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!

20130925-125400.jpg

Glacier Peak

PCT

PCT

One of the many mountain lakes

One of the many mountain lakes

Views!

Views and sunshine make for happy hikers!

20130925-125440.jpg

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.

20130925-131647.jpg

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

20130925-131732.jpg

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?

20130924-160238.jpg

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!

Advertisements
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

 

20130905-122819.jpg

Views of Mt Hood!

20130905-122828.jpg

Mt Hood

20130905-122839.jpg

Mt Hood even closer

20130905-122845.jpg

Can’t get enough of these epic mountain views

20130905-122853.jpg

Ramona Falls

20130905-122900.jpg

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

20130905-122907.jpg

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.

20130905-122913.jpg

Morning sunrise

20130905-122919.jpg

Mt Hood

20130905-122925.jpg

Foggy morning

20130905-122931.jpg

First of many waterfalls along the Eagle Creek trail

20130905-122938.jpg

Small waterfall with a cave

20130905-122944.jpg

Trail on Eagle Creek

20130905-122952.jpg

Another huge waterfall

20130905-122959.jpg

Second view of the same waterfall

20130905-123004.jpg

Front view of the same fall

20130905-123010.jpg

This is the huge waterfall that a tunnel goes behind

20130905-123015.jpg

Tunnel ahead!

20130905-123023.jpg

In the tunnel

20130905-123030.jpg

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.

 

20130905-123040.jpg

Amazing Birthday Cake!!

20130905-123045.jpg

Yumm!

20130905-123052.jpg

Maxx and my Mom!

20130905-123109.jpg

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

 

20130905-123150.jpg

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

20130905-123201.jpg

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

20130905-123213.jpg

Mom and Maxx

 

 

20130905-123300.jpg

Rabbit Stick!

20130905-123323.jpg

Hermes and I

 

20130905-123348.jpg

Getting a little stretch

20130905-123402.jpg

Views

20130905-123418.jpg

Family photo!

20130905-123436.jpg

507.2 miles to Canada!

20130905-123449.jpg

My Mom couldn’t get enough photos!

20130905-123503.jpg

Washington!

20130905-123517.jpg

Crossing the Bridge of the Gods

 

20130905-123540.jpg

20130905-123551.jpg

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!

20130905-123559.jpg

Enjoying a coconut water after my slack pack/run!

20130905-123608.jpg

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!

 

20130905-123634.jpg

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

20130905-123655.jpg

Mmm lake water…

20130905-123704.jpg

Burrito Grande collecting “Shtein Piltz” for dinner

20130905-123713.jpg

Robin Hood picking wild strawberries…we all felt like bears

20130905-123722.jpg

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.

 

20130905-123734.jpg

Mt Adams ahead!

20130905-123743.jpg

So reminiscent of the Sierra

20130905-123757.jpg

Huge Views

20130905-123811.jpg

Oh Hey!

20130905-123820.jpg

Hermes takes awesome flower photos

 

20130905-123839.jpg

Ice cold snow melt water

20130905-123852.jpg

Mt Adams

20130905-123905.jpg

River crossings are my least favorite

20130905-123918.jpg

This is the Washington I was expecting!

20130905-123928.jpg

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!

 

20130905-123937.jpg

We made it to Goat Rocks!

 

20130905-124003.jpg

Goat Rocks ahead!

20130905-124015.jpg

Views of Mt Adams behind us

20130905-124025.jpg

Goat Rocks is gorgeous

20130905-124038.jpg

Loving the view

20130905-124052.jpg

Hermes on trail with no pain!!

20130905-124101.jpg

Wildflowers

20130905-124111.jpg

20130905-124134.jpg

More epic views

20130905-124146.jpg

Meadows

20130905-124157.jpg

These remind me of truffala trees

20130905-124207.jpg

Mountain Meadows

 

20130905-124228.jpg

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

20130905-124240.jpg

Our house for the night

20130905-124251.jpg

Mt Adams

20130905-124259.jpg

Hiking!

20130905-124308.jpg

Mountain Meadows

 

20130905-124331.jpg

Knife’s Edge Ahead!

 

20130905-124359.jpg

20130905-124408.jpg

Snow crossing

20130905-124418.jpg

Climbing up towards the Knife’s Edge

20130905-124429.jpg

Huge Views

20130905-124441.jpg

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

20130905-124452.jpg

20130905-124501.jpg

Another, scarier, snow crossing

20130905-124511.jpg

You can see the trail stretching across the ridge for miles

20130905-124523.jpg

Hermes and I ready to start the trek across!

20130905-124532.jpg

Hermes!

20130905-124542.jpg

Going down

20130905-124554.jpg

Mount Rainer!!

20130905-124603.jpg

Glaciers

20130905-124611.jpg

Hermes is awesome

20130905-124618.jpg

Rainer and some yoga

20130905-124627.jpg

Goat Rocks is Epic!!

20130905-124634.jpg

Wow…so many big views

20130905-124642.jpg

Huge Glaciers

20130905-124651.jpg

Goat Rocks

20130905-124701.jpg

More views

20130905-124712.jpg

Mountain Spring

20130905-124725.jpg

Mount Rainer

20130905-124734.jpg

Shoe Lake

20130905-124742.jpg

Evening Sky

 

20130905-124804.jpg

The trail through Washington

20130905-124812.jpg

More mountain goats!!

20130905-124821.jpg

It’s breathtaking there

20130905-124831.jpg

Hiking

20130905-124839.jpg

Meadows

20130905-124849.jpg

The trail stretching back behind us

20130905-124857.jpg

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…

 

20130905-124914.jpg

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

20130905-124921.jpg

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