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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

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!

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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!


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.


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

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!

<img width=”1289″ height=”960″ alt=”” src=”https://willhikeforcheeseburgers.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/wp-image-1244566051.jpg” title=”Bellingham

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!

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