hiking in the rain.

Miles: 15.4 Total Miles: 2295.9

Some of the last snow we will see all trail. This was pretty soon after leaving camp this morning.

August 20, Day 121 – Climbing without reward

The three of us slept in again and then started our day with an episode of tv. As we walked down the trail Wiesel Dick and I picked lots of huckleberries and had purple teeth by mile 3. Most of the day was spent climbing into the clouds. We unfortunately had zero good views as we were socked in while walking the knifes edge of goat rocks wilderness. It was pretty chilly and windy the last few miles and we had our longest snow traverse of all trail. Wiesel Dick and I split two meals of chili Mac and a spaghetti and a ramen. It was good eating.

Goat Rock Wilderness is supposed to be one of the prettiest sections of trail, on a clear day. Unfortunately, clear days aren’t too common and we missed out on all the views. I guess I’ll have to come back and hike this amazing section of trail again.

Miles: 25.8 Total Miles: 2280.5

We were all smiles even without the views.

August 19, Day 120 – Huckleberries as far as the eye can see

Wiesel Dick is still recovering from his staph infection so he took the 8am shuttle but Approach and I stuck around for breakfast and took the 10am shuttle. Today was some of the best hiking we’ve had all trail. We walked along the west side of Mt. Adams while the clouds whirled around it. The sun was out most of the day but it was nice and cool and perfect for us. I took a short break with Approach after around 10 miles then hiked the rest of the way without breaks. I took a lot of little stops for a few minutes to take photos of mushrooms, admire the birds gliding in the wind and trying to count how many glacial streams I hiked over. I got to camp around 7 to find Approach and Wiesel Dick picking huckleberries. I joined in and we had a feast. We finished the night watching an episode of tv piled in Wiesel Dicks tent. It was another great day in Washington. 25 mile days are great! I’m excited to keep this pace up the rest of the trail.

Miles: 24.8 Total Miles: 2254.7

Mt. Adams from near mile 2240

August 18, Day 119 – What’s the rush?

It was a short jaunt into town this morning that turned into a day on a patio outside the general store in Trout Lake, WA. Approach and I got to town around 10 and immediately had breakfast with huckleberry milkshakes at the cafe. We then spent the rest of the day at the general store. We hitched a ride down the street for pizza for dinner and fit 13 hikers in a small truck on the way back. It was a really relaxing day full of laughter and good times. Hanging out at the general store also meant we got to hang out with a dog, 2 cats and 3 ducks. They lived at the house next door and the dog and cats fit right in. The ducks kept their distance. We ended up just camping on the lawn so we could be as efficient as possible in our energy expenditure for the day.

Miles: 10.2 Total Miles: 2229.9

Approach and I on the way to pizza. Photo credit to Wiesel Dick