Man… the last ~250 miles have been kind of weird mentally. Last year I first flew to Portland, then hopped on the PCT for a 5-day hike north starting at Bridge of The Gods. So re-hiking that section was deja vu-ish. However, it felt amazing to cross into the last state, Washington.
Washington is known as being a state where your mileage drops due to tougher terrain (rocks, roots, steep climbs). For me, it was familiar. Like the A.T.
A big difference out here though is glimpses of tall, lone peaks. This is becoming all to familiar as well after 4.5 months. The camera never does is justice, but I caught a glimpse of Mt. Adams.
I’ve started thinking hard about post-trail live. Shew. So. Much. Stuff. However, I’ve never really mentally checked-out from work. It’s always on the brain. Sickening, huh? Truth be told, I really dig what I do. I am super fortunate to have a Sabbatical to come out here, and have such a great team back at The Pmet. R & D is a blast, literally sometimes. So, more familiarity.
When closing in on Trout Lake, the scenery was top-notch and not too smoky.
This town had the most impressive network of trail angels I’ve ever ran across. This extremely itty-bitty teeny-tiny town had this many trail angels:
Doug Anderson started it all years ago out of a simple conversation with some hikers he was curious about. Boom. Growth.
While resupplying at the only store in town, the big news spread quickly. The PCT was closed from Highway 20 (Rainy Pass) north all the way to Canada. Yeah. No access to the northern terminus monument. This is the carrot. The driver. The motivation for many hikers. Fires man, fires everywhere.
That news, in combination with two more trail fires/closures/detours really got many hikers down. After all, when you’re here to see amazing views, but instead you see thick haze, it is a bummer. Plus, breathing the extremely small PM2.5 smoke particles is super unhealthy.
Once we got the hitch-of-a-lifetime from a double triple-crown hiker to Packwood, the planning began. Tumbleweed decided to peace-out for all the aforementioned reasons. Can’t say I blame her. For myself, I am not driven as much by the views. Again, I’ve seen a chunk of this section from last year. Familiarity.
(Becoming all to familiar as well.)
(Weiner dogs. So familiar to me. Rattlesnake took his eye out. Seriously.)
(Because of course.)
After her friend dropped me off at the trail head to continue north, I ran across another hiker who had the same pack, stove, beard, and hair as me. Hmm… more familiarity. We chatted as we hiked towards a non-existing goal. Basics. Where you from? Virginia. Yeah? Me too. College? Virginia Tech. Yeah? Me too. Major? Engineering. Of course… Great guy, graduated 5 years before me. Also tied to the aerospace industry. Been in the 3-D printing world with Honeywell in their R&D program. Crazy.
It was a pretty solid day. Clear. Comfortable. Also got a great view of Mt. Rainier.
The rest of the day was great too. More good views and my first mountain goat.
(The super small white speck on the mountain is the goat.)
These views were short lived. Back to familiarity. You know, smoke and burn stuff. A 34-mile day of this was dumb.
Eventually I got the hell out of this scorched section and landed in the Snoqualmie section. More familiarity. Last year, I also did a second 5-day hike north on the PCT in this section.
Speaking of hiking last year, I was doing a hike in Red River Gorge last August and saw ribbons on trees and was clueless. Soon thereafter, runners. Dozens and dozens. For about an hour straight. Constantly I had to pull of the trail and let them by. No worries. I was not on a schedule. So, then out here, guess what I saw on my last day before getting to the hotel? Yep.
There was a 104-mile marathon on the PCT that day. Over 200 runners, sneaking up behind me. Familiarity.
I decided to do my own marathon. Another 34-mile day to try and keep ahead of the runners. Besides, I had no reason to go slow. The views were, um, familiar.
Fortunately, the runners never caught me in the rain and I made it to town before dark.
(Closing in on shower and a bed.)
To add to familiarity, Tumbleweed and her friend made the trip from Seattle to do dinner once I was in town. Bonus, I got new and very necessary headphones thanks to her friends vehicular capabilities. Cars. Amazing.
I am in the same hotel as last year, and go figure… room 141… just like last year. Familiarity.
Blah blah blah… so what to do about this whole lack of a finale thing? Well, I have an idea. I’ve been out too long to not tag that monument. I’m thinking this:
(Because of course there is no straight-line route.)
Basically, I’ll go to Rainy Pass (current end), then drive to Canada, and hike south to the monument. Where there is a will, there is a way. Boom.