“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


September 2017

Day 61-63: Hiking Happened (Finally)

September 6-8, 2017

Miles: 10

PNT mile 

Camp: Deception Pass State Park -Whidbey Island

Pano dropped us at the bus stop in Sedro Woolley after lunch. We jumped on the local transportation for $1 and managed to travel all of the way to Anacortes. There was only a short amount of trail we missed that is conveniently sandwiched between long road walks, trail we can easily come back and do at a later date. At this point, the smoke is bad enough that we would miss any views worth seeing and … well, I really feel the need to get into the mountains again.

As we were in Bellingham the news traveled down the line about one of my favorite places on Earth. The Columbia River Gorge was set on fire by a teenager with a firecracker. My heart was immediately ripped from my chest and the righteous indignance I felt was overwhelming. That gorge shaped me into the hiker I am today. That gorge set my soul aflame with the the desire to hike and explore as often as possible…I’ve hiked almost every trail there, saving a few for later, just because finishing the hikes would sadden me like the last page of a good book. I’m not ready. My heart will go with it if it goes away. 

Everyone in Portland who loves nature came there from the Gorge. It is a keyhole and it turns you into a nature lover, you can’t walk from it the same as you entered. The gorge will light you up if you let it, but a teenager lit it on fire instead. Our precious backyard is going up in flames, my friends are being evacuated from their homes and the only city I could ever live in is under a cloud of ash. My heart is broken. I break all over as if someone I love has passed. I feel helpless.

Yet, there is nothing I can do at the moment. I can’t even envision helping until spring, after the rain. I’ll be ready when the gorge is, but for now I hike. I ponder.

Fire has been such a big part of the summer. Everything is burning. We are losing our wilderness…between the fires of the west and the dumpster fire we call the government right now. Everything I care about is burning. My heart is heavy as it becomes so clear to me that I have to get out and see everything I can while it is there…it could all be gone tomorrow. It is extra motivating to know that the next section is in the Olympic Mountains, a long time bucket list item for me. I think there will be some extra cherishing of this section, knowing how fleeting these places and these moments can be.

We spent the next 2 nights in Anacortes, planning for the beginning of the next section. After all of this strange town hopping we will finally be reunited with our beloved trail. First we had some more travel to do.

My friend Diane lives in Anacortes and I hadn’t seen her for about 12 years. We worked at a brewery in Eureka, CA when we were in college and became friends. Years have passed since those carefree days, but we have managed to stay in touch and visit on my way through Anacortes. Diane and her family welcomed us into their home and gave us such a warm place to relax for yet another day. The home cooked food, the company of Diane and her kids, her husband Ben, mother-in-law Jean and the cozy home were a wonderful treat. It felt amazing to be in a home with a family and the kids were super fun to talk with! Thank you Henneberts for a real good time! You made great trail angels ☺

When we woke at Diane’s house I had a terrible pain in my right hip. Walking up the stairs was brutal and I couldn’t trust my leg with all of my weight. It was puzzling and frustrating as we were supposed to hit trail finally. Unfortunately, my body was not complying.

Diane drove us to town instead of the trail where we met up with Thumbelina. Her uncle has a boat in the marina there and we all slept there for a night. It was super fun to be out on the water, to realize how close to the sea we have made it already. We are getting somewhere in our own roundabout way.

Finally this morning we were dropped at the trail. We hiked 10 miles from Anacortes to Deception Pass. Tomorrow we walk the coast down to Coupeville where we will catch the ferry to the Peninsula. That is one ride that is actually part of the trail! Then we can get into the Olympics. Then we are back on trail.

Day 59-60: Reunions and Towns

September 4-5, 2017

Miles: 0

We woke up soaking wet on the rivers edge. Condensation drowned everything in sight, even the sunrise seemed covered in dew. Maybe that was the fogginess of a late night with beers and mayors and new friends, but the dew was real.

Packing away our soaked belongings seemed odd as our friends put away a weekends worth of car camping. We were headed to town after all, and it seemed we had just left. At least we would walk there.

Jet Fighter, Caveman, Tickled Pink and I strolled the bike path between the towns of Lyman and Sedro Woolley. Though our packs were light, our feet and minds were searching for mountains, for trail. It felt strange.

We arrived in town, ate breakfast, did laundry and waited in a park for answers. Where could we sleep? Why are we still in town? When do we hike again? Are you gonna eat that?

Eventually Pano and Xana showed up on their way to Bellingham and saved us. They are our very good friends from another life and they were ready to hang out with our stinky hiker selves for a couple of days…so whisked away to Bellingham we were.

There was a vortex of non trail things in town. Mostly a crazy trip down memory lane for me…I did a semester of college here in 1999!! We also did the things we do in town and enjoyed the delightful company of our friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better couple to zero down with and they breathed new life into our hike. Incidentally, they hiked the PNT last year and they are awesome. Big hugs to Xanorama from Dust and Pink! XOXO 

As is the norm with good times, they had to end as we embarked on a different kind of good times (not always the norm). There will be a couple more frequent towns before we get back to the mountains…but we are embracing it as part of the journey. Without town we lack the experience that draws us into the essence of these towns that dot the Pacific Northwest. These tiny towns that really don’t want to get bigger, they are happy where they are. I’m falling deeply in love with western Washington. Deeply.

More from Anacortes!

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Day 58: Bike Path

September 3, 2017

Miles: 5

PNT mile 

Camp: Down by the Skagit River

We woke up early because we were unsure of how much more bushwacking we had before we hit a trail or road. It was maybe a mile of fighting alders and kelly humps on the old road, the wall from yesterday continuing to the end of the road. We eventually crossed through a barrier of boulders onto a wide dirt road and a man drove by in a Subaru. We chatted for a few minutes and then we resumed walking and he drove on to check the area out for elk.

The road wasn’t bad to walk, though it was getting pretty hot. We listened to a podcast and got a ways through it when the man in the Subaru returned and offered a ride to town. We decided that we had walked enough road and were fine with missing the last few miles to town. It was minor enough, yet saved us a lot of time.

The town of Hamilton was small but made a killer Philly cheesesteak omelet! We enjoyed the greasy spoon breakfast (it was afternoon but they served it all day). Then we walked on the rail trail/bike path on to Lyman. As we walked out of town we noticed that everyone built there homes on tall foundations, a sign that the town must see a lot of flooding. We later found out that the town floods so regularly that FIMA offered to relocate them but they insisted on staying. Now there is no flood insurance offered to residents and they can’t get mortgages for new homes. You can probably figure out the quality of the town left behind and the residents who choose to stay.

The couple of hours to Lyman were easy on the flat trail and big juicy blackberries lined the way. We stained our fingers and mouths purple and made it to Lyman where we met up with Cave and Jet. The four of us had missed each other back at the trailhead for Park Butte and were only now catching up. We went to grab some food at the grocery store and then all went to dinner at the restaurant. A local there told us where we could camp for free by the river, so we made our way down there as it grew dark.

It turned out that we had been talking with the town mayor, and his wife was hanging out camping by the river too. We ended up joining their beach party and cowboy camping nearby. They were a fun group!

We only have to walk about 8 miles to Sedro Woolley tomorrow. This section is really strange…hopping through these little towns as we make our way to the Olympic Peninsula. It doesn’t seem like hiking, but I certainly like being able to eat all of this food!

Day 57: A Baker and A Bushwack

September 2, 2017

Miles: 16

PNT mile: 853

Camp: A very old road that once led somewhere

I wrote this entry as a way of making notes so I could elaborate later…but I kind of like it how it stands. Also, publishing this now helps me catch up on blogs in my very limited solo time with wifi!

Day 56: Concrete 

September 1, 2017

Miles: 2-3 hiked

PNT mile 838.3

Camp: Park Butte Trailhead

We were a bit damp upon waking up this morning, so we set our sleeping bags in the sun while we ate breakfast. Hikers Josh and Hiker Dude (father and son) hiked by and we got a chance to meet them for the first time. It is funny how long it took for us to start seeing other hikers…so when Jet fighter and Caveman joined us as well it was like a regular old party.

Everyone had a slightly different plan for the day, we continued to dry our gear as they all moved forward. We walked out of camp for a couple of miles down the paved road and eventually caught a ride for the last few miles into town. There we ate a delightful breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, sausage gravy and a large quantity of diner coffee. It was everything I had dreamed in the mountains…a commodity not offered in the town of Glacier. Breakfast.

After we ate we did our resupply and met up with Jet and Cave. We agreed to meet at the Park Butte Trailhead that evening. The hitch to the trailhead didn’t take long, but we ended up walking a couple of the road miles on our way up. When we arrived, they weren’t there…but should have been ahead of us. With no cell service, we could only assume that they had hiked on and we set up camp at the trailhead.

We are excited to see Park Butte tomorrow. It is supposed to be a pretty spectacular area! Now we will sleep creekside and try to get up when the alarm goes off at 6am. Trying is all we can do.

Day 55: No Big Deal

August 31, 2017

This was a lazy writing…sleep was just too precious those days coming out of the Pasayten, it was hard to get anything done. The writing will improve after this entry, but I’ll be backed up for a while as we embark on the next section. Blogs will continue to be behind as we move forward but it is almost over! Stay patient and thanks for reading.

Day 54: Lazy Daze

August 30, 2017

Day 53: RnR

August 29, 2017

Day 52: Cable Car

August 28, 2017

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