Today was quite productive, even though I tossed and turned all night trying to sleep in the car at the rest area. Since the smoke seems to have cleared out from Washington quite a bit, Sara and I are going to try to get on the PCT for awhile. She’s got unfinished business starting at White Pass and going north for 350 miles to the Canadian Border. We had a bunch of stuff to do if we’re to get on trail by tomorrow. So after breakfast we found a Planet Fitness and both took much needed showers(rivers, lakes, and the occasional ocean dip only go so far). Next we found a place to do laundry and resupply, then drove the 3-4 hours south to the town of Packwood. This is usually a tiny little town right next to Mt Rainier NP and White Pass but not today. As we were driving into town there were tents set up everywhere, people selling all kinds of food and lots of other stuff. It felt like we were driving right into the middle of the Topsfield Fair(besides the traffic). I guess the Packwood flea market is a major event every year on Labor Day Weekend. Cool! I’m no stranger to a flea market so we went and got some fried chicken and looked around at some old stuff. As we were walking back to the car these relatively dirty hikers across the street were yelling,”Sara, Sara!” At first I figured they were thru hikers that we must have met on a previous trail but a thru hiker would have used trail names. Turns out it was this girl Stephanie that picked us up while hitchhiking last year on the Olympic Peninsula. Tonight she was with her boyfriend and they driven up from Portland, OR to hike for a few days. They had seen us walk by earlier and I guess she was like, I know that couple. Small world right?
We left the flea market and drove a few miles into the woods. Found a free campsite at Summit Creek CG in the national forest.
Sept 3 PCT mile 2320.8
So good to be back on the PCT! I absolutely love this trail.
This morning we drove down to the White Pass ski resort and Kracker Barrel next door, found a place to park the car long term, then walked the half mile to the trailhead. Back on the PCT it felt really good to be walking these miles again. The trail itself just feels like a nice, soft, easy, fast, path through the woods. The PCT was the first long trail I hiked, I have fond memories of it and I’m really happy to be back walking on it again.
There were a fair amount of thru hikers at the Kracker Barrel and being the long Labor Day weekend we passed a handful of people that were just out for a few days. 2 of these people were Ram and Red Feather. Now this is a strange coincidence. Ram was one of the first people I met on the PCT in 2015, we actually both stayed at Scout and Frodo’s(San Diego Trail Angels) the night before I started the hike. I briefly met Red Feather maybe 1000 or so miles later that summer and then I guess those two both met, hiked together, got married and Ram moved to Washington from Israel. The thing is I learned all this the last time I randomly ran into them in the middle of the woods. In the summer of 2016 I was in between long trails, spending time in the PNW and was hiking around Snoqualmie Pass when I crossed paths with Ram and Red Feather just out for a few days on trail. Odd I know, but this stuff happens to me all the time. Today when we parted ways we just said ‘see you next time.’
The rest of the day was just some sweet Washington miles. We’ve been on the border of Mount Rainier NP all day and got some good views of that beautiful beefy mountain. I think it was pouring rain when I was here in ‘15 so I didn’t remember the details of what was to come at all. Last time I was just head down walking in the rain while today I could enjoy it a lot more.
Last night and this morning I had been texting with my friend Thor who’s a Seattle guy and hikes all over Washington. He knew where we were getting on so unbeknownst to us he got on trail 30 miles north, handed out trail magic beers all day and hiked south to meet us. We met Thor last year on the CDT when he was flying a gigantic red beard and today he was pretty tough to recognize while running towards us with way less facial hair. It was great, the 3 of us walked north for the last 10 or so miles of the day and got caught up on all things CDT and hiking and what not. Thor hiked the 3 long trails the same years I hiked them so we know loads of the same people.
We got to Dewey Lake a little after 7 and all set up for the night. It felt like a nice easy 25 mile day. And there’s a bunch of elk bugling while I’m laying in the tent probably trying to keep me awake, but I guess it is mating season.
Sept 4 PCT mile 2352.9
The bugling elk didn’t keep me up last night, I slept quite soundly in our cozy spot next to the lake. So soundly that it was tough getting out of the tent into the cold morning air. It warmed up quick though and after a few miles I was dressing down and enjoyed a beautiful day. Thor hiked with us for about 3 miles to Chinook Pass where he left his truck yesterday and for the rest of the day Sara and I just cruised down the PCT.
Besides hiking a Pemi Loop in NH about a month ago, this was the first 30+ mile day either of us had done since Arizona in the spring. And it felt so easy! Most of the day was just smooth rolling trail, through forest, then a burned out forest, up on ridges, and contouring along the sides of mountains. There’s elevation gain and loss and all that but it never felt too severe.
It seems that we walked right into the ‘Bubble’ of thru hikers(bubble just means the bulk of the hikers in close proximity). There’s lots of people out. It feels a little strange as most of these hikers have been walking since Mexico and we’re just coming on trail so late, still crushing though. So many people are on trail that at the water source we planned to camp at tonight there were already about 10 other tents jammed in there. With no flat space left we had to push on and it wasn’t looking good for awhile. We reached a road where Sara looked at the topo map and decided we should walk up the road(off trail) where it flattened out. About a tenth of a mile from trail we found a massive clearing in the woods complete with a bear hang and everything. She was so proud of herself, and I was proud of her too, this is a sweet campsite.
Sept 5 PCT mile 2384.6
Crush city all day. The trail, at least the scenery on the trail, was pretty subdued today which meant there wasn’t much else to do but keep walking. I mean it’s pretty and everything but mostly just walking through pine forests and up on a few ridges. It was smooth and fast though and we were able to crank out another 30+ mile day.
Like I was saying yesterday we’re definitely in the bubble, and probably towards the back of the bubble so there’s lots of hikers around and in front of us. We’ll be meeting new people everyday. I met a handful of hikers today and I even ran into one guy, ‘Crunchmaster’ that I first met in Oregon in 2015. One of the lousy parts about the trail being so crowded(and I can’t be mad about the trail being crowded, I’m part of the problem too) is that when it comes time to camp, all the good spots usually have a tent on them. I like to hike until just about dark and when we got to Mirror Lake near 8pm there wasn’t much to choose from. We just kept walking and as usual the trail provides, we found a nice spot at an intersection past the lake.
Sept 6 PCT mile 2393.1 Snoqualmie Pass
We don’t exactly need a day off today as both of us are feeling good and it’s a beautiful day out there, but it did make sense to stop in town after walking less than 10 miles. We had to stop to resupply anyway and since there’s a hotel at Snoqualmie Pass, it might be our last chance to get a room on trail. Plus our buddy Malibu is supposed to drive out from Seattle to meet us for a meal.
Snoqualmie Pass isn’t much of a town but a ski resort/truck stop right on I-90. We drove through here a couple weeks ago and we could pretty much take a right and just follow this road all the way back home(but that’s not happening). This morning went smoothly and right when we got here they had a room ready then we feasted on omelettes and pancakes and stuff. This should be an enjoyable day.