Our final stage…

posted in: Washington | 2

Something I hadn’t expected
with a trail as long as the PCT was the difficulty in assimilating all the
things you see and all the things you do as you go along. In the morning you
get up, strike camp, eat breakfast and go; the rest of the day is spent hiking,
eating, drinking, getting water, taking occasional detours into the bushes,
until you’ve done your miles and found somewhere to camp, when you pitch your
tent, cook and eat dinner and go to bed. And all the time the experiences are
piling up, and the photos are piling up, but you’re not really putting them
into any order or perspective in your head because already the next experience
is happening, or you’re just too busy thinking about how long until your next
rest stop and what you’re going to pull out of your pack to eat, or how much
your feet hurt, or how tired you are …
Which is my way of saying I
don’t know where to start with describing what’s happened since our last proper
blog entry 670 miles ago. So, because our photos are all in date order, unlike
my memories, I’ve picked out a few photos from the last part of Oregon and all of Washington
which I hope will help to tell the story.
The Fire Detour
Trail closure sign

Mt Jefferson and the fire from near Olallie Lake Resort
We were lucky for a long
time – wildfires broke out behind us on the trail (not our doing, honest) and
sections of trail were closed, but nothing got in the way of our progress north
until we came across this sign near Mount Jefferson.
It meant an extra 11 miles of hiking and a 3000 foot descent and re-ascent, but
what could we do? The Breitenbush Trail was a hideously steep and rocky
descent, there was a long roadwalk split by a night camping in a layby, but the
Red Lake Trail which took us back up to the PCT was actually quite scenic.
However, when we got to Olallie Lake Resort on the PCT and heard they were
about to close the next section of trail and evacuate the resort, we decided to
disappear into the woods and head quickly north rather than get taken away by
the forestry service and lose the continuity of our hike.

Frost

Neil on frosty morning at Junction Lake in south Washington

We’d had cold nights on the
trail in the Sierra Nevada in June, but when
this photo was taken on the 30th August we really felt that autumn had come. We woke to thick
frost on the inside and outside of our single skin tarp-tent. For the first
couple of hours of hiking, we were in thermals, fleeces, hats and gloves. We
had other cold nights afterwards but none as damply chilly as this.

Volcanoes


From northern California to the middle of Washington, we followed a succession of volcanoes which dominated the landscape and provided some of our best views on the trail.

Mt Hood
Mt Adams
Mt St Helens
Mt Rainier
Glacier Peak

Goat Rocks Wilderness

Goat Rocks Wilderness with Mt Rainier in the background

Lower section of Knife Edge Ridge
Quite possibly our favourite
section of trail. Spiky mountains, alpine meadows with lovely flowers, ascent
of a mountain followed by a dramatic descent of Knife Edge Ridge, packed into
a 26 mile day – we found a campsite by a lake just as it was getting dark. A
really exhilarating day.

Snow

Folks on the trail had
warned us about Washington
weather – rain and hill fog, no views, wet vegetation slapping around your legs
and face … Well, we had 4 weeks of perfect weather except for one night and the
following day, when it did this. We had 4 passes of over 6000 feet to go over.
At the top of each pass it was snow, in between it was sleet or heavy rain. No
matter, Neil loves bad weather, I finally got to use my waterproof jacket which
had been serving only as a pillow since a couple of days in southern California, and all went well until we had to hitch a
lift out from Stevens
Pass to resupply. Would
anyone pick up two very wet and cold and somewhat muddy hikers? Thank goodness
for Casey in his old banger of a pickup, on his way back from court for a
driving offence …
River crossings

Tanya on first river crossing

Neil bum shuffling the second river crossing
Our feet hurt. We knew the old
disused PCT route featured two hair-raising log crossings over fast flowing rivers. On
the sign at the junction of new and old PCT routes someone had written “No log
Xing”. But it would save 8 miles, we could just take a look. Of course we had
to give it a go! The first log crossing didn’t look well used but it was OK, we
would just have to hope that the second log crossing which would take us across
another river in about 4 miles time would also be possible. And it was, though
there was no way we were going to walk across it!

Dinner at Stehekin


Our final resupply was at a
lake resort called Stehekin – a real oasis with good food, beer, ice creams, a
bakery, and free camping. And as it turned out, a whole bunch of trail friends
there too. JohnT and Greg were leaving just as we arrived, and we ended up
having dinner with (from left to right): Neil, Ken, Hand Poet (foreground), Train, Scalpel, Rabbit, Gourmet (front), Moose, Peru (behind Moose).
The monument

Tanya at the Northern Terminus – mile 2660
The Canadian border at last!
An odd and anticlimactic end to a fantastic hike. You come down a hill into a
forest, pop out of the trees and there’s this monument in the middle of
nowhere. You still have another 9 miles and 1000 feet of ascent to go to the
trailhead at Manning
Park, the nearest
civilisation. There’s nobody else around except for Neil who’s feeling poorly.
So you take some photos, drink your bourbon as planned, sign the register and
plod on. The beneficial effects of the bourbon last most of the way up the hill
but not all the way to Manning
Park. By the time you get
there, you’re hobbling from your blisters again, Neil’s had to lie down a few
times to avoid passing out and looks like a ghost, Manning Park
has all the character and charm of a Travelodge, but who cares, we have a bed
….

2 Responses

  1. abitofawalk
    |

    Thamks Simon, you put up the sponsorship and we will do the hiking!

  2. Simon White
    |

    Well done!!!!!!!
    I'll miss the blog, maybe after a short rest/break you should keep trekking somewhere else.
    Well done again!Can't wait to hear about it, river crossings look wild.
    Simon