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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

November 2017

Day 77: Vampire Bacon

September 22, 2017

Miles: 4

PNT mile 1130

Camp: Forks Motel – Forks, WA

Morning was warmer than typical with our proximity to the lake and that was a nice change for us. We had a short walk to the trailhead in order to head back into Forks for resupply and obtaining our permits for the coastal section that will take us all of the way to the end. This is our last town stop before the whole journey comes to an end. We are excited to eat, shower and relax, but are adamantly against taking a zero day. Cherishing the last moments of living outside are all we want at this point, that and to live on the beach for a while! I’ll sure miss the mountains, but it has been growing exponentially colder and I’m okay with wintering someplace warmer.

Our short hike led us to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. I came here on New Years of 99/00 with an employee and we had the whole place to ourselves. I have magical memories that were soon dashed by an endless parade of tourists everywhere. I do know it has changed ownership since back then, but we were also there off hours. Those are good times to visit places such as these.

For some reason we had a real difficult time getting a ride out of there. We hitchhiked using some of our best moves and pretty much everyone was headed in the opposite direction. Finally, two nice gals squeezed us in with their stuff in the backseat and we were on our way to Forks.

Knowing this town is really popular, we had booked our room when we came through a few days ago and were able to go straight there. Breakfast, showers and a box sent from Pink’s mom kept us busy for quite some time. We really didn’t need to buy much from the store as Margaret had sent us all we needed (including a celebratory bottle of whiskey). Thank you Margaret for this box and the others you sent along the way! We really appreciate you going on sesame stick hunts and painstakingly wrapping up all of that Moxie for us! 🙂

Other than that, the day was pretty uneventful. We are both a little somber with the end coming so soon. I’m really pumped about hiking the beach though, this is something I’ve wanted to do for many years! We downloaded apps for our phones to tell us when the tide is going to be high or low as we have to make sure to mind tides before moving on sometimes. There are places we could be completely stranded if we get stuck during a high tide. It’s a whole new ball game for us, but we are ready to play!

As a side note: One of the reasons Forks is so popular is because of the popular book series, “Twilight.” I read the first book years ago on a trip to Maui, but it was definitely geared towards a younger audience and I pretty much stopped there. The series became wildly popular though and movies were subsequently made from the books. Being based in the town of Forks, the town has become a bit of a tourist attraction for those into the series. The books are about a teenager who falls in love with a vampire (who lives in that area because it rarely sees the sunshine). There are vampire themed things around town and it is kind of a hoot even if it is not anything Pink or I care about at all. Good for Forks we say! Bring in that vampire bacon! 😉

Also, I didn’t take any pictures today. Sorry. Here is a photo I found on the internet from Forks, it is linked to give appropriate credit.

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Day 76: Rainforested

September 21, 2017

Miles: 16

PNT mile 1130

Camp: Mink Lake – Olympic National Park

We knew daylight was precious today, so we managed to motivate earlier than is usual lately. We were on trail at 8:24, a small victory for me with a side dish of sleeping in. I can handle living in both worlds.

The forest was still pretty amazing. The trees were cloaked in mossy gowns and capes, grand and majestic. Water evaporated from trunks and plants as sunlight breathed new light into the forest. I felt really happy walking there, even as the overgrown ground cover soaked us from the waist down. My pants were dripping with water…conveniently into my shoes. The good old fashioned trail car wash, where the brushes are permanently stuck in the down position. Stay in neutral and power through.

We came across a couple of shelters as we hiked, neither all that nice. We sat in them for breaks but never got enough sun to dry our tents. We were wet and cold, but made it easy to keep hiking for warmth.

Eventually we climbed out of the dense, wet vegetation and onto a small ridge. We caught enough filtered sunlight combined with wind to dry our tents while we worked on eating all of our trail snacks. We traded chocolate bars and finished off the gummy bears. We also ate crackers and nuts. It is colder so we are more hungry, almost immediately wanting more food after every break.

Soon enough we found camp at Mink Lake and began to set up by the shelter. We didn’t want to sleep inside of it, but it provides protection from the cool lake air. Just as we were getting ready to set up, Pink got stung by a wasp. It is his 4th sting of the trail and each proves to be more painful! He had a benadryl handy and took it pretty soon after, so he was ready for bed in no time. We did manage to make a killer dinner with foraged chanterelle mushrooms, salami, garlic, pasta and cheese. We are getting pretty good as backcountry chefs!

It is our last night in the mountains. We will be at the coast for the remainder of the trip…it is so close to over and none of it seems real.

Day 75: Carrying On

September 20, 2017

Miles: 14.5

PNT mile 1142.2 (we are hiking eastbound today and tomorrow)

Camp: Flapjack Camp – Olympic National Park

Those beans we have don’t agree with me and I spent much of the night with uncomfortable gas pain (we ate some before bed). I tossed, turned and perhaps dozed for intervals. I did dream…but I think I spent equal amounts of time awake. At least I was dry and we would go to a diner on our way back to the trail for breakfast. This morning had good tidings all over it.

We packed up and were ready by 6:45am to catch a ride from Sheri. We have only been up and moving that early once all trail…I kind of loved it. I am so much more of an early go getter, sleeping in makes me feel more lazy. It’s one of the ways Pink and I clash as hiking partners, but I guess it’s been cool to enjoy a different and more laid back style of hiking too. At any rate, it felt good to be fired up and ready to go as the sun rose.

We watched the sky brighten pink and purple with Mt. Olympus on the horizon. It was a picture perfect morning so far. The rain appeared to have passed on by and we were watching the sunrise over Mt. Olympus on our way to breakfast. I was happy despite my lack of sleep.

Sheri dropped us off at the local diner and we cheerfully sat at a booth. The waitress was quick with our order and kept our coffee full as we gave our maps some study for our miles missed in the park. We figured it easiest to go backwards to meet our exit point as opposed to picking up where we left off. It doesn’t make too much of a difference as long as we connect our path.

After breakfast we got a ride to the road to the trailhead. We quickly discovered an absolute lack of traffic; zero cars going to the trailhead. We decided that we better walk the road for 5 miles just in case a car never came…and one never did. We ended up walking a paved road for 5 miles, but it was pretty benign (and technically part of the trail).

Once we got to the trailhead we ate the lunches Sheri packed for us: PB&J, pickled beans, apples and a soda water. What an amazing and kind person Sheri is, we are truly amazed and humbled by her generosity! Lunch was delicious and easy, getting us on actual trail by 1:00.

The trail headed into the Bogachiel Rainforest, a somehow empty trail in the middle of a crowded national park. It was incredibly beautiful and it was all ours all day. Everything was covered in thick, droopy, greener than green mosses and lichens, ferns drooped from tree trunks and grew to heights above my waist, water cascaded over mossy rocks and logs…it is just everything lovely about old growth in the Pacific Northwest. It is so raw and organic and smells like all of the wet earth and fresher than fresh air, it is intoxicating.

We made our miles easily due to virtually no elevation change and were in camp by 6:00. Another win for me! I love early camp! I was ready to recharge and rest my heels from the road walk, write a decent blog for a change and be in bed by 9:00. That’s all coming true. What a great day it turned out to be. I’m glad we came back in better weather, it is simply too amazing to miss.

Day 74: Angels and Sunshine

September 19, 2017

Miles: 5

PNT mile 1125.4

Camp: A Logging truck garage in Forks, WA

The rain never let up last night. We woke to even wetter conditions than we had been in and had to gather our belongings that were becoming increasingly damp. Our tents, sleeping bags and clothes were all falling victim to the endless precipitation, as was our motivation. The rain was supposed to continue through the day and we would not be able to dry anything out. It made us stop and consider our options before we hiked out.

There was a trail leading from the lake to another trailhead where we could hitch to town and dry out, or we could continue on into the Bogachiel Rainforest for more of the same we have already grown weary of. We vowed to each other and ourselves that we would continue on from this spot if we hiked out to town, and the option became more than clear. We were not having a good time and we had the luxury of coming back when the storm broke – so we went with it. Sometimes the trail decides for you.

The hike down to the trailhead was wet and sloppy, but we were warm with determination and visions of hot showers, dry gear and heaters set to high. It was the only way.

A man at the trailhead was in a rental car and had no problem getting us to the highway for an easier hitch into Forks. He was headed the opposite direction, but happy to get us to a spot with higher traffic … and didn’t care if we got his rental car wet. We liked him a lot and were already feeling better in his warm, dry car.

He dropped us on the main road/highway where we were picked up by someone we would later discover to be an angel on Earth. Her name is Sheri and I have never met anyone quite like her in my life. As she was driving us into town, we began asking her about hotels and restaurants. She kept saying how she wasn’t sure because she only ate at home from her gardens, and from the meat her husband and son hunt and give to her. She truly lives mostly off the land…and as she was telling us this it was like she had an epiphany. “Well, I just can’t see any other option than for you to come to my house,” she said, “I have a large garage space with a shower and laundry where you can stay and you’ll join us for a homecooked dinner.”

We gladly accepted and were soon to see what true selflessness Sheri possessed. Her house lay just outside of the storm that we could constantly look back on and shiver – but the sun was actually shining here! As we were hanging all of our gear out to dry in her backyard, Sheri came out with lunch. It was an elk and venison stew chock full of veggies from her garden, homemade bread, pickled green beans and corn on the cob!! It was so much more than we could have hoped for and the warmth of her home, her meal, her personality and the actual shining sun began to melt the suffering of the last couple of days from our weary bones. It felt so good to be here and so good to be alive. Sheri is a natural born trail angel and we were overwhelmed by her kindness. We started saying to each other how becoming more like Sheri should be a goal in life and it would be one from here on out. It was clear we had some political differences with her and her logging husband (that never came up in conversation), but to her it was all about helping us because it was what good people do. She could not bear the idea of us not having her help and we couldn’t imagine any better circumstances to so serendipitously discover.

Just as our gear was satisfactorily dried out and we were repacking our bags, the rain began again. Lucky for us, we were able to retreat into Sheri’s garage where we took hot showers and are able to cuddle up indoors. We are eager to get back out to trail in the morning as we have our permits all set up to finish what we started. There will be no skipped miles, no wet tents and we are feeling about as good as we can imagine, ready to get through anything as we complete this long, beautiful and tiresome trail.

 

Day 73: What is Wetter than Wet?

September 18, 2017

Miles: 16+

PNT mile 1125

Camp: Deer Lake – Olympic National Park

It rained all night, but by morning there wasn’t any precipitation besides what clung to the trees and plants; our tents and gear. We got out of camp real slow and paid for it the rest of the day. Appleton Pass seemed to take forever, though it was only 5 miles of the day. The hike up was constantly steep, the air cold and biting – the Frog Toggs once again came to the rescue. Though they kept us warm and dry, they only came in an abnormally large size and I constantly had to fuss with them in order to be comfortable. It was a beautiful day, but also awkward in execution.

Once to the top of Appleton Pass (finally!) it began to snow. Pink and I had hoped to stop and eat snacks up there, but the snow was gaining momentum so we had to eat as we walked. The weather prevented the views which we had been told were some of the most scenic in the park, another opportunity missed due to the conditions. This trail dealt us a lot of those blows, even though we have had the opportunity to see many beautiful things, moments such as these were a bit of a beatdown.

As we were starting our hike along the high divide trail I lost my footing and came down hard on the trail. The trail had been slick from the snow and with my oversized pants, I had difficulty and was growing increasingly wet around my cuffs. Pink saw me fall and ran over in a panic, as it looked and felt worse than it ended up being. My knee hurt and I had flashbacks to the CDT when we were caught in a snowstorm and a fall on my knee nearly ended my hike. Dread set in as I lay on the ground, but my memory also served that it would do me no good to lay in the snow for any length of time. I got up with Pink’s help and found that the knee was in pain, but seemed to be void of injury. It may sneak up on my later, but for now I have little choice but to move forward. The High Divide Trail does not offer opportunity to stealth camp, even in an emergency.

We found our way to a small camp around lunch time and were able to eat in fairly dry conditions. It was cold and we were wet, so we didn’t linger longer than necessary to eat lunch and gather water for the rest of the day. Thank goodness we took that time when the chance was there, as the weather continued to deliver a beating and we never got a chance to stop for snacks for the rest of the day.

We grew colder, wetter and crankier as we approached camp which was fortunately below the snow line. It was getting dark when we arrived at the lake and many of the campsites were already occupied. We spent nearly an hour looking for something large enough for our 2 tents and that didn’t contain a giant swimming pool in the middle of camp. Once we found the spot, cold was becoming less of a concern and more of an issue. Our tents were still wet from last night and the rain was coming down heavily on us. It was misery at its best – pretty much anyone’s least favorite conditions to be in outdoors.

I was so cold and tired that I resigned to eating goldfish crackers and a Clif bar for dinner. I did not feel like cooking and neither did Pink. We just want to sleep and hope to wake up a better day. I really hope my knee isn’t in any more pain tomorrow as it seems okay now, it was just too cold and wet to deal with anything. We are going to bed saying prayers for a chance to dry our gear out tomorrow. The conditions aren’t great…but they are temporary!

I hope to stay warm and dry tonight. Perhaps tomorrow will be better. Perhaps.

Day 72: Rain Day 

September 17, 2017

Miles: 5

PNT mile 1109

Camp: Boulder Creek at Olympic Hot Springs – Olympic National Park 

Seeing the clouds on the horizon this morning didn’t fill us with a lot of motivation. We knew we had to go hike and we knew it would rain on us, so we did our best mustering of energy and got everything done. Thumbs is staying at the hostel while she waits for her mom to get here and they will do the last 100 miles together. We had to say goodbye for now. It is hard to walk away from our friend, but we really don’t want to spend more time and money in town. We really want to get back to the Olympics. 

Pink and I began hitchhiking back to the trail and got a ride pretty fast. A man in a CRV drove us to the park boundary and a couple from Belgium gave us a ride to the trailhead. It was already beginning to rain so we loitered under the kiosk at the trailhead eating lunch. It was pretty amazing how many people were there, even in the rain. It was a constant revolving door of people here to take in the Olympic Hot Springs. 

Lunch at the kiosk ended at 3 and we finally put on our packs to walk. It rained lightly the whole time, but our new rain gear worked great and kept us plenty warm. These Frogg Toggs are definitely a good acquisition. We look absolutely ridiculous, and we will pay any price to be dry and warm as this storm moves through. 

Once in camp we rode out the rain under a tree and set up our tents when it broke. Then we had dinner and met 2 hikers who just finished the CDT, Endless and QB. They had dinner with us and we walked to the hot springs after. They are not maintained and pretty nice considering. The pools that were open were not very deep (maybe 12-16 inches) so we never actually got in. Though the day was cold and rainy we were warm and dry and didn’t want to deal with the business of getting wet and then hiking back to camp. We opted to go to bed instead. Now I get to go to sleep early and pray to stay as dry as possible tonight. It hasn’t rained in hours, though it is definitely in the forecast. I expect a wet tent in the morning, but for now it is warm and wonderful in my tent. Time for bed.

Day 70-71

September 15-16, 2017

Miles: 6

PNT mile 1092

Camp: Downtown Motel – Port Angeles, WA

We woke up to another super cold morning and were eager to move forward to town. The trail was somewhat crowded, especially as we passed the other lakes in the basin where we slept. It’s a popular spot, but for good reason. It was epically beautiful.

The first trailhead we arrived at was packed full of cars and we were hoping for a lunch break here. Pink and I found a spot among some trees where bold deer paraded right up to us in a quest for food. It angers me to no end that this is happening, because the only reason is that people are obviously feeding them. People think it is so cute and they can get great photos out of it … and they are either oblivious or they don’t care that they are adversely affecting the lives of these creatures who should not be accustomed to humans and our food. These lunch deer were clearly far too comfortable around us and the dozens of other people coming and going from the trailhead.

When Thumbs arrived she was complaining of her knee again. She hikes in constant pain and her knee tends to swell up quite a bit on a daily basis. Only Thumbs can be in control of her body, but I certainly think something needs to be checked out there. I’ve learned over my many miles that I am not interested in compromising my body to complete these hikes, as doing so could make future hikes unattainable. Gotta stay strong for future Dust Bunny!

That said, she convinced us to hitchhike from the trailhead as opposed to walking the additional 8 miles to the next one. Pink and I agreed with every intention of continuing on from that spot. We were mostly interested in being warm, as well as obtaining some new warm items from the Walmart in Port Angeles for the next section to Forks.

We got a ride pretty easily by the determined Thumbs’ solicitation. I was excited to visit Port Angeles for the first time since new years day 2000. My memories are faded, but I remember being quite enamored with the place back then. As we drove into town, I was surprised at how big it was. I didn’t remember it being so big, but I don’t think we actually went downtown all of those years ago. It reminded me of Eureka, CA where I lived back in 2001-2004, a coastal town that was once a booming trade town and was now doing everything it could to attract tourist dollars. I think Port Angeles is doing a better job.

The hotel was cheap and our room overlooked the street corner below. The walk sign incessantly beeped as traffic and pedestrians whizzed on by. It was strange after coming out of the mountains, but something was so alive about the town. I liked the feeling and the food was incredible. I had to wear my earplugs to sleep.

We took a zero day as we accomplished all of our necessary tasks, including getting permits for the next section to Forks. Thumbs is going to wait a few more days in Port Angeles for her mom to come hike the rest of the trail with her. That left Pink and I to our own devices and we are excited for the next section that begins with the Olympic Hot Springs! Less excited that these are our last 2 sections to the end, but this hike has been rather disjointed … so part of me is happy to see it finish as much as I don’t want to leave the mountains, these mountains.

Off we go in the morning. At the very least, I’m happy to continue moving west.

Day 69: Is It Winter Already?

September 14, 2017

Miles: 9

PNT mile 1080 (ish…we took an alternate)

Camp: Gladys Lake – Olympic National Park

The morning was numbingly cold, but we would start the day by climbing a pass and that’s a gift on days like this. I love the crisp morning air biting at my cheeks as my blood pumps warmly through my veins, my lungs working overtime for each climb. It is when I feel alive, really, really alive. Cap it off with glorious views from dawn to dusk and we had ourselves a beautiful day.

The fall colors are really starting to enhance the landscape; red and gold. There is not much warmth left to the air, we are fond of our layers and are wishing for a few more. Breaks were cut short by encroaching shivers, but walking keeps me warm.

We climbed three passes today, all of which came with stunning views. At Grand pass, the last on our way to camp I was able to share the view with a buck who stood ground overlooking the surrounding mountains. It is always a treat to encounter wildlife on these treks and having Pink be ahead of me most of the time, he gets to see a lot more than me. It used to be my role on the other trails, hiking solo you see so much more. Thus, I was thankful for today’s buck.

After Grand Pass we descended into the lake basin to find our camp at Gladys Lake. Pink and I arrived early, but still were left with only one more campsite to choose from. This site is only about 4 miles from an easily accessed trailhead, so we were not surprised to have so much company. Olympic National Park is a beautiful and popular place for good reason! There are certainly pockets where there aren’t so many people, but this is just too easy for people to get to.

Our camp was lakefront and just a tad too cold for the bath I had planned upon arrival. You forget how cold it really is when you are walking and working up a sweat, but once you stop moving the cold cuts straight through you! So we are daydreaming of what warm things we can acquire in Port Angeles tomorrow in order to continue in these mountains. We only have about 100 more miles to go! I can’t believe we are at this point already, though the cold is making it easy to want to retreat to the indoors … or at least lower elevation! Another snuggled up night in the tent, the sweet toasty tent!

Day 68: The Clouds Lift

September 13, 2017

Miles: 15

PNT mile 1171

Camp: Dose Meadows – Olympic National Park 

I apparently didn’t write anything on this day and my memory of it has faded. Looking at the photos I remember it to be a jaw dropping view kind of day, clouds mingling with mountains and trees. It was also very cold when the sun wasn’t out making for short dinner and a cozy bed time. I always love the chilly nights when I’m snug in my tent. I sleep the best on those nights.

Sorry for the lack of stories, but I love the photos from this day!


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