Walking Home

reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

August 11

August 19th, 2015

August 11 Darrington WA 0 trail miles

image

Slept in, walked to Glacier Peak Cafe (instead of Glacier Peak), biscuits and gravy, then to the Mountain Loop Book Store & Coffee for quiet, non-hiking backpackless morning. Walked around town a bit. The Red Tavern was packed at 1:30 on a Tuesday, not a good sign. The lumber yard is the main industry and maybe the only one, so the town is crumbly around the edges. Headed back to motel and spent afternoon posting blogs and making arrangements for the end of our trip– rooms in Vancouver etc. picked up pizza for dinner (classic hiker meal) and went to bed early.

August 16

August 19th, 2015

August 16 Hopkins Lake- Manning Park 15 miles 7:45- 1:00

image

Woke to sunshine, lay in the tent for a while watching a deer about 10 feet from us munching the moss where one of us had pissed– they love the salt. Then we were up and could smell the barn– possible lunch in a restaurant, cold weather along with a good, downhill trail makes for some good miles. Saw amazing clouds above and below the mountains. Tried to take pictures but there is no way they will show these strange post-storm atmospheres. Hit the Canadian border (it really is a 30ft mowed strip lining the mountains) while the Millers and some others were celebrating the end of their PCT and writing in the logbook. Compared to Katadhin, it is a pretty lame end to a long hike. Crossing over into Canada marked an actual shift. The trail quality changed, sometimes amazing, sometimes very rough– a lot like the Appalachian Trail. A change in the canopy too, more spruce. The last 5 miles into Manning Pass were on a well graded dirt road with us clipping off 3+ mph. Then back in civilization– lunch, Bennett’s first legal beer, clean laundry, showers — all the neglected essentials. Ending in the hostel listening to quietly jubilant thru-hikers try to talk about what they were feeling. Of course there are no words.

August 15

August 19th, 2015

August 15 campsite to Hopkins Lake 18.4 miles 8:15 – 3:30

image

Slept in a bit hoping the sun would come out and dry things– no luck, we used up out karma on the first part of the trail. Very misty, so we packed up wet gear and headed out, making good time on a gentle up and down trail. Initially it was damp but not too cold. By early afternoon the weather shifted, turned bitter cold and windy. No visibility. Rain soaked us completely, just stopping as we got to Hopkins Lake. The sun tried to come out but no matter how much we tried to cheer it on, it couldn’t, so we crowded back in the tiny tent to stop shivering.

August 14

August 19th, 2015

August 14 campsite to campsite 15.7 miles 5:45 – 1:15

image

It was a James Taylor Day — Fire and Rain
Very early morning started to rain. I was cowboying, and Toasted Toad (a thru-hiker) was packed up and headed out. The Rangers were closing trails because of fire threat as we move north, so we got going early to get past the fire and stay one step ahead of the closure signs. Long climb out of the site with some rain, got to ridge and met line of firefighters getting ready to do battle– that is some beautiful and brutal work. Stopped and talked a bit, then pushed on. We have been hiking in smoke since Rainy Pass so no need to stop to take pictures of the scenery. We pushed hard to get through Shaw’s pass just as they were closing that part of the trail. Some staff waved at us, and we just kept looking ahead and hiking. Heard later that they shut it down about an hour later. There is little listed water on this stretch so we headed for a camp that had some about 15 miles, arrived very early, basked in the sun and then about 3:00 the skies opened — wind and rain drove us into the tent. A brief respite at 6:00 let us cook, then back to tent while it howled all night. This little tent usually leaks, but it held up pretty well in the big storm. Read and slept in cramped tent for 17 hours-that’s all we could do. Sometimes the big outdoors can get claustrophobic.

August 13

August 19th, 2015

August 13 campsite to campsite near Glacier Pass. 11.2 miles 9:45-1:30

 

image

Slept in and hiked short day to position ourselves to cross a long stretch with little water– long days tomorrow and the next. Still in smoke as we left, but it slowly disappated over the miles. Uneventful day, passed some Canada bound folks–short hikers, saw a lot of helicopters monitoring all the fires, There are supposed to be some small ones up near us. Terrain is drier, trees are changing. Made nice but dry and buggy camp. A deer must live here because she is not happy we are in her spot, she keeps circling the camp. Long quiet afternoon trying to read slowly. Toasted Toad, a 4 1/2 month thru hiker came in late. He finished the AT last year so we had lots to talk about comparing the two trails.

August 12

August 19th, 2015

August 12 Rainy Pass to campsite 9.8 miles (after 72 mile hitchhike). 1:15-4:30

image

Slow start out of motel, picked up biscuits at IGA and went to intersection to hitch. We needed to go up 530 to Rockport, then take 20 to Rainey Gap. First ride was nice guy but only about 11 miles and left us at a spot where we could not hitch easily, so we ended up walking a couple miles on road until this incredibly nice family turned around and came back to pick us up. A full pickup with three children in the back. They all squeezed in, then took us all the way to Marblemount which was way out of their way, but a great place to hitchРyou always meet the best people on and around trails. Marblemount is a great little village. It was still early we had another breakfast, Bennett a huge stack of blueberry pancakes. Not long after a retired anesthesiologist named Dave picked us up and took us the last 60 plus miles to the trailhead. A short hike in was uneventful except for a thunderstorm which made more noise than rain. The terrain here is much different, almost desert like, though our campsite is a little meadow with a spring winding right through the middle of itРlooks as if Disney designed it. A crew came in and camped near us. They built fire even though half the woods around here are on fire. Sometimes ash from the Wolverine Fire drifts down on us and you can smell smoke everywhere.

August 10

August 11th, 2015

image

 

August 10 campsite to Darrington 17 trail miles 6:45-12:15 (then a lot of hitchhiking)

“Thumbs out”

Up early. Last night a wonderful older couple from Arizona whom we had bumped into earlier came in to our small site. They had hiked the AT to celebrate his retirement, and now were finishing the PCT. Almost ultralghters– cuben fiber bags and tents (including a zpack model very like my new one). They hike long days–25 miles–for four, then zero. They were up at 5:30 and off at 6:15, so we followed with an early start. We could smell the barn, so even though we had 17 miles, we averaged over 3 mph. Perfect trail, all downhill. First hitchhike was with a fish and game ranger, who took us halfway out, then a camp manager who got us to the main road (23 miles total). Half hour sitting in the back of a bouncing pickup with dust roiling all around– pure heaven after that hard hike down. We could not get last ride until the Fish and game guy came by on his way home and took us to the only motel in town. On my way to IGA for ice cream, chips and beer I met a hiker waiting for the bus. David yogied a shower, then hung out a bit. interesting guy, photographer heading to the Manhattan Photo school. Then, in full zero day mode, we watched an Austin Powers movie.

August 9

August 11th, 2015

image

 

August 9 Campsite to campsite 20.8 miles 7:00-5:00

Switchbacks!
This was a killer day. Started early with 3 mile climb, some flat up over 6000 feet, then a really long climb down — all switchbacks (it was like going through airport security in Atlanta). Had lunch on bridge at bottom with Ladybug and Crow, then a brutal climb in the hot sun up over another ridge. We made a third of a circle around Glacier Peak. It was completely beautiful but totally exhausting. Had to water up 1.5 miles before the finish as it was a dry camp. Nothing like carrying 3 extra liters at the end of a 20+ day. Ahmmmm tarred.

August 8

August 11th, 2015

image

 

August 8

Sally Anne Lake to campsite by stream 17.79 miles 7:30-4:00

Marmots, Ground Hogs, and Grouse

It just keeps getting better. Day started with long traverses, we could see the trail ahead for miles across broad valleys. Once more, lots of blueberries. Kept getting closer to Glacier Peak, and saw many other ice capped peaks as well. Today was different in that we were on terrain that often resembled English moorland– with grouse, but not heather. Instead blueberries and lots of wild flowers. Ideal grouse habitat, and we scared up plenty and heard more. Also saw herds of marmots (what is the term for a group of marmots?) I’m not sure, but these silver gray critters look and act just like the groundhogs I grew up with in rural Virginia. They are fearless, sitting on hills watching us hike by. When we finally rounded the range we were traversing most of the day and came over a saddle –Red Pass–we saw this magnificent bowl shaped valley, upland moor habitat on one side (with plenty marmot/groundhogs ) and the other all rockslide, imposing. Later in the afternoon we made our way into a valley full of glacial streams, met some thru hikers–Crow and Ladybug–then wandered through huge forests and areas that resembled Maine, with large rounded boulders covered with deep coats of moss. Toward the end we stopped at a stream that looked like milk– so full of minerals. Earlier in the day we were talking with a women we met at a water source. Bennett had said in the Half Mile Guide, some of the streams were marked as silty, and she, meaning to say “it’s just glacial melt” said instead “glacial milk,” which turns out to be an apt description. Made camp up a draw near a glacial stream that was only a little milky, weary but smiling.

August 7

August 11th, 2015

image

 

August 7
Pear Lake to Sally Anne Lake 11 miles (not counting detour) 7:30-2:45

Lost and found, Maximum Blueberries
This was a day for the ages. Slept by Pear Lake. When we had come in on a side trail, there were lots of people camped in a single flat spot, so we walked to the other end of lake where we found a site by the water. Bennett found a PCT sign on the trail just up from us, so we would not have to back-track to get on trail in the morning. Very cold and ultimately wet night–dew soaked everything. We didn’t get started until 7:30 but had good hour hike up and down. When we got to a cross trail, Bennett scratched his head. It was clear we were not on the PCT. From¬†where we stood, we could see what we thought was the PCT high on a ridge across the valley (you can often pick out the route of the trail at a great distance, lines drawn on the side of mountain). At the crossroads, there was a trail marked “abandoned” that looked as though it went there, so we decided to chance it rather than backtrack. It was still easy to follow (at first), parts were over grown and difficult, but it was heading in the right direction so we pressed on. When we got halfway up the ridge it fizzled out. Occasionally we could find faint bits of it, but we were mostly in blueberry brambles (the first and last time I spoke ill of that noble bush). Finally we had to bushwhack straight up the ridge, concerned that we may have overshot the PCT or that it would have dropped over the other side of the ridge too far down to find. We kept comparing our two maps, but neither were conclusive. After a hard struggle we gained the top of the ridge and right in front of us was the trail. Exhausted and soaking wet, we spread out sleeping pads and baked in the sun for a bit. Decided to hike short the rest of the day, so we ended up with an official 11 miler, also by a lake. Expected cold later that night, but for now we have all our stuff spread drying in the sun, grateful for an early end to a ridiculously difficult day.

Seo wordpress plugin by www.seowizard.org.