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“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

Month

October 2017

Day 67: The Olympics

 

September 12, 2017

Miles: 10

PNT mile 1057

Camp: Home Lake – Olympic National Park

So many things could have gone wrong today, and nothing did! We were up and ready in time for Lys to give us a ride to Sequim where we would get our bear cans and then hitchhike to the trailhead. I had called the shop with the cans yesterday to inquire about their policy and was told that we could use the cans and return them at the visitor center in Port Angeles. When we arrived at the shop though, the woman had a different story. In fact, they only gave out bear cans to people going into a certain area of the park (not where we were headed). She refused to accept that I’d been told differently on the phone yesterday and she even admitted it had been her I spoke with! Trying to withhold my frustration with the situation, I calmly asked her how we should proceed seeing as we had no car and were out of options. She said she would give them to us if we had permission from a ranger. Perfect.

I called the ranger station and got permission at which point she became friendly and agreeable. What a headache for us though! She relinquished 3 dirty bear cans and we sat outside shoving our food supply into the limited space. I was lucky to have a plastic bag handy to line mine with, as to avoid having someone elses filth be transferred to my food. I was apalled but relieved, and more than ready to hit the trail! There have been bigger obstacles to this journey. It started to rain on us, but we were not to be deterred … the mountains were calling.

Hitchhiking in the rain is never easy, but there is usually one soul kind enough to shove 3 wet hikers with packs into their vehicle. In this case it was a woman with her 2 kids in a Suburban – plenty of room! She drove us farther than she had to, but we weren’t going to complain – it was a long road to the trailhead! We stopped to adjust our gear and put on raincoats as a giant owl swooped through the forest right in front of us. I’ve never seen such a large bird up close in the wild before (it was bigger than a bald eagle). I took it as a good omen, especially when right afterwards a car drove up and brought us the rest of the way to the trailhead. This was very good fortune indeed.

To top off the good events, the weather turned as we were eating snacks at the trailhead. Sun began to shine and we were able to hike our 10 miles to Home Lake without incident. The clouds were lifting from the mountains, shifting in the sunlight. It was a beautiful day. It felt amazing to walk in the forest, to climb a pass and then find our way into the lake basin. We were back in the wilderness and it felt so right!

We arrived at Home Lake to find one other couple camped there. They didn’t seem too pleased to have company, but what can you do? We gave them as much space as we could as we set up camp, collected water and cooked dinner. It was very cold at that elevation already, so we didn’t stay up long after dinner. It feels super good to be cozy in my sleeping bag, in my tent, in the mountains again. This is what the hike is about – all that road travel just confuses the mind. This is clarity.

I’m excited for tomorrow. I’m ready to be out here and enjoying these mountains.


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Day 65-66: Ferry Me To The Mountains

September 10-11, 2017

Miles: 5 hiked + 5 on the ferry and a zero

PNT mile 1000.4

Camp: A very nice home in Port Townsend, WA

We woke up that morning in Coupeville to the sounds of a kitchen being used. Be still my heart! Rebecca and John were making us breakfast! We sat with them and ate an amazing breakfast casserole while drinking lots of coffee and talking trail with our hosts. The next section requires a lot of planning as we will need permits for the rest of the trail in Olympic National Park. Rebecca and John had some good resources for us to pore over and we developed a tentative plan for the week to come.

After the delicious breakfast and marathon planning session, Rebecca drove us back to the trail where we would walk 5 more miles to the ferry that would take us to the Peninsula.

The five miles on the coast were much more enjoyable this time as the weather was much more agreeable. It felt good to get more of that sea air as we walked and the everlasting treasure hunt along the shore made for a slow pace, but fun discoveries. I felt the excitement of the end of the trail approaching, of mountains yet to climb, of the wilderness coast where the whole thing comes to a finish. I felt light as air and somewhat heavy at the same time, anticipating something I’ve looked forward to for so long but knowing it meant the end of another summer on the trail. It’s always hard to accept the end.

The ferry ride was beautiful and relaxing. We could look back to see Mt. Baker and the North Cascades growing smaller, ahead the Olympic Mountains were growing larger. Sailboats cruised closer to the shore and for a few brief minutes we had some incredible views of Mt. Rainier. Washington sure is a stunning place.


We docked in Port Townsend where we spent a little time exploring before heading to our trail angel’s home. Lys was our hostess and she and her husband host cyclists and hikers in a basement apartment. It was pretty luxurious and I’m constantly amazed by the kindness of strangers. We spent a zero day locking in our plans for the mountains, choosing our camping destinations and ultimately deciding to stay together as a group of 3 for at least the section to Port Angeles. We love our time with Thumbs and are not quite ready to part with our trail bestie!

In the morning, Lys will bring us to a place where we can borrow bear canisters for the next stretch. Initially, we had sent our own canisters to Port Angeles, but found that we could expand our time in the Olympics if we get them sooner. We will borrow them for now and then start using our own when we get to Port Angeles, but it means we can camp in a cool lake basin between several mountain passes instead of trying to rush through. We like this plan. It’s going to be lower miles for the rest of the hike and it will give us a great opportunity to really sink our teeth into the Olympics without rushing through in typical thru hiker fashion. I’m over the moon to get started on this part of the PNT. Tomorrow is the big day!

Day 64: Beach Hop

September 9, 2017

Miles: 15

Camp: The Happy House (a trail angel) in Coupeville, WA

It was a little cool this morning when we all woke up. The air was wet with the rain that was due without actually raining and the wind was bringing on a chill. We decided to walk over to a picnic area about 1/2 mile away to have breakfast, simply to get the blood flowing! It never warmed up though as we sat through our oatmeal. The rain started just as we were finishing up, so we had nothing left to do but hike on.

The trail followed along the western coast of Whidbey Island, walking along beaches all morning. Though it was a rainy day, the smell and feel of the ocean in the air was magical. I couldn’t stop treasure hunting for agates, jasper and sea glass – which were abundant! Clearly, I couldn’t collect them all, but the fun of the discovery was worth it. I did end up taking a collection of sea glass knowing I could ship it all home from the next town where we would be arriving tonight.

The coast was full of all kinds of neat stuff to find and explore. It’s amazing we made any progress today! We found ourselves climbing in and around driftwood forts before we had to hit the road. Good old fashioned PNT road walking!

20170909_083952.jpg

Once on the road, it was harder to enjoy the day. The beach was flat, soft and beautiful – but the road was hard and the rain just seemed more of a nuisance. We walked it anyway, as we have skipped some of the roads and this one is really not that long in comparison. I just want to walk now, especially after all of that time in between town stops. This part of the hike takes us back to the wilderness … well, after a town stop, a ferry ride and yet another town stop. One day they will finish the PNT and we won’t have to walk all of these roads. Everything is a work in progress!

We walked the roads around an air force base where giant planes would zoom overhead making the most terrifying noises! I can’t imagine living close to here, it was unsettling and felt like we were under attack every time one whizzed by. Yet another reason to love the road, right?

Once around the air force base, it was back to the beach. We walked the shore some more until we climbed up to a bluff at a state park. It was pretty cool up there, with an old weapons arsenal built into the bluff that you could go explore. It was a long concrete “fort” with many small rooms, that are now empty of course. I didn’t seem to take a photo of it, but it was pretty cool!

From there, we found our way into Coupeville where we ate fish and chips before getting a ride to our stop for the night, “The Happy House.”

The Happy House is the home of two trail angels, Rebecca and John. Not only do they host hikers, but they had separate bedrooms to offer! It is better than any hotel! We spent some time talking with our host about the season and what is to come, but now we will rest up and get to planning the next leg of our journey for tomorrow. We have about 5 miles to walk to get to the ferry and then we will spend a day in Port Townsend getting our permits in order for the Olympics! I’m really excited for that part! Get me back in the mountains!!!

What Happened?

Hello there, dear readers!

I cannot apologize enough for my negligence in keeping this blog updated during my PNT hike!! I assure you, I had every intention of staying on top of it! As you may know from following along, it was very difficult to find the time to dedicate to the blog. I didn’t want to post a poor blog and I was torn between spending time in town tending to other matters/socializing and dedicating a bunch of time to uploading photos (which often took hours!). Many of the towns we stopped in had poor wifi signals and even if I had everything geared up, it would sometimes fail at the last minute. It became too frustrating to deal with, so I tabled it for the end of the hike.

After the hike, I had a very difficult reentry into society/life. I took on a huge responsibility helping a friend and I found myself with no spare time or energy to get into the swing of posting again…but that is a whole other story!

Fortunately, that’s all over now and I’m ready to finish what I started! I did keep a diligent journal, and I will be updating the rest of the hike here over the next week or so. I appreciate your patience as I finish the task at hand and I hope you enjoy the final weeks of my hike as much as I did!

Love,

Dust Bunny

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