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.

Aug 26th Lois Lake, Sunshine Coast

We woke up this morning in the car at the Kin Beach CG and enjoyed a view across the Salish Sea(which is part of the Straight of Georgia) to mainland British Columbia. We took a 10 am ferry from the town of Comax to Powell River on the other side. Powell River is a little town on the Sunshine Coast and although the SC is on mainland British Columbia, I guess a couple of deep fjords make it impossible to build road access and ends up making it a rather remote little area.

Our plan is to hike the Sunshine Coast Trail which is a hut to hut hiking trail that stretches 112 miles(and even more kilometers) from Sarah’s Point to Saltery Bay. In order to get to get to Sarah’s Point we have to take a water taxi from the tiny town of Lund at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast. So what we’re doing today is food shopping and organizing our food for about 5 days of hiking, doing laundry, hopefully finding a place to run and swim, then driving to Saltery Bay where we’ll end up camping and leaving the car. Tomorrow we’ll be hitching to Lund to catch the water taxi to Sarah’s point in the afternoon(I better see an orca). Logistics are a MFer but the trail looks cool so I bet it will all be worth it.

We did find a good place to run. Inland Lake Provincial Park is near Powell River and there’s a really nice trail around the lake and some nice clean water to jump into afterwards. And for camping tonight we heard about this mysterious free campground next to Lois Lake but to find it you had to follow a series of unmarked logging roads. Eventually we got there and it was worth a few wrong turns because it was an absolutely beautiful spot next to a pristine lake.

Aug 27th SCT 16K Manzanita Hut

We woke up next to Lois Lake and it was better looking in the daylight. Because it’s forest land there’s a few cabins floating out on the water. I don’t really know how that works but they looked like cool places to live.

From Lois Lake we drove south towards Saltery Bay, found a spot to take a quick dip in the ocean then left the car in a parking lot near the ferry terminal. We had to hitch north about 60K to Lund where we catch a water taxi to Sarah’s Point and the beginning of the trail. Our first ride, Wendy, had 4 little daschunds with her and drove us about 10 minutes before we got another ride from Chris. This guy traveled the world and was a retired professional soccer player, sheriff, volunteer firefighter, carpenter, and I’m guessing a few other things. I’ll be reading his book when it comes out. He learned us about all kinds of stuff on the Sunshine Coast and gave us a lift to Powell River, waited for us to run an errand then drove us about 10 minutes further north. We put our thumbs out and quickly got picked up by Ian, Denise, and Nora. Ian dropped the two women off at their waterfront home then brought us the rest of the way into Lund giving us some more info about the area.

Lund is the very northern point of Route 101 that goes all the way south to the tip of Argentina, it’s the ‘end of the road’ if you will. It’s basically a marina, a hotel, some camps and a bakery.

Our boat didn’t leave until 4:45 so we chilled out in the bakery until then. The water taxi was a short 20 minute ride up the rocky coast along a bunch of houses that are only accessible by boat or a 4×4 Jeep road. We opted for the boat ride. When we got to Sarah’s point there was no dock but just a rock we got close to and jumped onto. And that was the beginning of the trail. It’s 180 kilometers back to Saltery Bay so we brought maybe enough food for 5 days. People have been asking us how long we plan on hiking for and when we tell them 5 days they look at us like we’ve got lobsters crawling out of our ears. I don’t really think it’s all that fast but we’ll see. Anyway we didn’t have much sunlight left so we just kind of crushed it through some dense green forest for 16k to Manzanita Hut. There’s 2 other girls staying here who were already in bed so we quietly ate a quick meal of rehydrated beans and called it a night.

Aug 28th SCT 58K

Today was great although uneventful, I just walked all day. We got moving from Manzanita Hut around 7:30 and were up and down through deep green forest for most of the morning. Once in a while we’d come to a pond or cross a river on a fallen down tree turned into a lot bridge. We ate lunch at Rieveley Hut and I saw a bunch of bull frogs. The huts on this trail are in really good condition, so far anyway, I’ve only seen 2. They both had a picnic table and kitchen area downstairs then the upstairs were just big lofts with space for about a dozen people.

This afternoon we were walking through more old growth rain forest and then all of a sudden I found the ultimate swimming hole. Gorge Falls had a few big pools of icy cold water then a narrow pool that was about 12 feet deep, way over my head anyway. After we got cleaned up there we walked along Sliammon Lake and up onto a bluff where we could see out across Salish Sea to the mountains on Vancouver Island plus Hardwick and Texada Islands. It was quite an amazing view. We walked down from the bluff to Powell Lake and passed climbers top roping on a cliff right next to us. When we got to Powell Lake we were actually pretty close to the town of Powell River and it would be easy to just start here if you wanted to do a modified hike of the SCT. We had planned on camping at Haywire Bay, but after a couple hours of walking along the lake we realized it was a pay campground and at $23 a night neither one of us was having that. About 100 meters after the campground was a flat spot next to the trail and that’s where we set up our tent.

Aug 29th SCT 93K

Today was a tough one. We started off walking down towards Inland Lake, the same lake we ran around a few days ago, and followed the trail around the southern half of the lake. Leaving Inland Lake the trail climbed very steeply up towards Confederation Lake, this went on for about an hour and it was the steepest the trail has been yet. We had a little lunch break at the Confederation Lake Hut and this place was sweet! There was a pellet stove and it was winterized, I’m guessing a perfect place to snowshoe up to for a night in the winter.

The rest of the day was big descents and big climbs with Tin Hat Mountain being the biggest. From the top of this peak there were panoramic views of all the mountains and lakes in the area. There was also another winterized hut and if there weren’t so many people already staying and if we had enough water we probably would have spent the night but decided to push on for awhile. The trail down from Tin Hat was super steep and kilometer markers were grossly inaccurate. This whole trail every kilometer has been marked and we usually pass a marker every 12-15 minutes but during this descent it took over an hour for one K. I didn’t think that was right and it ended up taking us longer than I wanted to get to Lewis Lake where we camped for the night. Plus I got stung by a wasp on the way down, Sara already got stung twice today but you wouldn’t have known it. I definitely did enough whining for the both of us.

Aug 30 SCT 134K

First thing this morning Sara spotted a few beavers swimming around in Lewis Lake right next to the trail as we walked by. There were three of them just swimming slowly in a big circle looking for fish or sticks or whatever and every once in awhile smacking their tails against the water. I must have heard them doing this last night as I was trying to sleep but I just figured the noise I heard was bullfrogs doing belly flops off logs. It was an incredible wildlife sighting.

The rest of the day went pretty smoothly, the trail went up and down all day through forest and right up close to some recently clear cut forest that can be a bit ugly. We climbed up to Elk Lake where I took a quick bath then we ate lunch at the hut there. Later this afternoon we climbed up Walt Hill and some amazing views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, sea and islands. The Sunshine Coast is a really beautiful area. For much of this trail we’ve been walking through forest, which is cool, but when we get up high and the views open up you can see all the incredible surroundings.

As we were looking for a campsite tonight I heard a bunch of rustling in the bushes. I just figured it was a bear but as we turned a corner I saw about 15-20 elk running from a section of clear cut forest into the woods. 1 male and the rest female(his harem). I learned from a hitch one time that the end of August is mating season, and also hunting season. Shortly after we got all set up I heard half a dozen shots, hopefully none of those elk got hit.

Aug 31 SCT 171K Fairview Bay

We pretty much camped right on trail last night, there wasn’t much we could do about it, so we got up quickly before anybody had to ask us to move and started walking. After a couple hours we came to Lois Lake where we had car camped the night before we started the trail. We watched a giant eagle that flew across the water and checked out these little cabins that are built on floats. I don’t get it but I think it has something to do with it being forest land and you can’t have cabins on land. I want one.

The trail climbed from there, eventually bringing us up to Elephant lake where we took a break and I went for a quick swim. Yesterday I swam in Elk Lake and ended up seeing about 20 elk, I better see a bunch of wild elephants today. Probably won’t happen though. From the lake we climbed up to the top of the Troubridge Massif, over 4000 feet and the highest point of the trail. It wasn’t too tough and there were some awesome views of Saltery Bay and the Salish Sea from the top. The descent sucked though. It was super steep! My legs were burning. I would much rather climb something steep then descend.

We could have walked another coupe hours tonight and got to the car but we stopped at Fairview Bay Shelter for the night. This is a really nice little shelter right on the ocean. We ate on a rock looking out at the bay and I went for a quick swim thinking that the salt water will neutralize my b.o. Maybe a little.

Sep 1 SCT 178K Saltery Bay

Sunshine Coast Trail complete! What a great trail! It’s obvious how much this trail is cared for by the locals in the area. The SCT was built completely by volunteers from the PR PAWS and the B.O.M.B. Squad and it’s very well done. The huts are in great shape, there’s lots of other handmade infrastructure and a ton of the trail has been cut through some thick forest. It couldn’t have been easy to build. And it’s well signed, almost too well signed, there’s little orange squares nailed onto what seems like every other tree. Super easy to navigate. It’s a great trail but it’s tough, definitely more difficult than I expected, so if you’re in the mood for a nice cruiser short trail to crush this probably isn’t the one for you. Still fun though.

This morning we walked for a couple hours, mostly along the coast, finishing what we had left and got back to the car. The trail ends right at the Saltery Bay ferry terminal and as we were getting to the car we watched as the 9:30 ferry took off. Oh well, we got the next one. We had to catch a ferry to Earl’s Cove, drive an hour and a half then catch another ferry to mainland BC and drive to Vancouver. It takes awhile to get anywhere from the Sunshine Coast but that’s kind of the beauty of it, so GD isolated.

This evening we spent a few hours walking around and eating a bunch of food in Vancouver and then just decided to go back to the U.S. We parked at the first rest area over the Washington Border and called it a night. Feel free to follow me on insta for more pictures @endlesspsummer and Sara or QB @sarahikes

Aug 20 Seattle, WA

As we were driving out of our parking spot in the Fishtrap BLM land this morning, we noticed how smoky it was in eastern Washington. So smoky that we might not be hiking the PCT. We still had a few hours to monitor the situation but as we were driving west things weren’t looking good. Parts of the trail were closed so if we were to hike, the views would be shit and we still wouldn’t be able to finish. We stopped at Snoqualmie Pass and talked to a few hikers, they didn’t really have good news and that sealed the deal for us.

I got in touch with my friend Ruthie in Seattle who was quick to offer to host us for a night which was great. Sara and I drove another hour to Seattle and came up with a plan to get out to the Vancouver Island Coast and hopefully away from the smoke. With Ruthie and her wolf dog Syd, the 4 of us spent the day eating lots of food, walking around Alki beach and exploring Discovery Park. It was a fun day in a great city. Plus it was our first time in a week that we slept indoors and were able to shower and do laundry.

Aug 21 Port Renfrew, BC

Sara and I got some pastries in West Seattle for breakfast then started making our way through the morning rush hour traffic. We had a ferry to catch in the afternoon from Anacortes, WA to Sidney, BC. Before that we had some time so we went for a run all over Deception Pass State Park. This place is sweet! There’s 2 big bridges that connect Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands and the surrounding areas have a bunch of trails and a beach. After our hilly sweaty run we of course jumped in the cold water and cleaned up a little, or at least cooled off.

We got lunch in Anacortes and waited in line for the international ferry. The boat ride through the San Juan Islands was enjoyable. The whole time I stood on watch with my bino’s for orcas and for the first time ever I saw not one but two, plus a few porpoises.

Once we reached land in Sidney we quickly went through customs then started making our way towards Port Renfrew on the southwest corner of the island. We found a parking spot at the Botanical Beach trailhead and tomorrow morning we’ll start here and hike the Juan de Fuca trail along the coast.

Aug 22, Chin Beach, JDF Trail

The Juan de Fuca trail stretches 47 kilometers across a section of Vancouver Island’s SW Coast. Since being in Canada half a day I’ve quickly converted to the metric system. You should too.

We started walking eastbound from the Botanical Beach parking lot this morning, mostly against the flow of hiking traffic. It’s been really nice. For the most part we’ve been in an old growth rain forest that sits right along the coast. We’re walking through lush forest with some massive trees and the trail is loaded with lots of infrastructure. When I say infrastructure I’m talking about staircases built into the side of the trail, or planks on the ground so you won’t step in mud, or bridges built out of old fallen down trees. I like that sort of stuff. Every once in awhile we’ll have a view of the ocean or pop out onto a beach and walk along that for a bit. Some sections you need to have a tidal chart in order to safely get around the headlands, luckily for us we’ve yet to get jammed up with high tides. I’ll say this about this place, it’s definitely more crowded than I expected. When we got to Sombrio Beach there were all kinds of people walking around, probably because there’s a road out that way but I was surprised. Still beautiful though and I’ve been digging it.

Since there’s only certain places you’re allowed to camp, when we got to Chin Beach around 5:30 after only 26 Kilometers we called it a night. Otherwise it’s about 12K more to the next camping.

Aug 23, Tofino, BC

The first 10K or so of the trail this morning, from Chin Beach to Bear Beach, was a bit difficult. Lots of ups and downs, a little muddy, and some roots and stuff. It wasn’t quite as tough as I expected though, one older guy compared it to childbirth(that didn’t make much sense unless he was talking about somebody else. Or maybe he was talking about when he was born, which seems like it would be difficult to remember). Anyway once we got to Bear Beach we chilled out for a bit, saw a bunch of seals and a baby sea otter. The rest of the trail was rather mellow and we reached the China Beach Trailhead in the early afternoon. We put our thumbs out and after about 15-20 minutes Mariah, a Port Renfrew local, drove us about a half hour back to our car at Botanical Beach.

Sara and I started making our way North on the Island towards Tofino and after a couple hours of driving we saw 2 girls with backpacks hitchhiking. We picked up Brittany and Chaya who were also on their way to Tofino. These two were good company and they told us about the hostel style campground they were headed to. Since the Tofino area didn’t have much for free camping, plus it was late, we ponied up the short money and got a parking spot at Poole’s Land for the night. It was more of a hippie commune than campground and definitely not for everyone but it was cool and an interesting place to experience.

Aug 24 Tofino, BC

Tofino, along with it’s neighboring city Ucluelet, is a surfing Mecca halfway up the west coast of Victoria Island. There’s other cool stuff to do there and not being much of a surfer I wanted to rent a sea kayak for a few nights and go camp out on an island(I’m not much of a kayaker either). When we started looking into renting kayaks we quickly realized we needed either a guided tour or knowledge of the local area, navigational charts, a 2 way radio, permits to camp in the Pacific Rim National Park reserve, a credit report, pass a background check, a clean driving record plus they were sold out. Maybe you didn’t need all that stuff but renting a kayak was no picnic.

So we went for a nice run on the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet to come up with a plan. This trail was great for running, it was hilly with good footing, along a rocky coastline and it was home to some giant cedar trees. Supposedly we were in wolf/bear/cougar territory and although I didn’t see any of those predators I did see a massive bald eagle perched in a tree stalking some salmon or something.

After our run we checked out Ucluelet and looked into renting surfboards. No problem! Way easier than getting our hands on a kayak. We went to the Wya Point surf shop and for a few bucks we each had a wetsuit and a couple of boards strapped to the roof of the Outback with the promise of returning them tomorrow afternoon. Sara and I drove up the road about 10 minutes to Wickanannish Beach and were in the water in minutes. So much fun! Not saying I’m Kelly Slater or anything but I did get up on the very first wave, QB was totally impressed. All afternoon there were big Canadian waves and really not all that many surfers in the water.

On the recommendation of my friend George we went to Tacofino for burritos afterwards and it may have been the best burrito of my life. I was wicked hungry but still, I think it was the greatest of all time. Sara was also a gigantic fan. If you’re ever in Tofino, BC and find yourself with a hankering for some Mexican food, the Tacofino food truck will not disappoint.

Aug 25 Comox, BC

Surf’s up bro! Just kidding, but seriously what an awesome day! It was raining on the car when we first woke up and the towels and wetsuits that we draped over the top were now soaked instead of dry. Oh well! Sara and I headed back to Wick Beach but there was nobody in the lot and when we walked out to the beach the waves looked way smaller than yesterday so we drove up the road a bit to Cox Bay and found some big time waves. Neither of us really know what we’re doing at all but after a while we were both getting up on the boards just about every other wave.

Our friend Ash and her boyfriend Zach were up this way enjoying a holiday of their own so we got in touch with them and met for lunch in town. I guess we just missed them on the water yesterday, if it wasn’t for this damn international cell service we could have all been catching some gnarly waves together (for the record Sara hates it when I talk like Spicoli when we’re surfing). After lunch those two were heading south and Sara and I had a few more hours to splash around with our new found surfing skills before heading east.

Tonight we drove east across the island on the wild and wooly rt 4 and eventually got to Comox, BC. There’s not really logging roads or pull offs over this way so we found a sweet little seaside campground at Kin Beach Provincial Park along the Straight of Georgia.for more pictures find me on insta @endlesspsummer and Sara @sarahikes

This week Sara and I drove the northern route across the U.S. Driving is way easier than walking 3000+ miles.

My co pilot and I are in a Subaru Outback that I kind of converted into an adventure vehicle. In the back we’ve got a 3 inch think memory foam mattress topper that I cut to fit around the wheel wells, added a sheet and blanket and just like that I’ve got a rolling bedroom. We installed curtains for privacy and a roof rack cargo carrier for our extra gear.

Our plan is to take about a week to drive from Massachusetts to Washington, checking out a few new places, having some adventures, and seeing some friends. In Washington we’re going to park the car and get out onto the PCT at White Pass. Sara and I both thru hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in ‘15, but since there were crazy wildfires that year(and just about every year since) both of us were forced off trail in Washington. I was able to get back out there the following year to finish but Sara has about 350 miles left from White Pass to the Canadian border. If all goes well this should take about 2 weeks then we’ll hitch back to our car. From Washington we’ll drive north to Vancouver and explore some of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. We’ll then drive south through Washington and Oregon to California. There’s a bunch of things on the agenda but we haven’t quite nailed anything down yet so pretty much everything is subject to change. The only thing set in stone, so to speak, is to run a trail race on October 6th in the Bay Area. The Dick Collins Firetrails 50, anybody running it? Anyway the plan is to run and hike and train all over the place for this race, do the damn thing, then make our way back to Massachusetts.

If anybody has got any suggestions or wants to join us for something, or host us, get in touch, I’d love to see you.

Aug 14

We left Lynn, MA around 7:30 am and of course hit some traffic going through Boston but for the rest of the day it was smooth sailing. Originally we planned to go south of Lake Erie but about halfway through NY decided to go see Niagara Falls and reroute through Ontario into Michigan. The falls were cool, I had been there when I was 2 and they were exactly how I remembered them. Sara had been more recently and they hadn’t changed much for her either. We oohed and ahhed for about 20 minutes and were back on the road driving through Canada. Ontario was ok except that we had to wait at the border twice and get grilled about where I was born and stuff like that. Once back in the states Sara took over and drove a few hours through Michigan until we found a rest area to crash out for awhile. 869 miles, a solid first day.

Aug 15

I got some good sleep in that rest area and we didn’t have far to go today. Only a couple hundred miles to Rockford, IL, where we were staying with our friends Boone and Katie. Sara wanted to go for a run in Chicago so after getting out of Michigan and skimming through the NW corner of Indiana we were in the ‘Windy City’(not all that windy). We parked along Lake Michigan which looks more like an ocean and ran along the lake for awhile. After a few miles I recognized Buckingham Fountain from ‘Married with Children’ and after we saw that I wanted to go find the Bean. The Chicago Bean or ‘Cloud Gate’ is this huge sculpture in the middle of the city that serves as the backdrop for scores of dating app profiles. You’ve probably seen it. From the Bean we ran along the river walk then back along the Lake for awhile. There was a beach right near where we parked, perfect for a post run bath. After our bath we got some Chicago deep dish pizza of course. It was good and everything but it takes forever and you eat it with a knife and fork.

We got to Rockford later that afternoon and met up with our friends. Despite the pouring rain Katie gave us a mini tour of some local Rockford favorites. I saw one girl wearing a shirt that said, “Rockford doesn’t suck, you do.” It made my day. When Boone got out of work the 4 of us went for dinner and Sara and I slept in our rolling bedroom out front of their house. Rockford is a cool place, it gets a bit of a bum rap but I’ve been there a couple times now and I like it.

Aug 16

Today was all about the driving. We left Rockford around 7am and soon were in Wisconsin. A few hours later and we crossed the Mississippi River and entered Minnesota. Besides layovers I’ve never been to Minnesota before. We stopped at Great River Bluffs State Park and went for a run. It was cool, I don’t think I’d go out of my way for it but it was nice to get a few miles in on some nice trails and we even had a good view looking down at the river. After our run we spent the rest of the day just driving. All afternoon going across Minnesota then we crossed into another new state for me, South Dakota. SD is split in half by the Missouri River and I guess both sides of the state have an ‘Us vs Them’ attitude. I read this somewhere. We made across the river and all the way to Badlands National Park. There was a sweet spot to camp overlooking the Pinnacles section of the park in Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

Aug 17,

What a day! QB and I got up early and drove through the Badlands to the Fossil exhibit side of Castle Trailhead. Sunrise is a great time for this place, you can beat the crowds and the park looks amazing in the early morning hours. We ran out about 5-6 miles on the Castle Trail and back on the Medicine Root Trail. It was sweet! Awesome views and some nice easy flat trails. After our run we took our time driving out of the park stopping at a bunch of the scenic overlooks and stuff. Once we were back on the Interstate we stopped at the world famous Wall Drug. This place is advertised on billboards for hundreds of miles and I was excited about it, Sara however, was not impressed. It’s like miniature town or a giant gift shop, I thought it was cool. Further West we stopped at Mt Rushmore. A bit of a let down. I had wanted to see this for awhile but it just didn’t really do it for me, I think it would have been cooler if they just left the mountain alone. I wasn’t really bummed out or anything but Sara bought me an ice cream to spike my tone a little. Not far from Mt Rushmore was Custer State Park and that place had it going on! We parked there and did a run/hike up South Dakota’s High Point, Black Elk Peak. This is a relatively easy climb with rewarding views at the top. I highly recommend it. After we ran down we jumped into Sylvan Lake and took somewhat of a bath in its chilly waters.

Leaving the park we stopped in the town of Custer for some supper then made our way into Wyoming. At one point while driving through Wyo there was a massive buck standing in the middle of the road. Luckily I didn’t hit it, but it was a good reminder to keep my eyes peeled for these things. After the buck we stopped at the next rest area in Sheridan, WY and got some sleep.

Aug 18

We weren’t far from the Montana border thus morning and we were soon driving West down I-90 through the Big Sky State. It rained a lot while driving which was good because it cleaned a lot of the bugs off the windshield but it would be nice if this rain made it out west to take care of the wildfires. Around lunchtime we realized we were only about an hour from the northern entrance to Yellowstone NP and there were some hot springs just a couple miles into the park. It was a rad little detour. 2 miles or so into the park is a little unadvertised parking lot and a short .5 mile walk from there are the springs. The Boiling River flows into the Gardner River and creates an area in the river perfect for soaking. It’s a strange phenomenon, even as hot springs go, while you sit there half of your body can be wicked hot while the other half is wicked cold. Just gotta find that happy medium.

After soaking for awhile we got back on the road heading north towards Missoula, MT.

Our friends BK and Prickly Pear have been busy hiking the Continental Divide this year and because the wildfires have been wrecking havoc on the trail, they’ve been rerouted. We met them in Missoula where they hitched to this morning and are staying with a friend tonight. The plan is to drive them to East Glacier Park, MT tomorrow where they will get back on trail and squeeze in as many miles of the CDT as possible without getting forced off trail due to fires. We met up with them in town and ate tons of food, as thru hikers do. Since they were staying on the floor of a friend’s small apartment, Sara and I drove to a local WalMart and parked there for the night.

Aug 19

Sara did the driving this morning and the 4 of us had a fun ride through the smoke up to Glacier NP. The CDT is a gnarly trail with all kinds of obstacles, if it’s not the snow it will be the fires, right now it’s the fires. You can read about their adventure this year on BK’s blog here: ramblinram.com.

In East Glacier we met up for lunch with our buddy Speed and his friend Galaxy Girl who just walked through the Bob Marshall Wilderness and in doing so Speed completed his Triple Crown.

From Glacier NP, Sara and I drove through some smoky country along the West Side of Flathead Lake and along the middle fork of the Clark river. It was quite scenic. We were right near the tiny town of Hot Springs, MT so naturally we went to check that place out and have a quick soak. We got a tip to check out Good Medicine Hot Spring and that’s exactly what we did. $5 on the honor system and we had access to the healing powers of Camas Hot Spring mineral waters. It was great, we had the place to ourselves and once we felt our minds, bodies, and souls were completely rejuvenated we got back on the road.

Shortly before getting back on I-90 and getting into Idaho we stopped at Frosty’s Burgers. From the outside it looked cool but do yourself a favor and skip this place. From now on I’ll try to read the reviews beforehand. After we waited forever we quickly ate our burgers and were driving again. Blasted through the Idaho Panhandle then were into Washington. About 30 miles west of Spokane we found some BLM land in Fishtrap Washington and had a nice private place to camp for the night.

Because of the wildfires there’s been lots of smoke ever since we got into Montana and it’s not letting up. We recently found out that the PCT has a bunch of trail closures which would make it difficult to complete. Plus the views are shit and the air quality is very bad. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll be coming up with a new plan once we get to Seattle and finding some smoke free areas to run and hike. Stay tuned and follow me on insta for more pictures and videos: @endlesspsummer

Since I’m back in Massachusetts and in between longer, more complex trips I’m trying to take on some adventures closer to home this summer. Including trying to section hike the Long Trail in Vermont.

The Long Trail goes the length of the state starting and ending either on the Massachusetts or Canadian Border. In 2015 I hiked the first 105 miles from North Adams, MA to where it splits with the Appalachian Trail near Killington. Again in 2016 while hiking the entirety of the AT I walked these same 105 miles. So instead of walking the whole trail again I figure I just pick off different sections when I get a chance. Plus, as a little side project, I’m trying to climb all 67 of New England’s 4000 foot peaks and the LT goes over all of Vermont’s.

This week QB and I had a few days off so we drove up from Lynn to Lincoln Gap Tuesday evening and slept in the car right at the trailhead. Over the winter I picked up an Outback and converted the back of it into something of an RV. I really just took 2 full size memory foam mattress toppers, doubled them up, and cut them to fit in the back of the car with the seats down. Now I have a rolling bedroom with excellent gas mileage and all wheel drive. It’s perfect for sleeping at trailhead parking lots and it’s super cozy.

6/13/15

Montclair Glen Lodge

21 miles

This morning, right after crawling out of the hatchback of my bedroom, I saw two old time Long Trail hikers taking a break about a hundred feet away at Lincoln Gap. The first thing they did was ask QB if an empty plastic water bottle on the ground belonged to her. Yeah buddy, we drove all the way up here, walked over to the trail, threw some trash on the ground, then went to sleep in our car. The other guy then asked us if we heard the weather report, supposed to be rain later. Then he told us about the black flies, complained to his buddy about almost getting struck by lightning one time, whined about some blowdowns and complained about something else but I stopped listening. I thanked him for the bad news and QB and I got out of there as soon as we could, walking north from Lincoln Gap towards Canada.

A few miles into the day and we were on top of Mt Abraham and then a little later on top of Mt Ellen, both 4000+ feet. We also walked by the summits of a few ski resorts; Sugarbush and Mad River Glen(ski it if you can). A day hiker directed us off trail towards the ruins of a plane crash from the 70’s. It was just a pile of scrap metal but I guess when it happened the pilot rescued himself by walking down the trail to the road to get help. The trail itself today was slow going, rocky with steep climbs and drops. In the afternoon it rained some making those rocks slippery and slowing us down. It was exactly how I remembered hiking in Vermont. “I guess that’s why they call it VerMUD” I said to QB over and over. We got to one section where a sign warned us, “the next 5 miles could take 4-5 hours” it didn’t take us quite that long but it sure was some slow walking.

In the evening we got to the Montclair Glen Lodge(this was a good sized shelter enclosed on all 4 sides and was equipped with a ‘bearricade’). At the shelter we met Nate and Mountain Goat. Both of these guys are on their first thru hike and cruising north on the Long Trail.

6/14/18

Taylor Lodge

24 miles

What a day! And not really in a good way. I mean it wasn’t all bad it just kinda rained all day.

When we left the lodge this morning we were only a few miles shy of Camel’s Hump. This is Vermont’s second highest peak and has a large rocky exposed summit. Once we got above tree line the rocks were slippery in the rain and the winds were whipping. QB and I toyed with the idea of taking the safer ‘bad weather’ route that skirts the summit. Re-routing was just a fleeting thought and we would miss the excitement of being on top of the ‘Hump’ in some gnarly weather. Plus we’re trying to complete the 4000 footers, skipping the summit defeats the purpose.

We got up and over Camel’s Hump and dropped way down to a valley containing the mighty Winooski River. After crossing the river we spent the rest of the day climbing higher and higher while walking through the long green tunnel. Even though I’d only been out here a couple days I felt as if I was months into a thru hike. I stunk, I was soaking wet, I was tired, I was physically uncomfortable and we had miles to go before laying down for the night. It was great!

It drizzled all afternoon and everything was wet, now I know why they call it ‘VerMud’(QB’s heard that stupid joke enough over the last few days). We got to a lean to shelter around 6:30 right when the heavy stuff was starting to come down and decided to press on. What’s another 3 miles in the pouring rain?

Once we got to Taylor lodge(a huge shelter) we changed out of our wet clothes and ate warm bowls of macaroni and cheese with bacon bits. Comfort food doing just what it’s supposed to do.

6/15/18

Smuggler’s Notch rt 108

9 miles

While eating breakfast we caught up with Nate who also stayed at Taylor Lodge last night. This kid is crushing the LT and when he finishes in a couple days he’ll probably have done it under 2 weeks. From Taylor lodge there was only a few miles to the top of Mt Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. Getting there, however, was tricky and when we left the shelter it still felt like we were walking through a cloud. The top of Mansfield is this huge, rocky ridge line and once we were up top the sky cleared up and we had some sweet views. It really was a great day up there.

We took our time getting down and in the early afternoon made it to rt 108 or Smuggler’s Notch. After a couple minutes of walking with our thumbs out, this woman Elyse pulled over and drove us into the town of Stowe where we ate some lunch and the girl at the cafe gave me a free cookie for dancing. From Stowe we quickly got a ride another 10 miles to the Cabot Cheese store in Waterbury where I tried about 20 different samples of cheese. We put our thumbs out there and got picked up by the first car that saw us. The driver, Rob, had a Cohos Trail sticker on the back and come to find out he holds the FKT record for the 165 mile trail in northern NH. Rob, an Ultrarunner, told us about a bunch of cool stuff he’s been up to like running the 90 mile Cross Vermont Bike Trail and preparing for the Vermont 100. He also works for the GMC(Green Mountain Club) that maintains the Long Trail and decided to drive us about an hour all the way back to our car. Thanks Rob!

It was a great little trip and hopefully I’ll get a chance to finish the Long Trail soon.

May 5th and 6th…..Pokhara, Nepal

The Mardi Himal Base Camp Trek is a relatively new trekking route that’s only been open for about 5 or 6 years. It starts in Phedi at 3,700 feet and goes up to the Base Camp at 14,500 feet. The peak itself for Mardi Himal is around 18,200 feet. Since we only have 3 days we’ll try to get as close to Base Camp as possible in a day and a half and then head back to the city. It’s doable to get there if we’re hustling and also if the weather and our health are working in our favor.World Peace Pagoda, Pokhara

We left Besi Sahar en route to Pokhara on May 5th and for awhile our chances of getting to our destination didn’t look good. There was a nationwide transportation strike and the buses weren’t running that day so we paid 4,000 rupees each and rented a Jeep. Before getting out of town we were stopped by the Nepal police and got a special escort along with some other jeeps, something to do with Maoist politics, I didn’t understand it. A half hour later our driver couldn’t shift gears anymore and we broke down so the escort moved along without us. The transmission line shit the bed so we waited on the side of the road for a half hour until 2 guys on a scooter pulled up with the part and an hour later we were good to go again. This is when our driver told us there was a roadblock 15 km ahead and we probably wouldn’t be able to get through and would have to try again tomorrow, again something to do with Maoist politics that I didn’t understand. Luckily there was no roadblock and all it did was get my nerves up. A few hours later we got into Pokhara. There were lots of people bombing around on scooters and motorcycles and there were cows running around in the street. Just as I was thinking, ‘one of these cows is about to get waffled by one of these scooters’ one of the cows got waffled by one of the scooters. It was gruesome. A few minutes later we got dropped off into the Lakeside area of Pokhara(Lakeside is the tourist section of town). Pokhara is the 2nd biggest city in Nepal and is described by Wikipedia as more ‘mystical’ than Kathmandu and only had roads going to it for the last 50 years. I thought the town seemed more modern than Kathmandu and also had the highest concentration of dreadlocked white people that I’ve ever seen. We spent a couple days relaxing and regrouping in Pokhara. It was so nice to shower and do laundry and then just chill out for a little while with no place to be. I liked Pokhara. We explored the Lakeside neighborhood, walked along Lake Fewa, took a yoga class, went on a trip up to the World Peace Pagoda overlooking the lake, and of course ate lots of food. Now to the Mardi Himal trek.

May 7th…..Humal(Low Camp)….elev 9797 feet

This morning we took a cab about a half hour from the Crystal Palace hotel in Pokhara to the village of Phedi where we started our trek. From Phedi to Dahmpus the trail was a stone staircase the whole way. It took us up almost 2000 feet in elevation over the course of an hour. Stairs are fun, I’d climb stairs all day if I could(QB said she’ll count the stairs on the way back, we’ll see). Oh it was hot out too and wicked humid, I was quickly drenched with sweat. Once up in Dahmpus the temperature cooled a little bit but we were basically walking inside a cloud the whole day. An hour or so later we got to the village of Pothana where they had a checkpost to check our permits. We thought our Annapurna permits were still good but the fine print said they were ‘single entry only’ and since we had left the Annapurna region and then came back they were no longer valid. Because of this little guffaw on our part, we had to pay double the entry fee for new permits at the checkpost: 4500 rupees each, womp womp womp…Not the end of the world but had we noticed this yesterday we could have easily taken care of it in Pokhara for the regular permit price of 2250. From Pothana we walked steadily uphill through a rainforest or jungle the rest of the day. There wasn’t much for views of the mountains because of the cloud we were inside of but the fog gave a really cool look to the jungle. It was very green and there were lots of big moss covered trees. By the end of the day we got to Humal, aka Low Camp, ate a meal and crashed out for the night. Low Camp doesn’t really seem like a village but just a lodge catering to us and the few other trekkers here.

May 8th….Pothana…..elev. 6525 feet

We got a good start this morning and around 6:30, right after we wolfed down our oatmeal, we were walking uphill. The first half hour we climbed steadily through a rhododendron maze from Low Camp to Middle Camp. Once up at Middle Camp we were on a ridge above tree line and had fantastic views. We could see Annapurna South, Imchuli Peak, and the never before climbed Machhapuchhre AKA Fishtail Peak. It was amazing. I also was lucky enough to see a pair of Nepal’s National Birds; the very colorful Himalayan Monal(I didn’t get a picture but google them, they were wicked cool). I can only describe them to her as mountain peacocks. We walked for another hour and a half until we got to High Camp at 11,800 feet, where we stopped for tea. From High Camp to Base Camp was supposed to be a 2+ hour walk but the clouds had really started to roll in. We walked for about 40 minutes and when the mountains were all socked in we decided to turn around. It was pointless to me to keep walking towards Base Camp without anymore views, but what we saw was awesome. I think the best way to do this hike would be to get to High Camp in the evening and camp there, then in the morning wake up early while it’s hopefully clear and go back and forth to Base Camp. Or you could just do what we did, that was fun too.

From our turn around point we cruised down to Middle Camp then to Low Camp where we had lunch and another hour to Forest Camp. We walked downhill all afternoon through the jungle and then heard a crack of thunder and moments later were being pelted with hail. Good thing for the tree cover, we didn’t get it too bad. We did wait out the rest of the storm when we got to Deurali and then walked another half hour to Pothana and found a teahouse to spend the night.

May 9th…..Back in Pokhara

Holy Mackerel! Crazy thunderstorms overnight last night. I woke up in the middle of the night and didn’t know what the hell was going on, I thought the sheet metal roof of the teahouse was about to fly into outer space. It didn’t though, and I quickly fell back asleep and woke up in Pothana to a nice clear morning with views of Fishtail Peak. After eating our porridge we spent a little over an hour walking down to and through the rather sprawling village of Dahmpus and from there started the massive staircase to Phedi. QB counted the steps on the way down the staircase, 2803, I didn’t even try. Immediately while in Phedi a bus came by and we jumped on. 50 rupees to Pokhara(that’s not a lot of rupees). I’d been wanting to ride one of these buses just to see what it was like, it really didn’t look that enjoyable and it wasn’t, but I was intrigued. It was jam packed and even though I was descending all morning I was still soaked through with sweat and I’m sure I stunk so I definitely wasn’t helping the situation. The bus really wasn’t too bad but a 1 hour ride from Phedi to Pokhara was enough for me. I’d rather not travel all day on one of these. Once back in Pokhara we enjoyed a nice little day here; eating momos and Indian food, taking yoga and walking up and down Lakeside running into a handful of people we met up in the mountains.

Tomorrow we’re taking a short flight from here to Kathmandu then spending a couple days in the big city until we fly back to the US. It’s been quite a trip and Nepal lived up to the hype and then some. This is a magical place and I will be looking forward to the day I come back. Until then if you have any questions about traveling to Nepal or any of these treks feel free to contact me and maybe I can help you out. And of course follow me on insta @endlesspsummer if you’d like.