a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
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.