Sunday, September 29, 2019

2019 Hike Part 10

White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass

Sun 8/04  At home till 1:30 pm.  Rode with Harold to White Pass.  Harold's wife, Judy, is recovering from three strokes.  Life changing for both of them. It was good reconnecting with Harold after a month on the trail.  Harold and I go back to January 1981 in Ellensburg.  We worked together many years and we have hiked many, many miles together. 

Left White Pass at 4:15 pm.  I hiked six miles to Buesch Lake.  Darn mosquitoes.  Many stagnant ponds which are breeding grounds for the little devils.

White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass is the flattest PCT section in Washington.  I hope to put in good miles and make it to Snoqualmie Pass on Thursday.

Mon 8/05  Buesch Lake PCT mile 2301 to above Sheep Lake which is above Chinook Pass 2326.2 = 25 miles

It was hot and I pushed fluids and electrolytes as far as I dared.  I have almost two quarts to get me through the night and eight miles up the trail to a piped spring.  I will need to "camel up" at the spring and pack four liters of water when I leave the spring.

At 8:30 pm I drank one of the remaining quarts I had and I walked back to Sheep Lake and picked up 1.75 quarts.  I had hip flexors and other muscles trying to cramp.  Now I can drink as much as I want during the night.  Potential disaster averted.  The trail ahead has few water sources.  I'll need to monitor and manage fluid intake and how much water I carry with me from one source to the next.  There are two springs I can "camel up."

Tues 8/6  Above Sheep Lake to small spring PCT mile: 2351.7 =25.7 miles

Left camp 5:00 am.  A lot and I mean a lot of climbing.  Three springs, piped spring eight miles from camp, then seven miles to Arch Spring (hard to get water), then ten miles to small spring.  About eight people camped here including Bling and Wishful.

Both knees hurt like the dickens after coming out of the Goat Rocks.  Left knee especially troublesome today.  If knees don't improve, . . .

Talked a bit with Bling about Camino de Santiago.

Wed 8/7  Left the small spring campsites just before 5:00 am.  The hiking went well until mid-afternoon.  Then there was a long, steep downhill which used up my downhill gear.  There were one to two nice campsites which I dared not look at.  I wanted to put in a few more miles and make it to Stampede Pass.   Only four miles to go but now my pack was heavy  with four liters of water from a spring that was just below the trail.

Years ago, when Harold and I hiked this section I remember Stampede Pass had an outhouse and a parking area and several possible campsites. The PCT has been rerouted.  No outhouse, no parking area--just a rocky, uninviting area with no true campsite.  I looked and looked and finally settled on a sloping spot under a couple of trees.  My campsite had a root in a bad spot, but I thought I could work around the root anyway. 

Camp set up and dinner eaten and I was in the tent off my feet.  Both knees ached and throbbed for hours.  Clouds rolled in and I set up the rainfly at 2:00 am.

Thur 8/8   I left camp about 5:00 am as usual.  After hiking four miles or so, I came onto two hikers, a middle-aged woman whose trail name was Ranger and a VietNamese man called Mr Clean.  Mr Clean was in his early 50s, never married, and no children.  Our hiking pace was compatible and they were okay with me hiking with them.

The day was overcast, foggy, and cool.  The first fifteen miles went by pretty quickly.  The last three miles dragged on and on with one steep, gnarly section after another. 

Around 1:00 pm we finally dropped into the Snoqualmie Pass area.  Mr Clean and Ranger went to check in at the Summit Inn.  I walked to the Chevron station to get my resupply box.  My name was not on the list.  I assured the man that my box was there because Becky always has the boxes on time.  I called Becky, and yes, indeed, my box arrived on Tuesday.  Turns out my box was the only UPS box.  All the other boxes were USPS.

Aardvark Express was the next destination--a food truck with an enclosed courtyard and picnic tables.  I asked the hikers what was good.  Hikers up and down the trail are talking about the curry.  I ordered the curry and the man asked if I had just come from the PCT.  I said, "Yes," and he handed me a Rainier Beer.  I was stunned as I didn't know that Rainier was still being brewed.  We called it "Vitamin R" in the old days due to the big red R on the can.

The curry came in a tall cardboard box:  Parsley and veggies on top.  You ate down to the rice and chicken curry.  Man, it was good!  But I was hungry enough to eat shoe leather.

Last stop was DruBru--a brew pub where I waited for Becky and two hikers that wanted to buy me a beer.  I had camped with them the night before last. 

Becky got there first.  I walked Abby a bit, then it was time to go.  I was sorry to leave before the two hikers showed up, but I was craving a shower and a bed, and time with Becky and Abby.
 nukes ub
I'll do the math, but I hiked some 740 miles in 33 days (includes one zero and a nero day at home after White Pass). (A nero day is a Near Zero)

I met some people I'll long remember.  The hiking ranged from easy to brutally hard (coming out of Goat Rocks with 80 mph winds). A part of me wanted to continue on to Canada, but my knees said, "No way, Jose."  Northern Washington is full of eye candy but it is also steep and hard on the knees.  I have no regrets.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

OR/WA PCT Part 9

Wed 7/31
Campsite near Trout Lake PCT mile 2226.5 to 2251.2 = 24.7
Left camp  4:56 am, hiked pretty strong (for me) up the climb.  What a gorgeous day!! A lot of sub-alpine zone with sub-alpine fir and lodge pole pine zone a little lower.

In the Cascades on the PCT you hike toward a major peak like Mt Adams, then you hike away from the same peak.  A few days ago, I was at Timberline Lodge near Mt Hood.  Now Mt Hood is south of me and getting more distant each time I have a view.  Mt St Helens is south but still pretty close.  Mt Rainier is north of me, but pretty far away.  

All of the hikers were basking in the scenery and wildflowers--red and orange Indian Paintbrush, purple lupine, purple and white fleabane.


I'm coming to the Lewis River--rocky, gnarly--looking for a place to cross.  Upstream at a log jam are two southbounders who have just crossed the log jam. Coincidence?

Later in the day when I'm tired, I come to a 4-way trail crossing.  Just after taking a necessary break, a woman comes riding a red horse and leading a white.  Without my asking, she tells me where all four trails lead.  Coincidence? 

I do not believe in coincidences or luck.  There is a trail saying, "The trail will provide." which is partly correct.  To me the saying is code for "God provides."

Camp Mates
Camp was a little way off the PCT.  After I was all set up, a young woman came to camp.  Her name was "Little Skittles."  She's from Tacoma and is only the third person I've met who completed the series.  Very impressive. 

I was already in bed when a couple showed up looking to camp.  I got up and talked a few minutes.  They are from New York City.  That was a first for me.  

Thurs 8/1  2251.2 several exposed campsites elevation 7015 ft. -- 2273.8 = 22.6 miles

Lots of elevation gain today.  The Goat Rocks are incredible--sandwiched between Mt Adams and Mt Rainier.  Campsite -- looking south to Mt Adams or looking north to Mt Rainier.  Caretaker (Don) is also camping here. Don, formerly from western Washington, lives in Grapevine, Texas.  He is an ultra-runner (39-100 miles).  Nice guy, strong hiker.

I did not set up the rainfly on the tent so I could see the stars where there is no light pollution.  At some point during the night, I could not see the stars, meaning clouds had rolled in.  I had to get up and put on the rainfly in spite of the wind. I went to Caretaker's campsite and said, "We may be in for bad weather.  We should hike together tomorrow.  How does 5:30 work for you?"  He agreed.

Fri 8/2

We left camp at 5:20 am.  We had a choice - old PCT route or the higher stock route.  The old PCT has more snow and can be icy early in the day, so we took the stock route.

The first four miles from is gnarly, rocky, in places very steep.  This four mile stretch of trail is slow going with good weather.  We didn't have good weather.  I'm not joking when I say that we encountered winds of 70-80 mph.  You're walking through loose rock and fighting the wind. The hiking was intense (you had to focus on each step, plus you had to fight against the wind).  Several times the trail was steep with small loose pebbles.  We both slipped several times.

After topping out at the last climb in this section, I called Becky and asked if she would come and get me.  I needed a shower and I needed laundry done in the worst way.  And I needed to see Becky and Abby, our dog.

The Goat Rocks is three for three, I am zero for three.   I've been in the Goat Rocks three times now--crummy weather every time.  After dropping some elevation, we started getting a light drizzle.  Just after we stopped to put on rain jackets, the rain picked up.

I made it to White Pass around 3:00 pm, Becky showed up forty minutes later.  We drove to Naches where I got a burger, fries, and milkshake.  We were home around 7:30 pm.  Shower--long shower--to take care of layers of dirt on legs and feet and layers of stink.

Sat 8/3

A zero day for me. Becky had hired a guy named Brian to cut the lower limbs on our pine trees.  I took five pick-up loads to the dump and raked up needles, limbs, and pine cones.  I am convinced that I was supposed to be home helping with this project.

I also made arrangements with Harold to take me to White Pass on Sunday.  Harold and I have hiked many, many miles together, but not recently.  I looked forward to reconnecting with Harold.
The plan was to hike from White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass and then on to Stevens Pass before August 15th (Becky's and my wedding anniversary).

Video - don't miss