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!

Mountains Beyond Mountains

What does it take to make an entire group of PCT thru-hikers sleep like a rock, wake up late, and bonk after 10 miles the next day? Simply put – Washington. Though we’ve had quite a few tough areas on this trail, Washington seems to be the kicker at the end. The biggest day we’ve had recently- 28 miles, and 8000 ft. of climbing, in hot, exposed alpine areas wore us out.  Of course, none of this is without reward. We’re continually bombarded with beautiful alpine passes, and views that are only hindered by towering rock spires and glaciated peaks. Friday, we saw for the first time Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker, the last of the Cascade Volcanoes. Cold, stunningly clear streams feed into equally cold, blue-green alpine lakes, carving steep canyons through the eroding mountainsides. Forested mountain slopes can rise 2000 vertical feet for every lateral mile, making the peaks look more like a vertical, cresting wave than a stationary rock.

Needless to say Lotus and I have been  pooped. The long flat days in Oregon are certainly over, and hiking is more akin to the High Sierra than anything else. Leaving White Pass we were inundated in a true Northwest rainstorm. After sitting out overnight thunderstorms in a Packwood, WA Hotel, we knowingly walked out in to a full day and night of cold rain. It was a damp night without a doubt. The next morning, with almost everything soaked through (save the sleeping bags- bone dry!) we woke up to cold clear sunny weather. Of course, the weather clouded over by 10 AM, and we walked all that day in the cold, with intermittent light rain. Our morale was pretty high, knowing good weather was on the way, and it was gorgeous to see that area what might be its natural state- cloudy. We were lucky enough to hike most days in this section with Blur and Goodall, though we unfortunately left them behind in Snoqualmie Pass, as they spent the night resting up.

Arriving in Snoqualmie pass, we knew we were in for some amazing and difficult hiking. For a day and a half, we had been seeing 8000 ft. peaks in the distance to the North. In the pass, the first of these peaks rises up 3000 feet- right in the path of the trail. This was the first of many of these giant climbs. The heat wave Western Washington is in right now isn’t helping. Our mantra has been “The heat is better than the rain,” and its true- Lotus and I would both rather be in the heat for the rest of the way than in the rain. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be, and now there is rain in the forecast.  We’ve been hiking around several friends from far earlier in the trail- Robin Hood, Blur, Goodall, and Dinnertime. Additionally, we’ve enjoyed hiking around Spark, Instigate, Carrot, and Jack Rabbit.

As you might have presumed, we’ve only got about 9 days left on the trail. Canada is 184 miles away. We are both excited, terrified, happy, sad, confident, proud, and unsure. As on the Appalachian Trail, the end has crept up faster than I’m ready for. The journey is only half over at the Canadian Border. Adapting back to the front-country world is a challenge on its own. Finding our way back to a job (Anyone want to hire us?), back to the things that string our happiness along, back to a (at least somewhat) regular schedule. I won’t get too sentimental yet, but these things are all on our minds.

Extra Special Thanks to Becca and Emma for sending us some fine care packages- they were both so welcome!

Unfortunately, we can’t get any photos up for this blog entry, but we’ll get them to you as soon as we can!

This is likely going to be our last blog post until the end of the trail! 184 miles to the end. We’ll see you on the other side!

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!!!!

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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Lake Tahoe!

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Iris along the trail.

Wow! Its July and the heat is on in Central California! Ever since dropping down out of the High Sierra it has been HOT! After our few days off in Mammoth Lakes, we’ve been alternatively hiking 25-27 mile days and taking short, slow days. Hiking in to Yosemite NP, a big rain system moved in, and we woke up in Tuolumne to cold temps and blowing rain. We had originally been planning to hike in to the Valley, a 25 mile hike, ending at Happy Isles, to finish up the John Muir Trail- but due to rain we ended up hitching in to the valley, to see the sights, and to meet up with Gingersnap, a trail angel I had met while hiking the Appalachian Trail. She also happens to be a ranger in Yosemite, and has a house just below Yosemite Falls- so we called her and piled a few hikers in to the house to dry off and relax on the couch.

Hiking north of Tuolumne, we were basically in a swamp for two days- and with the moisture came the bugs. LOTS of BUGS. We were probably surrounded by 200 mosquitoes at any given moment for about 2.5 days. The terrain was steep, and tough- adding to the challenge. Both Becky and I agree that the section of trail north of Tuolumne was the hardest section yet- we both faced difficult mental and physical challenges.

The tough hiking was rewarded with both some beautiful views and the reappearance of lots of trial magic! The mosquitoes were less of a problem after 3 days outside of Tuolumne, and the views just opened up- see some photos below. Additionally, we got trail magic three days in a row around Sonora pass, which bumped us up to South Lake Tahoe, where we are now, with ease.

Looking forward we kind of don’t know what to expect! We knew what we were getting in to with the High Sierra, but neither of us really knows what the hiking will be like in Northern California. We expect it to be hot- but we also know the walking will be getting easier- really it already has. Less vertical feet climbed and descended per day, and smoother trail should make for plenty of bigger days.

Anyways, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves from here on out- they are in reverse chronological order, so check them out from the bottom of the page, up!

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Since leaving the High Sierra we have been hiking through some gorgeous alpine meadows, smelling of mint and sage, with wildflowers in bloom!

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Ditching our Bear Canisters!! They were required for the last 300 miles of trail, and we couldn’t be happier to get rid of them!!

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Leaving Sonora Pass

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A typical Afternoon storm in the Northern Sierra.
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PCT hikers near Sonora Pass

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Spider with a Mosquito

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We are both 1000 milers!

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Sunset at Glen Aulin, Yosemite NP.

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Lotus enjoying some of the best spring water on the trail with Billy Goat, a living trail legend. He may have hiked more miles on the PCT than anyone else.

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Yosemite NP

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Hitching to the Yosemite High Country in an RV! This Welch family was kind enough to drive us around and feed us Green Tea and Cookies- This may have been our favorite hitch on the trip so far.

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Staying in a Yosemite Park Ranger’s home, just beneath Yosemite Falls. EPIC!

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Vernal Falls in Yosemite Valley!

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Next to a giant Sequoia!

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Walking to a Sequoia grove, L to R- Robin Hood, Trail Angel who drove us around, Lotus, and Mermaid.