Endless P Summer

Sept 13 PCT mile 2576.8

This morning we woke up a mile outside of Holden Village at their designated campsite and walked to their dining hall for breakfast. In another lifetime this place was a copper mining camp but now it’s a Lutheran Retreat Center, and is completely off the grid. They rarely see PCT hikers but this year because of the fire detour they’ve had a huge influx of hikers and treated us really well. Breakfast was buffet style oatmeal sundaes, then they let us do our laundry for free. From the village there’s a 10 mile rd to Lake Chelan(I think this is their only outlet to the outside world) and a daily yellow school bus took us to Lucerne Landing where we got picked up by a ferry that took us to Stehekin. Lake Chelan is a narrow and extremely long and deep lake surrounded by mountains. Someone told me that it’s a fjord but I’m not exactly sure what that means. Stehekin is a tiny town that sits at the top of the lake and is usually the last stop for PCT’ers. It’s a really cool little place, inaccessible by road, it’s a very remote little vacation town for some people. Or I guess people live here year round too.

We did town stuff like showering for the first time in a week and picking up our resupply boxes at the PO, then walked a couple miles to the world famous(or at least trail famous) Stehekin Bakery. Everybody on the PCT starts hearing about this place when you’re still way down in Southern California and it lives up to the hype. From the bakery we took a shuttle bus to the end of the road, 10 miles out of town where we got back on the PCT. Going north the next 17 miles are within North Cascades NP where we need a permit to camp. Sara and I and half a dozen others all got permits at a site 5 miles out and got here just before dark.

Of any trail I’ve hiked Stehekin is the most complicated town stop. Don’t get me wrong I really like it here, I’d like to buy land out here and put a trailer on it, but for getting in and out of town and trying to coordinate shuttle bus schedules, P.O. hours, making sure we got to the bakery, National Park permits, plus a fire detour and a ferry ride, it’s a pain in the ass.

Sept 14 PCT mile 2609.4

The trail was super cruiser pretty much all day. For the first 15 or so miles we were within North Cascades NP until we reached Rainy Pass and our first paved road in 130 miles(National Park trails are usually always well maintained and well graded, in other words it was easy).

At Rainy Pass we got some killer trail magic. Erica and Nick, 2 former hikers, were grilling up hot dogs and cooking chili. While I was busy eating 1 of my 3 chili dogs, another guy, the Madd Baker drove up to do trail magic also. He had a bunch of cookies for us and I think he was about to cook soup but we had moved on by then.

With a belly full of hot dogs and cookies we started a long 5 mile climb up to Cutthroat Pass. On the way up I looked to the left and saw a black bear farting around in the woods. Immediately I thought it was a black dog, as I always do, but it was a bear. Just a little fella doing his thing. I also saw an owl this morning and Sara saw a pine marten so it was a pretty good day for wildlife. As we walked a little further we ran into this lady who was out day hiking and all excited about the bear asking us if we saw it. She told us she pulled out her bear spray and accidentally sprayed herself, then turned around and went back up towards the pass to get away. We encouraged her to go back down as the bear probably won’t bother her and she did, I just really hope she didn’t end up spraying the bear, poor thing doesn’t deserve it.

When we got up to Cutthroat Pass we were treated to spectacular views then it immediately started snowing on us, I didn’t even think it was cold enough. We would be above tree line for the next 5 miles so this wasn’t good. Luckily it stopped after 20 minutes and the rest of the day was just enjoyable and scenic Washington hiking.

Sept 15 Pasayten Wilderness, Fire detour

Immediately this morning we started climbing up towards Glacier Pass. This was a beefy switchbacked climb and although it was chilly the skies were clear and blue and the views of the North Cascades were awesome. By midday we made it to Hart’s Pass, the last trailhead before the Canadian Border and once again there were people cooking lunch for us. I didn’t get all their names but this time it was a family from Republic, WA doing trail magic and it was great; cheeseburgers, orange soda, corn on the cob, hot chocolate, and fresh vegetables. They did it right.

Hart’s Pass is more or less a dead end trailhead on a dirt road about a 20 mile drive from the nearest town, Mazama. From there it’s regularly 30 PCT miles to the border and then another 8 to Manning Park in Canada. This year though, there’s a wildfire and a detour that makes the route 34 miles to the border.

After lunch we walked up to Slate Pass and then the detour took us east into the Pasayten Wilderness. The detour was nice and everything, nothing extraordinary, just deep dark Washington forest. It feels very remote out here. For most of the afternoon it was rather cold and drizzling and we saw a handful of hikers returning to Hart’s after they just completed their hike. Around 6 we saw this guy coming towards us that looked like the crypt keeper(ok maybe not that scary but he was close to it). I usually don’t think I judge a book by its cover but the way this guy presented himself gave me the creeps. He wasn’t friendly and he kept one hand in his pocket as if he was concealing a weapon. As he passed he asked, “How far to Hart’s Pass?” and Sara told him about 14 miles. He didn’t seem to like that answer and had some short gruff response. This guy had rain gear on but only a very small pack and not in the style of a lightweight long distance hiker(I highly doubt he had a tent and sleeping bag). Old boy had a long way to go and it was cold and rainy out without any prospects of warming up. If he acted a little differently I’m sure we would have stopped and tried to help him out, I mean not that we could have since we’re both only carrying the minimum ourselves. As it was though we didn’t even slow down. I hope he gets where he’s going and everything but I was glad to put some distance between us. I don’t know, maybe I’m overreacting here and the guy had a camp already set up nearby or something. But still. We stopped about an hour and a half later and put our tent next to the west fork of the Pasayten River. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so deep in the heart of Texas, I mean Washington.

Sept 16 Abbotsford, BC

Today we reached the Canadian Border. This is really no big deal for me, I’ve been here before so it’s not a culmination of a long journey or anything like that. For Sara though it is exactly that. She started hiking the PCT at the Mexican Border in 2015 with every intention of walking all the way to Canada(we both started the same day actually although we didn’t hike much together that year). Because of a crazy wildfire season she got off trail at the Oregon/Washington Border and went on to hike about 700 miles in New England that summer. Since then she has completed both the AT and the CDT and has twice returned to Washington to try to complete the PCT. In July of ‘16 she hiked 150 miles from the Oregon Border to White Pass and was forced off due to snow. In ‘17 we tried to get on the PCT after we finished the CDT but there were tons of fires closing some of the trail. Even earlier this year when we first came out here parts of the trail were closed so we went up to Canada for a couple weeks to wait it out. It’s been a bit of an odyssey for her but the time has come.

When we got up today it was clear and cool with blue skies overhead. That wouldn’t last though. We climbed for about 7 or 8 more miles of the fire detour until we rejoined the actual PCT at Woody Pass. While we were climbing the clouds moved in and it started to rain. A cold rain too, and windy. As we got closer to the Pass the rain turned to snow and sooner than later the weather completely went to shit. For what seemed like forever we walked along a snowy and slippery ridge with the wind whipping in our faces. Keep in mind walking through a snowstorm is no big deal if you’re dressed for it but I’m only wearing a thin rain jacket over my tank top and wind pants over my shorts. This isn’t exactly ‘rain gear’ it’s more like a ‘rain outfit’ like this is what I wear during inclement weather, not that it does anything. My shoes and socks have been wet for days and everything else I’m wearing is soaked. We were both uncomfortable but eventually we dropped lower. The snow turned back to rain and although it was still cold and wet at least we felt like we were out of harm’s way.

When we were about 3 miles to the Border Sara turned and pointed to a tree right next to the trail. I looked and saw a tiny little black bear cub hugging a branch(for the record she said she saw two cubs but I only saw one). Bear cubs are cool but I don’t want to see them at ten feet and that’s how close we were. We both started yelling out, ‘Hey Bear!’ and thankfully never did see mama. Another hour of walking through wet bushes and rain and then the sun decided to come out. Perfect timing. We rounded a corner and saw the clear cut forest and then Monument 78, the Canadian Border. After a few high fives and pictures and basking in the sun enjoying the moment, it was time to move on, still 8 miles to Manning Park and the road out.

Once we got to Manning Park we checked to see about reasonable lodging and there was none. It was getting late, late for hitching anyway, do we decided to give it a try for a little bit then find a spot to camp if that didn’t work out. After about 10 minutes Jenna pulled over on her way home from visiting her boyfriend across the province and drove us about an hour and a half to Abbotsford, BC where we got a room for the night. What an incredible day, glad to be warm in bed in a Best Western in a little Canadian Border town tonight. Congratulations QB on persevering and finishing this trail. On to the next thing.feel free to follow this blog or follow me on insta @endlesspsummer and Sara(QB) at @sarahikes

Sept 7 PCT mile 2419.9

So the rest of yesterday, after I fired off the last blog post, went really smoothly. Our friend Malibu, who lives in Seattle, drove out to Snoqualmie Pass to have lunch. And he brought us some massive cookies. We chilled out by the Aardvark food truck all afternoon and just did thru hiker town day stuff.

This morning we got back on trail after pummeling some omelettes and pancakes and had quite a day. The hike out of Snoqualmie Pass is a long switchbacked climb above the tree line to a little strip of trail called Kendall’s Catwalk(or Katwalk, but I refuse to write that). Once you get to this narrow piece of trail the views in every direction are spectacular. For the next 15 or so miles we contoured around jagged peaks and looked out at alpine lakes and other huge mountains. The footing was a little more difficult than usual and the miles a bit slower but well worth it. This is my third time up on this section of trail and the first on a clear day, looking to the southwest I could see Rainier and to the north I could see as far as Glacier Peak(I think).In the late afternoon we dropped a few thousand feet to a valley and along the way I took a quick dip in a swimming hole at the bottom of a waterfall. We crossed a river and then climbed big long switchbacks that brought us way up and out of the valley. With about 2 miles to the next campsite a cold rain had moved in with a crack of thunder and a flash of lightning. Luckily that was it for the T&L and the rain just gave me good reason to pick up speed for the rest of the day. We found a sweet campsite up high next to a little alpine lake.

Sept 8 PCT mile 2450.2

I’m pretty sure it rained all night, but I was busy sleeping peacefully so I didn’t notice. It was raining hard on the tent this morning when I woke up though and I thought we’d be walking through it all day. Luckily the rain stopped right around 7am so we packed up the wet tent and got moving. It was cold and wet for awhile and we had lots of clouds all day but it never rained. Good hiking weather, I’ll take that any day over rain.

The trail dropped down from where we were camped and we walked through a valley for awhile then back up again. It seemed to do that all day. There were at least 3 named passes we climbed; Cathedral, Piper, and Deception. None of them seemed particularly difficult, we’d just walk up long switchbacked trails to a pass with views of jagged peaks and turquoise alpine lakes on the way up then do the same thing on the way down and look at new jagged peaks and turquoise alpine lakes. Washington is awesome.

After walking down Piper Pass and through a boulder field we found a tent site next to Glacier Lake. It was a beautiful and productive 30 mile day. And it didn’t rain at all.

Sept 9 PCT mile 2475.2

Woke up next to Glacier Lake to cool air and clear blue sky. Good day for hiking, most of them are. Today we had to cross route 2 and stop at Steven’s Pass Ski Resort to pick up resupply boxes we mailed out a month ago. It was a quick 14 miles up and down a couple passes, through a few valleys, and we were at Steven’s Pass for lunch. I did fall though. I put my foot on this slanted slippery log in the middle of the trail, not thinking anything of it, and it was like I stepped on a patch of ice. My feet went out from under me and I hit the ground hard with my right big toe taking the brunt of it. I’ll be fine and everything but my toe still hurts and I did a fair amount of whining for the next half hour or so.

At Steven’s Pass we picked up our boxes, sorted our food for the next section and got a couple of cheeseburgers while letting our electronics charge up. This looks like a fun place to ski. It’s got a couple of peaks, it’s steep, and there’s lifts servicing the backside of the mountain also.

Back in 2015, Steven’s Pass is where my thru hike abruptly ended when I found out the trail ahead was closed due to wildfires. The following year I came back to Steven’s and got back on trail to finish what I had started. You can go back in time in this blog if you’d like to read about either of those hikes, but I don’t expect you to. No forced trail evacuations today though, we blasted in and out of town and got another 11 miles in this afternoon. We’re on a very serious mission.

Sept 10 PCT mile 2506.7

It rained a good deal overnight and into this morning. When I first woke up, listening to the raindrops, I thought today would be absolutely miserable. But it wasn’t. The rain stopped and although a little bit delayed we packed up our tent and put on our rain gear. It never really rained the rest of the day but it was constantly threatening. It was misty and foggy, every once in awhile it would drizzle, and today was colder than usual. I never took off my rain jacket or pants all day. Being a little cold is still better than rain. The fog and the mist added an interesting change of scenery to an already beautiful Washington. At times it just looked like something out of the movies. It also feels so remote out here, we saw a few other thru hikers but we’re far from any trailhead or any road for that matter and there’s no day hikers or weekenders out here.

The trail itself was up and down all day. Mostly smooth trail through forest and contouring along mountains. The story of the day for me was definitely the weather and the way it made this place look. With a few miles left we dropped through a huge valley with steep granite mountains on the sides with their peaks obscured by clouds. The valley reminded me of a pass in Nepal that led to Tibet. This valley only leads to more of Washington and eventually a campsite next to a river.

When we got to the campsite I was cold, wet, hungry, and a kind of tired that I only feel after walking all day in this type of weather. We cooked in the vestibule and ate inside the tent: Annie’s Mac n Cheese with bacon bits, coconut oil, and a packet of Tapatio. This was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had.

Sept 11 PCT mile 2535.3

I can’t sugar coat it, today pretty much sucked. At least the first half of the day. Right off the bat I saw an owl though, and that was cool. It swooped down in front of me and then perched itself up in a branch next to the trail for awhile. Then things went downhill(figuratively). It was cold and wet out right away. It rained overnight and the trail was overgrown so for about an hour I was getting soaked from both sides as the bushes gave the trail a car wash effect. When it actually did start to rain I was already drenched and wicked cold. Then it rained all morning and as we climbed higher it turned to a ‘wintry mix’ and then to snow. As we descended it would go back to a cold, cold rain. We figured we had 2 choices: either set up the tent and get into dry clothes to wait it out, or just keep walking to try to stay warm and eventually it would stop(finding a relatively dry place to just sit and wait it out and warm up wasn’t an option, too cold for that.) We chose the latter and that ended up being the right move. It was miserably cold and uncomfortable but we weren’t quite in danger and I really thought the sun would come out soon and make everything all better. This was one of my hardest days on trail that I can remember and Sara wouldn’t even commiserate with me because she was too busy belting out show tunes.

Her positivity worked though because after 4-5 hours of weather, as we walked over Mica Lake Pass, the sun did come out in all of its glory. Moments earlier it was dark and dreary and we were crunching through snow and now the sun lit the whole world up. A tremendously bright rainbow appeared and the sun shown on the glistening peaks that were freshly snow capped. The steam was rising from the ground, there were waterfalls seemed to sprout from everywhere, and I suddenly felt warm. It was glorious.

Nothing as wild as this happened the rest of the day. We did dry out and walked a huge uphill followed by a huge downhill around Glacier Peak. This evening it felt so good to finally be lying down and dry inside the tent.

Sept 12 Outside Holden Village

What a treat this morning was. If yesterday morning the PCT slapped me in the face, then today the trail welcomed me back with open arms. We walked along smooth soft dirt for a few miles through a forest full of big huge old growth trees until we got to a bridge that crossed the Suiattle River. On the other side of the river the trail was still pretty cruiser and had a gentle incline for the next 10 miles.

We’re aiming for the town of Stehekin, but due to wildfires part of the trail is closed and we’ll have to walk the reroute. The detour isn’t actually all the way into Stehekin and doesn’t connect back to the PCT. So we’ve got 2 options with one of them involving a boat, I’ll try to explain later.

The reroute started 17 miles into our day and brought us up and over Cloudy Pass and down into a valley with beautiful Lyman Lake. This place was really incredible to see and if it wasn’t for this fire detour I probably never would have walked through here. It rained again while we were in the valley but I knew it wouldn’t last and once again the sun came out and produced a beautiful rainbow. From Cloudy Pass we walked 10 miles to this tiny place called Holden Village(It’s not really a town, I guess it used to be a mining camp and now it’s a Lutheran Retread Center?). Tonight We’ll camp outside of Holden Village then tomorrow take a shuttle to Lake Chelan where we’ll catch a ferry to Stehekin. Our other option would be to walk another 17 miles of detour that doesn’t bring us back to the trail anyway and still have to catch a bus to town. North of Stehekin the trail is open again so as long as we get our boxes at the P.O. and a permit to stay in North Cascades NP tomorrow night, we’ll take the shuttle 10 miles out of town to get us back on trail for the final stretch. You followed all that, right? feel free to follow this blog or follow me on insta @endlesspsummer and Sara @sarahikes

Sept 2

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.

Post AT, Pre Colorado Trail

I decided to update my blog just in case you’ve been sitting around wondering what I’ve been up to since my last post. I flew into Seattle July 11th and stayed only for a few days before I unexpectedly had to fly back and forth to Mass. For a couple days I explored the Emerald City(that’s what they call it) and got a chance to meet up with some friends from home, Dave and Nikki before their trip to Alaska.

I also caught up with my buddy Malibu and we went for a massive bike ride around Lake Washington. Last year this dude rode his bike from Seattle to San Diego, hiked the PCT, then rode a bike home to Seattle from Manning Park. He had an extra bike just for this kind of situation and I did my best keeping up with him. I don’t have too much road biking experience but my only real problem was I kept getting my right foot caught in the baskets. I fell 3 times, not bad falls though, but only when I was stopped at an intersection and lots of people could point and laugh. I’ve laughed at plenty of people falling though, so I deserved it.

When I returned to the Pacific Northwest, July 17th, I headed out towards Snoqualmie Pass and the PCT. I caught a bus and then a couple of quick hitches and was on trail around 6pm. From Snoqualmie Pass I headed north on a  familiar section of the PCT to do a 2 night out and back. About two miles into this incredible little slice of heaven I ran into Ram and Red Feather out for a day hike. I met them both last summer before they had met each other and they informed me that they just got married. Long trail, the PCT, but small world.

After a couple nights my friend Sweetums joined me and we hiked up the Denny Creek trail to the magical Malakwa Lake. Sweetums learned me on all kinds of stuff hiking. A total badass, and if I wasn’t my own idol she’d be a front runner for that title. Check out her blog here: chasingmydaydream.com. She was off to solo the Enchantments in a day and I was headed to Yakima,WA to see my friend Jenn. Sweetums drove me part of the way and then I caught a couple hitches including a beautiful ride through Yakima River Canyon. Jenn came through with a ride the rest of the way, put me up at her place, and drove me to the bus station the next day. We went out in Yak Vegas(I heard that’s what the locals call it) had a fun night with Jenn(a friend of mine from years ago who spent some time in Lynn) and Katie, who I met last year while I was out that way, and some of their crew. Only by a few days did I miss out on their fly fishing trip to Idaho. Timing is everything.

From Yakima I planned on joining my buddy Boone in Oregon and get on the PCT for awhile. I took a bus to Seattle, then ran across the city to catch another one to Portland. Boone and his girlfriend Katie did me a solid. They drove from Bend to Portland and back to pick me up. 3+ hours each way. The two of them had been hiking north from Crater Lake, Katie was about to head home and Boone was continuing on to Canada. It was great to see these two and we drank milkshakes and ate pancakes and all that good thru hiker food.

The following morning Katie dropped us off at Santiam Pass and Boone and I crushed a bunch of trail. So nice to be back on the PCT in Oregon, soft smooth trail and gentle elevation gain and loss, not to mention the spectacular views throughout the hike. Going from Maine on the AT to Oregon on the PCT is like swinging a weighted bat and then a wiffle ball bat. After about a hundred miles we got up to Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood. This is the hotel from ‘The Shining'(the outside scenes anyway). We surprised our buddy Speed when we joined him stealth camping in the woods nearby and then I could barely sleep because I was so excited about the brunch buffet at the lodge. This is the greatest breakfast ever. I mean that’s in my opinion, but I’d like to know where to find a better one. If I was ever to be executed(hopefully that doesn’t happen) I’m going with the Timberline Brunch for my last meal and if they don’t have that I’m going with pad thai pizza.

Two more days of hiking and I got to Cascade Locks, OR. I ate some lunch and took a shower that I also used to wash my clothes real quick. So now I’m trying to get to Portland and I’m standing on the road with my thumb out for like ten minutes without anybody even slowing down or look twice. Miraculously my friend Roadrunner, who lives in town unbeknownst to me, spots me from the opposite direction and yells to me a la Billy Ocean, “Get outta my dreams, Get into my car!” At least that’s what I heard. What she probably really said was,”Hey Endless, you hobo!! Get in the car I’ll give you a ride.” It was awesome. Great to see her and catch up then she drove me all the way to Portland. The options for flying from Portland to Denver were weak so I audibled. I took a bus to Seattle then a red eye from there to Denver with a quick layover in Minneapolis.

In Denver I met up with PCT friends BK, Prickly Pear and Queen B for lunch. The 4 of us plus Nomad are starting the Colorado Trail tomorrow. Then I crashed the honeymoon of the freshly married Fannons. It was great, went out on the 16th Sreet Mall and staying with them in this sweet Air BnB tonight. Things are good, I’ll be hiking the next few weeks with a fun and formidable crew and I’m excited about Colorado. Don’t hesitate to subscribe to this blog if you want to hear what happens next and as always feel free to follow me on Instagram @endlesspsummer

-Endless



Seattle, WA and Canada!

Alright I hope you’re sitting down. This is a long post and I encourage you to take 10 minutes and read it. My 2015 thru hike of the PCT is complete but my adventure continues. Of course it didn’t go as planned but I never had much of a plan in the first place. I hiked 2461 continuous miles from the Mexican border to Steven’s Pass in Washington. Northern Washington is currently plagued by wildfires and multiple trail closures forced me to forego the last 188 miles to the Canadian border. After a series of rides I got to Manning Park in BC, Canada and hiked the 15 mile round trip to the monument to officially finish my hike.

In a perfect world I would have hiked straight through to the Northern Terminus but I’m happy with the way it ended and everything worked out quite nicely for me. Not being able to finish the remaining miles is really no big deal for me, a bigger issue is these fires that have burned down people’s homes and currently took the lives of 3 firefighters. It would have been nice but I have to put it in perspective.

The final couple of weeks of my hike were some of the most enjoyable I had. Let me elaborate. On August 9th I flew back to Portland from Boston and was greeted at the airport by old friend Jeff Lyle who not only drove me to Cascade Locks but also brought me breakfast. I was back on trail at 12:30 pm and put in a strong 30 mile effort that afternoon and evening. My friend Schemes had returned to the trail a day earlier and linked up with old friend Tami and Diatom who all of us had only heard of until Washington. I figured I would catch them as soon as I could so I hiked 47 miles the following day and camped with them that night.

For the next two weeks the four of us became a pretty tight knit group and had a really nice time through Washington. We slowed down to about 25 miles a day and it was a very relaxing change of pace. I started getting on trail around 7, took more breaks, reduced my hustle and got into camp earlier every night. Washington is beautiful, but everybody knows that. The smoke from the fires gave the sky a hazy look and some days it appeared to be dusk all day long. We passed through Goat Rocks Wilderness, one of the prettiest sections of trail, and I saw at least 50 mountain goats one evening #realtalk. Equally impressive was hiking over the Knife’s Edge with an awesome view of Ranier.

After a stop in White Pass, where I resupplyed and spent the night, I was back on trail for one of the coldest and rainiest days of my trip. To top it off the hiking was tough. As uncomfortable as I was physically, I remained in a good mood and knew once I got through the day I would be inside a dry tent and my cozy sleeping bag. The following day was also super cold but we had quite a treat in store for us. Mt Ranier National Park was enjoyable even though the views were subdued because of clouds and smoke. At the end of a long cold raw day we came across Ulrich Cabin. This place was incredible! It’s primarily used as a snowmobile cabin in winter and besides the woodstove, it’s completely barebones. But it was sound and the stove kept us all warm and dry. The four of us were joined there by Playa and Patriot and we had a great night. Spirits were high and it was exactly what we all needed.

The weather turned in our favor and the sun was all business for the next two days as we hiked into Snoqualmie Pass. This was a cool little stop. We spent the night here, ate copious amounts of food and relaxed in the hot tub. We got back on trail the following day for what would be our final section. It was a good one and maybe it was because of the cumulative effort but it also seemed like one of the most difficult stretches. The ups and downs were pretty extreme, but I’m not complaining, just making an observation. The scenery was spectacular however and I had a great final 3 days.

Okay this is where things start to get complicated. Bear with me, I know this is a long post but you’ve come this far so you might as well get to the end. About 3 miles out of Steven’s Pass Schemes got a message from our friend S+M who had got back on trail and we were planning to finish up with her. Apparently the last 188 miles of trail, everything north of Steven’s Pass, was closed. We were kind of stunned and took our time getting through those last miles. Tami’s friend Martha aka Sidecar picked us up at the trailhead and drove us first to the town of Skykomish, where we reunited with S+M , and then to the Dinsmores house(trail angels who let us crash in their yard and use all their amenities).

The following morning ‘Collector’ drove me and Schemes back to Skykomish to eat tons of breakfast. After a little while Diatom, Tami, and S+M joined us and we also ate with Daybreaker and were rejoined by old friend Aloha. We all ate lots of food and unbeknownst to any of us, fellow hiker ’30 Pack’ footed the bill and took off before we could thank him. So if you read this, thanks dude, that was cool. After hours of brainstorming we came up with something of a plan to get us to Canada but we’d be relying on others and it would take a little luck. Our first step was to get to Seattle. Before we even got our thumbs out, 2011 thru hiker Honey Bee pulled over and asked us if we needed a ride. We piled into her little rental car and she brought us to Lynnwood, WA. S+M took a bus south to get back on trail elsewhere and the rest of us regrouped at a coffee shop. Sidecar drove up from Seattle to scoop up Schemes, Tami, Diatom and myself and bring us back to the city. It was great, Sidecar got us a church to sleep in for the night and we spent the evening checking out Seattle. Diatom secured us a car from a friend for the next morning and all of a sudden things were going really smoothly, too smoothly. The next day we ran a few errands, got all our chores accomplished and were super excited to be driving up to Canada.

That would be short lived, just a couple minutes on I-5 N we wrecked. Thankfully nobody was hurt but it appeared our hike once again ended too soon. We waited hours for a tow and at this point had pretty much decided to go our own ways. This is when Sidecar stepped up big time. Again. She moved her shifts around and volunteered to drive us up to Manning Park. What a sweet deal. We arrived at our site shortly before midnight and the following day hiked south to the monument. It was really cool and I’m so glad I got there.

We spent about an hour taking pictures, high fiving, eating s’mores and just chilling out. When we got back to Manning Park we played in the pool for a couple hours like little kids then Tami’s parents, who had driven up from Idaho, had a big feast for us. It was a great night. I cowboy camped and had one of my best nights of sleep in recent memory. Dennis and Susan fed us again in the morning and all of a sudden it felt like the last scene of the ‘Breakfast Club’. We said goodbye first to Tami because she stayed with her folks to continue her trip before she returns to Portland. Sidecar drove the rest of us back to Seattle and next we dropped Diatom off for a bus that would eventually get him back to Santa Cruz. The last one to see go was Schemes, my hiking partner for roughly 1700 miles. I got off at the airport with her, said our goodbyes, and she was headed home to Kansas via Colorado before starting a doctorate program in Santa Barbara this fall.

As for me I returned to Seattle and my friend Carol is putting me up for a couple nights in her beautiful house in Queen Anne. I spent today enjoying Seattle. I caught up with my buddy Malibu, who I hadn’t seen since the Sierras, when his train came in this afternoon. I got some brand new used clothes at the same thrift shop Macklemore shops at, then did the most cliche thing possible which was type my blog in a Starbucks in Seattle while wearing flannel and listening to Pearl Jam. Just kidding about the flannel.

I’ll enjoy the city for awhile and check out a Mariners game tonight. I’ve got a few things planned for the near future but I finished my hike a month ahead of schedule so I guess I’ll just slowly make my way back East and do whatever I want for awhile. If you’ve got any suggestions I’m all ears, or if you’d like to put me up I’d love to visit. I’m not quite ready to re-enter society but when I do I’ve got a nice little life to return to. I will definitely miss the trail and I’ll never forget it but more than that I’ll happily remember the time I had and the people I enjoyed it with.

I should probably do a whole post on acknowledgements but in case I don’t get to that I just want to say thank you to everybody that helped me. Hiking the trail would be impossible without all the angels in all different capacities who give up their time and money to help strangers. Thank you. And to my number one trail angel my mother who was at my beckon call the past 4 months, tracking stuff down, and sending me my resupply packages and all kinds of helpful information. Thanks Ma!

Endless P. Summer PCT 2015

 L to R me, Tami, Schemes, Diatom

 Diatom, Schemes, S+M, Me, Tami

 Diatom, Me, Tami. Action shot

 Dance party in Seattle

 Diatom, Schemes and Tami eyeing the mighty Puget Sound

 Reunited and it feels so good. Two idols eyeballing each other. Schemes and S+M
  ‘The Trail’

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Cascade Lockes, OR

In case anybody was wondering, I demolished Oregon, absolutely demolished it. I put ‘Eye of the Tiger’ on repeat, walked all day everyday and finished the state in two weeks. It was exciting, grueling, overwhelmingly beautiful, and very rewarding.

In Mazama Village I ran into my friend Tami who I hadn’t seen since the Sierras. I spent a day hiking with Tami and also Nesquick and 5 Star who I had only met briefly about 1500 miles before. Crater Lake is quite the spectacle and definitely worth checking out. After Crater Lake and north of Mt Thielsen Schemes and I hiked with Distance and Castaway for a few days until we got to Shelter Cove Resort. This place was cool, it was a little campground on a lake with a store. They had a good supply of ice cream sandwiches and also my favorite trail snack, Franz Pastries. I should say they had a good supply until I got there.

We left there just before noon and crushed major miles. The following day Poca AKA Pocahontas, another formidable friendly female hiker, joined Schemes and me and hiked with us the rest of the way through Oregon. After a few chilly nights we started getting into some pretty serious heat. Just south of Big Lake Youth Camp was one of the hottest days I had on the trail. We hiked through burn zones that provided no shade and then lava fields that I think inspired level 8 of the original Super Mario bros. I was low on water and was feeling like Clark W. Griswold in NL’s Vacation. Things worked out though, I traded a Clif Bar to a southbounder for half a liter of water, what a deal!

BLYC treated us pretty well. I picked up a resupply package, there were couches for us to chill out on, they fed us burritos, let us shower, and had a sweet beach for us to camp on. Oh yeah I should probably mention that the Oregon Cascades were wicked awesome!! The Sisters are these prominent mountains in a line that are spaced out along the trail like every 30 miles until Washington. There’s 3 sisters and then 4 other big time mountains that the trail goes right along. It’s quite a sight to see. The biggest and most northern peak is Mt Hood, where people were skiing up until August 2nd. This is where the famous Timberline Lodge from ‘The Shining’ is located. It’s not as scary in person though, and there’s no hedge maze.

I had been hearing about their incredible breakfast buffet for days if not weeks and we were originally planning to camp a few miles south so we would have just a short walk in the morning. Plans changed once we were within striking distance though, we decided to make a push for it and to make it there the night before to see if the pizza rumors were true. They weren’t, but everything worked out really nicely. There was a big wedding going on and as much as I wanted to get out on the dance floor and whip and nay nay, I smelled a little funky and didn’t want to offend anybody. The bar with the pizza was closed so Schemes, Poca and myself got a meal at the fancy restaurant that was still serving. We sat next to this really nice couple, Ron and Christel. We had a great meal, and a great time. When we got the tab we found out that Ron and Christel, who had already left, took care of the whole thing. I couldn’t believe it, it’s people like this that restore my faith in humanity. If you’re reading this, thank you so much.

We camped outside the lodge that night and then put an absolute beating on the buffet the next morning. The rest of Oregon was simply majestic. We hiked along the backside of Hood, next to Ramona Falls and along Eagle Creek. Eagle Creek was spectacular and included Tunnel Falls which I thought was just the cat’s ass, easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life.

On August 3rd we got into Cascade Locks and finished the state with a few hours to spare. A local hiker Randy was really cool and nice enough to give us a ride all the way to Portland. If you’re reading this Randy please respond, one of us left something in your car. I took the red eye to Boston on the night of the 4th so Schemes and I spent the day exploring Portland. I’m quite fond of the PMW and this is a great city. Her friend Jen gave me a ride to the airport and I had a fantastic whirlwind 4 day intermission at home.

The reason for my trip home and the major event of the summer was my brother Jake and sister in law Jodi’s wedding. The wedding was a blast and it was quite an honor to be cast in a supporting role as the BM. We got great weather, ate good, danced for hours and were dazzled by the newlyweds’ moves on the dance floor. A bunch of us had a campfire and set up tents in Jake and Jodi’s backyard afterwards. I was used to that. Besides the wedding I had a bunch of other stuff to do so I’ll just list them; town chores and preparing for Washington, dinner to celebrate my parents 40th anniversary at my brother Mike’s, the rehearsal dinner at Chianti’s in Beverly, I ran up the woods with my father, saw the mighty Atlantic Ocean, checked in on the guys at work, and golfed before the wedding with my father, Rick Skalski, and all the groomsmen. It was a really great trip home. I had so much fun and it was so good to see everybody.

Now back to the trail. I’m flying back to Portland, have a ride lined up to Cascade Locks and then life gets really simple again. As much fun as these past few days have been, I’ve heard good things about Washington state and I’m really looking forward to catching up with my friends and hiking the rest of the trail.

Crater Lake

massive mountains
Burn area

 Mt Jefferson

Me, Schemes, Poca

 

M
 Tunnel Falls

  The Bride and Groom putting on quite the performance.

 The siblings Carmody. Me, Mike, Molly, Jake

Mazama Village, OR

Well I guess you could say the hike is getting pretty serious now. Not really it’s mostly just fun. I have however been paying a little more attention to logistics lately. For the bulk of the hike I had only been focusing on where the next water was, where I might camp that night, and how far until my next resupply. Since I’m getting off trail for a few days in early August I needed to start thinking a little more long range. I have to be in Portland, OR by the evening of August 4th for a top secret mission so my plan is to hike to Cascade Locks by that morning and hitch to Portland. In order to execute this plan I’ll have to crush some serious miles.

The last couple hundred miles of NorCal were some of the most impressive that section had to offer. We blasted through Castle Crags state park, and the Russian and Marble Wilderness areas. The trail travelled through some sweet mountains and I swam in some beautiful mountain lakes. After a nice long 38 mile day Schemes and I were camped up on a saddle between a couple peaks when we realized we had just a shade over 50 miles until Etna, our next town stop. We had previously talked about doing a 50 or more and figured we would wait until Oregon but the time was now and we decided to get it done the following day. I don’t choose these things, they choose me. I got up early, like I do everyday, and proceeded to click off miles. About an hour or two into my day I ran into this guy jumping up and down on the trail all red faced and excited like. “Whoa there Kemosabi!! Whoa there!!” he yelled. I didn’t know who he was talking to so I just kept walking. When he repeated himself I figured that I must be ‘Kemosabi’ so I stopped. “I JUST SAW THE BIGGEST RATTLER OF MY LIFE” he yelled a couple of times, and yeah he was talking in all caps. I wasn’t in the mood for snakes, because I’m never in the mood for snakes, so after I let him tell me about this thing for a few minutes I looked around to make sure the coast was clear and bolted down the trail. I pretty much just cruised the rest of the day. I took a short break for lunch, another one for supper and was rewarded with an incredible sunset. Just after midnight we got to the trailhead parking lot, laid out our sleeping bags and crashed out for a little bit. In the morning we hitched into Etna and made a beeline for the breakfast joint. Schemes didn’t waste any of the waitress’s time and ordered two huge breakfasts right away. I decided to dine in a more civilized manner and ordered my breakfasts back to back. After breakfast we went to the bakery for donuts and then ran errands and relaxed until we got back on trail that afternoon. We’ve pretty much just been killing it since then. I crossed into Oregon on Monday evening the 20th and so far it’s been just delightful. I’m at Mazama Village tonight and about to check out Crater Lake tomorrow. Parents of one of the hikers ‘Rattles’ brought their RV to a site here and put on a big meal for all the hikers passing through, it was really cool and the food was so good.

Oh yeah, Oregon has a couple of challenges for the hikers. One thing some people try to do is hike through the state without showering. I already failed that one but I did put on dirty clothes after my shower so maybe I’ll get an honorable mention. The real Oregon Challenge is to hike all 450 some odd miles of trail through the whole state in two weeks or less. I’m going for this one, and unless I get dysentery or all my oxen die I should do it.

    50 mile sunset
 Marble Wilderness

 Schemes destroying breakfast
 A beautiful mountain lake

   My first night in Oregon

Shasta City, CA

Armed with only a pocket knife, trekking poles and my camera phone I’ve spent the last couple hundred miles hunting Bigfoot in his own backyard. Just kidding, but seriously. I’ve yet to see Bigfoot but the hiking’s been really good.

S+M, Schemes and I were looking to take a little break for the 4th and everything on trail was all booked up. We ended up hitching down to Sacramento and staying with S+M’s friends Angie and Liza. We spent 4 days there and it was really cool. We checked out the city, chilled out by a pool, and went to their annual 4th of July party. Their hospitality was above and beyond. They took in 3 stinky hikers for days, it was probably similar to taking in feral animals. Oh yeah and Angie is the bomb in the kitchen, I don’t know if people still use that expression but let’s just say she knows what she’s doing and I ate well. Liza made life really easy for us by giving up half her day off and driving us back to the trail. Thanks girls.

When I first got back on trail it was steep and hot and almost like starting over. I got over that quickly though and was crushing miles by the end of the day. I hit the midpoint of the trail on 7/7 and it was pretty much just high fives all around. Shortly after the midpoint S+M decided to take some time off from the trail and my crew is down to Schemes and myself. From time to time I still meet new faces and since we dropped back 4 days I’m running into a good amount of people I haven’t seen for awhile. So that’s cool. And We’re slaying miles, which is fun. We got poured on for about 3 days and that was a new experience. I’ve been lucky enough to have great weather for most of my trip. After cowboy camping for the majority of the hike I started setting up my tent again. The mosquitoes aren’t all that cool, and when I’m cowboy camping they start buzzing around my ears at 4 in the morning driving me bat shit crazy before I realize what’s going on.

I’ve hiked through some amazing places and stopped at some cool towns lately. Lassen National Park is underrated, I hadn’t even heard of it before I started my hike. It had a geyser and a boiling lake and the volcano is probably going to erupt any day now. We stopped at Drakesbad Resort for lunch and it was well worth it. After I polished off all their day-olds I pigged out at their delicious lunch buffet. Hat Creek Rim kinda gets a bum rap also. There’s all kinds of warnings about it being super dry and you need to carry buku water. This wasn’t the case for us. It was pouring but we hiked through the storm and were rewarded with an awesome sunset. Subway cave in Old Station was worth checking out as well as the falls at Burney Falls State Park. Around mile 1409 I came across some of the best and most unexpected trail magic of the hike. I’ll spare the details but it was legit. Nicely done Randy and Kathy.

I feel like I’m really making progress out here. Soon I’ll be out of California and I have every intention of demolishing the trail once I get into Oregon. If you like what you read here feel free to share and also if you’d like to see more pictures follow me on the gram @endlesspsummer.


 Schemes, myself, and S+M

 Terminal Geyser in Lassen NP

 Sunset from Hat Creek Rim

 Burney Falls

 Mt Shasta