PCT Day 157: Wow

​September 14, 2017 

Six Mile Camp – Golden Creek (2580.61-2603.37)

22.76 miles 

Today was a great day. I don’t know how many times I said the word “wow”, but I’m pretty sure it was a lot. We got up and out of camp at a pretty decent time, and we spent most of the morning in the forest. The PCT seems to have a habit of always travelling through the least scenic part of the national parks it goes through, which is kind of weird for a national scenic trail. We left the North Cascades National Park section of the trail early in the morning, and it ended up being fairly unexciting. 

We came across a trail crew from the PCTA during our breakfast break, who were out fixing a collapsed bridge. It was really awesome to see them at work, and they were super friendly towards us hikers. I made hot coffee at breakfast this morning, which was a great treat. Not long afterwards, we crossed Highway 20 (the last major road crossing of the trail, I think), and made our way to the Rainy Pass Trailhead parking area. 

As we walked up, we saw that practically everyone that was on the bus from town with us yesterday was gathered in the parking lot. We weren’t sure what was going on at first, but then we realized it was trail magic! There was a couple parked there with cokes, mini chocolate bars, and chips. It was so exciting, and with the 20 or so hikers that had congregated there, it was a real party. We eventually moved on, and this was when we started to get a taste of the views we would be having for most of the afternoon.

We kept catching glimpses of gorgeous peaks through the trees as we climbed, and eventually we broke out of the thick forest and got some awesome views of the ridges and peaks around us. The climb out of Stehekin is the longest climb of the trail (I believe about 8000 feet of elevation gain over 25 miles), but actually ended up being one of the easiest climbs we’ve ever done. It was so well-graded that you could barely tell you were climbing most of the time. We were soon at the top of Cutthroat Pass, and when we crested the hill we saw the most amazing view of rugged mountains spanning as far as the eye could see. And the views continued for most of the rest of the day, as the trail meandered around the peaks and ridges. It was incredible. The larches are starting to turn their autumn yellow, the shrubs are going a deep red, and the jagged peaks are still dotted with the odd patch of snow. 

We stopped for a quick snack break on the top of our last pass of the day, Methow Pass (we went over 4 today: Rainy, Cutthroat, Granite, and Methow), and then began to descend into the wooded valley below. We had originally intended to go a little bit further today, to an established campsite by a river, but word got around that about 20 people were all headed for the same place, so we decided to stop a bit early when we found a flat spot by a little creek. There are 4 other tents that were here before us, so we ended up pitching our tent practically on the trail, but at least there’s room. Gummies and I made a shared dinner tonight, which was fun and super delicious. I made refried beans and he made rice and then we made burritos! Soooo good. 

It’s our third last night on trail and it’s gotten pretty cold. They’re calling for a chance of rain on the day we plan to finish, and then snow the next day, so I guess we are finishing at exactly the right time. I can’t believe there are only two more full days on trail. The days seem to be going by faster and faster now that we’re really nearing the end. I’m so excited to finish off this epic journey with another couple of days of wandering through these beautiful mountains.


PCT Day 156: Home Stretch 

​September 13, 2017 

Stehekin – Six Mile Camp (2569.42-2580.61)

11.19 miles 

Slept in this morning, and then headed over to the lodge to grab breakfast in the restaurant, upon realizing we hadn’t actually had a hot meal since we arrived in town (which is what we had been craving after this fuel-less section). I think the breakfast was pretty good, but I can’t be sure because it just felt so great to be putting something warm and real in my body. When the post office finally opened at 10, we went over to pick up our packages. I got one last care package from my parents, which was the most Canadian thing ever and super cute. I asked them to send me a tiny bottle of Canadian maple syrup for me to chug at the border in celebration of my return to the homeland, and they also sent all dressed chips (one of the greatest chip flavours of all time that for some reason doesn’t exist in the States) and a nice card. I also got my resupply package from Zero Day Resupply. 

We went across the street to quickly pack up all of our new food before catching the shuttle back to the trail. For some reason they weren’t able to use the bus, so we all had to cram with our packs into a couple of those large white vans. We stopped at the bakery again on the way back to the trail, and I got another slice of pizza and chocolate milk for lunch, and three cookies and a brownie to pack out for this section. 

Lakefront views in Stehekin 

Back at the trail, I tried to let it sink in that this is the last town, the last section, the last 4 days to Canada. But I don’t think it’s really, truly hit me yet. I wonder when that will happen… At the monument? On the bus ride to Vancouver? The plane ride home? Only after real life truly has me back in its clutches? We’ll see. The hike this afternoon was fairly uneventful. There were some ups and downs, but nothing too crazy. We were in the woods for most of the time, although we did catch some glimpses of some nice mountain scenes.

We only did 11 miles to the designated campsite we got a permit for. There are a lot of people here, I think 8 or so tents in total. We cooked dinner in the designated cooking area and actually hung our food for the first time ever on trail (on the provided ‘bear wire’). Apparently this is a pretty active bear area, so hopefully we won’t have any nighttime visitors. Starting tomorrow, we’ll have only three full days left on trail, which is absolutely insane. 

PCT Day 155: Down to Town 

​September 12, 2017 

Mile 2551.39 – Stehekin (2551.39-2569.42)

18.03 miles 

We woke this morning with the excitement of town day spurring us on, and the hope that we would be able to make the second last shuttle rather than the last one of the day, which I thought left at 4pm. The beginning of the hike today was quite beautiful, as we wound around the peaks and ridges as they were illuminated by the rising sun. Soon, we descended down into the forest, where we stayed for the rest of the day, although we did glimpse occasional mountain views through the trees. 

We had to cross a creek several miles into the day where there had once been a bridge but it had been washed out. I tried to hop across on the rocks and keep my feet dry, but my trekking pole collapsed on me halfway across causing me to lose my balance and I ended up just walking the rest of the way through the water. We stopped for breakfast on the other side so I could have a chance to slightly dry out my feet, and then pressed on. Hiker hunger is real now (especially after the sad eats of this last section), and I felt hungry again about 5 minutes after leaving our breakfast spot. Because of this, we ended up stopping for lunch closer to 11 then 12, and it was there that I discovered the second last shuttle of the day left at 3, not 4 as I had originally thought. 

At first, I immediately resigned myself to the fact that we would just have to get the last shuttle at 6, but then we did some quick math and realized that if we were fast we might still be able to reach the bus stop by 3. We finished up our lunch quickly and kept going. Gummies was off like a shot but I maintained a fairly steady pace until the final mile or so, when I realized that getting the 3 o’clock bus was actually possible if I booked it, and I kicked it into high gear. I ended up arriving at the ranger station where the shuttle picks up hikers at exactly 3pm, and climbed onto the bus just as it was ready to pull away. 

 The bus stopped at the famed Stehekin bakery on the way into town, but due to some people that needed to make it to the post office before it closed, the driver only gave us 5 minutes inside. I panicked and just started grabbing everything I could, which ended up being two slices of pizza, a day old sticky bun, and a slice of something called Kuchen. Once we got to town, we were able to buy fuel canisters, and I’m so excited to be able to eat hot meals again. I may even treat myself to some hot coffee and tea in this last section. 

This town day has been a total reunion of hikers we’ve known from all over the trail but haven’t seen in ages. Cougar and Dr. McDirty are here, along with Adam, Stephanie, Monarch, Acorn, John, and lots of others. It’s so exciting that everyone seems to be coming together again right here at the very end, after everyone kind if scattered to the winds around the Sierra. We sat, ate, and drank with Cougar, Dr. McDirty, Wang, and Baton for a while, and we’re all camped together tonight in the free camping area here in town. I ate way too much after this last section of not having enough food, and now I’m lying in bed totally stuffed. But of course I’m still going to buy a ridiculous amount of food again at the bakery tomorrow. 

The bus we rode into town. 

We get to sleep in tomorrow, which I am very excited about. The post office doesn’t open til 10, so we’ll get our boxes then and hopefully catch the 11 o’clock bus back to the trail. The next 16 miles of trail are inside North Cascades National Park, so we can only camp in designated camp areas and we have to get a permit for a specific spot. We’re hoping to get one for a site 11 miles out of town, but we’ll have to do that tomorrow as well. There are only 80 miles to go until the border, which is absolutely insane. Today is Tuesday, and we should be in Canada first thing Sunday morning. It’s really happening. 

PCT Day 154: A Beautiful Day for a Five Month Trailiversary

​September 11, 2017 

Mile 2526.86 – Mile 2551.39

24.55 mile

It got pretty cold last night, but I was able to stay toasty and warm in my quilt, which is definitely my favourite piece of gear. We were out of the tent early enough to catch a bit of the sunrise, which hasn’t happened in a while, and it was beautiful. We spent the first bit of the morning up on the ridge surrounded by the mountain tops being illuminated by the day’s first light, and then began to descend back down into the forest. 

We had a big section of downhill to start the day, so we made really good time. The forest was super beautiful, some of the trees were absolutely massive. We had lunch near a bridge over the Suiattle River, and then it was time for the big climb of the day. It was almost 8 miles long, which was kind of scary because we weren’t sure how difficult it was going to be. Well, it turned out to be super easy, and we were able to crush it up to the top in really good time. 

As we neared the top, the forest began to thin out and we could catch glimpses of the jagged mountains all around us through the trees. When we got to the top, there were some seriously gorgeous views as we descended down into a boulder-filled meadow. There was a sign pointing to a supposed campsite, and although it’s not really an ideal spot to pitch a tent (rocky and not very flat), this is one of the most epic campsites we’ve had. We’re wedged between jagged peaks on both sides of the meadow, which were lit up in a beautiful pink light as the sun sank behind the ridge. 

We ate our cold dinners and then set about making up the rest of camp, and while I was in the tent getting the sleeping bags and pads set up, I kept hearing a rustling noise that seemed to be coming from inside the tent. I dismissed it the first couple of times as either Gummies throwing something into the tent or something shifting as I fiddled with the sleeping pads, but then I saw a flash of grey fur beside me. There was a mouse inside the tent! I obviously squealed and leapt outside, and luckily we were able to get him out the door pretty quickly. I had been dreaming of eating a Twix bar for breakfast tomorrow morning while still in bed, but now it is unfortunately outside in my food bad which is stuck in a tree. On that note, the zipper of the tent door seems to be giving out. We managed to get it closed properly after much finagling, and we only have five nights left after this (!), so hopefully it can hold out until then. 

I can’t believe we have less than a week left on the trail. Today we officially hit the point where we have less than 100 miles to go until the Canadian border, and it’s really starting to sink in that this epic adventure is coming to an end. I still feel like I’m ready to be done, but it’s certainly going to be a bit of a culture shock going back to regular life. Today also marks exactly 5 months since we started the trail, and it’s kind of hard to believe that I’ve been out here that long, in the wilderness, hiking. Tomorrow we have 18 miles into the town of Stehekin, which is our final town stop on trail and I’m super excited. I’ll be dreaming of the bakery in town tonight for sure. 

PCT Day 153: Okay Washington, I See You 

​September 10, 2017 

Mile 2508.82 – Mile 2526.84

18.01 miles 

Well, as it turns out, Washington is really quite beautiful when you can actually see it. We knew this all along, but today we finally got further confirmation. 

It rained pretty steadily through the night, and I had a hard time falling asleep because my mind wouldn’t stop worrying about it. What if it never stopped and we couldn’t dry out our things? Eventually I fell asleep, and luckily in the morning the rain had stopped. I was tired and felt a bit like I had a cold coming on, so I had a hard time getting myself up, and of course everything was soaked. The tent, the sleeping bags, the packs. The good news is the day could only go up from here. 

As we started hiking, I noticed we had a completely clear view of the peaks around us for the first time. It was beautiful. And there was sun shining on the tops of them! My only wish for the day, being able to dry out our sopping wet gear, looked like it would become a reality. The day started out with a rather steep climb, and we stopped pretty early for breakfast because we were both super hungry. Not long after our breakfast break, we crested the top of the hill and came upon a gorgeous view of golden hillsides dotted with green conifers and split by jagged grey peaks. It was so beautiful, as I headed down the ridgeside I thanked the trail over and over for letting us get to see it. I was just so happy to finally be getting these classic Washington views. 

We came to a creek where there was a large open, sunny area. A bunch of other hikers had already exploded their stuff everywhere to dry out, so we followed suit and set everything out in the sun to dry. This made for a long break after we had just stopped for breakfast, but it was worth it to get everything dry. By the time we had finished, it was nearly lunch time, but we decided to hike at least another couple of miles before stopping. We lunched by a creek, and then had another little bit of climbing to finish off before a long downhill section. 

When I came to the top of that climb, I found one of the most amazing views I’ve seen yet on the trail. I could see the trail winding down the ridge for miles, and snow-capped peaks were on all sides. It was incredible. I paused for a moment to take it in, and then began the descent. The views continued as I wrapped around the ridge, and suddenly stumbled upon a gorgeous alpine lake nestled amongst the peaks. The water was so blue, it looked like it could be Kool-Aid. Not long after that, the trail was back into the forest, switchbacking steeply down to Milk Creek, where we stopped for a quick snack break before beginning the next big climb. 

The beginning of the climb was pretty scary. It started off with nice, smooth trail that was ridiculously steep, and then when the grade got better, the trail became super rocky and brushy. But eventually, we reached a point where the trail was mostly smooth and relatively well-graded, and were able to crush it up the hill. We got several glimpses of the large glacier above, lit by the last sun rays reaching into the valley, and then by the bright pink alpenglow. As we neared the top, it started getting dark and pretty cold. 

Once we came out of the forest again, we could see the silhouettes of the mountain range in the distance backlit by the orange glow of sunset, and the peaks ahead still lightly illuminated in the dusk. We finally reached the campsite, and by this time it had gotten down right cold. I think the rain was a cold front coming in, because it hasn’t gotten this chilly in a while. We set up the tent and quickly downed our dinners of cold-soaked pasta, which actually wasn’t as bad as it sounds. As I brushed my teeth, I looked up and saw a beautiful show of stars, which is something we haven’t seen in quite some time. I’m now snuggled up in my quilt, ready for a good night’s sleep in my nice, dry tent, and actually excited to see what tomorrow will bring. 

PCT Day 152: True Colours 

​September 9, 2017 

Pass Creek – Mile 2508.82 (2486.70-2508.82)

22.11 miles 

I awoke in the night to the sound of soft rain hitting the roof of the tent. Our first rain in Washington! It had stopped by the time we were ready to start hiking, but everything was slightly damp as we left camp. The low-lying clouds were still hanging around, which obscured some of the scenery from view, but created these eerie, shifting half-views that were super beautiful. The day was cool and even cold at times, and I wore my rain jacket and warm hat pretty much all day (and my tights, which I haven’t hiked in for quite a while). 

The trail was absolutely beautiful today. Jagged peaks dappled with white patches of snow, hillsides splashed with bright red and golds, lush green forests filled with cascading creeks. It started to rain lightly a bit after lunch, as we began the day’s big climb and headed up into the clouds. As we came to the top of the ridge and crested over the other side, we slowly descended out of the cloud and were able to see our surroundings again. The landscape was mind-bogglingly beautiful, despite the rain and the gloom. 

The weather was a reminder that while we’ve made this wild space our home for a while, it doesn’t belong to us. It doesn’t owe us anything, no matter how hard we worked to get here. We’re all at the mercy of mother nature. I’m so happy and proud to call this place my home, at least for the time being. 

We saw like 10 marmots today! 

As the afternoon wore on, my spirits began to droop a little. The drizzle showed no sign of stopping, and I was tired and hungry. Near the end of the day, wet brush soaked our legs and the trail turned to deep mud that tried to suck our feet into the ground. When we finally arrived at the campsite, we set up the tent, still damp from the morning, and sat on the wet ground to make dinner. This section is not great as far as food goes. Not only did all of our dinners come from the hiker box special menu, the one store in town that stocked fuel was all sold out, so we weren’t able to pick up new canisters for our stoves. I was able to coax one last warm meal out of mine tonight, but I’m officially stoveless for the rest of the section, at possibly the worst time to be stoveless. On top of all this, when the resupply boxes didn’t arrive in time I went into a kind of panic and didn’t buy nearly enough snacks for this somewhat lengthy section. So I’ve been trying to limit myself on those, but I know the last day out is going to be a hungry one. 

I’m now warm inside my quilt, which feels really nice after the cold, damp day. I really hope the rain stops at some point tomorrow so we can have a chance to dry out some of our stuff. 

PCT Day 151: I Can See Clearly Now (Kind Of) 

​September 8, 2017 

Mile 2465.66 – Pass Creek (2465.66-2486.70)

21.04 miles 

We awoke this morning in a cloud of white once more, but this time it wasn’t smoke. A heavy mist had settled on the world overnight, and although we still couldn’t see much, it was a welcome change. The air was moist and easy to breathe and smelled amazing, as opposed to the dry, harsh air we’ve had for the past few days. It was hard to tell in the morning if the smoke was still around or not, but later in the day some of the mist burned off and we got some of the clearest views we’ve had in several days, so I think it’s definitely starting to clear. 

The day was fairly uneventful. It was cool, overcast, and misty for most of the day, making it really start to feel like we’re in the Pacific Northwest. Washington has been abnormally dry and hot so far, so a little mist didn’t bother me at all. At least, I’d much rather have my views obscured by mist than smoke. It made for some amazing views throughout the day as well. 

We had lunch on top of Grizzly Peak, which is supposed to have an amazing view but was totally socked in by clouds. A while later, we stopped at Pear Lake to grab some water, and I was so disappointed that it was so cool and overcast today, because it would have been a gorgeous spot to stop for a swim. We stopped for camp just before 7pm, which was really nice as we were able to get everything done before true darkness set in. 

We only have a little over a week left on the trail now, so the end is getting really real. I really enjoyed today, which I’m glad about because I really wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic about the trail when we left town after the last section. Tomorrow we’re entering Glacier Peak Wilderness, which is supposed to be really incredible, so I’m hoping that it stays clear enough for us to actually get to see it. Fingers crossed!