“Wander a whole summer if you can…time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will definitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.” John Muir


August 2017

Day 42-43: Pasayten Bound

August 18-19, 2017

Miles: 7.5

PNT mile 710.5

Camp: Springside on our way to the Pasayten in the Okanogan hills.

Well, we ended up taking that zero yesterday. There was too much to do in order to make sure we were ready to conquer this upcoming section. It is 153 miles and should take 9 days, but we started talking about skipping the roadwalk to the trail and bringing those miles down. We both want to walk all of the miles but neither of us sees a point to spending so much time just walking on roads. 

So when our friends Veggie and Karma said they were in the area, we accepted a ride that took us up the 25 mile road walk. We could cut down to 7 days of food and only miss walking on roads. The decision felt good. We are finally going to cut to the chase and see some mountains! I’m so ready for the wilderness experience the Pasayten promises. We have a stop at a lake resort where they brought our packages in by boat and then we hike 3 more days to the next town. It will take 10 days total.

This morning came and went quick as we spent time with Thumbelina. We probably won’t see her for a while because she is staying in town 1 more day. We plan to take our time in this section and then ramp it up until the Olympics. There is some pretty easy tread in between and lots of fun towns to visit. We will not want to be rushed when we reach the Olympics so we have to get there with enough time before snow falls.

We said goodbye to our friend Thumbelina and hit the road with Veggie and Karma. We will miss her and hope we catch up later on down the trail. 

Veggie and Karma then drove us the long miles we were happy to not be walking. We still had to roadwalk for 9 miles, but it wasn’t paved. Before all of that we hung out with them for a while and they made us quesadillas. Karma and I met on the PCT in 2014 and Pink met Veggie on the PCT in 2012. Now we were all sitting by the side of the road outside of Oroville, Washington eating quesadillas and drinking beer in 2017. What a fun world we live in out here. 

The trail magic and visit with our friends made it hard to hike on, but it was time to go. We hoisted our 7 day resupply packs and immediately felt the extra weight. The road started climbing right away for the 5000′ of gain in the next 8.9 miles. The day was hot and we were sweating big droplets of sweat. It was also steep and our packs felt like 100lbs. It was a lot of work and it felt good.

We made it most of the way up the climb to a spring where we are camped. It will be an early day tomorrow so that’s it for today…it’s bedtime.

Buenos Noches!

Day 41: Welcome to Oroville

August 17, 2017

Miles: 6

PNT mile 579

Camp: Camaray Motel, Oroville, WA

The walking today was a short 2 miles of trail followed by 2.6 miles on the highway. The trail was nice, cool and more gently graded than we expected. The highway was paved and full of fast cars and trucks. We couldn’t hitchhike if we tried, so we saved our own time and just hoofed it. It wasn’t terrible and before we knew it, we were booking a room in town.

We went to breakfast, picked up our resupply boxes, watched television, swam in the pool and rode bikes. It was a full day, but we are still a bit behind on chores. I managed to stitch up some holes in my pack and give it a bath in the hotel tub too. After 2300 miles of hiking with this pack I feel as if it has come a long way and is holding up as well as can be expected. There has certainly been some abuse…

Anyhow, it has been relaxing. I’m not sure if we will zero or not, but the rest will be good for our bodies and spirits. Good things are on the horizon with the Pasayten, North Cascades and Olympics on the menu.

I’ll go to sleep dreaming of that and a belly full of chicken parmesan. Life is good. 

Day 40: The Endless Road

August 16, 2017

Miles: 23

PNT mile 573

Camp: Whistler Canyon

I had no trouble getting up at 6 today and it felt good to wake up naturally for once. We didn’t get walking until 8, mostly because we didn’t need to do a big day today. All we had to do was get close to town so we can walk in for breakfast in the morning. 

The morning was cool and we walked fast to get warm. Pink commented on how the morning shade/shadows seem to linger the longest and the afternoon ones take a lot longer to expand. We are always looking for one or the other, shade or sun.

The day was composed of dirt road walks and we renamed the trail, “The Pacific Northwest Road: Some sections may be trail.” It is getting kind of silly how often we are on roads, though we knew going into it that it is an incomplete trail. We didn’t realize the extent of the road walking and it is hard on both of us. Our feet, knees, backs and motivation all suffer from never ending roads. My feet have been especially ornary lately, they simply hurt all of the time. Sometimes I take Vitamin I just to go a few more miles. It is getting to be too much.

I’m toying with the idea of skipping all paved roads on the rest of this hike. I can live without being a thru hiker if it means a more comfortable journey in the good parts of real trail. That’s what I’m here for, not to prove I can follow a continuous footpath from A to B. It’s been on my mind a lot as I dig for morsels of motivation. 

Today had a few beautiful moments though. We saw a white horse hanging out with a mama and baby cow. They were all standing in a clearing, watching us walk by. We also caught a glimpse of the Pasayten. That is the wilderness we hike through next. It is supposed to be one of the best parts of the PNT and it even shares some miles with the PCT there. We will be there for 7-9 days and should be far from roads up there. It is a thought that keeps me going and seeing the range before us today was a wonderful moment. I always love watching a mountain range grow before me only to watch it fade in the rear view as I walk through. It is a great display of how far we travel. I also seriously miss the mountains right now. It is time for some of that wild life.

Just before dinner I was lagging a little behind Pink and I saw him stopped ahead. This could mean any number of things…but it turned out to be something rather unexpected. There was a rattlesnake in the leaves next to the trail. It was rattling away and posing in strike position ready for our attempt at passage. We looked at the ravine below and the rise above, ultimately walking up and around the snake. It didn’t seem to have any plans to vacate anytime soon and we were within eyeshot of our dinner spot.

We ate dinner with no visitors but the flying kind. Mosquitoes made a mild return tonight as we have been a good amount of time without them. They weren’t terrible but any can be too much.

We are now camped next to a dry river that the guidebook lists as as good source. It’s a tough game of trusting our sources out here. We look forward to the wetter western section of this trail…just after the Pasayten. 

As for now, I’m wiped out and ready to sleep. It is hotter than it has been tonight, so hopefully I sleep well! Goodnight.

Day 39: Dog Walkers

August 15, 2017

Miles: 21

PNT mile 545.5

Camp: Some intersection in the yellowed grass of late summer

The day got started as we hit the trail (road) at 7:30 am. We seem to struggle with the early alarm, something that was pretty easy on the other trails. I’m not completely sure why, but it has a lot to do with our daily schedule. We have different ways of doing certain things and I tend to be faster at getting things done and ready to hike. I really have not had much of a problem with getting to camp with enough time to do chores until now and I feel behind a lot. I feel behind in miles and I feel behind in getting the trail hiked. It makes me more tired than I need to be as well…especially with an early alarm. I function best on 8 hours of sleep, which I don’t get very often. 

We began our road walk in the cool of the morning, inspecting old deserted cars and meeting the dogs of Cougar Creek. One German Shorthair came bounding up to us, happy as could be and then ran down the road ahead of us. This dog had energy! We were unclear on where her home was but we figured she had a boundary and would turn back as she continued to follow us. Before we knew it, we couldn’t get rid of her. She was running in the road where cars were cruising by and kept behaving as if she was with us.

Miles passed and we didn’t know what to do. She wouldn’t listen and we had no cell signal. We knocked on a few doors and got no answer and a man in a truck stopped but “couldn’t help.” Finally, a woman came to her door but turned us away with a gruff, “no.”

The dog followed us all of the way to Bonaparte Lake Resort, roughly 8 miles from where she had found us. We were really hoping they could help us get her home. I fell a little in love with her, I won’t lie. When we arrived at the resort, the man working said he knew her and her owner. He used to own the dog but she had too much energy for him so he gave her to a man who lived where we had been walking.

Relieved that the dog would make it home, we found a picnic table in the shade for lunch. A young boy about 8 or 9 came to sit near us and ended up asking tons of questions. His name is Kyle and he is pretty funny. He showed us his fishing pole and how it needs glue to hold it together at one of the joints. “Do you guys have any glue?” He asked.

“Sorry, no.” We said.

“Why not? You don’t like glue or something?” He was genuinely confused. I thought it was hilarious, but refrained from laughing at him. He was a sweet kid. I liked him.

After our lunch of split pea soup with salami, we made our escape from both the dog and the child. They were both awesome and I was a little sad to say goodbye. That is when we spotted Thumbelina at one of the campsites. She has really been struggling with road walking, so sometimes she gets rides around them…and lucky for us to hang out with her more. Otherwise we would probably never see her.

We sat with her briefly, but we had to climb Bonaparte Mountain today. It was a pretty steady climb for roughly 6 miles, the last mile being the most steep. We ended up not hitting the summit due to the hour. Granted, we are out here to see it all, we got up there later than expected (between the dog, the kid and Thumbelina). 

Lucky for us we didn’t take the time to hike the extra mile too because we barely found camp by dark. There were thousands of blown down trees that littered any flat area we could use, so we had to push forward until a road intersection. It is flat and grassy here, and the stars are out. It will do just fine. Tomorrow should be pretty easy though, then town the following day. We are doing well. 

Day 38: Miles!

August 14, 2017

Miles: 26 (includes some off trail ‘exploring’)

PNT mile 519

Camp: On the banks of Cougar Creek outside of Republic

The 5:30 alarm we had set came too early. It was very cool last night and the morning was even colder, so it was extra hard to get up. I struggled, but inevitably lost the game I affectionately call, “bladder wars.” This is where I stay as still as possible until I can no longer fight the urge to pee. I lose every day eventually. On cold mornings though, once I get up and go, I dive right back into the warmth and coziness of my tent and sleeping quilt. Then I do every possible chore from within my quilt that I can before I get up again. Then it is time to spring into action to get the blood pumping. Cold mornings can be intense.

We were out of camp by 7am despite the lingering caused by the cold. It felt so good to walk in that cool morning air, we were getting 3 mph and it felt good to make progress. I felt as if we could do some real good miles today if we wanted to. 

At around 11am, we collected water from a stream and looked at an alternate. It added 1 mile but said it avoided paved roads, it also said it might be confusing but would be marked by cairns. We decided that anything is better than pavement and there was no mention of anything about bushwacking.

Within 10 minutes we were already confused. There was supposed to be cairns and flags to tell us where to turn…but there was nothing. We continued forward using GPS to guide us towards the route, but never really finding anything that looked like a trail. There was supposedly a series of abandoned roads to follow as well. We less than quickly learned it had been false advertising. We made it almost 2 miles before having to accept defeat and reroute back to the pavement.

It took a good amount of time to do all of that and the progress I had felt earlier took a pretty good ding. But, we moved on as quickly as we could and tried not to worry about it. The kicker though? The other route wasn’t even paved! We could have saved a lot of time and frustration if the maps were properly labeled. Sometimes they just aren’t. 

We did make it to our lunch spot later than we would have liked, though on the flip side, we had made it 15 miles by 2 pm (not counting our detour). Though we would have liked to have made it there sooner, it all worked out in the end.

After lunch, we climbed up to a ridge for a while which was nice. The trail was well graded and the air remained cool. Clouds covered the sun for most of the climb and the rest had a nice breeze. It was a very pleasant day, especially in contrast to the smoke and heat. The air actually smelled fresh today, I could smell the air and no smoke. It seems like good timing…I needed this!

Once we were down from the ridge it was nearing dark. We had to avoid private property and finally hunted down a small spot on national forest land. It is cozy and I can hear an owl. 

All in all it was a great day. We made a lot of progress and are properly tired. We had a great Indian food dinner tonight, potatoes and veggies in a spicy tomato curry. It was awesome. Now I hope sleep is awesome too.

Day 37: Smoke Free

August 13, 2017

Miles: 12

PNT mile 495.4

Camp: Near a small spring on FR 500 

The fact that we stayed up late with our host family coupled with the rain that fell overnight were good cause for sleeping in today. We meant to get up early, but it was one of the coolest temp nights anyone has had in a while. When I got up to pee at 8am, no one else was stirring yet, everyone still snug in bed. I had some time to enjoy a quiet house as everyone slept a little longer…wishing I was better at sleeping in.

Artie and Mike made some breakfast (again) and we all ate in the cool of the morning. I cannot get over the generosity that they have continued to display. They are such cool people!

After breakfast, Pink and I still had to sort through our resupply and pack up. We split our bountiful supply of delicious food and once again loaded up our packs with the fresh load. It’s amazing how full my pack is when leaving town, how heavy it is those first miles we march back into the woods. It feels good to have enough to eat though. We are doing well there.

When all 3 of us were finally packed and ready, Artie and Mike drove us back to the trailhead. As we were leaving their house though, I realized that I didn’t have my sunglasses. It was an overcast morning so I hadn’t needed them and suddenly I couldn’t remember when I last had them. We went back to the house and came up empty handed, drove all out of the way to check Haley’s car and even swung by the brewery where we were last night. All stops produced the same result…no glasses.

Thumbelina had an old pair because she replaced hers in town so she gave them to me for now. They are pretty scratched and blurry, but better than nothing. The McRae’s certainly went above and beyond to help me find them and I’m ever grateful for their patience. They are so cool.

They dropped us off around 1:00 and the 3 of us started the climb out of ten mile campground. It was steep, but it wasn’t long so it didn’t take a lot of time. The weather has turned for the better, especially on this much cooler, overcast and seemingly smokeless day.  It made for very pleasant hiking and we all felt a bit better as we sat for lunch. During lunch I actually found my sunglasses…which were in a very unlikely place. I didn’t remember putting them in my purse/stuffsack…nor do I ever do that, but I did for some reason last night. They were stuffed away and safe, unbeknownst to me! I felt pretty bad and silly over it, but I’m real happy to have my shades again. 

After lunch was all a dirt road walk so Pink and I listened to a podcast called, “The Trail Show.” It’s a group of thru hikers talking about hiking related stuff, but they have a lot of fun and they make us laugh. It kills a little time on roadwalks, making the miles melt a bit faster. 

We took a short detour to a campground for dinner. There was running water, picnic tables and trash cans. It was luxury living for at least the dinner hour when Pink and I decided to try and get a few more miles. We have been taking our time and it is nice, but we agree it is time to pick up our pace a little. Thumbelina stayed at the campground, so we aren’t sure when our paths will cross again, but we imagine soon.
We made a good amount of miles today for a later start and it was a lot less effort than it has been lately. The clearer and cooler day made all of the difference in the world and I pray for more just like it. It’s going to be a great night of sleep in the fresher air. I look forward to being rested and attempting 25 miles tomorrow. I think we can do it.

Until then. Goodnight. 

Day 35-36: Resting With Angels

August 11-12, 2017

Miles: 12

PNT mile 486.4

Camp: With the McRae family in Republic, WA 

Because of the nature of things being rather hectic this last town stop, I didn’t write a thing! Here is a summary of the missing days:

We hiked 12 miles to Thirteenmile TH in good time. The day was as hot and smoky as we have become accustomed to, but we got to hike on trail all day, so that’s a plus. We also ran into a couple who is hiking the trail eastbound. It was fun to stop and chat for a while, but they understood that we were town bound when we saw them. I wish we had more time Cantelope and Honeydew!

When we arrived at the road, we began hitchhiking. There was very little traffic on the winding mountain road and it would be 10 miles to town if we had to walk. Pink has a hitchhiking dance he does to get the attention of drivers though and the third car to pass stopped for us, claiming it was the dance that won us the ride. Whatever works!

She dropped us off at the post office where the local trail angel is said to work. Indeed she does and we were immediately cared for in the town of Republic. We grabbed our packages (we had a LOT in Republic) and two local men offered to give us a ride to the McRae’s (the trail angels house). We were welcomed into their home and set up in a basement bedroom. The basement was actually nice and cool in the hot temperatures and the accommodations were excellent. It felt just like being at home, with full access to anything we needed (kitchen, laundry, showers, yard, pets, etc)

Analeise was there and now has the trail name, “Thumbelina.” I called her this because she manages to always get a ride but she never hitchhikes. It’s like she has a magic thumb!

Anyhow, the three of us hikers were welcomed into the hearts and home of a truly special family. We were instantly included in their lives as we lazily went about chores, even access to one of their cars so we could get things done! It was really just the right thing to build morale at this point of the trail, when everything is hot, smoky and there is so much roadwalking! I, for one have been struggling with all of this lately. Motivation is low.

We even took a zero because it was impossible to walk away from the awesomeness! 

I can’t express enough gratitude to the McRaes who really did everything to make us feel at home. They are a shining example of genuine kindness and we had so, so much fun with them! 

To top it all off we also received some amazing packages from friends and family. I feel ridiculously spoiled and am so happy to have so many blessings to count. Us worn out and stinky hikers sure appreciate the love! Extra special thanks to Elaine, Dan and Pink’s mom!

That’s enough words…here are pictures.

Day 34: Trust Falls With Trees

August 10, 2017

Miles: 17

PNT mile 572

Camp: Along the Thirteenmile Trail

The nights lately have been pretty warm and humid. My skin sticks to my sleeping bag from a thin film of sweat and I can’t really get comfortable. Sleep has been fleeting on some of these nights, especially last night. I woke up extra tired and we had a big day ahead.

We had to choose between a 3 mile bushwack and a 5.3 mile roadwalk today. From the vague description we were able to find, the bushwack seemed like a reasonable course. We figured we could make it in the same amount of time as the roadwalk, so we were going to go for it.

In looking for a connecting trail we were off course for a couple of miles which was a setback. Plus, most water sources were coming up dry lately. We had water but it turned out it wouldn’t be until the end of the bushwack that we would find more. We would have to be conservative with what we had and going off trail (again) didn’t help. 

After finding our way back up a very steep trail we had to hunt for yet another trail which required a pre-bushwack bushwack. It was easy enough though and gave us confidence for the real deal coming up.

We started the bushwack at 2:15 and started by following small game trails. We did pretty good finding a route, but the going was a little slow. We had to stop and map check frequently, always keeping in mind that there were cliffs we had to avoid ending up on. What we didn’t realize was that we would end up having to climb up some cliffs as well.

Back to those bouldering skills again! Pink had taken a wide approach to the cliff, but I went head on as that was where our route led us. I could see the steep path up and I could see it would require hands and feet to climb. I dug in and had to find a new route a couple of times as I felt unsafe with the maneuvers it would require to get up. They are moves I could make without a pack, but it does limit the range of motion and I didn’t have ropes on. When I finally committed to a route there was one last tricky move at the top. I had only one handhold and had to get myself onto a sloped, mossy ledge. I found no security in the move but would be in more danger if I headed back down. So, I dug my fingers into the dirt as deep as I could and made the move onto the ledge. One slip and I’d be on my back and hopefully that would be the worst of it.

Lucky for me, the ground held my weight as I came up and over. Adrenaline coarse through me and my hands were shaking when I stood up. It was a bit scary, but it was over…well, the climbing anyway. We still had to find our way back to the next trail. 

The route was hard to follow and we got beat up by the brush and blowdowns. It was slow going, it was very hot and there was no water. We were feeling a bit worn out by the time we made it to the ponds at the end of the bushwack. 

The ponds were swampy and hard to approach, but water was necessary so I made the journey in the name of hydration. I managed to collect 2 liters with dry feet but took a wrong step on my way out and submerged my right foot in the mud. It was cold, wet and heavy, but we were way behind on miles and had to keep moving.

We finally made it to the short dirt road that would take us to the next trail section. It felt good to be on road after a bushwack like that. It had taken us 3.5 hours, where the road would have taken 2 max. We decided that next time, we will take the road (that decision is coming up tomorrow already).

We hiked until after dark to find more water. We wanted to stop but had gotten down to less than half a liter each. It would have been a long night if we hadn’t found the stream we did. I almost cried tears of relief when we found it and we both sat in the dark chugging nice cold stream water.

We still had to find a flat place to camp though. So, we marched into the night with our headlamps until we found one. It was almost 10pm when we did.

We still had to make dinner as well so it was a late night. Thank goodness we will make it to town tomorrow. It has been a rougher section than expected the last couple of days…and the smoke isn’t helping.

I think it is time to start raindancing if we want to see any views on this trail. 

Maybe in the morning. 

Day 33: Back To Trail

August 9, 2017

Miles: 24

PNT mile 561

Camp: By a small creek on Sherman Peak, WA

I didn’t write a blog on this day. It was a long, hot day. We finished our dirt road walking and finally got back on trail. It made a world of difference to be on a soft dirt path again. It felt great.

We climbed up to the Kettle Crest and made our way to Sherman Pass. We hiked until after dark and made a poor camp out of sheer exhaustion. At least there was water!

Nothing exciting to report. It was a long, hot and smoky day. I think the smoke is adding to the exhaustion levels…we were pretty beat!

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