a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
Miles 2648.9 to 2652.6. (+8 Miles to Manning Park)
FINAL CAMPGROUND IN THE USA to Manning Park, BC, Canada
Today is the day. Unbelievable, the last day of our epic adventure has come!
We all wake up with the biggest smiles on our faces and huge excitement! From our campground to the border it is only 3.8 miles of hiking, which means it shouldn’t take longer than one hour, since it is all downhill as well.
So Maya, Poodlebee, Trooper, Badger, ChillBill and I hike out at about 8am. We all capture several videos and are so full of anticipation. We decided that we want to reach the monument together and therefore are mostly hiking in a straight line, Badger and Poodlebee leading the way maybe a 100 meters in front of us. We reach a marker saying “1 mile to go”. This all feels so surreal. I start filming, telling the story of our PCT adventure in fast forward when we hear several shouts from Poddlebee and Badger. Oh my god, they must have reached it, right after this curve!
We slowly hike around the corner and see a clearing in the forest and there it is! The monument! Only a couple of meters away! So crazy, we really did it! And then Maya touches the monument, smiling, incredulity and happiness radiating off her face. Then it’s my turn, I shout as well, smiling! Emotions running high. Wow, what an epic moment! After some seconds also Trooper and ChillBill arrive! Smiles everywhere. We really did it.
Now everyone starts taking pictures with the monument, which by the way (obviously) marks the end of the trail and is the official border between the United States and Canada. And the clear cut line between the trees going all the way up is literally the borderline.
People keep trickling in, Captain, Sriracha and Puddles among others. Badger has hiked all the way carrying a drone and is now taking some pictures and videos of all of us with his drone.
Everyone now „enjoys“ their last breakfast on trail and soon it is time to leave the monument behind and hike further on to Manning Park. Unfortunately this means another 8 miles of hiking and the first 3 miles is just uphill.
Some of our fellow hikers don’t have an entrance permit to Canada and now it is the time for them to hike back to Harts Pass. We say goodbye to them and start our last miles.
The weather now starts to get worse, it is raining and pretty chilly. But we don’t mind at all, our hearts are filled with happiness and the knowledge of staying in a warm room this afternoon gives us a lot of power.
And soon we arrive on top of the last fucker and start the descent towards Manning Park. After a couple of minutes we meet two Canadian day hikers, who speak definitely a different English and are questioning us a lot about the PCT. It is nice to talk to them but as for now, the only thing we want is to arrive in Manning Park. That’s why we still hike with a fast pace and soon the two Canadians are out of breath and behind us.
At last we arrive at a road and have to follow it for the last 0.5 miles to the resort when suddenly a car slows down and a man and a woman are asking us if we have just come off the PCT? We respond with ‚yes, we have‘! They ask us if we maybe know their son going by the name Chillbill? They have driven all the way from West Virginia to Manning Park, over 4’000, miles to pick up their son today! Yes, indeed we know him, we camped with him and arrived at the border with him this morning, he is just half an hour behind us. They say thank you and offer to drive us to the resort, which we thankfully decline because it is only 0.5 miles more.
And then we arrive in Manning Park! Wow! We are actually here, in Canada! it takes exactly 30 seconds until a Canadian family spots us and congratulates us, takes some pictures of and with us and invites us for a beer later!
And then we spot our friends Arms, Double D and Gourmet, which we last have seen before the California/Oregon border and who we knew had arrived one day earlier. What a surprise that they‘re still here! We all hug and congratulate each other and then finally check in at the hotel.
Tomorrow Kim will pick us up here in Manning Park and will take us to Vancouver Island!
This is where our PCT adventure ends. We feel happy and sad at the same time. Something great just happened, but it is going to take a while until we will be able to grasp the meaning of it all. But for now the happiness is predominant.
It has been the biggest adventure of both our lives (so far). There is really not much more to say at this point. We end this chapter with a saying we wrote in both the first and the final PCT trail registers:
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
The later we did, and we made it. :). - Bingo & Ratatouille OUT.
Miles 2622.0 to 2648.9. Harts Pass campground to FINAL CAMPGROUND IN THE USA!!!
The night was icy cold again. We‘re talking subzero temperatures here and while Dario is just fine (cold too but acting the hero) I am literally shaking in my sleeping bag, wearing every single layer of clothing I carry with me. Which might not be the way to do it as EarlyBird, an elderly German lady, told us yesterday. She sleeps almost naked in her sleeping bag and swears that this is the way to do it to stay warm. Last night we boiled two bottles of water to use as hot bed bottles, and did so again at 3am in the morning when the water had gone cold. We get up at 5am because sleeping is nearly impossible anyway and start hiking at 6am. More snow has fallen during the night and the snow cristals reflect in our flashlights as we make our way up the first mountain in the dark.
Today is reroute day and the second last day out here. The final terminus was actually closed a couple of weeks ago due to a fire, but has luckily reopened. However, the fire is still burning in some areas and there is a reroute around it. We should reach the PCT again by the end of the day, and do the last couple miles to the border tomorrow.
After the uphill comes the downhill, and it goes on for a long time. Fortunately the sun comes out eventually and we get to actually dry our tent. And soak up some sun ourselves! We don‘t stop for long though, too strong is our will to make it to Canada asap!
We walk in the snow a fair bit, through forests and meadows and quite enjoy our last day on trail. We are getting so excited now that the Canadian border is almost within reach and our minds are just filled with so many pleasant memories and positive thoughts.
All day we meet hikers hiking SOBO back from the Canadian border to Harts Pass, the first place where they can hitch out of to the nearby towns of Mazama or Winthrop. Once we reach the border we can either walk into Canada, provided we have the Canada entry permit, or turn around back to Harts Pass. That‘s why we keep meeting hikers, new faces and old friends like Flat Earth from the Netherlands. Luckily we applied and got the Canada entry permit approved many months ago and will only have to do 8 miles from the border to a place called Manning Park tomorrow. The NOBOs newly turned SOBOs all mention that there is another detour one can take by staying longer on the alternate and come back to the PCT a little later. This will cut some miles off the PCT, but since the detour is longer than the now closed PCT anyway, it evens out in the end. This detour is supposed to be a little easier but equally beautiful. So we decide to do it.
The day really gets more and more beautiful, we are so grateful that the PCT provided us with such a stunning last day! The ground is mostly covered in snow, but the sun is shining, mountain tops are glowing, our hearts are full. Pure happiness! We are sad that this life is about to end. But we have so many great things planned in the upcoming weeks and also can‘t wait to get started with the next chapter!
We reach our campsite just as the sun sets. We are back on the PCT now and only have 3 miles left to the Canadian border tomorrow. This is surreal! We set up our tent for the last time. It’s set up in no time, we’ve become pros at this. (Well, we did practice a lot.) Poodlebee, Trooper, Chillbill and the two of us share the campsite, exchange stories from inside the warmth of our sleeping bags. One more sleep and we are in Canada. The destination we always had in the long run and never dared thinking about too much. It's here. It's finally here.
Miles 2598.8 to 2622.0. Snowy campground to Harts Pass campground.
The night was freaking cold and we didn’t exactly get much sleep. After getting up at 6am we resume our hike north hoping to catch the rest of the gang. We get to experience the most spectacular sunrise. And while we don’t actually see the sun rise we see the light reflecting on the mountains surrounding us. They are shining bright in red and pink colors. We enjoy the moment because from experience days with such an an amazing sunrise don’t stay sunny for long. And we couldn’t be more right. The clouds come quickly.
We catch up with everyone else after about two miles and are passed by them once more while we are having breakfast further down the trail. Puddles and Sriracha on the other hand are nowhere to be seen. According to Poodlebee they got up really early and must be ahead of us.
There is more and more snow covering the ground and before we know it it starts snowing. First there are light flakes and soon it’s heavy snowfall. The landscape is out of this world. We are in pretty exposed area, hiking up a slope towards the top. It’s quite dark and somber and not a sound is to be heard except for the snow falling down. The snow is much drier than rain and we don’t actually get too wet which we’re glad about. We even decide to stop for lunch at Glacier Pass underneath some trees. We fold out our footprint and cook a hot lunch which feels great in these temperatures. But we can’t stay there for too long. Not soon after we are really freezing and need to get going again.
This sombre, eerie atmosphere is really weird. We don’t really feel comfortable in our own skin. It just makes us feel so so small. We picture the hot tub at the Manning Park Resort and how much we long to be sitting in it right now. That’s gonna have to wait. But just two more days until we’re there. We can push through. We can do it.
We reach Harts Pass, the last road on US soil around 5.30pm. This is where we plan to camp. Everyone else has pushed on, but I assume we will catch them by doing a big day tomorrow. The fire that had previously closed the northern end of the PCT is still burning, but the PCTA has reopened the last 12 miles of the PCT as it’s not in any danger. This means that first thing tomorrow we will get on the fire detour starting at Harts Pass and hike on that alternate for 22 miles. Then we will rejoin the PCT, hike 7 more miles and reach our campsite after a total of 29 miles. A big day. But really our last day on trail because it will mean that we only have 5 more miles until Canada the day after tomorrow.
Some hikers didn’t get their Canada entry permits and will have to walk back here to Harts Pass after they’ve reached the border. One of them is camped right here tonight. He’s been hoping to get a rid out of here but it feels like we’re at the end of the world here and that somebody’s going to drive up here tonight is very unlikely. I feel a little sorry for him. He’s done it, he’s completed the PCT, but now has to rely on someone to get him back to civilization and can’t yet enjoy the sensation of being done. When suddenly a car arrives. With another hiker and her dad in it. She’s come to get her friend! How awesome is this hiker community!
Our second last night on trail. We set up camp right beside Poodlebee and keep talking with him through the walls of our tents. We’re boiling snow to make hot bottles for the night. It’s supposed to go down to -5° celsius. Brrrrrh.
Miles 2576.8 to 2598.8. Bridge Creek campground to snowy campground.
The alarm rings at 5.15am. Trooper has already left, Poodlebee joins us as we leave around 6am. And get lost shortly after. We missed the junction back to the PCT, but luckily realize it after a couple of minutes. It’s still very dark but we spot various stars in the sky so it appears to be cloudless today and we can hope to get a sunny day! Generally the weather forecast for the upcoming days is very changeable. We can expect to get something from everything. Some sun, some rain and even some snow.
The sun slowly rises and presents us with the most scenic valley. We are hiking slowly uphill, making our way to Rainy Pass, another milestone. It’s cold and we don’t stop for breakfast until we find a sunny enough spot to also dry our tents. The view is pretty spectacular. The mountain peaks are all covered in snow, there is misty fog hanging down in the valley, the sun is shining bright, the air is clean and fresh and we feel good.
When we get closer to Rainy Pass we hike through snowy forest. There is snow on the ground and on the trees. It’s really cold, but luckily we are moving and that way the fresh air feels very enjoyable. And when we reach the road at Rainy Pass, I can’t help but let out a big yell. There is a sign posted to the ground saying “Trail Magic”. I can’t believe it! Some trail angels are still providing magic in October! We didn’t dare believe we might run into some trail magic this last in the hiking season! How lucky we are! There is also a little terminus monument put up here. A couple weeks ago the PCT to the border was closed due to a quickly spreading fire north of here. Rainy Pass was defined as the temporary Northern Terminus of the PCT.
But we can keep going and we make it over to the parking lot/trailhead where there is actually a car parked, some chairs laid out and some hikers enjoying food and hot drinks. We quickly make our way over. There are already other hikers here, such as Badger, Trooper, Captain and her friends. We each get a hot chocolate and enjoy some snacks. They even have beers and wine and we decide to make this our lunch break here since we need to save our fuel anyway. But then Captain finds out about our fuel situation and offers to give us one of hers. She’s got two more which should be plenty to get her to Canada. We can’t thank her enough. Once more a fellow hiker turns out to be our personal trail angel. Thank you so much Captain, you rock!
Then a guy comes up to us, introduces himself as Ian and asks whether it’s possible that we started in the beginning of May? He remembers us because he had taken our pictures back at the Southern Terminus. Wow! We of course remember Ian! He took our pictures and asked us some questions back in the very south of California! He has indeed emailed us since, asking when our estimated date of arrival in Canada would be as he would be waiting at Rainy Pass in early October. We replied that we should be there around mid-October and that therefore we might not run into him. But now we have! He is completely amazed, takes some more polaroid pictures and asks if we would be willing to do an interview with him. We agree and satisfy his curiosity. How awesome is that guy? He came all the way up to the very north of Washington to meet the people again he met 5 months ago at the very beginning of their journey! Ian Tuttle is a professional photographer based in San Francisco and he plans to do a project with the hiker polaroids he’s been taking. You will probably see our pictures here once his project is finished: http://www.ituttle.com/
By reaching Rainy Pass at midday we’ve already hiked 15 miles and only 7 miles remaining until camp. By the time we leave with Trooper we are the last ones (even Sriracha and Puddles already left). The first 3 miles are uphill and are incredibly beautiful. The trees are yellow and green, the ground is white, the mountains around us are beige and white. I can’t stop taking pictures. And when we reach the pass we get to see a view that is even more epic. It’s absolutely insane. I’m afraid our pictures won’t do it justice. Because they don’t necessarily represent what we are feeling in this very moment. The sun is already quite low, we feel like we are literally the last people on the planet and we’re both engulfed by the beauty and the magnitude of it all. A moment that just belongs to us. We are silently looking at the mountain range surrounding us in 360 ° and feel very very lucky indeed.
Now we get to descend another 2 miles until we reach our camp. It’s a steep descend and it’s the snow that makes the whole thing a little sketchy. We should probably have put on our micro spikes but were too lazy to get them out. We make it to our campsite shortly before dusk. There is nobody else here, the others must have pushed on. While we set up Trooper joins us. It feels good to have some company and try and formulate what we’re all feeling. These intense feelings you only get to experience when you put yourself in such a unique situation. Happiness and anxiety go hand in hand and sometimes it only takes minutes to feel both.
We are camped on snow tonight. I guess that’s what it will be like from now on. Winter has arrived in the Northern Cascades. Now we just need to hope that the weather holds up for 3 more days. 3 more days. We are beyond excited!
Miles 2571.9 to 2576.8. Fire closure reroute part 2: Holden Village to Stehekin via ferry, then back on PCT to Bridge Creek campground.
We sleep in. No need to ask why, I’m sure. And incredibly, the weather is absolutely perfect. The sun’s out and the sky is a deep blue. And the mountains? Well, they are white. Oh, surprise!
The shuttle to the ferry doesn’t leave until 10.30am which means we have plenty of time. We stroll over to the dining hall where we see Sriracha and Puddles again. The poor guys slept outside last night. They were freezing and hardly slept. I am angry with this place being all religious and then not help people in need. There were enough hikers sleeping outside last night because they weren’t gonna pay 99 USD for a room. They were miserable. And this place has plenty of very basic rooms where they should have been welcome to sleep in! I am not saying for free. How about 20 USD a night? Even in our room there was another bed. But they would have charged another 99 USD for a person sleeping in it. Meaning that our room would have sold for 3x99 USD. While one person gets to sleep in a private room with 4 beds for 99 USD as well. How is this fair? We should have smuggled Puddles, Sriracha and Poodlebee into our room last night. Never mind those rules.
Our stuff is dry, we are clean and warm and ready for the last leg of our very long journey. Gone are the thoughts about quitting. We are not quitting now, so close to the end! Less than 100 miles to Canada. Craaaazy!
The shuttle arrives and we all jump in. Suddenly there’s again around 15 of us! I never know how that happens. Which holes do all these hikers suddenly crawl out of? Haha. There is also a hiker hiking with a dog and the dog of course gets all the attention from the hikers. Therefore the bus ride down to Lake Chelan and the landing at Lucerne passes by really quickly. Anticipation and excitement is in the air. Chances are very high we are going to make it to Canada now.
The ferry arrives after about 20 minutes and we quickly jump in to get good seats by the window. I am really hungry because breakfast in Holden was kind of meaky and get a cheese sandwich. We are sitting next to some older people just out on a ferry ride today. They look at us curiously and start asking questions. When they hear what we’ve been up to they are completely amazed. And so the 45min ferry ride goes by fast because we are chatting with them the whole way.
We reach Stehekin at 2pm. Originally we had planned to spend the night here and leave in the morning. But since we slept in Holden last night we decided to not pay for another hotel here in Stehekin. But when we hear that the last shuttle going to the trailhead for today leaves at 3pm we rethink that we won’t be able to get everything (resupply boxes, permit to stay overnight within the next 20 miles, lunch, some grocery shopping, getting the wifi code to call my host mum Kim about our arrival date) done in one hour. But as we can’t afford another night in a hotel it’s gonna have to work out. While Dario hurries over to the post office to get our resupply boxes I go inside the restaurant to order our food and into the grocery store to buy bread, some chocolate bars and the code to the wifi. Then I go back to the restaurant and reserve a booth. Dario comes back with the boxes, drops them off at our table and leaves to get our permits. I open the boxes and start organizing our resupply into breakfast, lunch and dinner piles as usual. Then I try to call Kim but realize that I first need to update my messenger app. And this takes ages. There is no way we’ll have enough time. When Dario comes back we quickly eat, pack up everything and hurry down to the shuttle. Finally the messenger app has loaded and I still have wifi. I call her from the bus and tell her our arrival date, the 7th of October. I tell her we’ll spend the night in Manning Park and we agree that she’ll pick us up on the 8th of October. I’ll see her again in 5 days. After 12 years. Wow.
The shuttle waits until I finish my phone call and then leaves towards the trailhead. The shuttle always makes a stopover at the Stehekin Bakery which is very famous among PCT hikers. They make delicious pastries, breads and cinnamon rolls. We buy food for 50 USD (pizza slices, cakes and cinnamons rolls) and get back on the bus. They sure make good business with us hikers. They probably time the shuttle so that hikers don’t have time to eat in Stehekin and then come to the bakery all hungry!! Well, it works (even with some lunch in our bellies). Unfortunately this is also where we realize that once again we forgot to buy fuel. We still have some left but it won't last the whole way. But Trooper and Poodlebee might be able to share it with us. We decide not to freak out about it.
When we reach the trailhead everyone quickly straps on their packs and starts hiking. All of us? No, a minority consisting of Dario and I, Trooper and Sriracha stays behind and lets everyone pass. We’ll take it easy today. Reaching Canada in 4.5 days is plenty of time to do the 89 miles to the border. We’re not in a rush. It’s cloudy by now but it doesn’t look as though it’s about to rain anytime soon.
We reach our campsite after 5 miles. We camp with Trooper, Sriracha, Poodles and Poodlebee. We make a lovely campfire and all eat our goodies from the bakery. A perfect evening.
Miles 2540.6 to 2551.8 + 11 Miles Fire closure reroute part 1: to Holden Village. Suiattle River camp to Holden.
We get up later than planned. It‘s still raining. Poodlebee who was camped next to us has already left. The weather is an absolute catastrophe. It hasn’t stopped raining all night, the tent is soaked and there are rain drops on the inside of the rainfly just waiting to drop down on us. BigAgnes, we love you. Thank you for staying waterproof long enough. There is no point in waiting it out in the tent. It’s not going to stop anytime soon, we know that. Everything we own is wet or at least damp and we haven’t really been able to warm up either. Let’s just go.
After a quick breakfast we put on our wet clothes and take our tent down inside out. That’s the second time on the PCT we’ve had to do it like this. Take down the inner part of the tent first, pack everything under the rainfly and then take down the rainfly at last.
First we are going uphill. In such desolate and strenuous conditions you always feel like there is no way any other human is going through the same thing as you right now. But we are usually wrong. The next turn we take we see Sriracha sitting there. An Aussie we met in Kennedy Meados in mid-June and then again shortly at Snoqualmie Pass. Puddles, the girl he is hiking with and him passed us this morning while we were still asleep. And he’s not having so much fun himself. The poor fella is also suffering from Plantar Fasciitis which doesn’t make this hike any easier. They are also planning to hike into Holden tonight and camp just outside of the village in order to have breakfast there the next day and take the ferry. It’s very likely that people we meet now and who take the same ferry as us will end up at the terminus with us. This is how close we are to Canada. We can almost touch it, but there are still a few obstacles in our way. We pass Sriracha and soon run into Puddles. We keep hiking with her for a fair bit, at least the remaining 8 miles up to where we PCT is closed and the detour over Cloudy Pass down to Holden starts.
We reach the top in the snow. Yes, it is snowing now. And the flakes remain lying on the ground. Better snow than rain, we think, and push on. At least we don’t feel cold because we’ve just climbed 11 miles in 3.5 hours. The remaining 13 miles down to Holden should be easy now. It’s another 2 mile climb to the top of Cloudy Pass and this just kills us. It’s basically very exposed rock climbing for a mile until we reach some sparse forest and then finally reach the top, Cloudy Pass. We have been told that this detour is one of the best parts of the PCT. We have been told that we would see waterfalls, turquoise lakes and beautiful mountains and meadows. We know this beauty is out here. But we can’t see it. It’s just snowing and we can hardly see anything at all.
The second part of the day is mainly downhill. Easy, we think. We will be there in no time, we think. Boy, are we wrong. The remaining 11 miles down to Holden will go down in history as the longest and toughest hike we ever had to do on the PCT.
About a mile down it’s been decided. We are going to take a room in Holden. We are not sleeping in our tent in this situation if we don’t have to. We are so cold, so wet, so miserable, we need something to look forward to tonight. We know a night in Holden costs 99 USD per person and we wonder how this can be fair. We only need a room as an emergency, we don’t want to spend 200 USD there! The rate comes with three meals, the shuttle to the ferry, laundry and showers, but how is it justified? We will try to get a discount. It should work somehow, we are sure the people there are reasonable.
Another 2 hours later we don’t even care about the money anymore. We would have spent 500 USD for a room by now. We are wearing our wet hiking clothes and our soaked rain gear. We are not wearing our down hoodies because we can’t afford to get them wet. Technically, we would afford to get them wet now that we are staying in the hotel. But a. we don’t now FOR SURE that they will have room and b. a change in clothes would require us to stop, take off the pack, then the rain cover, then get the hoodie. Then take off our rain jackets, put on the hoodies and put everything back on. By that time everything would get more wet and we can’t afford to take breaks because it will cool us down immensely. So here we go. Keep hiking on until hypothermia catches us.
Sleeping outside in this weather if you don’t absolutely have to - reckless and dangerous in our opinion. By now our feet (who have been walking in a constant swimming pool of icy water) are frozen. And so are our hands. I can’t feel my fingertips anymore. This situation we are in. I don’t know exactly how we managed to end up here. And we are doing this out of sheer pleasure, for fun! Voluntarily! Have we gone mad? How is this anything I would ever want to do in my life? What life choices are we making here? Have we gone completely mad??? We are in the middle of a snowstorm and all I know is that I have to keep walking. I am crying constantly, the tears are in fact the only thing I can feel right now, because they are hot and streaming down my face.
That’s when we decide to quit. We are going to quit when we reach Holden. I don’t know how we can reach civilization from there exactly, but I know we’ve had enough. That’s it. Can’t go on. At least we are on the same page. We know when enough is enough. We fought hard in the last couple of days and weeks. We can be proud of what we’ve achieved. But there is no way, absolutely to way, we are gonna go on now. Everyone kept telling us how unpredictable and dangerous the Cascades can get in the fall. And it’s October now. It’s time to be done. We are done.
And then we reach some forested area, some shelter at last. I am shaking and crying uncontrollably by now, and Dario is crying because he can’t handle that I can’t handle it anymore. And suddenly, out of nowhere, there are three beautiful deer grazing right next to the trail. We slow down, look at them. They don’t move. They stare at us. One of them is one meter away from us. It doesn’t move an inch. It stays there and keeps looking at us. What an incredible and stunning moment. It quiets me down. I can actually relax. I can breathe. I know we will be okay.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, we reach the campground. Poodlebee is actually setting up camp here! That’s crazy! But we don’t have the energy to go over and convince him to stay in the village. He knows what he’s doing. He will be fine. ¾ miles later we reach Holden. It’s really no more than a couple of houses. It’s a christian community, as it turns out. We reach the hotel and ask for a room. 99 USD per person. We ask if we can get a discount considering that we will be sharing a room, even a bed. Surely that must have an impact on the rate? The receptionist is compassionate but says he can’t change the price. He will ask someone and get back to us in the morning. Meanwhile we are free to get some dinner, the buffet will be open another ten minutes. We don’t need telling twice. We rush over to the dining hall and fill 7 (seven!) plates with food. And that’s where we see Trooper again! We hiked with him through a lot of Oregon and saw him quickly at Stevens Pass before he headed out. Good to see you again Trooper! While we eat he makes us some hot tea and keeps us company while we eat. We haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast just because there was no way we could possibly stop for lunch. Dinner is chickpea curry with couscous. Basically what we’ve been eating on trail for the past three months. But better, of course. Much better! There are a lot of hikers and we feel great having our crowd around us. But we still haven’t changed out of our wet clothes and are shaking with cold. It’s time for a hot and long shower. We get the key to the room which is very basic and reminds me of the rooms we would share on school camp trips in Switzerland. But it’s very cozy. Perfect. We turn the heater on full speed, put our shoes in front of it and hang our packs and sleeping bags up to dry. Then we shower. For 30 minutes. It’s without a doubt the best hot shower of my life. I only leave it when I am no longer feeling any cold on or in my body.
While Dario is in charge of getting the laundry done and hanging up the tent to dry in the laundry room I clean up the mess in our room, get rid of trash and hang up some more things. Fun fact, I am doing this naked in my towel because all of my clothes are being washed.
We are feeling so so much better now. Today was traumatizing but we are already healing. We watch some Netflix and go to bed very exhausted.
What a day. The last day on trail? Never quit on a bad day, they say. We’ll sleep on it.
Miles 2515.7 to 2540.6. Pumice Creek camp to Suiattle River camp.
The night was rough, it was cold and was raining hard for a couple of hours. When we get up the rain has almost stopped but we refuse to get out of our dry spot. So we decide to have breakfast in the tent and stay until 8.30am when we feel that we really have to move if we want to make our goal and camp at Suiattle River, which is about 25 miles from where we start today.
The day is absolutely miserable. It is raining nonstop. And the trail here in this section is in a very bad condition. There are tons of big logs all over the trail, practically none are cut in half to pass, some times the trail is more like a creek or completely overgrown. At noon we pass a collapsed bridge over milky water. And yes, it is still raining. So we decide to not have any breaks and not do lunch today to make it into our tent as early as possible.
After a big decent we cross another milky river (glacier water) and meet Poodlebee again. He tells us he wants to sleep at the large Suattle River as well and then hikes on ahead of us. From here it is again all the way up up for another 3 hours only to descend on the other side once more.
At about 6 pm it starts to get darker but we still have to do about 4 miles. We pass a campsite where we see a group of hikers having a campfire and spot Andrea, whom we have last seen in Kennedy Meadows at the end of the desert. We quickly say hi and then continue our hike. After about 40 more minutes we find ourselves in a very thick rainforest. And in only a couple of minutes later it is completely dark and we have to use our headlamps. Unfortunately my batteries are empty and Maya‘s lamp has full batteries but is not working properly anymore. So we have to change the batteries in the dark from her lamp to mine. After some attempts it works and we now have one working lamp. It is now only one mile further according to Guthooks. And soon we make it to this very broad bridge across the thundering Suiattle River and desperately try to find the campsite. There, on the other side we see a light. We quickly pass the bridge and see that only one tent fits there. So we have to go a little bit further up parallel to the river and spot another light. This must be Poodlebee down there, we both think and find our way down to him. And yes, it is him. He is already in his tent, successfully avoiding the now really heavy rain.
There is only one more spot, but that‘s all we need. We pitch the tent in the opposite order than usual. We start with the rain fly first and then with the inner tent, so the inner side of the tent doesn't get as wet. What a miserable day this was.
On days like this you really start to question yourself what you're still doing out here. We could already be hanging out at a hot and tropical Colombian beach soaking up the sun rather than hiking in this. But it's all part of the game. And it's now only 110 miles more!
Miles 2493.5 to 2515.7. Lake Sally Ann camp to Pumice Creek camp.
Rain. Not the whole day and not strong rain. But a constant drizzle. Nonstop.
When we wake up it is only raining a little. The tent even stayed completely dry. And when we stick our heads out of the tent we see Jandals, Merman and Montana. They caught up! Good for then. They have to be in Canada on the 5th of October. They hiked 30 miles yesterday and must have caught a cold because they are repeatedly coughing and sneezing. Poor fellas! We know we wouldn’t be able to hike to Canada in 5 days, but we know their style and they seem determined to make it. They leave before us. And we never see them again.
The landscape looks very magical in these conditions. The sun is rising and coloring the clouds around it in all shades of pink. We take our breakfast after only a couple of minutes when we find some good trees to crawl under. But oh man, it’s cold. This is not enjoyable. Let’s keep going.
We are hiking up up up and are completely surrounded by mountain peaks. We hike up to a ridge for a while and when we reach it we can see in the next valley below. The scenery has again changed completely. We are looking down onto this mystical glacier valley. It’s beautiful. But the cold is penetrating, we can feel it in our bones. The rain gear can only take so much rain… We decide to take a break when we reach the creek at the bottom of the valley. By now we are back in dense forest. But in order to stay relatively dry during our lunch we set up the footprint of our tent and place ourselves underneath. It’s not exactly cosy and definitely not warm, but it will have to do. And some hot food definitely can’t hurt right about now. Because Dario is the chef in our two-person team, I have the pleasure of doing the dishes. Which means filling our pots etc. with the icy water of the creek and trying to clean it as good as possible. My hands are positively frozen after that.
The only thing which helps is hiking. So we pack our stuff and start hiking again. It’s a steep uphill climb now and we are glad because climbing up is the only thing really producing some body heat.
It’s getting dark early now. The dark clouds don’t help. This is definitely not one of the moments I will miss once I am in a heated house, feeling warm. We really really really just want to reach Canada now. One more week till we reach the border. We can do this!
We reach our designated campsite, a creek, around dusk. There are campsites but they are very exposed and we’d much rather find some shelter from pine trees. There’s trees in abundance here, how hard can it be to find a flat spot among them?? But we’re also on a mountainside now and the terrain isn’t exactly flat.
Finally we find a small spot and decide to squeeze our tent in there. We quickly put on some warm clothes and hang up our wet clothes to dry. They won’t dry, but where else are we going to put them? Once we are bundled up in our sleeping bags, eating pasta and watching Netflix life looks already a little better again. Yep, the Great British Bake-Off is the most soothing and homey series ever!
Miles 2473.8 to 2493.5. Lake Janus camp to Lake Sally Ann camp.
Dario ended up putting his phone back together last night and only went to bed around 11.30pm. So we sleep in until 6.30am today. The weatherman was right: the sky is cloudy, there is no sun and we are generally feeling a little glum. We are so ready to arrive. But it is very foreseeable now. Less than 10 days until Canada!
We take our breakfast break after we have climbed the first mountain and have a lovely view from up there. Even the sun comes out briefly to dry our tent (more or less).
We are eating berries all day long. Huckleberries or blueberries, we have no idea, but they taste so delicious. Our mouths are blue, and Dario’s hands are so so blue. I don’t know what he does with those berries that they rub off on his hands so much! But we should really hike a little faster now. Our plan still is to do 22-mile days and we need to try and keep it up.
We take our lunch a little later at so-called Pear Lake. The sun even comes out to keep us company for about a half an hour in which we try and soak it up as much as we can. There are also a few very pretty birds around looking curiously at our food. We previously emptied out our doritos chips crumbles by mistake and they are very interested in them.
I know we’ve been mentioning loads of times who beautiful autumn is out here. But we just can’t get over just HOW beautiful it is. White mountain peaks. Bushes in every shade of red and orange. Green pine trees, yellow leaves from other trees. It’s stunning, even when the sun isn’t shining. We are walking through meadows and parallel to mountain ridges and it’s just really impressive. We take hundreds of pictures. I can’t help but feel very happy once more. So many completely different emotions out here!!! While we have been seeing a lot of hikers in the last couple days, we see only one NOBO and a couple of SOBOs today. We feel alone. But in a good way. We have this paradise all to ourselves.
While there is still no rain we can already see some thunderclouds forming up ahead. According to our GPS app they are just north of us and exactly where we are headed. We might evade them by camping a little earlier where we can still hope that no rain is going to come this way during the night. And we find the perfect spot.
Lake Sally Ann is amazing. It’s embedded in this mountain, its water colour is gorgeous, and there are some pine tree groups providing protection from wind and possibly rain. We set up camp underneath some pine trees, we can see the lake on one side and the most fabulous view on the other side. It’s still light out, and we enjoy camping early and taking in the scenery.
Once we are in the tent we hear other people approaching - it looks like we will not be the only ones sleeping here tonight. After dinner, Netflix and blogging we go to bed early and have a great sleep (and hopefully no rain despite the forecast!).
Miles 2459.8 to 2473.8. Lake Susan Jane camp to Lake Janus camp.
What a restless night! Dario kept hearing mice and even saw a mouse who had climber up our inner tent on our tent stakes! We start hiking at 6.30am, Benjamin Button is already ahead of us. Only one small mountain to climb, should be easy! The sun is just rising as we make our way up, immersing the mountain tops and colorful meadows in a golden light. The pictures just don’t to the colors justice! The autumnal colors are incredibly beautiful, what a stunning Indian Summer we get to experience here.
There is a ski lift on top of the mountain as Stevens Pass is a popular skiing place in winter and once we reach the top we can see the little settlement down below, and get cell reception for the first time in days! Stevens Pass is still about 2.5 miles away and Dario uses that time to call Andri, a close friend of his. It was his birthday the day before, when we were unable to contact him due to service absence.
We reach the pass at 8.15am and contact BigBro who slept here last night. This is the time to say goodbye to him. He will be back on trail right after, while we still have to hitch into Skykomish and get our resupply and the laundry done. We also have to say goodbye to Benjamin Button now who is hitching east to Leavenworth from where he hopes to get a ride to Lake Chelan (where Stehekin is situated at the other end of the lake and can be reached by a ferry ride).
I hate goodbyes. But at the same time I am positive we will see these two again. BigBro in Europe, Benjamin Button whenever we will be back in California, as he lives in LA.
We start hitching. It’s brutally cold here because the sun hasn’t reached the valley where Stevens Pass is yet. We are both wearing our extremely bright and well showing down jackets, but still nobody cares to stop for us. Soon Starburst and Poodlebee show up, they spent the night up near the ski lift. We must have passed them this morning but didn’t see their tents. After about 40 minutes a van coming from the direction of Skykomish turns up and slows down. About 10 hikers jump out of the van and the driver asks us if we want a ride to Skykomish. Yaaay, finally! We get in, it’s nice and warm. Our driver is called Billy and he’s awesome, apparently giving free rides to hikers throughout the season. We are so lucky!
Skykomish is very small. Very pretty. We instantly like it. We wish we could spend the night here. But nope, that’s not the plan. Post Office, laundry, shower and organizing, that’s what we’re here for. And the restaurant of course. That’s where Billy drops us off and asks us when we intend to get back on trail. It is now 09.30 am and Dario and I are confident that we can be ready by 1pm. The other two aren’t sure what they’re gonna do yet so he agrees to just pick up the two of us at 1pm. He drops us off at the restaurant and we get a table for the four of us. We have been leapfrogging with Starburst for weeks now, Poodlebee on the other hand we only met at Snoqualmi Pass. Starburst is blogging and vlogging about the PCT on her Youtube channel “The Whimsical Woman” (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIUPDURNSrgUg96rxhlr5rA), and she’s got 10’000 subscribers to her channel. I had been following her on instagram and it’s kind of funny that we met in real life after. They’re both American and lovely people and we enjoy an excellent breakfast together.
After breakfast we do our laundry, collect our boxes and start organizing them outside on a picnic table on the lawn in the town centre. It’s warm and we can easily dry our tent while we “are working”. I also received my new long-sleeve shirt that BigBro ordered with Amazon. Yay, another layer to keep me warm! People keep coming up to our table and asking us about the trail, always reacting very astonished when we tell them that we’ve hiked more than 2000 miles to get here. When we are nearly done we take turns in showering at the hotel and are ready at 12.59pm. Billy is already waiting nearby and therefore we are back at Stevens Pass in no time. Wow, what an efficient resupply stop! We’ve never organized faster. But it was also very stressful and we didn’t have time to relax at all. So let’s go to the restaurant at Stevens Pass and eat a burger.
Dario still has another problem. His shoes. He has only been wearing them since Snoqualmie, where he found them in a hiker box, but they are causing him pain as they are a little bit too small, and already quite battered. He goes looking around Stevens Pass, if there is a store or even just a hiker box. And again, he gets lucky and finds Columbia hiking boots. These might work better in the wet Washington conditions anyway!
And then suddenly we realize we forgot to buy fuel! This is a big disaster! We look all around Stevens Pass but they don’t appear to be selling them here. We check in the hiker box, but no fuel canister there either. What are we gonna do? We need fuel to cook our food! We almost only carry food which needs to be cooked. And the little bit we have left in our fuel canister is just not gonna be enough to hike all the way to Stehekin! Should we go back to Skykomish? But we don’t have the time for that. But well, I guess we will have to. Anyway, we already ordered our burgers and now sit down with another hiker called Jandals (he was the one who offered us his room to shower in at the Timberline Lodge back in Oregon). We mention our fuel problem and he offers without hesitation that we take his. But! No, he…, he needs it for himself! Well, he is going to go into Leavenworth where he can buy another, so he insists we take his, and doesn’t want our money for it. Wow. We are speechless. This is just so selfless and kind. We couldn’t be any more grateful and buy him some beers and share our fries with him. Thank you so much Jandals, you are such a great person! We sit with him a little while longer. He is a Brit but living in New Zealand and trying to convince us that we come to visit us in New Zealand. As if we needed convincing! If we end up going to NZ we will most definitely visit Jandals!
Most of the hiker talk right now is about the finishing date. Everyone asks everyone about what date they’re planning to finish. Some are overly confident, replying with dates coming up very soon. Our planned end date is still around 7th/8th of October which people generally consider to be reasonable. Due to a fire closure there is a gonna be another detour before Stehekin, where hikers can either hike 27 miles (instead of the closed 20 miles) to get back on the PCT, or take a ferry on Lake Chelan from a village called Holden to the town of Stehekin, the last resupply stop on the PCT. Most hikers are opting for the second alternative because the weather is supposed to get worse again soon, it’s still considered an official PCT detour and a ferry ride is, well, kind of fun. But the ferry only runs once a day. Most hikers are now calculating which date they’re gonna catch the ferry. Jandals wants to catch it the day before us, but still needs to get into Leavenworth for his food (and now fuel) resupply. Which means he’s kind of in a hurry and therefore gets up from the table soon and catches a ride to Leavenworth.
And soon after, we are off too, back on trail. One more resupply stop until Canada. UNBELIEVABLE!
But I ate too much and I am feeling oh so sick now. I don’t digest town food very well. It happens almost every time. I am only used to crappy trail food now. Greeeeat! We can only go slow and I can’t really enjoy the sunny weather and beautiful scenery around us.
We reach our designated campsite in the dark, after 10 miles. According to the weather forecast which we checked in Stevens Pass this was the last sunny day for a while. Tomorrow should be overcast and then the rain will likely come back. And it looks like it might be raining, and even snowing, for a while. Fingers crossed that the weatherman is wrong.
The night is still cloudless and starry, our base layers which we use as pyjamas are still warm from the dryer. I am tired and soon fall asleep after dinner.
Miles 2434.8 to 2459.8. Alpine meadow camp to Lake Susan Jane camp.
05.30am. Time to get up. We are oh so tired. But it’s time to get back to civilization. It might still be possible to reach Stevens Pass/Skykomish tonight but then we would only have to pay for a night in a hotel, which we don’t want.
After we are done packing up I go get water at the nearby lake. The sky is full of stars, the moon is shining bright, I can see the outlines of the mountains surroundings us. Clouds of steam are emerging from the lake. The meadow is frozen. What a WOW moment.
We have to climb first. And the scenery around us is just so mindblowingly beautiful. Washington in nice weather - the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see. We eat our breakfast while our tent is drying. 10 more days of living this life. This simple life. This mentally and physically very challenging life. This very rewarding life. What are we going to miss the most?, we think. The tranquillity, Dario says.
After hiking up and down all morning we reach the Deception Lakes around noon and decide to have lunch there. This is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. I would love to go swimming, but the water is icy cold and we couldn’t really warm up again after. It’s here that we find out about an easy alternate you can take, cutting a mile off the PCT, but equally beautiful. We decide to do just that and don’t regret our decision. The alternate route first leads us uphill through dense forest and then emerges to this saddle with a stunning view. The way back down is a bit of a stumble. We have to climb over big rocks and are concentrating hard not to fall.
Dario comes up with a game. Let’s list all the nights where we stayed on the PCT since the beginning. It keeps us busy! Sometimes we have to think really hard about where we slept, but after piecing memories together we usually find out. We are in the midst of me explaining to Dario where we stayed that one night in the Sierra, when suddenly I hear movement. And vibration. There is something there behind that tree!!! It’s probably just a deer, Dario says, but I am not convinced. It feels larger, denser. We have meanwhile retreated a couples meters, but now I slowly go ahead again to peer through the undergrowth. A set of eyes. A face. IT IS A BEAR!!! And a rather big one! I yell to Dario to take some more steps back and walk over to him. The bear is right next to the trail and it’s not moving. What should we do? We start making some noise with our trekking poles, but he’s not really impressed by that. We start yelling and go closer again, when suddenly he breaks through the bushes and lands on the trail. Instead of running away, what a black bear is expected to do, he comes charging in our direction!!! But then quickly realizes his error. He probably thinks “oopsie, there’s people there”, and jumps on the other side of the trail. There is another tree there which he now jumps on to. And falls off of. It’s almost as if he’s a little embarrassed by his failed attempt to climb the tree. With his head bowed down he slowly starts to trot away on all fours. Picking berries on the way.
What a rush of adrenaline! What an amazing experience! Scary, but amazing! Now we are practically running down the trail. We are so pumped! And bump into Benjamin Button. We tell him all about our encounter and while he’s happy for us, he’s also a little envious and starts keeping his eyes out for another bear. Thanks to the adrenalin I am still hiking the fastest I’ve ever hiked. And even going uphill I don’t even seem to need much energy!
We reach our campsite at Lake Susan Jane by 8pm. We are now only 5 miles away from Stevens Pass from where we plan to hitch into Skykomish. Benjamin Button who is in a bit of a hurry and needs to reach the Canadian border around the 4th of October decides to skip the next 100-mile section from Stevens Pass to Skykomish. He will leave the trail in Stevens Pass tomorrow and try to reach Stehekin, the last resupply stop as soon as possible. We regret his decision but can of course totally understand where he’s coming from. Also we are all at the end of our physical powers by now. Mentally we are strong. We KNOW we can do it now that it’s less than two weeks away. But physically… our bodies are hurting. We are ready to be done.
Miles 2413.8 to 2434.8. Creek camp to Alpine meadow camp.
It got really late last night when we finally fell asleep and therefore we allow ourselves a little sleep in until 6.30am. Everyone else is still here as well. When I look out the tent I see another hiker camped right next to us. He was cowboycamping! In these temperatures! Sleeping without a tent in these conditions is reckless in my opinion. He can’t have stayed warm enough! And his sleeping bag must be downright wet now, what with all the condensation. He must have arrived really late as we both didn’t hear a thing and went to bed late last night. His name is DirtyFabio, he is from Israel and we have never seen him before. He asks us for some tape for his knee which has apparently been hurting for a while. Luckily we still have some of Tanja’s and can cut some for him.
When we are all packed we try to cross the river. It’s not wide, but on the first look I don’t see anywhere we would cross it. I pick one spot and go ahead, but for some reason I am really anxious. The rocks are quite slippery. And then it happens. I slip and lose my balance! And somehow can regain balance in the last second and stay put on the rock. Wow, that was frightening. The water would be ice cold, everything would be wet. I am really shaking now with the adrenaline sensation in my body. Dario now takes over and crosses first, lending me a hand so I can cross safely too. I really don’t need an adventure like this at 7am, thank you very much!
We are now on Big Bro’s and Benjamin Button’s side of the river and find out that they both had taken the wrong turn at the section last night as well. And BigBro ran into Benjamin Button as the latter had already turned around, realising his mistake. Hiking in the dark, one has to be extra careful!
We leave camp before the others and attack the first 6-mile climb of the day. As the woods start to become sparse we are rewarded with some pretty amazing views. We know of a pond on top of the mountain and decide we’ll have breakfast there. It’s another beautiful sunny day and our breakfast spot turns out to be a new favorite spot. We can dry all our stuff, get water from the pond which is big and transparent enough to be called a lake in my opinion and make breakfast. We stay there for a while. Eventually Big Bro and Benjamin Button join us in our breakfast party, and later a stunning butterfly with which we end up taking a row of photos. We imagine how perfect it would be if we could stay here all day. But Canada is calling, and we must go. By now everyone else - DirtyFabio, Starburst and Poodlebee - have passed us. We let the other two go ahead and form the end of the line.
Now we are facing a 6-mile downhill section where we end up running into all the other hikers again. My feet really start hurting as we are hiking on many little rocks which are making the ground uneven. Thus we take a lot of breaks and end up being the last ones in the line again. We take another extended break down at a large river where everyone else is taking a break too. Here we find out that it’s actually DirtyFabio’s birthday today. We have some wine, he’s got some rum. We celebrate a little bit. Then we inform BigBro that we have decided to slow down a little bit. We are in no rush after all. My host mum Kim can’t pick us up until the 8th of October and if we keep going in this pace we will reach Canada on the 6th, with BigBro. We then would have to pay for another two nights at a hotel which we don’t really want to. It just doesn’t make sense moneywise, but also considering that slowing down would actually be more enjoyable for us. He completely understands. We will most likely see him once more at Stevens Pass, when we will arrive and he will be about to leave. So we don’t say our goodbyes just yet.
After everyone’s left we also decide - with a heavy heart - to get going again. It’s really tough making big miles in Washington. I am feeling drained and sluggish. Maybe my body is starting to break down, realising it’s coming to an end.
After 21 miles we reach our campsite. We will share it with Benjamin Button tonight. Everyone else has pushed on some more. But oh is this a beautiful campsite! It’s already dusk again, but there is a lake we can see not far from here because we’re on a flat plateau. After setting up the tent and our usual tasks - making dinner and writing down notes about the day - we snuggle into our bags and watch another Netflix episode. We are relieved that we talked to BigBro today. Now we have the completely realistic goal of reaching Canada on the 7th or 8th of October. 11 days from now. Less than 200 miles to the Canadian border. It’s getting real.
Miles 2393.1 to 2413.8. Snoqualmie Pass to Creek camp.
We slept excellently in this cozy bed. But by 7am we get up, pack our stuff and have breakfast at the nearby restaurant. Omelets for me, eggs over easy for Maya.
The weather is absolutely perfect today. Not a single cloud to be seen in the sky. At 10am we start hiking with BigBro. A steep climb awaits us. Up up up for about 2.5 hours. But then we reach the top of the mountain range and have a stunning view of one of the most beautiful mountain sceneries we have ever seen on the whole trail! Almost all the peaks are covered in snow, which makes it even more spectacular.
After a short break and some more snicker bars in our bellies we hike on for another 45 minutes until we hit the 2400 mile marker! Wow!!! And the views are again bombastic! It is no nice that the three of us have lunch here. Since we entered Washington I've had Ramen noodles for lunch every single day - and today is no exception. I probably will never eat Ramen after the trail again in my whole life... But they're good calories, quickly prepared and very light weight.
After lunch BigBro starts hiking on while we still sit here and enjoy the views for a while. In the afternoon we pass a huge white mountain goat. It looks like a polar bear from far away, it is massive!
Shortly before it gets dark, Maya and I are debating whether we should camp here on the ridge or go on and hike all the way down for another 5 miles. Finally I can convince her to go further to catch up with BigBro. But it is almost 7pm by now, which means that we will not be in camp before 9pm.
It turns out these 5 miles take much longer than expected since we are already pretty tired by now. Shortly before reaching camp we end up missing a junction, keep hiking straight ahead for about 15 minutes instead of turning left. Finally we make it to camp at 9.30pm next to a big river and see BigBro on the other side. He yells across the river, that his campsite is full and that we should stay on our side. The river is raging and we don't see an immediate way of how to cross it. Since the campsite is apparently full anyway, we set up camp on the south side of the river.
Luckily there is a good spot here as well. We quickly set up our tent in the dark and cold night and then prepare some Indian curry with Couscous for dinner. We eat it while watching another episode of the Great British Bake-off and then go to bed very exhausted.
Miles 2372.9 to 2393.1. Forest camp to Snoqualmie pass.
We actually manage to get up at 04.45am. It is still pitch black. Big Bro is still asleep but he is faster than we are anyways. We leave camp at 05.30 and now there is also light in Big Bro’s tent.
It is freezing cold this morning, but luckily it’s all uphill in the beginning and so we warm up fast. At least we can’t see how steeply the path is going uphill because it is still oh so dark.
We want to reach Snoqualmie by 2pm – it is still about 20 miles away, but doable. At sunrise, we pass Peachman & Co’s camp. They hiked about 4 miles further than we did yesterday but slept in for a bit.
But what’s that?! My shoes are falling apart! They look like the literally exploded! The front part of my right shoe is not attached to the actual shoe anymore! Hello, toes!
We continue our hike, pass Flow’s camp and shortly after find a nice, sunny spot to have breakfast. During breakfast I try to sew my shoe together which more or less works. But I don’t see how I am supposed to hike to Canada in these. We still have almost 200 miles to go! But there are no more shoe stores close to the PCT coming up until Canada to buy new shoes. Well, we will figure something out…
Soon BigBro joins us and we all eat together. It is now 10am and we already have hiked 10 miles! Yaaaay! While we eat, everyone we passed this morning passes by, and BigBro soon leaves too, which makes us the last ones of the pack.
At about noon we reach a plateau where there is cell reception again. And finally I can call my best friend Stefan, whose 30th Birthday it is today. He lives close to New York – so time difference should not be an issue. We speak for almost 45 minutes while we are still hiking. My friends have organized a surprise 30th birthday party for Stefan, which I unfortunately cannot attend.
And about one hour after finishing the call we reach Snoqualmie pass. It’s a little past 2pm and we hiked a little over 20 miles today! We pass several ski lifts and soon stand in the middle of this little village. We meet with BigBro first, get something to eat from a food truck (a Bagel Burger for Maya, a Hurry Curry for me) and then check in at the local hotel with BigBro, with whom we share a room.
We get our resupply boxes we had shipped here and do laundry. BigBro wants to order a fleeze sweater and Maya asks if she can order a long sleeved shirt as well. BigBro is Amazon Prime member and profits from super fast delivery. Of course he agrees and we order her shirt to Skykomish, our next stop.
There is also a hiker box at the hotel and I can't believe my luck! I find a pair of Altra Trail Runners (the brand Maya is wearing and I used to wear back in the desert) in my size!!! Now I can finally get rid of my destroyed pair!
At night the three of us get some delicious thin crust pizza at the general store and then hang out in the jacuzzi and the sauna of the hotel. What an exhausting day with a very comfortable ending!
Miles 2347.0 to 2372.9. Mike Ulrich cabin to forest camp.
The night in the cabin was not the greatest we have ever had on the trail. There was a lot of commotion, snoring and people going outside to go to the toilet aka the woods. Of course Maya also had to go, which means climbing down a metal ladder, trying to avoid stepping on sleeping people and somehow find the way with almost no light.
But at least we get up pretty early at 6ish in the morning. The weather is still not very good. There’s some big clouds but the sun is slightly shining through occasionally. We decide to have breakfast in front of the cabin under a roof together with Montana, a hiker we have last seen in the Sierras, which means about 2.5 months ago.
We start hiking at about 8am. Today is way harder than yesterday. We have to climb a lot. But the weather is getting slightly better and at lunchtime the sun finally breaks through the clouds.
We have lunch on a deserted dirt road to get as much sunlight as possible. Big Bro and Benjamin Button are already ahead of us. Our plan is to hike 26 miles today and set up camp in a forest area where there should be cell reception! Benjamin Button will try to hike 36! Miles today to get as close as possible to Snoqualmie Pass, since he has to finish the PCT on the 3th or 4th of October.
BigBro also wants to hike a bit further in the beginning but then agrees to camp with us. We will arrive at Snoqualmie tomorrow as well but will still have to hike about 20 miles. But we will start very early in the morning to get there shortly after lunch time.
The afternoon hike is similar to the one in the morning. Up and down and up and down. The story of the PCT in Washington. We pass a lot of colorful, autumnal bushes and collect more berries.
When we arrive at camp, it is pitch dark and the ground is very muddy. BigBro has already pitched his tent and we have a little chat with him. And indeed, there is cell reception! When we check our phones, we find out that Kim Frost, Maya’s host mum from Canada (Maya did an exchange year during high school in Prince George, British Columbia) wrote to us to tell us she will pick us up in Manning Park, our arrival town in Canada! Kim and her husband Gary live in Campbell River on Vancouver Island now and we can stay with them for as long as we want! Wow, thank you so much Kim and Gary!
With a very grateful feeling and excitement of arriving at Snoqualmie Pass - another milestone for us and the third last stop on the PCT - tomorrow, we go to bed.
Miles 2325.7 to 2347.0. Sheep Lake camp to Mike Urich cabin.
It was a rainy and windy night and therefore it’s not easy to get motivated and get up early in the morning. We make it out of our tent by 6.30am at last, tear down everything and start hikiing shortly after 7am.
It is still very cloudy and rainy, but at least it is not all uphill. We walk on several ridges and then decide to have breakfast on top of a mountain from where we have a beautiful view and meet Big Bro again here. We discuss sleeping options and decide to spend the night at the Mike Ulrich cabin, a shelter about 20 miles away from here. The main reason to stay there is because of the weather forecast which predicts heavy rain in the afternoon which will go on until the next day.
After our breakfast the terrain continues in moderate ups and downs. When we are hiking on the next ridge we suddenly hear voices and noises coming from behind us. Turns out that it’s Peachman, FreeWheel, Merman, Jandels and Montana! Man, does that group grow ever larger and larger! They caught up with us and plan to stay at the cabin as well. And so will Rocket and Flow. In total we will be at least 10 people! And we don’t know the size of the cabin. Well, somehow we will figure out a way for all of us to squeeze in, so no worries, we all think and hike on.
The weather is now turning worse and worse as it starts to rain heavily. It’s time for our rain gear once more. The rain gear is pretty good, however, it does not prevent the shoes from getting wet. They are soon soaking wet. Luckily the feet stay warm enough if we just keep hiking.
And so we continue hiking in these rather miserable conditions and get rewarded by seeing two gorgeous rainbows! We skip lunch today to make it to the cabin as fast as possible, as our feet feel like walking in a pool! There is water everywhere now on the trail, especially hiking in the woods is pretty shitty - there are thousands of small water pools and it is nearly impossible avoiding to step into them. And after a while we don’t even care about trying and evading them any more.
But then at 5.30pm we finally make it to the cabin. Big Bro and Benjamin Button are already here, hanging up their wet tents and trying to get a fire going. We have arrived before the big group and can choose to either stay on the floor or to spend the night upstairs on the gallery. The two BBs (Big Bro & Benjamin Button) and us decide to sleep upstairs. The big group arrives about one hour later and everyone has enough space to install themselves somewhere on the floor.
We all hang up our wet clothes and gear in the cabin, and with the fire the cabin soon starts to warm up. It’s now pretty cosy in this nice little shelter in the middle of nowhere!
Miles 2304.7 to 2325.7. Snow Lake camp to Sheep Lake camp.
Today is Benjamin Button's birthday. So when we all get up, Maya, BigBro and I surprise him by giving him the the two little cakes we got for him, including burning candles on them and sing happy birthday to him.
After a while Maya and I start hiking. It is pretty chilly today, but the sky presents itself cloudless and deeply blue. We hike all the way downhill in the forest towards a big river, which we eventually have to cross by walking across a log. On the other side there are several huge tents and we encounter some hunters (again!) strolling around their tents.
After some more minutes more we finally reach a beautiful meadow, glowing in the bright sunlight. We decide to have breakfast here and hang up our tent to dry. We have to do that every day now, since the nights are getting colder and colder now and therefore condensation water on the inside of the tent is really an issue.
To get back on trail we decide to take a “short cut” through the bushes next to the meadow. Well it turns out it is a real hustle and not a shortcut at all…After successfully earning new scratches on both arms and legs we make it back. BigBro and Benjamin Button for sure must have passed us when we were having breakfast in the meadow away from the PCT we both think, but after the next corner we meet BigBro sitting on the trail and smoking one of his selfmade cigarettes.
We continue together and soon reach a nice creek were we have planned to fill up our bottles. And we meet Benjamin Button again here. It is now about 10am and time for his second gift - a bottle of wine we have been carrying for him in a plastic bottle. So the four of us share the wine and are already getting a bit tipsy in the early morning.
The way now is a lot of up up and then down and up again. Soon we are quite exhausted and take several smaller breaks to collect delicious huckleberries and blueberries, which mother nature offers here in abundance, on every bush.
At lunchtime we meet the others again and spend about one hour together. It’s funny, we all have blue lips and hands today due to the huge amount of berries we’ve been picking and eating.
Since we are all already tired because of the ongoing climb we decide to only do 21 miles today and stop at a lake in about 10 miles. And the up up goes on until we reach the boundary to Rainier National Forest and for the first time see the famous Mount Rainier looking amazing covered in snow.
The path now is beautiful - all the leaves are turning into fabulous shades of yellow or red at this time of year. But it is also an unfriendly reminder that winter is definitely coming rather sooner than later.
We pass several gorgeous lakes. After the last one we do some pretty severe climbing for about 4 miles and then finally reach Chinook pass. There is a highway that passes right next to the pass and a small parking area with toilets and trash bins! That's one of the cool things hiking this trail, small things like trash bins instantly become a source of happiness. Why? Because we can dump a lot of trash there and the packs become lighter again!
Sadly there are several posters at the parking lot saying that a PCT hiker going by the trail name “Sherpa” has been missing in this area for two years now and has last been seen shortly before this pass. It is always very sad seeing things like that and one feels pretty down afterwards. But we always start looking for some signs of clothing or unusual things in the woods.
We continue our way and have to face a last climb to Sheep lake where we plan on sleeping. Only two more miles but it starts to darken now and the weather becomes worse. But then we make it. BigBro is already here and Benjamin Button arrives shortly after us. We are all tired and soon go to sleep without having a camp fire today.
Miles 2294.9 to 2304.7. Packwood/White Pass to Snow Lake camp.
We sleep in until 8.30am today. We were so tired from yesterday! Especially the nightly road walk really got to us. We hear stirring from the others and shortly after, Mama G and Benjamin Button join us. Mama G makes us some coffee and repeats several times to check carefully that we take everything with us. Apparently some hikers had forgotten their trekking poles in the past, another even had forgotten his wallet.
About an 1.5 hours later we say our goodbyes to Mama G, but not before taking a selfie with her, and head out with Benjamin Button to the town's famous pizza place, where we will meet with Big Bro. The only problem is that the pizza place is about a 45 minute walk away (and we are talking off-trail miles here!) from Mama G's house. So after walking for about 10 minutes the three of us reach the main road and decide to hitch to the pizza place. And only seconds later Benjamin Button suddenly realizes he has forgotten his trekking poles…:) So back to Mama G’s he goes while Maya and I start hitching. And we are lucky - after 2 minutes a guy gives us a lift in the back of his truck. Oh, the many interesting hitches we’ve had while on this trail. This time we share our space with dozens of hardware tools.
When we arrive Big Bro is already there, waiting for his omelette to arrive. I am so ready for a pizza, although it is only 10.30am. But turns out, no pizza at this time :(. Well then I will order an omelette as well I think and sit down at the next table. Suddenly the couple sitting at the table next to us start talking to us: “We were wondering if the people in here are PCT thruhikers or just ordinary day hikers. The two of you don’t look like thruhikers.” “Wrong!”, we both reply. “Is it because we aren’t smelly enough yet, having had a shower just last night or don’t we convey a starved-enough expression?”, we wonder. But it doesn’t matter. They have an offer for us. “Well in that case, would you be willing to do an interview with us for our youtube channel in exchange for a free breakfast?”. Ben and Michelle are travelling the country in their RV and have a Youtube channel called Freebirds (see following link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCokw7ZEob9L0SJanMhcyA8w). “Of course!”, we reply without thinking. Should be fun!
So we give them a 10-minute interview, answering questions about us, our motivation and life on the trail and they pay for our breakfast! Awesome, thank you again guys and enjoy your amazing journey! The interview can be found here on their Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/YfBwOnx9_vs
After breakfast and the interview we still have half an hour left until our driver to the trailhead will arrive at the restaurant. So we hit the grocery store next to the pizza place and buy some cake, candles and a bottle of red wine for Benjamin Button as a birthday surprise for tomorrow.
Then our driver arrives and after a 30 minute ride we arrive at White pass, at the Cracker Barrel shop. In front of the shop several hikers are lying spread out in the sun, organizing their resupply they have picked up at the store, or just hanging out. Some we know, some we’ve never seen before. It’s funny, people suddenly turning up, having come from the same place but never having crossed paths before.
And we do exactly the same - we pick up our resupply boxes, do our laundry, finally share a pizza with Big Bro and organize our stuff in front of the shop. This is exactly why somebody came up with the term hikertrash for thruhikers. We don’t care what we look like, we don’t care what a bunch of smelly, beardy people lying on the ground look like. It’s sunny, it’s warm, suddenly we don’t have a care in the world and just enjoy being in this carefree moment, surrounded by great company. it doesn’t make us want to start hiking.
But at 3pm we finally head out again with BigBro. We only do 10 miles, which turns out to be longer than we thought, since we encounter tons of delicious blueberries next to the trail and can not stop eating them. The blueberry bushes carry all the different colors of autumn. Yellow, orange, red, dark red. They look so pretty! But then finally we make it and Big Bro and I start a fire again. This time it is fairly easy since all the wood is dry now. At 9pm Benjamin Button, who has had a few beers (too many, as a birthday pre-celebration) at Cracker Barrel, finally gets into camp as well. We all hang out next to the fire for a short time and then crawl into our sleeping bags.
Miles 2273.1 to 2294.9. Mountain Panorama camp to Packwood.
We get up first, of course. First because we always get up first. Second because we are really excited to see Wizard.
We check every campsite for her tent. Her tent is the same as ours, but for two instead of three persons. It’s also one of the bestselling tents for long distance hiking. It so happens that in every campsite we pass there is an orange Big Agnes tent set up. Which doesn’t make our search for her any easier and less creepy as we crawl close to every tent to find out if she’s sleeping in it.
We see her tent on the last tentsite before Old Snowy. We already assumed that this is the one she would be camping at. Other hikers further down informed us that there are 3 hikers, 2 female and 1 male, camped up there. Wizard, TwoBeers and Nemo! We know all three of them and couldn’t be more excited to finally see them.
But they’re all asleep. We spot Benjamin Button who must have slept here too. We crawl up to Wizard’s tent whispering how we should surprise her. We slowly unzip her tent and there she is! Looking at us in surprise and with so much joy! And also a little tired… It doesn’t feel like it’s been three months since we last saw her. More like three days. But it feels so good! We missed her so much!
How strange is it to run into each other on this mountain in Washington in the end of September when the last time we saw each other was in Bishop, California, in June! We have so much catching up to do!
While she is getting up, we prepare coffee and enjoy the spectacular 360° views unfolding around us. There’s Mt Adams, Mt Saint Helens, Old Snowy. Is there Mt Rainier too? It’s hard to tell which mountain is which. But they sure are very impressive. We sit down and have a looong breakfast together. Talking about everything. She even carried a huge cookie and a bottle of CabSav with her all the way from White Pass to give to Dario as a belated birthday present. Nemo, TwoBeers and Benjamin Button soon join, followed by BigBro and Flat Earth when they eventually hike by.
We sit there from 8am to 12pm. 4 hours of talking, laughing, playing cards, taking pictures. Such good people. Wizard tells us that she will leave the trail in Cascade Locks and hopefully come back to finish the trail next year. This is totally understandable. As great as it is to hike in conditions like today, we all know how quickly it can change and become downright dangerous. The three of them then inform us about the upcoming detour. Right after Goat Rocks we will leave the PCT and get on a detour taking us straight into the town of Packwood. The PCT is once more closed due to fire. We realize that we have to get going eventually, as we still have about 18 miles ahead of us.
Saying goodbye is hard, but we know we will see Wizard again. We will visit her in Australia in February. And off we go. 5 minutes after we leave her we are walking through a snow field. The scenery behind it changes again dramatically. There is a valley we can’t see for there is so much fog in it. And the fog is leaving the valley on all sides, overflowing. It looks incredible. But this is also the valley we will be hiking in later today. Not so much fun…
After the snowfield we start our ascent on Old Snowy mountain. The PCT would take the easier route on the side of the mountain but it’s common for thruhikers to do the Knife’s Edge route following the mountain ridge on the top. It’s a hard, but short climb and when we reach the top we are really on top. On top of the world. The world lies at our feet. It’s all downhill from here. The horizon is endless. The mountains are high. But we are higher.
We take some pictures and movies. They look funny because we are in our shorts and t-shirts. It’s not too cold up here but it looks cold because there is snow all around us. It’s one of the best views we’ve had on this trail, if not the best. It’s a moment we will treasure forever.
The ridge walk turns out to be quite sketchy. There is a lot of wind now, and whenever we get lower we are hiking in fog and it’s really cold. We hike like this for another two hours before we reach the PCT closure and start our hike into Packwood. We have no idea what we’ll do when we get there. We know of a trail angel called Mama G but we have no cell reception to contact her to see if she has room for us. It sounds like the last 2 hours of the trail will be a road walk on a desolate road from where it will be highly unlikely to catch a ride. So we do what we can do at the moment - and hike.
It’s all downhill now, in the fog and so the scenery isn’t as spectacular as before anymore. But we are hiking through dense rain forest now, which is still pretty. We have to climb across a lot of fallen logs and the steepness doesn’t help much.
We reach the bottom after a couple more hours of hiking. There is a beautiful lake there called Packwood Lake. Can’t be far to Packwood now, can it? But we are wrong. After we’ve surrounded the lake we reach a dirt road and follow it for another 2 hours. We then reach a asphalted road which is very deserted. It’s dark by now and we are exhausted. My shoulders really ache and we don’t know what we’re hiking for. We have no place to stay in Packwood. We still have 6 miles of roadwalking to do until we reach it. We’ve just had the most amazing day but now it feels as though it might end up in a fiasco. Why not just set up camp here? Well, we’ve looked, but there is no space anywhere to set up camp. We see the town of Packwood far below but it looks big. How are we supposed to reach Mama G? We still have no reception and according to Guthooks we won’t get any once we’re in town. No AT&T network provided here.
We are really desperate by now, but are still hiking because it’s the only thing to do. Suddenly we hear a car come up. Come up? Why? There’s nothing here! Except for us! The car slows down even before we stretch our hands out to wave frantically. It stops next to us and we see Benjamin Button in the passenger’s seat. What the…? He looks relieved to see us and states that he contacted Mama G (he has a different network provider) and she had someone drive up here to look for him as well as potential other hikers. Benjamin Button of course knew that we must be somewhere behind him and once he was in the car he asked the driver to keep looking for us. Lucky for us they did! I have never been happier to see a car in my entire life!
The rest of the night is a blur because we are both so exhausted. We get in the car, drive over to Mama G’s. She fixes us up with a huge plate of pasta, lets us shower and makes up the bed for us. Benjamin Button is also sleeping here and it seems like BigBro made it to Packwood early enough to find a hotel. After the shower we both fall asleep instantly, not really grasping just how lucky we were tonight.
Miles 2244.3 to 2273.1. Killen Creek camp to Mountain Panorama camp.
It was a really cold night. I might have to order some additional clothes to stay warm soon. There’s morning dew on the meadow that I cross in the morning to wash our dishes. The water has frozen over night. The water is icy cold, just the perfect temperature to rinse our pots in! And there is Mount Adams there. All white. All pretty. What a special moment this is. The sky is cloudfree. It’s so quiet. Coach and BigBro are still asleep. We start hiking fast to get warm. It’s all downhill or straight terrain and when we stop for our sunny breakfast break after two hours we’ve already hiked 7 miles. That’s pretty good! And I just can’t get over how beautiful today is! No cloud in sight. We are so lucky. If it stays this way until Canada we will be the happiest people ever!
While we dry out are tents and sleeping bags in the sun we take a lengthy breakfast. But nobody catches up with us. We get going again, getting more and more excited about our approaching encounter with Wizard, and Goat Rocks Wilderness.
When we stop to collect water at a creek BigBro finally catches up. He is also in an excellent mood today! We pass him again later when he takes his lunch break in the sun. And he passes us again when we are having lunch in front of this spectacular panorama view. If only it would stay like this! We would hike until Alaska.
Later in the day we start approaching Cispus Pass. There is no camping before it so we think that Wizard might camp at the first camp spot behind Cispus Pass. I can’t even begin to describe the breathtaking scenery we are hiking in right now. Mountains, meadows, creeks and lakes. Sun. The sun is already quite low, the mountains carry all autumnal colors available and the mountain peaks are white. And we even spot some mountain geese!
Cispus Pass itself is quite hard to climb. It’s steep and rocky but we don’t let it slow us down. We practically run up the pass. After almost 29 miles of hiking today!
The other side of the pass is equally beautiful. We are really close to our campsite now. The sun has just set when we reach it. BigBro’s and Flat Earth’s tents are there. Flat Earth calls out to us saying that BigBro walked up to the next campsite to check whether Wizard is there. How sweet!
While we set up, BigBro comes back. He didn’t see Wizard but left her a note in case she’ll come in later. That way she will know that we are only camped 0.6 miles further south. We don’t think we’ll still see her tonight though. But that means we will bump into her tomorrow. And hike Knife’s Edge on Old Snowy in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Today was bloody fantastic. How can tomorrow even surpass today?!
Miles to 2228.9 to 2244.3. Trout Lake to Killen Creek camp.
We sleep in. Hikerish for sleeping until 8am. The only morning shuttle back to trail leaves at 9am. Too bad we didn’t check that yesterday, because now we get in kind of a hurry. I pack and buy some sandwiches and huckleberry rolls for breakfast while Dario gets the tents at the community centre. We are just in time for the shuttle which is packed. Haven’t seen that many hikers in one spot in a while! The sky is blue, the sun is shining, it’s kind of cool outside, so it’s the perfect hiking weather! We get off the shuttle and eat a sandwich and a huckleberry roll for breakfast. Yummy, these are so delicious! It’s like cinnamon rolls, but with the local huckleberries we’ve been picking for days and days. And loads of icing on top, so tasty! At home I could never eat this, it’s probably got 1000 calories at home. But here, who cares. :-)
We are all standing at the trailhead, hesitating to get going. The ambience is good, relaxed, we’re all motivated. There’s BigBro, Coach, Flat Earth, Benjamin Button, and a SOBO called HappyFeet. Anticipation is in the air. Only 4 more resupply stops until Canada!!! It’s getting real. Suddenly someone storms out of the forest. It’s Sasquatch! The last time we’ve seen him was after Bend when he was just about to go into town. He looks beaten, exhausted, tired. He joins us and says “that’s it, I’m done. I quit.” We all stare at him, shocked, but also understanding. He had a tough, rainy night last night, while we slept in the comfort of our rooms. He looks relieved. Happy to be able to have come to a conclusion. He’s made it so far! I feel sad for him. But also jealous. I’ve thought about quitting a lot in the last couple weeks. And it’s the hardest thing to actually decide to go through with it. He puts his pack down and takes out his stove and starts making coffee. “Might has well have breakfast here while you’re all here.” We stay with him a little longer and eventually get going, back on trail. Back on this ass-kicking, yet amazingly beautiful trail.
And it is beautiful today. The forest is still wet, rain drops dripping from the plants and trees, but the sky is still as blue as ever. It starts with a slight uphill climb, after the forest we hike through a burnt area, and then we see Mt Adams. One of the famed Washington mountains. It’s covered in snow and very pretty. We keep seeing it all day, except for some time that he’s stuck behind some local fog. We will only do 15 miles today because there is supposed to be a great camp spot there, with a lovely waterfall and space for all of us. We’ll catch up on the miles soon…
When we reach the campsite it turns out that Benjamin Button and Flat Earth must have pushed on. But Coach and BigBro are here, getting started on a sweet campfire. We set up camp, then Dario joins the guys to make the fire. I am way too cold now to join in, but enjoy lying in my sleeping bag when it’s still light out. I can hear the waterfall nearby and the guys joking. Coach has an awesome Spotify playlist on. We feel great. We feel we are right where we are meant to be.
Hopefully our next couple of days stay rainfree, but it looks good according to the weather forecast. And we’re really excited for tomorrow as we will be reaching the beautiful Goat Rocks Wilderness. And we’ve also been in touch with Wizard, our Australian friend we hiked with back in the desert, and she’s skipped up north to hike south a while ago. And tomorrow is very likely the day we will run into each other. So many things to look forward to!
Miles 2209.9 to 2214.7. Wet meadow camp to Trout Lake.
Wet wet wet. Everything is wet. When we remove our sleeping pads we see that our entire ground sheet is lying in a pool of water. And it’s still raining. We try to pack our stuff inside out, meaning we first remove the inner tent while we keep the rain fly on and then pack everything else before we take down the rain fly. It kind of works, but our stuff still gets pretty wet. BigBro is still in his tent, wondering how he should take down his tent. Luckily we arrive in Trout Lake today. Of course I had to pee at night in the rain. Always great timing, thank you my dear bladder.
We don‘t take breaks. No breakfast, no lunch. Why would we? How could we? It‘s constantly raining and whenever we stop we get cold quickly. So frozen Snickers bars for breakfast while hiking it is. Aaaah! This is no fun. We are completely soaked. Another 12 miles (= 3.5 hours) to Trout Lake. Really? In Switzerland we wouldn‘t even leave the house if we didn‘t absolutely have to. At least the terrain is fairly easy. And just when I wonder how I am supposed to keep going for so much longer, we reach a parking lot. There are some trucks and campers there but it looks abandoned. There is a trail register there and while we sign it with frozen fingers and shaking hands, we hear someone calling out to us. We turn around and find a guy standing there, in his fifties. He asks us whether we want a ride to Trout Lake. I can‘t believe it. Did someone actually hear me when I was praying up towards the sky, asking for a miracle? Dario and I look at each other, we really can‘t believe our luck. I mean, yes, we would skip another 12 miles, but really, who cares? Still, Dario is unsure, thinking that maybe we should push through? At that moment the sky opens up and releases more precipitation than we have ever encountered before on this trail. Along with hail and wind. We think no more. Yes of course Tim, we would love a ride with you!!! He says he will be ready in about 15 minutes, which is perfect because it might give BigBro time to catch up with us and decide if he wants to come along. And indeed, there he is. And while he completely understands our decision he insists to keep going. We give him our rain mitts and he hands over his tent (so we can start drying it in Trout Lake) and Tim prepares some peanut butter and jam sandwiches for all of us. We really admire BigBro‘s determination. Of course we could do it too, but why, why, would we do this to ourselves? He has never skipped a single mile though, so it‘s definitely understandable that he wants to keep going.
Our feet are frozen by now and we happily climb into the car and drive towards Trout Lake. Thank you so so much Tim, you really helped us out!
We reach Trout Lake and check in at the General Store where we also booked one of their two rooms for the three of us. In the store we run into Benjamin Button again whom we haven‘t seen since Northern California. The rooms aren‘t ready yet so we go over to the church/community centre and hang up our tents to dry in the huge gym. Then we head over to the restaurant and order the usual: burgers and fries and cokes. We are still wet because we couldn‘t change yet but life is already treating us very well now.
Finally we can check into our room where we take long baths, hang everything up to dry and do laundry. It‘s warm and cozy and we are so so happy. BigBro reaches town in the late afternoon and is completely soaked but claims that it wasn‘t too bad. We had shipped two boxes here which we now organise. We have way too much food considering that we already carried too much to begin with. We put the rest in the hiker box and then put on some dry clothes and walk over to an inn to have dinner. The food is fabulous and a funny cat keeps us company.
On our way back to the general store I promptly walk into a large puddle. My dry clothes? Not so dry anymore!
Luckily the room is nice and warm, I hang up the clothes to dry and we make ourselves comfortable in the room watching Ocean‘s 8. But we are all really tired and fall asleep pretty soon.
Let’s just hope that the weather will give us a break now. Can‘t cope with that much rain. The cold is fine, we always heat up when we hike, but the rain - no, thank you very much!
Miles 2185.7 to 2209.9. Woods camp to Wet Meadow Camp
We are the first to leave camp. It‘s still dark outside and we need our headlamps to lead the way. As usual our goal is to find a sunny spot for breakfast where we can dry our tent and warm up ourselves. Even though we are mostly in the woods and the sun is hidden behind the trees we get lucky. Just as the sun comes out we pass by a little meadow and grasp this opportunity to take this break after 3 miles. Unfortunately the sun doesn‘t stay out for long and we are soon chilly again. BigBro catches up and joins us before we get going.
We are hiking quite high up, so whenever we are not surrounded by trees the views are quite nice. We are both listening to Harry Potter again and hike efficiently towards Trout Lake, our next resupply spot, which we should be reaching tomorrow afternoon.
We are in luck in terms of our lunch break. Shortly before we reach the campground where there should be picnic tables and pit toilets (yaaaay!) we cross paths with an elderly SOBO who hands over a mountain house meal he doesn‘t need. This is exciting! We stopped buying those dehydrated meals because they are quite expensive, and this is a very good brand and a meal we haven‘t tried yet, so yes, exciting! Beesknees also joins us for lunch and so it‘s the four of us sitting at an actual table in damp Washington eating the meals we are getting so tired of. Except for Dario who gets to eat the new Mountain house meal and is quite happy.
After lunch the terrain becomes quite easy and so we make good time and actually end up doing another 24-mile day today, incl reaching the 2200 mile marker! We had agreed with BigBro to set up our tents by a junction, but there is no room for any tents there and so we keep hiking until we find BigBro, on a large grassy clearing, setting up his tent. It looks beautiful. We hurry down to the little meadow and chose the flattest spot next to him. Just as we are done setting up the rain starts. This time it‘s not a drizzle. This time the sky opens up and let‘s the rain pour down on us bigtime. But we are safe, we are dry, we are warm in our sleeping bags. But was it a good idea to set up camp away from the relative protection of the trees? Little did we know then that we would wake up in a pond of water.
Miles 2162.1 to 2185.7. Woods camp to woods camp.
We slept really well and feel rested when the alarm rings. It‘s still dark outside and we try not to make too much noise when we pack up so as not to wake up BigBro. But his alarm rings soon as well and he sticks his head out of his tent and smokes his first cigarette of the day as usual. While we are packing up and talking to BigBro dawn fades and out comes the sun, shining through the trees, looking so pretty. I take a lot of pictures, and then we finally start hiking.
But we don‘t make it very far until I start taking pictures again. We discover a nice little rock out of the woods and step out on it. The most amazing scenery is right in front of us. A misty morning, foggy trees, the early morning sun. It‘s magical.
We soon take a breakfast break in the sun where we hang up our wet tent to dry. No sight of Big Bro. We leave again and keep hiking through forest. He eventually catches up with us and we decide to meet again for lunch. It‘s again a sunny clearing where we hang up the tent again. This will quickly become our routine now, the tent is pretty much always wet now. Condensation happening inside the tent, rain happening outside the tent. Luckily, we stay dry. So far.
We should be able to reach our goal of 22 miles today, walking is up and down but not too hard on us today. We keep getting nice views whenever the forest lifts for a bit and when we reach the bottom of a valley we leave the forest completely and are walking in lovely wheat colored meadows. Here the sun can easily reach us. Inside and outside. Such a simple life. What a good life.
We cross a few larger rivers and meet up with BigBro again on one of the many river shores. We stuff some M&Ms and Sour Patch in our mouths (still our favorite snack!) and attack the last climb of the day. Hey now, that‘s a steep one. Looks like the PCTA forgot that horses need to be able to hike this trail too (we say that whenever the trail becomes too steep for us)!
But we successfully climb it and finally reach our designated campsite at dusk after almost 24 miles. That‘s good for Washington standards! Beesknees is also camped there, a lovely lady who has been leapfrogging with us all day.
We set up, make dinner and write the blog and then enjoy our usual Great British Baking Show during dinner. The nights are coming in earlier and earlier now, and they are colder each night. Let‘s hope we stay warm tonight.
Miles 2147.1 to 2162.1. Cascade Locks to woods camp.
We caught up way until after hikers midnight last night. So we sleep in, take showers, eat spaghetti leftovers for breakfast, write some emails, pack our stuff. And are ready by 11am. We stayed about 2 miles away from the Bridge of Gods across the Columbia river, which is the state between Oregon and Washington. And every aspiring thruhiker knows this bridge. It‘s a big milestone. Even for us who skipped the last 49 miles to get here. It‘s also known among normal people who read the book „Wild“ by Cheryl Strayed. Or watched the correspondent Hollywood movie with Reese Witherspoon starring.
We don‘t want to hike the 2 miles of course because they are of the kind that don‘t count. So let‘s try hitching on this rather rural street. But we were lucky yesterday when we went grocery shopping so let‘s try again. And again, the first car stops and takes us directly to the Bridge of the Gods. It‘s a big deal walking across it. It‘s rather long, it‘s high up with beautiful views on both sides. We are not really in a hurry since we only want to do about 10 miles this afternoon. We take our time, take pictures and take in the change of states. We made it to Washington.
We know Dario and I, unlike BigBro, didn‘t do the whole thing. But sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we still hiked more than 1700 miles and have been living trail life for 115 days now. It’s more than we ever dared to think about. So crossing this bridge, it’s a big deal.
And Washington, from the start, isn’t making this easy. We’re back in the woods, it‘s going uphill, it‘s going uphill fast and we realize that the altitude on our app has again been adjusted to match the terrain. A steep mountain on the app is a steep mountain in Washington. Here we go.
After about 40 minutes Dario realizes that he must have dropped his sunglasses. He turns around while I wait for him. BigBro is long gone by now. He finally comes back 35 minutes later, completely out of breath, having run the whole way back again, down and back up the mountain. At least he found the sunglasses again.
We meet BigBro out on a clearing where we decided to have lunch before and just when we start eating our couscous, it starts raining. We eat very quickly and start moving again, putting the rain covers back on our packs. And off we are again. Not exactly the most relaxed lunch break, but that‘s what it will be like from now on. We have to adjust to the weather and take our breaks when it‘s not raining. The trail leads further uphill, and our tentsite will be on top of that mountain. We are very focused now to reach it soon and hope it stops raining soon.
It does stop raining very soon and the sky is beautifully clear, but when we reach our campsite we find out it‘s already taken and there is no room for both our tents - which is why BigBro probably went on. We keep hiking straight for another mile, it‘s dark now, when we finally see a flashlight and hear BigBro calling out to us. He found some flat ground but there‘s not enough room for both tents. We are in pretty dense and steep forest and it‘s hard to find a large enough area, but we encounter one eventually and set up our tent in the light of our flashlights. It‘s nice to have company tonight in this very remote and dark forest. Our first night in Washington, and with new and functional inflatable pillows. Yay! Dario and I will get up early tomorrow to cover some ground before BigBro gets up. We will try to do 22 miles every day now so that BigBro will reach the Canadian border in time for his flight. We are aiming for the 6th of October.
The sky is clear now, but the trees are still wet and keep dropping down on our tent. A ground sound to fall asleep to.