Hiking across Washington State
04.08.2012 - 21.08.2012
After two thousand one hundred and fifty five miles of hiking and 5 days off, it was time to start hiking across my home state, which was very exciting from the beginning. My parents, Corley and I drove to Cascade Locks and got some delicious lunch. Then they all walked across the Bridge Of The Gods with me into Washington and got me to the trailhead at about 1300 for me to be on my way. Goodbyes are always tough, but I knew that WA had many chances for me to see family and my girlfriend, so I knew I would see them again soon! It was a very hot afternoon, and being at such a low elevation of 130 feet, the temperature was just so high! My dad told me later that in Cascade Locks it was 97 degrees and in Portland that day it was 100!! So it was pretty hot and all I did was go up and down a lot. At that time, I did not realize that this was just the beginning of Washington, there were tons of big climbs and descents to come my way. At the end of this day, I made 21 miles to Rock Creek and camped with a very nice guy out for a few days with his dog. Great first day back on trail.
I woke up feeling a little sore for the first time in quite a while. I assume it was all because of taking so much time off that my body was starting to adjust to home life again. My lower back and shoulders had so sores and rashes from the pack rubbing against them and my calves were feeling sore, but those have never been things to stop me from hiking this trail. So I was off and on my way in the morning with more ups and downs slowly working my way back up to the elevations I enjoy hiking at, moving from 1000-3000 and up to between 4000 and 5000 elevation. It was a decent day of hiking and I met many section hikers, some I had passed in Oregon and had gotten ahead of me while I took my time off. It was nice to see them again. I met a group of guys who were on the last night of their backpacking trip and offered me food, which was wonderful since I tend to eat more than I plan! I was happy to get more snack food and trail mix! I hiked on just a little more past Green Lake, which made me miss the Green Lake in Seattle, the Seattle Green Lake for the 90's when no one swimmed in it. This Green Lake in Southern Washington was pretty gross looking. But that was okay! I went a half mile past that and made camp away from most of the bugs. Moving right along through Washington!
Well, I was woken up at 0415 with rain falling on my face, my first rain in WA! I pulled out my tent real fast and just opened it up over me to figure out what I would do. Serves me right for cowboy camping every night, but the rain only lasted for about 45 minutes and was done for the day. I dried things a little and got hiking by 0515! Starting so early I made great time and was able to just move all day long and get to where I had hoped earlier than I thought. It was really a rather uneventful day in Southern WA. I would pass some roads and catch glimpses of Mt. Adams which was coming up close! I got to the road that heads down to Trout Lake, WA and took a good long break before the last couple miles of the day. I made the climb up until I was just below the start of snow on Mt. Adams and made camp with some cell service to chat with my girl and call my parents. It was a great day.
Now it was time to hike through the Mt. Adams Wilderness. Staying just under 6000 feet, the snow never really got that bad. There were some football field long stretches of snow, but nothing bad! Only lost my way once, but found the trail quickly. I met some south bound section hikers who mentioned that there wasn't anymore snow on Adams, but there was a sketchy part at Cispus Pass, which would come the next day. They also warned of a bunch of mosquitoes to come, but I've dealt with plenty of them before! Near the end of the day, I caught another thru hiker, On Time, who I had met a few times before. We hiked the afternoon together to a saddle just above Sheep Lake. I got there a little before him and started to make camp, but decided I should put up my tent because as I looked around, clouds were rolling in all around me, better to be safe than sorry at this point.
We were up early and could not see more than 200 feet away from out faces, the clouds were so thick around us. It did not rain on us at all, but the clouds were pretty thick all around. After only half an hour of hiking, we crossed to the other side of a ridge and the clouds were breaking away! It was beautiful. As I hiked on around the bowl, I could look back and watch the thick white clouds rolling over, down into the valley below from the point where I crossed the ridge. It was gorgeous to see the white clouds with the bright blue sky as a back drop. Then I got over Cispus Pass, which was just as I had heard before, but I took my time and crossed safely. I met some people camped about a mile after this. As we chatted, I looked up into the hillside above their camp and saw a group of what looked like at least 50 mountain goats! I was very excited, but then got on with my hiking! The climb up to the knifes edge was a very tough climb on loose rock. But as i came to the top and had a view of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and then the view of the huge Mt. Rainier, it was so gorgeous and was amazing to see views of a mountain I could see from my doorstep at home. It was amazing to be hiking in Washington and really hit me here. The Goat Rocks wilderness was absolutely astounding. Then it was the long climb down and along the ridge line, followed by a long descent down to White Pass. I went to the Kracker and Barrel store and got my package with food to make it to Chinook Pass and got some snacks. I went back to the trail and camped at the camp ground there with a few volunteers out with WTA beginning a log out trip the next day. They shared some fresh food and were great to chat with!
I left a little bit later today and got on my way towards Chinook Pass to see my family! After only a few miles I came across some Llamas resting in a small meadow near a lake and chatted with the family out with the llamas, headed for Chinook Pass as well. It is always nice to get to chat with people and share what I have been doing out here! But then I was on my way again! As I walked, I began to hear some thundering around me, but could not tell where it was coming from. It was a few Elk beginning to run the other way from me, but they are so loud it was impossible to tell which way they were running until I saw them. Later in the day I met an awesome Forester Service crew who were on the last of 4 days out, heading out for their day off. They shared food with me and it was a great break to chat with them a while! Then it was off and I came to a sign signifying the edge of Mt. Rainier National Park!! This made me so happy to be so close to home! And the view of the mountain was amazing from what had to be less than 30 miles from the snow capped mountain! I loved it, but kept hiking to get to the pass. After some gorgeous lakes and my last climb of the day, I came down to Chinook Pass and hiked off trail down to Tipsoo Lake to stealth camp and wait for my family! I was very excited to get to see them!
I made an attempt at sleeping in, but just couldn't stay asleep or fall back asleep. All I could do was to relax in my sleeping bag and read for a while, but that was okay. I eventually got up and rinsed out some of my clothes. My mom, Corley, Jacob and Alex arrived at about 0940. It was wonderful to see them! Then my sister Danielle and Genny got there, followed not far behind by Uncle Ned, Aunt Peggy, and Uncle Dave! It was so awesome to get to see them all, and especially see my Uncle Dave! It had been so long since I had seen him, it was great! Then Glenn and Debbie showed up eventually and we ate a delicious KFC lunch! Then Glenn and I were off to keep moving along the trail. He was joining me from Chinook to Snoqualmie Pass, about 70 miles. He borrowed a bunch of gear from friends and had a 27lbs pack with food and water. We started off moving pretty fast! He kept a fast pace as we made a big circle around Crystal Mountain. I could tell his feet were beginning to ache. He fixed some duct tape on his ankles and we kept moving. We made our goal to Government Meadows at Camp Urich, but Glenn's feet were aching a lot! It was a lot of miles to do in under 8 hours. We made 23 miles, which was awesome. We set up camp, Glenn in a tent and I was on the deck of the cabin and got some sleep!
In the morning, Glenn's feet were doing pretty well as we got off to a great start. Once we began to have some more significant climbs, they started aching more and more, but Glenn pushed on. We hiked along, hearing gun shots and logging going on in the hills around us. We took our time, took some good breaks, and just kept moving along as much as his feet let us. We made it to Tacoma Pass and he was able to call Debbie to say he was doing okay, but hurting. We climbed up from there and by the time we got to the ridge, his feet hurt so bad that when we got service again he called Debbie and asked to be picked up at our next roaded pass, Stampede Pass. We still had a ways to go, but he was motivated to get there and just kept on moving as much as he could! I stopped to chat with some day hikers and he kept moving. We made the Pass to find Debbie and Jacob hiking in to meet us. We got his shoes off and they were looking bad. Check Glenn's twitter if you can to see them! I got my food to make it to Stevens Pass a little early, but was happy to have my food and maps for a while! Debbie brought a burger from Snoqualmie Pass and after eating, I was on my way to get a few more miles in as they drove Glenn off to relax and try to let his feet heal up! I hiked another 5 miles and found a great spot to sleep out under the stars and watch the Meteor Shower!
I woke up at 0515 hearing someone hike past me! I had heard that Scott Williamson was out on trail and figured it was him, as he was hiking south. Later in the day I saw that his name was in a register and it confirmed that he was the one who passed me in the morning. I was very sad that we must have camped only a tenth of a mile apart. It would have been amazing to camp with that guy! He's a PCT great! But I got on my way to Snoqualmie Pass. It was awesome to finally come across a view of I 90 from up above it, then hike down the ski slopes with obviously no snow around anywhere! I enjoyed it a lot and loved hiking into a pass I know so well! I relaxed in the pass by the little store for a while, eating and relaxing! Then it was off into the Alpine Lakes wilderness! So many people do the first few miles up that it was packed on a sunday! I met a very nice couple from Issaquah and hiked with them. It was great to chat even though by the end of the day I realized how much time it cost me. But it was all okay! I caught up with another thru hiker friend of mine, Justin West! I hadn't seen him in a while so it was great to catch him! We ended up camping together about 15 miles out of Snoqualmie Pass near Parks Lake. It was much less miles than I thought I would have done, but it was all okay and wonderful to get to camp with a good guy!
We were up early, and I was off hiking. He is writing a Field Guide to the PCT, so any new plants he comes across, he stops to record and examine them, which can cause him to have some low mile days if he comes across a lot of plants! So I said goodbye and was off. Today was the first day of just how intense the up and down of WA can be! I started off climbing 400 feet, then down 2200 feet. Then it was back up 2300 feet to a gorgeous ridge. The lakes and views of the cut mountains were amazing and so beautiful. But then it was again going back down 2200 feet or so. It was followed by a pretty mellow climb back up 2500 feet. The last high point of the day. I made a couple calls from Cathedral Pass, but the mosquitoes were so bad that I couldn't stay long. It was back down another 1000 feet to cross the Mt. Daniels river, which was so sketchy! I was jumping across rushing river with my pack on, throwing my pack across the river, and jumping and grabbing onto wet rocks to keep from falling in the water! It was intense. It was then back up a few hundred feet to Deception Pass and my camp for the night. I set up my tent to get away from the bugs for a good nights sleep, which I had not had in a few days due to bugs.
I was up early and on my way to make it to Stevens Pass! It was still plenty of up and down to get there, but the lakes I came across were so beautiful! It was an amazing hike and I continued to meet many people out doing the Alpine Lake section hike, it is a very popular section. I made pretty good time and was at the top of the Stevens Pass chair lift around 1400. I got down and relaxed as I waited for Corley to arrive to take me back to civilization for a night. I was so happy to see her pull up and get to spend a little time with her! We drove down to Monroe and got some lunch and a dinner for later that night, and even stopped at DQ for me to get a blizzard! Then it was off to her house to relax, get me a shower and get some laundry done! It was great. I slept out on the couch and was so happy to see her family and just relax for a while with a good nights sleep!
We slept in a little bit and Heidi made a wonderful breakfast! Corley and I started driving back up to the pass after a while to get me back on trail. It was so wonderful to just spend some time with my girl! There would be no cell coverage for the rest of WA so it was great to just have some time together! She hiked in the first 3 miles with me! She did great! I loved having her with me and cannot wait to be home and go out hiking together. We said our sweet goodbyes and I was off to continue hiking. I came up to having some wonderful views of the well hidden Glacier Peak, a cascade mountain that can only be seen from the back country. Not from any road or high way, so that was very special! I made it to Pear Lake and hiked off trail a few hundred feet to get water and found Justin West there setting up his camp! With me going down from Stevens, he had jumped just a little ahead of me. It was great! We got to camp together again and I figured it would be one of the last times on trail I would camp with anyone. It was a great first day out of Stevens Pass!
We were out a little early and hiked the first mile together until he came across a plant to catalog and I was off. It was a pretty great day hiking, with great views of Glacier Peak every now and again, and some beautiful lakes out and about every once in a while. I kept moving pretty well all day and it was great hiking, still full of lots of elevation change though! I made it up to Reds Pass, which the backside was still pretty snowy, but nothing to bad! It was good hiking and nothing super steep. Then it was a good climb back up towards Fire Creek and up to Fire Creek Pass. I heard it was snowy on the back of that too, so I had planned to hike over it, which would have been a 38 mile day, but met a group of guys in the pass who were setting up camp and decided to set up with them! It was nice and a beautiful sunset. One of the best camps I had on trail. I was glad to have that little bit of extra climb finished and knew I had snow in the morning to come!
The snow was a bit steeper than I had thought it would be, and more frozen than I expected in the morning. The last few nights had been pretty warm, but not last night. I took my time and moved pretty slow making my way down, but I wasn't worried about it. After making the low point, I had the most intense climb of the entire trail to do. 2000 feet over 2.5 miles up to the Vista Ridge. It got me and I did not move up the mountain very quickly at all. I eventually realized how slow I had been moving and knew I really had to pick up my pace! I was on my way down to the Suiattle River, which the old PCT crossing was washed out. So instead of the 2 mile old PCT, there was the unexpected 6 mile new PCT with the new bridge over the Suiattle River, which was flowing very strong. I was happy to have such a stable crossing, but the 4 extra miles bummed me out. I pushed and kept moving pretty quickly! On my way up to Suiattle Pass I met Anish, someone I had been looking forward to meeting for a long time since she used to work with my brother Glenn in Bellingham! After a quick chat, I made the pass and hiked another 5 miles down to the very nice Hemlock Camp to settle for the night. I was 2 miles short of where I had wanted to get that day, but was pretty pleased with having made it this far!
I got hiking nice and early to hike down the long valley towards to road into Stehekin. It was a nice and easy hike down at a very nice grade. I got to the road at about 1000 and took a great break with some boy scouts who had just been out and hiked down from Harts Pass. They were headed out and gave me some food! It was awesome. My brother Glenn with Jacob and Alex were going to be meeting me tonight just a few miles from Rainy Pass and would have my food for the rest of the trip, so I did not have to head into Stehekin this trip. I was out on my way and actually met a friend of Glenn's! He was actually the guy who had lent the light weight pack to Glenn, so that was really funny to meet him! I was on my way along the long gradual climb up towards Rainy Pass. It was really very easy hiking and very pretty hiking along the Bridge Creek. There were lots of beautifully made camps along the creek and I eventually came to find Jacob sitting alongside the trail waiting for me! I hiked over to find the camp that Glenn and the boys had been giving a permit to camp at. This was such a fun night camping with them. We played some cards and ate food and just relaxed around camp with each other. I was very happy.
We woke up pretty darn early to give us plenty of time to hike up hill back to their car! We made it much quicker than we thought though! So I was able to get my food and get back out on trail at a very reasonable time! It was great to hike with them and was sad to see them go, but I was so close to being finished! I was back into hiking and moving towards Canada! I made great time and it was very beautiful country. There were few trees so the views were amazing. This section is really very nice hiking. A good climb up, followed by a long ridge walk, then down a bit to go do it all again. It was very nice and I met some very nice people out hiking this section. There was some good cloud cover my last few miles, but cleared up as I came to the apex of the ridge. I ended up camping with 5 other guys tonight and it was just so nice to still have plenty of people to chat with. We were also joined by some very tame deer! It ended up being a beautiful night!
I was up at my usual time and off hiking to get my last full day of hiking in! I came along to Harts Pass, the last road before Canada! It felt amazing to have made it here and could just feel how close I was to finishing! I just kept on moving and continued to come across people out in this section. After Harts Pass I had thought I wouldn't really be meeting many more people, but I was wrong! I just kept on moving and kept looking back over my shoulder, searching for where I had hiked during my outward bound trip when I was 14. I found the mountain I remembered, but never quite found just where I had a picture of us hiking on the PCT. I bet the trail has just changed a bit in the 9 years since I had been there last. I caught a couple of people out doing section hikes and we ended up camping together at Hopkins lake. There were few mosquitoes around and it was a lovely last spot to make camp! I still cowboy camped and just enjoyed having company on my last night. I rinsed some clothes in the lake, since I was to be meeting Corley and her dad at the monument in the morning! I wanted to clean up a little bit! Only 7 miles left in the USA to hike and no more climbs!! I was so excited!
I was too excited to sleep that I woke up at about 0315 and couldn't really get back to sleep. I laid around for a while and did not get hiking until 0730, since I only had 7 miles to get to the monument. I got hiking and had it all downhill to the monument. Corley and her dad had 8 miles from the road, so I hoped we would meet up near the same time! I came to a switchback in the trail and looked across the valley to see the tree line cut out to signify the border! I was so excited! I let out some loud shouts of excitement and kept on going to find the PCT northern terminus at the 78th border monument! I had made it! I was done with hiking across the United States of America. I had hiked 2659.5 miles to get to this point. It was amazing! I was so happy and could hardly believe where I was! I got there about 0930 and had beat my girl there. So I relaxed and waited. After about two hours of waiting, I decided to hike out in hopes of meeting them on their way in at 1130. It was a gradual climb up and I never came across them. I was worried about them and hoped they were okay and not lost out here! I began the descent down towards the road and began to think they maybe just weren't able to drive out the night before so drove out in the morning and will be meeting me closer to the road. I made the road in Manning Park. I was officially done with the PCT. I had hiked all the way from the Southern Terminus in Campo, CA to Manning Park in British Columbia Canada, but there was no sign of Corley and her Dad where the PCT hit the road. I walked down to the Resort and their car wasn't there, nor had they stayed the night at the resort. A park ranger told me of another trail head 3 miles down the road. I began to get scared thinking that maybe they had the wrong day and were not there at all! And with no cell phone service I was very worried I was stuck there! I got a ride down to the other trail and was so happy to see my girls car parked there! I dropped my pack and began to run down the trail about a mile, then decided maybe it was a better idea to wait at the car, in case they did make that monument then take the real PCT back. I waited another hour or so and eventually the two of them came hiking in off the trail!! I ran up to them, so happy that they were there!!! It was quite a last day out on trail, but we found each other and I was finished! Done! No more hiking all day long day after day! And I was right where I belonged, with my girl.