The End of the Beginning- We Made It!

 

Wow wow wowie wow! We finished the trail!! After walking 2,660.1 miles in just a day under five months all of a sudden we found ourselves crossing the Canadian border on Monday morning. What a huge adventure and experience it has been! I remember starting the trail way back in April and Luke telling me that by the time we got to Washington it would be a “victory lap” and that we would “fly right through it.”

Yoga at the Monument!

Yoga at the Monument!

It turns out, Washington was one of the most challenging sections of the trail- we faced washed out trail sections, huge downed trees, giant climbs, exposed ridge walking, tough rocky trails, frozen fingers & toes, much more rain than we were prepared for and snow! We also got to walk on top of beautiful ridges, enjoy some gloriously sunny days, look out over huge views, work our bodies hard, eat a whole bunch of extra treats to stay warm and just enjoy the heck out of the trail!

We left Skykomish/Steven’s Pass with 180 miles standing between us and the end of the trail. We had heard rumors that it would be raining for the whole 100 miles to Stehekin (our last trail town) but we left town in high spirits. We had a gorgeous sunny afternoon to hike out and had thoroughly enjoyed resting at the Dinsomore’s Hiker Haven- they were the last established trail angels on trail.

Great trail angels at a much needed rest spot!

Great trail angels at a much needed rest spot!

We hiked around 9 miles out that afternoon and camped at a  lake with two section hikers. We woke up to an amazing sunrise with plans to do a bunch of miles to take advantage of the sunny day. We hiked into the Glacier Peak Wilderness and had our first views of Glacier Peak and the surrounding mountains. The mountains were sharp, rugged and cliffy ahead of us and we spent most of the day climbing up and down onto exposed ridges. Luckily the rain held off just about until we arrived at camp. As we hiked our last miles of the days fog and clouds began to rise up over the ridge we were walking on and down into the valley. When we arrived at camp we were surrounded in a misty foggy cloud and shortly after we finished dinner the rain began. We also ran into our friend Rabbit Stick that night and he gave us a HUGE bag of huckleberries that we ate by the spoonful!

Sunrise

Sunrise

Hiking!

Almost at our breakfast spot for the day!

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Glacier Peak

PCT

PCT

One of the many mountain lakes

One of the many mountain lakes

Views!

Views and sunshine make for happy hikers!

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Another pristine lake

Clouds starting to build

Clouds starting to build

And the fog starts to come in

And the fog starts to come in…

Almost to camp and surrounded by the mist and fog

Almost to camp and surrounded by the mist and fog

The next few days we were in a perpetual cloud..just like this.

The next few days we were in a perpetual cloud..just like this.

The next few days we were hiking in mist that would gradually turn into rain and then back to mist and clouds. We also had quite a few large and icy riving crossings to do. One of the themes of this area seemed to be bridges that were washed out, broken or made of giant blow-downs. There was also a brand new bridge built that added 5 miles to the trail- but we were so glad to have it there! This section also took us through an amazing old growth tree grove where some of the trees were over 500 or 600 years old. There were also numerous trees across the trail that we would go over, under and around. I had one of my coldest mornings on the trail in this section – we started early to catch the 3pm bus from the trail to Stehekin (our last trail town). We were hiking in the icy rain and through a trail that was at times more stream than trail. My toes rapidly went numb and we hiked as fast as we could in order to stay warm and to do 22 miles before 3pm in order to make the bus. We hiked fast (and at times ran) these 22 miles and we made it to the bus to Stehekin with just 10 minutes to spare and with a rain free afternoon! We headed into Stekehin for an afternoon of rest and what turned out to be a much needed and fun zero day.

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Huge washout

One of the many "bridges" we crossed

One of the many “bridges” we crossed

Broken bridge

Broken bridge

The rainy weather made for a very green and lush forest to hike through.

The rainy weather made for a very green and lush forest to hike through.

Old growth trees

Old growth trees

Cold morning views

Cold morning views

Glacial river

Glacial river

Trees down

Trees down

Watefall

Watefall

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Stream or trail?

North Cascades National Park!

North Cascades National Park!

We made it to High Bridge with 10 minutes to spare!

We made it to High Bridge with 10 minutes to spare!

This river flows into Lake Chelan- a 40ish mile long lake that the "town" of Stehekin is located on.

This river flows into Lake Chelan- a 40ish mile long lake that the “town” of Stehekin is located on.

Stehekin- According to trail legend Billy Goat- is the Best place in America. We found it hard to disagree. There really isn’t very much there, and I can’t imagine that there are more than 100 full time residents. A post office, resort, and an absolutely phenomenal bakery is really all there is. Though there is a road that runs through town, it doesn’t lead anywhere- the road runs the length of the valley, bordered on one side by high mountains and the other by the long Lake Chelan. Lake Chelan is a beautiful blue-green lake fed by glacial meltwater. In our day and a half in Stehekin, we visited the Bakery 3 times, spent two wonderful nights with friends by the lake, and soaked up some much needed sun. By the following morning, when it was time to leave, we felt ready to set out for the last 80 miles, and the few days of rain we knew were in the forecast.

Instigate soaking it all in

Instigate soaking it all in

Kale and Whiskey in Stehekin- what else?

Kale and Whiskey in Stehekin- what else?

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Left to Right-
Scrub, Instigate, Carrot (back row), Lotus, Hermes, Spark, Blur, Robin Hood, Tallywa, Samba, Jackrabbit, Rabbit Stick

Hiker boxes in Stehekin, the last trail town

Hiker boxes in Stehekin, the last trail town

Leaving Stehekin the trail follows valleys up to 6000 and 7000 feet, where it stays virtually until the end. The first day out we had great weather, and could really feel the cool fall air. Of the seasonal foliage that there was in the mostly evergreen forests, much was changing in to its fall colors. A great group of people hiked out of Stehekin at the same time as us, and everyone from this group finished the same day as us. Our first night out it rained overnight, and we had a few showers the next morning, but the rain unexpectedly held off for most of the first day, giving one last great day of hiking. Of course, this pattern did not hold, and by the following morning, until after we finished, there was some form of precipitation coming down from the sky. Our second day out of Stehekin we got some amazing trail magic at Harts Pass, just 30 miles from the Canadian Border. We had hiked 27 miles to get there knowing that in case it was pouring we could always sleep in the pit toilets there- fortunately it stayed dry enough that we were warm and happy sleeping in our tent. We also managed to avoid any unexpected stays in the pit toilet bathrooms- some hikers weren’t quite as lucky though. Serpent Slayer and Slick B. proved to be an amazing trail angel duo, and they kept the fire, food and music going until hiker midnight- these days sometime around 9:00 PM.The next morning , fueled by pancakes and hot coffee we headed out in to another day of rain, but the knowledge that it was our last full day kept us going strong and happy! Recent washouts the size of swimming pools slowed us slightly, but they weren’t quite as bad as the trail rumors purported them to be- check out photos below. It began to snow on us towards the end of the day- by the following morning we woke up in 5 inches of snow! The snow made it a little bit harder to get out of the tent, but Blur and Goodall left around 7 AM and that motivated us to get up and going.

The trail in Washington is... tough

The trail in Washington is… tough

2601 miles!

2601 miles!

Scrub on a big climb

Scrub on a big climb

Beautiful

Beautiful

Sub- Alpine Larch

Sub- Alpine Larch

Unexpected sunny weather!

Trail Magic!

Trail Magic!

Scrub soaking it all in

Scrub soaking it all in

On our last day, after two totally surreal hours of hiking (and 5 months of hiking before it), we hit the Canadian Border. Both of us had always imagined this to be the climactic moment for the end of the trip, but on arrival, it felt a little subdued, knowing there were still 8 miles left until we got to the road. We finished with Jackrabbit, Instigate, Spark, and Scrub. Cookie, Blur, and Goodall finished an hour ahead of us, and Carrot, Robin Hood, Samba and Tallywa finished a few hours after us. The real moment when it felt like the trail ended was when-… well it was when the trail ended- it hit a road that it did not cross. We arrived at Manning Park Resort, and sat around, warming up with friends and relishing in that moment. It was blissful.

We woke up to 5 inches of snow around our tent on the last day!

We woke up to 5 inches of snow around our tent on the last day!

Snowy Trail!

Snowy Trail!

2,660.1 miles

2,660.1 miles

Yoga at the Monument!

Yoga at the Monument!

The monument

The monument

The literal end of the trail at the road...

The literal end of the trail at the road…

Manning Park- no more walking

Manning Park- no more walking

Staying warm after a five month hike.

Staying warm after a five month hike.

So- what’s next? For now we are in Bellingham staying with Luke’s friend Ben and having an amazing time. Next up is Seattle and then Portland and then San Francisco. After we take a few days to rest and re-acclimate to the world we will have some post trip reflections, gear reviews and some additional photos up on the blog. Until then- thanks to everyone who has supported us throughout this hike! Family, friends, sponsors, strangers who became friends, complete strangers and others have been so nice and generous and excited to help us finish this hike- THANK YOU!

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Timberline to White’s Pass

Timberline to White’s Pass

Wow- a lot has happened since our last blog post! Hermes is back on trail, we had my family visit, and now we are hiking in Washington with under 400 miles left to go! I’ll try and keep the post relatively short (we have tons of photos to share).

When Hermes hitched up to Cascade Locks from Timberline, I did the 48 miles from Timberline to Cascade Locks solo. It was the first time I had done any overnight solo hiking, and it was a really good experience. I had two big river crossings, a big climb and a gorgeous side trail down Eagle Creek with amazing waterfalls to do. I got a ride back to the trail from Portland with the trail angel/past thru hiker Sidhartha- thanks again! I hiked off that afternoon and did my first two river crossings and the climb all in that first day. By the time I got to camp that night I had done 19 miles. This left me just under 30 miles to get to Cascade Locks and I figured I would shoot to arrive the next day- a whole half day earlier than I had predicted.

http://youtu.be/C2uT1ULHn8o

 

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Views of Mt Hood!

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Mt Hood

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Mt Hood even closer

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Can’t get enough of these epic mountain views

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Ramona Falls

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Crossing Muddy Creek… quite the adventure making it safely to the other side

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Evening view of Mt Hood

With Hermes waiting for me in Cascade Locks, I decided to take a video of the early morning sunrise  and then push miles to make it that evening. I started hiking shortly after 6am and headed off towards the Eagle Creek Trail. Eagle Creek is a side trail that leads into Cascade Locks and has amazing waterfalls all along it, including one that you walk behind through a tunnel. Before I knew it, I had reached the bottom of Eagle Creek and had a 3 mile road walk into Cascade Locks, it was 3pm. I had done almost 30 miles by the time I arrived at Shrek’s (a trail angel) and it was 4pm and I was so happy to see Hermes! We had two more days to rest and relax until my family would join us for three days of hiking. We were hoping that Hermes would rest up and be ready to hike a few low mile days with my family and then hop back on trail injury free.

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Morning sunrise

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Mt Hood

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Foggy morning

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First of many waterfalls along the Eagle Creek trail

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Small waterfall with a cave

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Trail on Eagle Creek

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Another huge waterfall

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Second view of the same waterfall

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Front view of the same fall

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This is the huge waterfall that a tunnel goes behind

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Tunnel ahead!

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In the tunnel

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Made it out the other side!

 

My second night in Cascade Locks- my family arrived! My mom and Maxx (my brother) showed up with a car full of treats and surprises including an epic vegan birthday cake!! Thank you Mom!! We had a feast the night they arrived and then packed up to hike out the next morning. Shrek dropped us off at the trail head where we would head south for 33 miles over 3 days and end up back in Cascade Locks. Having my mom and Maxx join was a blast! Our first day out we faced down a hornets nest in the trail, had some climbing and finally ended our day after 13 miles! I was really impressed that my mom was able to keep up and she and Maxx added a lot of fun to our hike. As we headed South we ran into other thru hikers that we hadn’t seen for quite a while, including Miss Maggie, Uncle Famous and Ain’t Nothin Wrong With That! We also remembered to pack out a piece of vegan cake for VP (Vegan Paul) the only other vegan I have met on trail.

 

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Amazing Birthday Cake!!

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Yumm!

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Maxx and my Mom!

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Hermes, me, Maxx and my Mom hitting the trail!

 

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My Mom loved the forest and huge trees we camped near our first night out

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Uncle Famous, Iant and Miss Maggie- we hadn’t seen them since mile 700!

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Mom and Maxx

 

 

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Rabbit Stick!

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Hermes and I

 

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Getting a little stretch

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Views

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Family photo!

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507.2 miles to Canada!

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My Mom couldn’t get enough photos!

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Washington!

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Crossing the Bridge of the Gods

 

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Bridge Crossing

 

Three days after their arrival, my Mom and Maxx finished their 33 mile section of hiking. They did an awesome job! We headed out back to the trail to camp with them one last night before they took off. They also left us with a bunch of trail magic to share with other hikers. We had been hoping that Hermes would be ready to go after these three low mile days, but unfortunately he wasn’t quite healed. We said goodbye to my mom and Maxx and decided to do an on trail zero and hand out some trial magic. Hermes went and set up camp while I slack packed/ran the three miles of trail I needed to cover to actually “be” where we were camping. We spent the day sharing beers, OJ, bars and fruit with all of the thru hikers that came through and ran into more old friends including Robin Hood!

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Enjoying a coconut water after my slack pack/run!

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Sharing some trail magic

After our on trail zero we headed out to hike! Unfortunately, after about a half an hour of hiking Hermes realized he wasn’t ready to go. We decided he would hitch to Trout Lake and I would hike the next 50 miles solo and meet him there. It was a huge disappointment for him to miss another section of trail but we both realized it would be better for him to get more rest and to have him back on trial for the upcoming Goat Rocks Wilderness. I hiked out and caught up with Carrot, Egg, Burrito Grande and Robin Hood and managed to get 30 miles for the day. We all camped together that night and then pushed onward to Trout Lake where I would meet Hermes…and hopefully he would get back on trail!

 

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I passed 2200 miles! Only 460 left to go from there!

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Mmm lake water…

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Burrito Grande collecting “Shtein Piltz” for dinner

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Robin Hood picking wild strawberries…we all felt like bears

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Goodall collecting strawberries for breakfast

When I arrived at the road for Trout Lake, Hermes was there sitting next to a big barrel of trail magic from the Zen Buddhist Center in Trout Lake…and he was ready to hike!!! He was feeling better and we decided we would head out the next morning. We had some amazing hiking ahead- Mt Adams into the Goat Rock’s Wilderness.

 

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Mt Adams ahead!

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So reminiscent of the Sierra

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Huge Views

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Oh Hey!

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Hermes takes awesome flower photos

 

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Ice cold snow melt water

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Mt Adams

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River crossings are my least favorite

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This is the Washington I was expecting!

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Foggy morning start

Hiking around Adams reminded us both so much of the Sierra- it was full of snowy views, a giant mountain and gorgeous water and meadows. We headed off into Goat Rocks the next day where the highly anticipated Knife’s Edge lay waiting for us. We also wondered if we would actually see any mountain goats…

Here’s a video of us walking on the Knife’s Edge and another of a family of goats we saw later that day!

 

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We made it to Goat Rocks!

 

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Goat Rocks ahead!

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Views of Mt Adams behind us

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Goat Rocks is gorgeous

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Loving the view

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Hermes on trail with no pain!!

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Wildflowers

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More epic views

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Meadows

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These remind me of truffala trees

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Mountain Meadows

 

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All of the white dots are a huge family of mountain goats!!!

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Our house for the night

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Mt Adams

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Hiking!

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Mountain Meadows

 

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Knife’s Edge Ahead!

 

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Snow crossing

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Climbing up towards the Knife’s Edge

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Huge Views

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The Ridge ahead is where we walk along the Knife’s edge

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Another, scarier, snow crossing

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You can see the trail stretching across the ridge for miles

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Hermes and I ready to start the trek across!

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Hermes!

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Going down

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Mount Rainer!!

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Glaciers

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Hermes is awesome

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Rainer and some yoga

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Goat Rocks is Epic!!

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Wow…so many big views

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Huge Glaciers

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Goat Rocks

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More views

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Mountain Spring

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Mount Rainer

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Shoe Lake

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Evening Sky

 

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The trail through Washington

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More mountain goats!!

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It’s breathtaking there

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Hiking

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Meadows

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The trail stretching back behind us

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Rainer!

We made it into White’s Pass this morning with plans to pick up our packages and head off. We were so surprised and thrilled to have not one but two care packages! When we arrived we heard talk of a huge storm and the weather forecast predicted flash floods, mudslides, thunderstorms, and quarter sized hail. Needless to say, we took our friend Blur up on his offer to pick us up and take us to Packwood to spend the afternoon staying dry and hanging out with him and Goodall. We plan to head back to the trail tomorrow and keep on ticking off miles- we have under 400 miles left to go and I can’t believe we are getting so close to the end…

 

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What an AMAZING Surprise care package from Kath and Andrew- thanks so much you two!! So full of treats and such a great surprise!

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Thank you Ellen for your amazing and delicious vegan cookies!!!!

Unexpected delay

An unexpected delay can be one of the harder mental challenges on the trail. Thru hikers can develop inertia so strong that it’s harder to stop hiking than to keep on going. Of course it feels great to take a rest day, to fill up on fresh food, maybe to take a shower or clean your clothes. But when the motivation to stop comes from without- a resupply box that hasn’t arrived, etc., stopping can be very hard.
With that said, I’ve been off the trail
Since last Wednesday morning, resting what I think is a strained hamstring. We set out from bend feeling healthy and rested. Day 2 out of Bend I began to feel a twinge in my left thigh, and by the next day, the pain began to be debilitating. My leg was cramping/ hurting all through the night, limiting my sleep for two nights in a row. By the time we reached Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, I realized that I was going to have to get off and rest my leg. I put out a few calls to the various Doctors in my life- thanks Roger, Jesse, and Mom & Dad- and they all seemed to concur that whatever it was, it wasn’t going to kill me but I was going to need to take some time off, and rest the leg. So Becky and I left the gorgeous Timberline Lodge- where the lifts were running and skiing is still open for a few more weeks yet- and hitch hiked in to Portland, a cheaper place to be than Timberline lodge. As we sat dining on absolutely phenomenal Indian food, it was a bittersweet moment- I still wanted to be hiking, to be moving forward.
As time went on, and my leg did not start to feel better, Becky decided that she needed to try hiking alone, in case I wasn’t going to be able to continue on. So on Friday, she got a ride back to timberline lodge, in order to do the next 50 miles to Cascade locks, on the border with Washington, where I would meet her. Not so surprisingly she did the section in about 28 hours, and arrived half a day before I expected her!! We are staying at Shrek’s Swamp- a trail angel’s house here that is a common rest stop for hikers before they head in to Washington state. It is definitely a frustrating experience to be here, watching the hikers come and leave, as I just have to hang out and wait till y leg heals. That said it is also encouraging to be in the trail community rather than alienated from it in Portland. Becky and I are holed up here until Grace and Maxx (Becky’s mom and brother) arrive Monday night. We’ll do a few 10 mile days with them, which should be a great time, as well as a good chance to gently test my legs after 6 full days off it.
That’s most of what’s been going on for us since Bend. The hiking in Northern Oregon is absolutely fantastic (probably even better without a bum leg). It’s defined by steep cliffs and huge volcanoes, covered in glaciers. Each volcano has its own character and it is breathtaking to come up over a ridge and catch your first view of a new one. Climbing to the high point in the mt. Jefferson area, we had a view of Hood, Rainier, and St. Helens. Here at the OR/WA border I think it’s safe to say that OR has had some of the coolest hiking on the trail. Soon enough it
Will be time to see whether WA can measure up.

Special thanks to Inna R. for your amazing care package- we loved it!

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Lava, Thunderstorms and Bee Stings, Oh My!

Hello from Bend! Since leaving Ashland we have hiked around 300 miles and seen some amazing parts of Oregon. The trail alternates between wandering through thick, flat and viewless forests and epic scenery- making all of the walking in the trees so worth it. We left Ashland and did an easy ten miles out and only saw one other hiker. The next day we ate lunch with five other thru hikers and continued to run into more throughout the day. The trail can be so empty and we can go days at a time only crossing paths with one or two other thru hikers and then all of a sudden you can find yourself stopped on the side of the trail with tons of other hikers.

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A bunch of thru hikers hanging out at one of the few shelters along the trail

Leaving Ashland we walked through thick forests for miles and miles, and we were still in the smoke from the fires burning in Oregon. The night before going into Crater Lake we woke up to flashing lightning in the middle of the night and distant rumbles of thunder. We lay awake listening to the store move in until Hermes jumped up and quickly got the rain fly on our tent. Moments later it was pouring- it was our first real thunderstorm! The next morning it rained off and on all the way into Crater Lake and we were in low spirits thinking the view would be covered in clouds.

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The cloudy, smokey burn area on the way into Crater Lake

When we arrived at Crater Lake we got lunch at Mazama Village- about a 2 1/2 mile hike below the rim. We had an amazing lunch in the cafe with “Trackmeat” and “Olei” before heading over to the store to get our mail drop. Not only did we have the mail drop we sent ourselves, we had TWO care packages! Meg Humphrey sent us a surprise package from Vermont full of delicious treats and we got to ditch some of our less delicious trail mix we had sent ourselves! Gingersnap also sent us a huge care package including a homemade dehydrated vegan dinner and chocolate peanut butter balls…so good! We don’t know how we are ever going to pay back all of the karma and kindness we have received on this trip. Finally, it was time to venture out into the rain and hike up to the Crater Lake Rim.

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Thanks for the surprise package Meg!!!

By the time we reached the top of the rim the clouds had cleared off and the smoke had blown away- we had perfect views of Crater Lake! We walked around not caring about how many miles we got done that day and felt like tourists! It was so fun. Later that evening we hiked out along the rim and managed to find a stealth camp spot with a view of the lake. I felt so so lucky to be there and to have the experience of looking out over the lake as I went to sleep.

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Loving it!

The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, packed up and got hiking. We knew we had some flat and easy walking ahead of us and wanted to put in a big day. We also had a 27 mile waterless stretch after Crater Lake so we knew our packs would be heavy  with water. About 9 miles into the hike I got my second bee sting of the trip. This one stung me right behind my ear and hurt a lot! We kept on hiking until a few minutes later I stopped because I was itchy..then I got really itchy. My feet started itching SO MUCH and I ripped off my shoes..as I looked down at my feet I could see them turning red and starting to swell. We decided to keep walking, because really, what else can you do? Soon I had to loosen my shoes and tape my feet because they had swelled so much I could barely keep them on. Then I realized my legs, arms, back and chest (really my entire body!) was covered in red itchy hives. This is when both Luke and I started to get nervous. Unfortunately, we weren’t carrying any benadryl but we were only 7 miles from a road- so we kept on walking. By the time we reached the road the swelling had started to go down and we met two people  who had an entire bee sting kit! I From now on, we are packing benadryl and an epi pen!

After the bee sting incident, we realized we weren’t going to quite make as many miles as we hoped that day. However, we would be hiking by Mount Theilsen that afternoon! Hermes decided to climb Mount Theilsen- a 1 1/2 mile trail that gains 1700 feet of elevation with a pitch of class 4/5 climbing at the top. I decided to go on to camp and rest up. Luke had a great time doing this short and steep side trial practically running up and down the whole thing.

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Hermes on top of Mount Theilsen!

The next day we got another early start and rapidly passed the high point of Oregon and Washington. We had a 25 mile day planned and we would also be taking an alternate route into Shelter Cove. We arrived at the alternate around 5pm and decided to push another 10 miles to make it to a campground on Crescent Lake- it had running water and toilets! The next thing we knew we were pushing 4+ mph while hiking (our normal speed is around 3) and we made it into Crescent Lake before dinner time. We weren’t totally sure we were in the correct camp ground- we had been aiming for the free campground but somehow found ourselves in a national park campground. We asked two women if we were in the right place, and the next thing we knew we were being led over to their huge family reunion where they fed us so much tasty and fresh food! Again we were overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of strangers on the trail. A star filled night and camping on the beach with other hikers after amazing trail magic helped make our 32 mile day so worth it!

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View of DIamond Peak from our campsite at Crescent Lake

We slept in at Crescent Lake and we were treated to hot coffee from a french press from “Craw Daddy”- such a luxury! We normally drink cold instant coffee in the mornings, so this was really a treat. After the coffee we hopped back on trail for an easy 11 miles in Shelter Cove.  In Shelter Cove we received trail magic that was so above and beyond anything else! Heidi- thank you so much! Heidi and her family had emailed us a few weeks back letting us know they’d be at Shelter Cove and that they would have food, showers and other trail magic for us. We were met with cold ginger kombucha, cotton clothes and hot showers. This was topped off by a huge dinner and the offer to stay in their cabin. We had such a fun time meeting Heidi and Oiden and their two sweet kids. Heidi welcomed in other hikers to shower and eat and her generosity just didn’t stop. Thank you so so much Heidi!!!

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Heidi and her family feeding Hermes, Prophet and I a huge and tasty dinner! Thank you Heidi- you are so sweet!!

After Shelter Cove we hiked to Bend in 3 1/2 days. We hiked through lots of trees before getting to the Sisters Wilderness where we were treated to views of all three of the sisters, Mount Washington and other volcanic formations along the way. Central Oregon is full of giant volcanoes, dominating the skyline. The three sisters area seems to be a popular backpacking area in the summer- we ran in to dozens of weekend backpackers. We also hiked many more miles than we expected through desolate lava flows. RIght after the lava flows we hit the 2,000 mile mark!! We have less than 660 miles left to go!

We finally made it out to Santiam Pass where we were rapidly picked up by a guy heading into Bend. He dropped us off at the Three Creek Brewery where we got beers and snacks while we waited for our friend Malachi to pick us up. When we went to pay, we found out the couple seated next to us had picked up our tab! Again- I can NOT believe the kindness and generosity of strangers. We are now hanging out in Bend for a zero day and will get back to the trail tomorrow afternoon just in time to spend my birthday out on the trail ! Check out the rest of our photos below!

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Free Mariachi show in Ashland

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Syashinka listening to a poem about the PCT

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Smokey view on the way out of Ashland

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Loving these Oregon forests

Thru Hikers hanging out at a shelter..Hermes thought it was reminiscent of the AT.
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Doing the lava walk

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Veggie…typical thru hiker uniform.

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Hundreds or maybe thousands of tiny frogs!

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Thanks for the care package Gingersnap!!!!! You are amazing!!

Meg Humphrey sent us another care package!! Thank you Meg!!! What a treat and great surprise- you are the best!
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Flying on the edge of Crater Lake

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Hermes flying! The smoke and rain cleared off as soon as we reached the view point for Crater Lake…so pretty!

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Scorpion!

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Hermes getting upside down.

Loving it!
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Epic sunset where we stealth camped on the rim.

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Sunrise from our camp spot.

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Early morning rim walk..we are so lucky!

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Prayer flags

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Map around Crater Lake

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Mount Theilsen

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The Oregon-Washington high point!
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Hermes at the Oregon-Washington high point

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Amazing trail angels at Crescent Lake who fed us tacos, fresh gauc, fruit salad and tons of treats! Thank you so much!

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Reiden and Henrik out on the boat at Shelter Cove! We had a blast hanging out with these kids!
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Shelter Cove

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Got to get that headstand

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Thank you again Heidi and Oiden- we can’t believe what epic trail magic you had for us and the other hikers at Shelter Cove!! We are so so grateful!

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Mountain lakes..so clear

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Another shelter! This one had solar powered lights, a loft and wood stove..but we kept on hiking!

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Sunset 20ish miles out of Shelter Cove

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Morning frost in a meadow

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South Sister in front with Middle Sister peaking over in the back.

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Middle Sister

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Obsidian was covering the trail here..so sparkly and pretty

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Zelda and Tarzan’s dog joined them for a section

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North Sister

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More lava walking..something that you never even think about as an East Coast hiker

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Sisters!

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Smokey views of North and Middle Sisters

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Miles of lava walking and a big burn area stood between us and Bend..but we made it!!

60 Jars of Peanut Butter, 1,726 miles and 98 days and We’re in Oregon!

60 Jars of Peanut Butter, 1,726 miles and 98 days and We’re in Oregon!

From the journal that I don’t keep:
“Turned over in my sleep at 430 in the morning, noticing how my throat burned from the smoke we had been walking through for the last 4-5 days. I heard a rustle in the brush around our tent, so I flashed my headlamp in that direction trying to scare away yet another deer looking for some salty clothes to chew on (several deer had tried the same thing all night). At that moment a piercing high pitched scream that lasted 10 seconds or so really woke me up- a coyote? The deer I had been trying to scare away now actually got scared and left. Becky sat up straight and corrected my optimistic thinking- it wasn’t a pack if coyotes, but actually a cougar, the largest feline in America. It’s truly a chilling sound – I’ve heard it described best as sounding like a high pitched woman’s scream, one that goes on seemingly for minutes. Needless to say, we couldn’t quite get back to sleep that morning, so we just packed up, and started the nine mile walk in to Ashland at five in the morning (about 1 hour earlier than usual).”
Sometimes I wish I kept a journal, but honestly it’s quite a bit of effort to write anything after walking a marathon or more over mountains, day after day.
Anyways, we’re in OREGON!!!
We crossed the border on Wednesday, after spending 98 days on California. We love you Cali, but I think we need some space. Oregon is maybe the biggest milestone we have hit yet, bigger than halfway. From what we hear, OR is the beginning of some fantastic hiking, part of a great stretch that doesn’t end until Canada. Northern California is fantastic, but there are several stretches of hiking that are just flat out hot humid and, well, not flat. Tons of poison oak and deep humid valleys are some of my worse memories from that section of trail.
Since we left Etna, a town halfway between Shasta and here (Ashland), we’ve been encompassed in a thick veil of smoke from the record setting wildfires that OR has been having this summer. We actually haven’t been able to catch a view in 120 miles , and don’t expect to for another 100 miles, until Crater Lake or even further north. The smoke is even worse down here in the Ashland area, where it settles in the valleys- people are wearing masks to protect their lungs and outdoor events are being cancelled almost across the board, though the severity of the smoke does differ day to day. Fortunately none of the trail has closed yet in OR due to fire, but it is more and more a worry of ours that we will miss some of the trail due to fire.
The hiking has been relatively easy compared to some sections of trail- except for the climb out of Seiad valley, where we climbed 7500+ feet in a day. With the easy hiking, we managed to push 100 miles in about 3 days, and 220 in about eight, averaging 27 miles a day, including going in to town to resupply. In California, were we’re hiking through Klamath/Trinity national forests, and the Trinity Alps, a gorgeous section of trail reminiscent of the eastern Sierra.
Coming up is Crater Lake, as well as myriad Oregon resorts on trail, which should make good lunch stops. Our next town stop is Bend, then Cascade Locks on the OR/WA border, and from there on there are no more towns until we’re done. 7 more resupply points. We are 950 miles from Canada, and can start to taste the end. It’s bittersweet.
I accidentally uploaded the pictures in the reverse order, so I recommend viewing from bottom to top.
Thanks to Dave and Lily for visiting us in Shasta! We had such a good time with you!
Thanks to Thomy for being our gracious host here in Ashland!
Disclaimer- typed on an iPhone so please excuse any typos

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1,500 miles and Almost done with California!

1,500 miles and Almost done with California!

We have made it to mile 1,506 and are in Mount Shasta for a zero day! It has been a while since we have had access to a computer to put up a blog post so we have lots of catching up to do. We left Tahoe back on July 3rd with the intention of picking up our pace a bit and increasing our average (including zero days) to about 21 miles/day. This meant we planned to hike 25 miles a day for 5 or 6 days in a row in order to “earn” one zero day, and we have been right on track! I had a brief problem with some new shoes and some blisters but my feet have healed up and Hermes is doing great.

Leaving Tahoe we started off with our friend Syashinka and did a quick few miles out of town to get to Lake Aloha where we took an afternoon swim break in one of the more beautiful lakes we have seen.

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After Lake Aloha we hiked on towards Donner Pass and Truckee. We arrived in Donner Pass to find a 2012 thru hiker with sodas, fruit and snacks for us- more trail magic! We then had an easy hitch into Truckee to grab some more food and we were back out at the trail in under 2 hours- our fastest resupply yet! This would take us to Sierra City! 20130723-071742.jpg

The hiking between Tahoe and Sierra City wasn’t very tough. We had some ups, and some downs, but overall the miles weren’t too bad. Right before we got into Sierra City we had a long hot downhill- right when we arrived at the end of it we found an amazing waterfall with an ice cold pool to swim in! Refreshed from the swim we hitched into Sierra City where we immediately found other hikers gathered at the Red Moose Inn- an inn owned by trail angels in town who let hikers camp out back,shower and do laundry for free! Right after we got into town, I found Hermes eating a HUGE burger from the general store. We spent the night and the next day resting before heading out to start the couple of thousand foot climb out of Sierra City that evening.

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After leaving Sierra City or next stop would be for lunch in Belden- a small town right on trail with only 9 residents! The terrain getting into Belden is notoriously overgrown, hot, and covered with poison oak. It also has a huge elevation loss to get in with a 3,000+ foot climb out. On the way from Sierra City to Belden we had some tough days of climbing, but were rewarded with an amazing river to swim in, great views, and we got to meet one of the people attempting a speed record of the trail this year. 20130723-071840.jpg

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After leaving Belden we hiked on to get to Chester. The miles in between Belden and Chester were hot, the water was a little sparser than we would have liked, and much of the trail was overgrown. That being said- we still had a great time- and we got to have our first views of Lassen and hit the PCT Midpoint at mile 1,330!

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Whoo- so we finally made it halfway! Hermes and I were so excited to hit the halfway point, although the monument is actually now 3 miles south of where is now officially halfway on the trail, we still both felt a huge sense of accomplishment! From the halfway point we quickly did another 5 or so miles in Chester with plans to stealth camp and do a quick resupply and find a shower if we were lucky.

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Once we got to the road we found a note from our friend Cookie saying that she was staying with Piper’s Mom- an amazing trail angel in Chester. We called Piper’s Mom and she had room for us too- and we are so glad that she did! Piper’s Mom let us camp in her yard, cooked a huge dinner, let us use her shower (one of the nicest we have used on the trail), let us do our laundry, and then topped it all off by cooking a giant breakfast and taking us all back to the trail that afternoon. Thank you Piper’s Mom!!20130723-072723.jpg

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Before we left town, Piper’s Mom suggested that we stop in at the local dentist’s office. We decided to check it out since it was right across the street from the post office and we heard we could use their picnic table and yard to spread out and organize our resupply. We popped in to say hello and we were immediately greeted by the nicest people who gave us cookies (yes, cookies from the dentist!), a new toothbrush, and a voucher for $20 to a local restaurant! We loved Chester!!20130723-072926.jpg

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Well, after our big Mexican lunch and margaritas we decided it was time to hit the trail and head off for our next section. Our next stop was Lassen National Park, followed by Hat Creek Rim- another well known section of the trail that is hot and is a 30 mile stretch without water, and then finally Burney Falls for our next resupply packages. This section had some real challenges- especially Hat Creek Rim! 20130723-072841.jpg20130723-072954.jpg

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Terminal Geyser!

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From Hat Creek Rim we stopped in Burney Falls to do our resupply and then pushed on through a heat wave to Shasta. We are hanging out in Shasta now for a zero day and waiting for Hermes’ friend Dave to come and meet us for the night. With the risk of the blog entry being neverending I will let the pictures speak for our trip from Hat Creek Rim to Mt Shasta! Some highlights include a sighting of a three point buck, two bear cubs, a rattlesnake, a bee sting, a mama deer and her baby, ice cold streams, lots of poison oak, and very hot weather! We are happy to have the day off and be resting now. 20130723-073034.jpg

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