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!!!!

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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Kearsage Pass to Mammoth

Kearsage Pass to Mammoth

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The first of 15 deer we saw in this stretch!

Wow- this 106 mile section was fantastic. Hermes and I have been joking about what to write in this blog post because everyday was so full of beautiful scenery- waterfalls, high mountain passes, mountain lakes, views, deer, forests, and rivers. I’m going to keep this post a bit short, but have far too many photos below- I think the photos really tell the story of this section better than my words can. We left Bishop full of Thai food and with heavy packs and spent our first night camped out just a few miles up Kearsage pass on a windy night. The next morning we woke up and hiked up Kearsage Pass to get back to the trail, we took a slightly different route and had a great view of Bullfrog Lake where we had camped on our way into Bishop.

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View from one of the many passes we did.

After we got back onto the trail we kept on climbing and did our second pass of the day- Glen Pass. This was a snowier pass and took us up around 12,000 feet. Hermes did his first glissading of the trail (sliding down a snowy pass), while I carefully picked my way down the through the ice and rocks. We ran into a huge group of thru hikers that we hadn’t met before and had lunch with them before hiking down into the Rae Lakes.

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Ice blue snow melt water.

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On top of a pass!

The next day we did two more passes and over 6,000 feet of climbing. This was one of the harder days we had in this stretch, but the hard work we put in hiking was constantly rewarded by amazing views, lakes and forests. After we got up and over our first pass of the day, Hermes and I realized we hadn’t packed quite enough food for this section and we began a strict rationing system of our peanut butter and Nutella which go in our wraps.

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These lakes have the clearest and bluest water we had ever seen!

Every lake we saw in this section was crystal clear but also ice cold! We managed to take a few dips in some of the rivers but the lakes proved to be just a bit too cold for us both (snow was melting directly into most of the lakes we passed).

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Rae lakes

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The alpine zone up by the passes was my favorite part of this section.

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Break spot by the Rae Lakes.

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PCT and JMT overlap almost all of the way to Yosemite.

The PCT and the JMT overlap for most of the trail between Mount Whitney and Toulomne Meadows- we have run into a few early Southbound hikers of the John Muir Trail who are having a blast.

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Heading up towards yet another pass!

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We are finally surrounded by water!

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The trees here are amazing.

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Mountain Reflection.

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Hermes on top of Glen Pass!

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Snow!!

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Alpine hiking…

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The views have been just unreal.

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Wildflowers, views and we love the PCT.

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Alpine lake.

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Frosty and Goldilocks!!

We were so excited to run into Frosty and Goldilocks on our way towards Muir Pass! Their blog is awesome too.

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Breakfast spot as we dropped into the valley that leads to Muir Pass.

This section of the High Sierra totally spoiled us for the rest of the trip. Each day we had breakfast and lunch break overlooking a view like this or next to a clean mountain lake. The camping in this section was unreal as well- right next to rivers, over looking valleys, in tall forests, and we didn’t have a single run in with a bear.

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Bearded brothers bars- AMAZING!!

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Yoga after breakfast

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Waterfall on the way into the valley leading to Muir Pass.

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So many waterfalls!

We are now spending TWO zero days in Mammoth in a condo with a few other thru hikers and are enjoying every minute of relaxation. The photo’s and captions below can’t do justice to how beautiful this section was- I know that I will be drawn to come back and explore the High Sierra in the future.

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Hermes loves taking flower photos.

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Hermes looking down into the valley.

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Loving the huge trees!

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Heading up to Muir Pass! My favorite pass in that section.

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So happy!

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Reflections

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Morning view.

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Muir Hut!

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We hiked through lake after lake coming down from Muir.

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Crystal clear and flat water.

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To pretty for a caption.

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Rock hopping on the reflection on the lake.

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Have I said we LOVE the PCT?

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The water coming over Muir was so clear!

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This was our first “real ford.” In a typical snow year this can be a scary and challenging crossing…our only problem was the mosquitos.

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Huge old trees.

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Entering the John Muir Wilderness, after passing through Seqouia and Kings Canyon National Parks. 

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We crossed our first real smoke from a far off fire. At the time, we didn’t know where the fire was but luckily it wasn’t anywhere near us.

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Using our bug nets! We finally (unfortunately) have started needing them.

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I am so in love with the forests and trees here.

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Aspen groves

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Silver Pass- our last pass of the High Sierra…

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High Alpine lakes…we hope we will see such beautiful lakes up the trail.

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Getting close to Mammoth and Reds Meadow!

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Breakfast at Purple Lake

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The view of the Minarets and Mt. Ritter as we hike towards Reds Meadow and leave the HIgh Sierra. The backside to Mammoth Mountain is off to the right and Yosemite NP is in the close distance. 

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900 Miles!!!!!

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I always think there is something so beautiful about burn areas, but can’t stop imaging how pretty it would have been as a living forest.

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Store! Cafe! Bus! Hooray! Mammoth Lakes here we come! 

Agua Dulce- In to the Desert, and Trail Hazards

We’ve made it to Hiker Heaven! We’re at the home of the Saufley’s, in Agua Dulce, CA, a small town through which the trail walks. The Saufley’s is more of an institution than just one Trail Angel- it’s many people volunteering however they can to create a space for hikers to clean off, rest, and eat. We’re loving it here. That said: its been tough getting here.

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Becky hiding from the poodle dog bush

The last 50 or so miles of trail have given us a little insight to an important part of the desert- fires. We walked through the “Station 9” fire, which happened during Fall 2009, burning thousands of acres; and roughly 40 contiguous miles of the PCT. Two firefighters passed in the event. It was totally an education in the fragility of the land we are walking through, and gave me an appreciation for the forests and un-burned landscapes we do get to see. After a burn, it takes many years to recover to an ecosystem’s previous health, if it ever does. In fact, in the areas we walked through, it doesn’t look like its recovering at all. Much of it was overgrown with “Poodle Dog Bush,” an invasive plants species that takes over after fires. The last 40-50 miles have been littered with this stuff- oh, and despite the silly name, it causes a rash 10 times worse than Poison Oak, often putting folks in the hospital. The stench is strong enough that it burns your lung as you pass by. During the whole time we walked through the Poodle Dog Bush, I couldn’t help but imagine what the pre- burn forest looked like. It was hotter because there was no shade, Poodle Dog Bush was all around, and often we found ourselves on detours on the road, because the trail was too hazardous to pass. All in all a tough section.

There aren’t too many show stopping stories from this last section. That said, its been good to see a few folks around on the trail. Mud & Dingo showed up out of Wrightwood, and they keep a day- to- day blog which you can find here: http://wearehikingthepct.blogspot.ca/?m=1  Its also been great to hike around Agro, Uncle Famous, Ian’t, Chad, Frostie,  Walkie Talkie, and many others who are keeping about the same pace as us. At times, the PCT feels like the AT in how social the trail is; we can go days where we see 20-30 other hikers and then other days where we don’t see anyone. The Saufley’s is full tonight with over 50 hikers, but its been great to meet so many people in this first section.

Moving on from here we really enter the desert. Agua Dulce, which is almost close enough to be a suburb of LA (30 min drive) borders the Mojave desert, and we’ll be hiking through some of the hottest and driest sections we have encountered so far. Lotus (Becky) and I have been both dreading and looking forward to it. We’ll be doing a significant amount of night hiking, and regularly be carrying 8- 12 pounds of water (ugh). Anyways, its sure to be an adventure, and we have the High Sierra to look forward to- we are anticipating entering early in the first week of June (so Soon!) More To Come!

Another quick note and thank you for some amazing trail magic- Brett in Wrightwood found us outside the hardware store and gave us a ride, took us to his house where Lotus and I did yoga, cooked dinner for us and three other hikers, let us hang out and watch movies and then took us back out to the trail. Thank you Brett!!! Also- Jeff who picked us up in downtown Wrightwood and hosted us and about 7 other hikers at his house. He gave us showers, let us do laundry and he and his son and daughter were incredibly welcoming. Thank you Jeff!! Keen sent us new socks and a care package full of tasty bars. Lotus’ mom also sent us an amazing care package with tons of vegan cookies, dried fruit, a giant size nutella, almonds and some soap (THANK YOU!). And my parents sent bars, fancy chocolate and some candy- THANK YOU!

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Hanging out at the Saufleys
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Vasquez Rocks- the Flinstones, Star Trek, and tons of old western movies were made here

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Poodle Dog Bush! Ahhhhhghh

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On the way into Wrightwood

 

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Uskay, Mud, Dingo and a few others hitching into Wrightwood

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Hanging out with Brett! An amazing trail angel we met in Wrightwood who was building a 10 star new stone wall!

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Baden Powel

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Lotus at 9,400′

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Headstands at 9,400′ on top of Baden Powell

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Chad, Robin Hood and us on top of Baden Powell!

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This tree is over 1,500 years old!

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View coming down from Baden Powell

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Pine forests in the desert..always unexpected and always beautiful!

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Packing up 18 miles of water…

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More climbing

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We LOVE Raw Revolution Bars- Thank you!!

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GIant Poodle Dog Bush!

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Poodle Dog Bush and Burnt Trees on our road walk

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Station Fire Plaque

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Burnt down prison where Hermes wanted to stop and take photos

 

210 Miles & Our Tent Only Collapsed Twice Last Night!

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Hermes resting in a tree…

Well the last 100 miles have flown by! We left Warner Springs last Wednesday feeling rested and refreshed after a hot tub, showers, huge dinner and a day of lounging in the shade. We hiked out around 6 miles and had an early camp next to a small spring. It was a campsite that reminded us both of the East Coast and home, it even had mosquitoes!

 

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Day Nine!

The next day we hiked around 20 miles from water source to water source and ended up at our most crowded campsite yet. The “herd” is in full swing and we seem to be right in the midst of it. Before getting to our camp site, we spent a few hours hanging out at “Trail Angel Mike’s” out in the middle of a dry section. When we got there we were given cold water, strawberries, epsom salt foot baths, and vegetarian tacos! We have been on the receiving end of so much trail magic so far!  We have been consistently hiking with a few other people and have gotten to know a bunch of hikers around us. Lately, we have been meeting more and more people that we are catching up with and have been lucky that almost everyone we met have been awesome and interesting people.

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Desert bloom & views

The day after Hermes and I left our crowded campsite we hiked a long day with a big downhill section before we would get to mile 151 where there was a road and an easy hitch to Paradise Cafe to be found. I was having a tough morning and was slogging down the final few miles of downhill with my knees feeling each step when we caught sight of the road and a big tent set up at the trail and road junction. It was more trail magic! Dr. Sole- who helped me with my blisters at Kick Off- was set up with shade, sodas, beers, and his foot triage station. We took full advantage of this after we got a quick ride to Paradise Cafe where I had a giant burrito while Hermes and most of the other hikers there ate huge bacon covered burgers.

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Yucca

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Mile # “kind”

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Trail Angel Mike’s

After leaving Dr. Soles we hiked a few miles and found an early campsite for another 20+/- mile day. We got up the next morning and started climbing, and climbing and climbing. We were nearing the San Jacinto Mountain region. The higher we climbed, the more the landscape changed. We started noticing pine trees, jagged mountains ahead of us and steep cliffs lining the trail. We had a beautiful day of hiking where we got up over 8,000 feet for the first time. We switchbacked and climbed all day through the forest. Hermes and I had a goal of going about 12 miles before we reached our next water source and where would would take our mid-day “siesta.” When we got there, there was a note from our friend Noah saying it was a steep and rocky climb down to stagnant green water. Hermes ended up making the climb down to get us another two liters of gross mothy water, but at least we wouldn’t be stuck without water. Late that night we camped in a windy campsite just a few miles short of Idylwid- where we were headed for our next resupply.

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Morning sun

The next morning we hiked two miles before we hit the Devil’s Slide trail- 2.5 miles of switchbacks down to town. On our way down the trail we met other hikers who were just leaving Idylwild and who were full of tips on the best places to eat and where to go. We met up with a few of our other friends and grabbed a cabin for 7 of us in town after eating a huge breakfast. We did a quick resupply shop, I got new shoes, and we hung around our cabin with other hikers for the evening and made a big pasta dinner.

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Day 10

We decided to leave Idylwild the next morning, even though we kept hearing reports of weather coming in. We had planned to hike San Jacinto and hit the peak at 10,000+ feet, with the weather reports though we decided to skip the peak and stick to the trail where we would approach 9,000 feet. We hiked out with our friend Chad and had a cold and rainy start to the morning. Chad and I made some rain skirts out of trash bags and hiked in those. We spent the next 7 hours hiking non-stop in the freezing rain, through the clouds and with big gusts of wind. Every time we would stop hiking one of us would get too cold and we’d hurry on ahead.

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“Dr. Sole” surprised us at mile 150ish with some trail magic!

We finally went up and around Mount San Jacinto and started the descent onto Fuller Ridge- which has about 20 miles of switchbacks descending into the desert. As we came across Fuller Ridge, Hermes and I started singing and hoping for the sun to come out- we finally got some blue sky and eventually some sun. As soon as we got up and over the ridge and started going down, we were out of pine trees and back in the desert. We caught up with Chad and the three of us found a campsite that we thought “wasn’t that windy” at first. Hermes and my tent only collapsed twice in the wind last night and after the second collapse every time the wind gusted we thought it would just blow away.

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Sun!!

This morning we finished the hike down Fuller Ridge and came out onto a very windy flat desert area with wind farms lining the ridges. We hiked 12 miles to Ziggy and the Bear’s- two amazing trail angels who sat us down and gave us foot baths as soon as we walked in. We are spending the afternoon, and maybe the night, here and hiking on towards our next resupply at Big Bear. OH! and I got my trail name- Lotus!

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Hermes eating dinner

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Manzanillo Tree

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View from our sleeping bags

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Loving the PCT!

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Our first real view of Mount San Jacinto

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From the desert to pine trees in just a few miles…

Up at 8,000+ feet!
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Hermes on a side trail up at 8,000+ feet!

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View of San Jacinto

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Views from the ridge

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Walking on the edge

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Our cabin in Idylwild- big hiker dinner!

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Chad & Lotus in some fancy rain skirts

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Climbing in 35 degrees, rain and big wind!

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More fancy rain clothes

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Blue sky again!

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Sun over the desert as we descend onto Fuller Ridge

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View from our campsite

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Sunrise

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200 miles in on day 13!!

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San Jacinto is behind us now..

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We made it out onto the desert floor