Where the Trail Ends (T-Fox)

September 4 – 2641 to 2660 (19 miles)
September 5 – 2660 to 2669 (9 miles)

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September 4 – 19 miles

This morning is like no other morning on the trail. Unlike all the other mornings, we don’t check the elevation charts and maps and plan our day. Our day is simple. Walk 19 miles to Canada. Don’t rush…don’t plan…just walk.

There’s a lightness in my heart like no other…I’m going to do this thing! No more “maybes” and “probably’s” and “man, I sure hope so’s.” Just a definite, sweet, glorious FOR SURE. No doubt about it Lorax! We’re gonna finish this “never-ending” hike, and we’re gonna do it today.

We are so laid back, that we ignore our alarm in the morning and sleep for another hour. The day is perfect – dare I say the most perfect day yet? Blue skies, amazing conversation, a chill hiking speed, no hurry, and even an extended lunch.

We lounge in the sun atop the last big ascent, eating our tuna wraps and cookies. Lorax comments on all the distant mountains…Canadian mountains. Home.

After lunch, the trail descends a few hundred feet, just to come right back onto the ridge we are standing on. There’s an alternate trail that has been closed because it is impassable, and it loses less elevation by traversing along the shale bowl of the ridge. One guidebook describes the route as only necessary if you want to die on your last day on the PCT. Sounds fun.

Lorax begs me to allow him to do it. It only saves a mile, but he’s drawn to it “just for fun.” I know my man well, and I know that he has a higher than average sense of adventure. While I’m just happy to hike the well managed trails, he likes more of a challenge, and the PCT has not really presented much challenge for him. So…what’s the harm…?

He starts his sketchy traverse, while I begin my long switch-backing descent into the valley. He promises me that if the trail gets ridiculous he will turn back and join me. I lose sight of him early on, and assume he got across early, but as I approach the beginning of my climb, I spot him walking along the loosest shale, with no trail whatsoever. It turns out the trail literally drops off into a shale field with no way across but down. He looks like he is managing well though, so I keep climbing. At the top he tells me that he wouldn’t need to do that again, but if he hadn’t, he’d always wonder “what if.” No harm done.

The afternoon is surreal. Did we seriously walk all the way to Canada? Is that even possible? Who does that anyway?! I am honestly in disbelief. What an accomplishment. What an adventure. What a character builder!

As we get within a few miles of the Northern Terminus, I get butterflies in my stomach – the same nervous feeling I had standing at the Southern Terminus at the Mexican border. It’s weird really, that one would feel nervous upon ending a hike. I have to pee more than usual (nervous energy!), and find myself getting a lot quieter. Lorax is his usual, chipper self, cracking jokes and keeping the mood light. I feel so heavy though…so introverted and somber. I’m excited and happy too…just feeling a lot of confusion over my emotions. This is a good thing to be ending….right?

We see the strip of cut trees that mark the border line – it’s so close! I beginning to run, and let out a nervous squeal. Running to the monument. Running to the end. I want it so baldly all of a sudden that walking seems inappropriate.

And there she is, in all her glory: The Northern Terminus, looking nearly identical to her southern counterpart. I drop my hiking poles on the ground and throw my hands to my face…tears welling in my eyes. “Wow,” is all I can say. Lorax takes a good look at the monument, and comes over for a great, big, celebratory hug.

“We did it T-Fox. We’re thru-hikers.”

We did make it. We ARE thru-hikers! Despite the numerous announcements of my quitting, and against several odds (as roughly 30% of hikers make it), we did it. The moment is like no other moment we have ever experienced, and we’re not likely to feel it again. We have stepped from a hopeful thru-hiker to a thru-hiker: all 2660 miles done in one continuous hike. We feel proud…and lucky that everything worked out.

We take several pictures at the monument, faces beaming with joy. WHAT A FEELING!

Lorax cracks open a mini bottle of champagne that he carried out from our last town stop in Stehekin. He sets the camera up for a picture, and the iPad to video mode. He times everything just right, giving the bottle a good shake, and releases the spray…all over me!! I let out a stunned scream just as the camera clicks, and we are left with the best monument picture of all time (in our biased view of course).

After signing the register, we reluctantly leave the monument, as two other hikers, Tim and Scott, are there as well and we want to give them some space to soak it in. We are in Canada…our home sweet home. We walk the 0.2 miles to camp, holding hands, all smiles. What a great moment to share with one’s spouse, partner, and best friend.

The evening grows cold, and Lorax builds a campfire. We invite Tim and Scott over, and the four of us talk about the trail for hours. We eat our final camp dinners…nothing fancy, but oh so familiar and comfortable. We retire to our tent, feeling awfully at peace.

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The hydro cut that marks the border!

The hydro cut that marks the border!

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September 5 – 9 miles

Sleep until seven. Toss around in my warm down sleeping bag, savouring her comfort and security.

Time to get up. While we have completed our thru-hike from Mexico to Canada, there are still 9 more miles to “civilization” that is Manning Park BC. They are not technically PCT miles, but they are part of this hike.

We’re happy today. I savour the last uphill climbs, feeling the burn in my chiseled calves and thighs. We talk of how we will maintain our bodies in the near future, but also how nothing will ever compare to walking all the time. The conversation even turns to future thru-hikes that we may want to do. Maybe the CDT that follows the same border to border idea, but does so through the Rocky Mountains. And then maybe the Great Divide Trail, Canada’s extension of the CDT. Maybe. Just maybe.

And then…the trail ends. It literally JUST STOPS. No more.

We stand there, looking back at the trail that we have called home for so long, and ahead at the paved road that leads to the rest of our lives. I feel so sad! It’s so final. So abrupt. But I guess there’s no easy way to rip away the best experience in one’s life.

We eat lunch where the trail ends, sharing a Corona (for Mexico, of course!) and try to keep things light, while both of our hearts are sinking.

We hike to the lodge, have showers, do laundry, and sit in deliciously comfortable couches.

“You don’t have to walk tomorrow T-Fox.” Wow. That’s so strange.

We hitch to the campground, which is 4 km away, and wait for our friends to arrive. Kyle, Mere, Ryan, and Barb all made the long drive to Manning Park, just to celebrate with us! Our BC friends! We feel so special, and very appreciative of their support. They arrive just after dark, and hoot and holler out their windows upon seeing us sitting at the picnic table. There are plenty of hugs going around, and Kyle quickly gets to cooking us the most delicious vegetable curry rice meal EVER. We all wear party hats…like children. Man I love my friends.

It’s the perfect ending to a perfect adventure. It feels good to be among familiar, loving faces…to transition back to society with the help of some really great folks. I’m not sure if they realize how helpful they were in reminding me that there is ALWAYS great people in my life – that I don’t need to hike the PCT forever to feel connected to something that matters. The PCT is incredible, but so is my life and the constants within my life – great friends and family, who love and support me.

And who didn’t think I would make it. 🙂

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At the end of the trail

At the end of the trail

Our welcome gang!

Our welcome gang!

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So Close I Can Taste It… (T-Fox)

September 1 – 2580 to 2599 (19 miles)
September 2 – 2599 to 2620 (21 miles)
September 3 – 2620 to 2641 (21 miles)

His pride and joy

His pride and joy

September 1 – 19 miles

We hit the Stehekin bakery HARD on our final morning in town – sticky buns (#3 for me, #5 for Lorax), bagels, a loaf of bread, a scone, and two cinnamon buns. It’s beyond ridiculous, but the food is that good, and this is our last chance to overload on sugary carbs!

We take the first bus back to the trail, and as usual, our packs are heavy. I struggle my way up the gradual incline…so much so that Lorax offers to take some of my load. I’m frustrated that I am so much weaker than him, but I can’t pass up the offer. Man I love that guy.

The day consisted of lengthy conversations about finishing the trail soon. This is the last haul, and we’ve decided to slow down our mileage a bit.

It feels like fall today, and it’s hard to believe we started this whole thing in late April. Time has FLOWN by.

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September 2 -21 miles

We start the day off with crossing Rainy Pass – the last “real” road crossing on the PCT. And just moments later, we are greeted with the 2600 mile marker…only 60 miles to go!!

The thick morning fog sticks around, and it gets increasingly cold. I find myself hiking in my thick down jacket…something I haven’t had to do all trip.

Cue the rain – a good solidly COLD Washington rain. I just knew Washington wouldn’t let us off that easy! I can’t imagine hiking through here in October…brrr it’s cold!!! We walk in solitude today, too confined by our hats and jackets and hoods to have a decent conversation.

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Unreal...

Unreal…

At least someone was enjoying the rain...

At least someone was enjoying the rain…

September 3 – 21 miles

That was a cold night! We wake, feeling far from rested, and far from stoked to hike in the persistent rain.

Today I came to terms that I am READY for this to be DONE. Even if rain doesn’t last forever, it’s still difficult to stay engaged and positive in our hike when it just keeps falling, and we get more and more soaked. We’re sad to be wrapping this up, but we are also getting a taste of Washington fall weather, and we are not interested in getting much more! As we ascend up Harts Pass, the rain turns to snow. SNOW. I was not impressed. Don’t get me wrong, I love a little snow to ski on…but not to hike in…in September.

No views today – just fog, fog, fog. Oh Washington, you can be so glum sometimes. Cheer up!

Finally, while we set up camp, the clouds break, and Lorax announces blue skies. I skeptically look up, expected a tiny blue patch just teasing us, but he’s right – completely blue skies! Not a cloud in sight!

We camp with a crew of volunteers who are surveying the wolverine population in the area. They quiz us on our hike, and we find it hard to put our experiences into words. Sometimes it just feels like a “you had to be there” kind of trip. We love talking about it, but we feel like we are always just scratching the surface when we describe things.

Tomorrow we cross the Canadian border. We lay in our den, cozy in our sleeping bags, cuddled in each other’s arms, reminiscing on the trip, laughing, and reflecting. I wouldn’t have wanted to share it with anyone other than you Hun.

Cold start to the day

Cold start to the day

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Team Canada...going for the long haul!

Team Canada…going for the long haul!

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Sneakin’ into Stehekin (Lorax)

August 26 – 2476 to 2490 (14 miles)
August 27 – 2490 to 2516 (26 miles)
August 28 – 2516 to 2540 (24 miles)
August 29 – 2540 to 2568 with old PCT shortcut (23 miles)
August 30 – 2568 to 2580 (12 miles)
August 31 – ZERO in Stehekin
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Aug 26 – 14 miles (LORAX)

We awake, rested yet sore as always at the Cascadia Inn in Skykomish, WA. Today isn’t going to be a zero after all, as another hiker reminded us that Monday is Labour Day, which means the Stehekin post office will be closed with our food drop. We decide to hike the 104 miles of the supposedly arduous Section K in 4 days to arrive before the P.O. closes on Saturday.

We hitch 16 miles back to the trail at noon in the back of a pickup. We cram into the bed of the truck with a large dog kennel, packs on one side and hikers on the other. I quickly realize my hat is in serious jeopardy. The dog kennel separates me from my hat, which is bouncing around the other side of the truck in the 60 mph winds. After a few tense minutes it safely lodges between the side of the truck bed and a propane tank, much to the relief of T-Fox.

At 1pm we start walking, fresh tomatoes in hand courtesy of our chauffeur. We climb out of Steven’s Pass towards a camp spot at Grizzly Peak. At 7pm we arrive, set up camp and make dinner. Tonight’s meal is pesto spaghetti – a trail favourite made with whole wheat spaghetti, dry pesto sauce packets, a foil pouch of tuna, milk powder and lots of Parmesan and olive oil. Parmesan is a wonderful trail food that seemingly never goes bad and always tastes good. We’ve got a full pound of it for Washington.

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August 27 – 26 miles (LORAX)

We awoke to “super-dew” which we saw coming but couldn’t easily avoid. We wear rain pants for the morning as we walk through alpine and sub-alpine vegetation of blue lupine, corn lily, red columbine, cow parsnip and Indian paintbrush. The terrain in Washington has been spectacular lately and we’re excited to be entering the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

At mid morning we pass a trail side “2500” monument constructed of bark. It’s pretty nuts. We’re at a cool point in the journey now where the bulk of the work is behind us and we’re mentally free to enjoy the walk with less obligation. 160 miles left seems like nothing. The end is tangible and we’ve got mixed feelings about it. It’ll be a relief to be done walking and we’re looking forward to next chapter of our lives, but living outside has been great and we love Washington. Thankfully these areas are close to home, so the walk feels more like reconnaissance for future adventures.

Late in the morning we hear scrambling and look up to see a large mustelid climbing on the bark of a Douglas Fir. Is it a Marten? Fisher? The cat sized animal awkwardly leaps back and forth between tree trunks with its stubby legs, while regularly stopping to peer and huff. It’s one of neatest wildlife encounters of the trip, second only to the grey fox in SoCal. We later learn all the Fishers have been trapped or logged out of their homes in Washington, so we conclude it was a Marten.

Early evening we are caught by Knock-Out, who is also racing for the Post Office. I give him my drivers licence in case he makes it and we don’t. At 7pm we crest Red’s Pass and quickly descend into an alpine bowl to make camp after 26 miles.

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Marten!

Marten!

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Reunited with knockout

Reunited with knockout

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A wet campsite, but we were ready to call it a day

A wet campsite, but we were ready to call it a day

Aug 28 – 24 miles (LORAX)

I awake at 5:30am as usual and pack up while water boils for coffee. We need to cover 26 miles today and tomorrow, plus another 7 the next day before the 9am bus to make it into Stehekin in time for the Post Office.

Today is gorgeous but tough, as we traverse around the awesome Glacier Peak. The section feels like the crux of the PCT with tough climbs, brushy trail and a rainy forecast. In the alpine hoary marmots are everywhere and their shrill whistles in concert with the squeaky bark of the Pika become the soundtrack to our day.

By mid afternoon we descend 3000′ to cross Milk Creek. Nearing the bottom, I spot an old trail that crosses the creek higher up. I convince T-Fox to give the seemingly shorter route a try, so we bushwhack through Devil’s Club towards the crossing. After 200 yards the trail disappears at a washout/landslide, so I use a sapling trunk to rappel 15 feet down the loose dirt wall to the creek. T-Fox is less impressed but eventually we get her down. The bridge here is long gone, so we spend 20 minutes scouting a crossing of the milky glacier creek. We climb up to where the creek is braided into thirds and make a reasonably easy crossing. Soon after we rejoin the PCT, having spent an hour to “save” what we later learn was 1.1 miles.

By 7pm we’ve climbed out of the valley and covered 24 miles. Exhausted, we set up camp on a sub-alpine ridge. We’re a bit disappointed to have the miles math tipped against us by the tough terrain. There’s 35 miles left to town and we have to catch the 9am bus the day after tomorrow or be stuck in Stehekin for 3 days.

Super foggy morning...

Super foggy morning…

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Glacier on Glacier Peak

Glacier on Glacier Peak

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Afternoon coffee

Afternoon coffee

T-Fox, a little shaken up by the river ford

T-Fox, a little shaken up by the river ford

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Aug 29 – 23 miles (LORAX)

Today we get on trail a few minutes early at 6:20 am. The alpine vegetation is wet as usual after a cold night. We descend towards the Suiattle River as the old growth trees increase in size. Soon we’re in a forest of huge Western Hemlock, Red Cedar and Douglas Fir. We scramble over a fallen and shattered red cedar that fills the air with its unique fragrance.

It feels like we’re making good time, but the map says we’ve only covered 4.5 miles by 8:30 am. We’ve already decided to take the old PCT route across the river. It’s 5 miles shorter than the new PCT which was re-routed in 2011 after the upper bridge washed out. We’ve already factored these mile savings into our math, so the brushy older route feels more like a set back as we struggle with two difficult creek crossings and many fallen logs.

Light rain starts as we begin the ascent out of the deep Suiattle drainage. We break at 4pm at the pass but chill quickly as rain starts to fall. We resume waking and try to hurry as we are far behind on miles, but the talus fields, scree bowls and overgrown avalanche chutes all dictate a slow speed. Finally we reach Agnes Creek at the valley bottom at 7:30pm. There’s a campsite here but it’s closed due to hazard trees so we press on. Darkness falls quickly as we hike and search for a site. Tired, we finally camp on a blanket of ferns after 23 tough miles.

As our sharp cheddar Annie’s Mac ‘n Cheese cooks, we discuss options for tomorrow. Our slow progress has left 12 miles between us and the 9am Stehekin bus. I offer to start early at 4 am and hike it solo, but T-Fox doesn’t want to be left behind. We consider missing the bus and hoping the Post Office will give our package to Knock-Out who has my ID and is ahead. Eventually we decide we’ll both hike out early, which means a 3:30am start as T-Fox’s top speed is a bit slower. With the alarm set for 2:30 am, we fall asleep on a lumpy bed of ferns.

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Drizzling day...

Drizzling day…

Log crossing on the old PCT

Log crossing on the old PCT

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir

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Aug 30 – 12 miles (T-FOX)

Lorax’s alarm goes off at 2:30 a.m. and he quietly and slowly stirs, going about his morning duties. I lay in my down sleeping bag, dreading the moment when he gently reminds me that I need to get up too. What an ungodly hour to get up!

Hiking in the dark proves to be nauseating for both of us. We ate cereal, and feel that we may have shocked our bellies. I find myself feeling almost car sick as we hike in the pitch dark, with nothing but “tunnel vision” from our head lamps. All the plants and trees pass so quickly…I feel dizzy…

We manage to hike the entire 12 miles to the bus pick-up by 8 a.m! 12 miles already?! Why were we so slow all those other days lately? I guess it’s “going-to-town-syndrome.”

We wait for the 9 a.m. bus to arrive, along with some other hikers – Knockout, Pillsbury, Jukebox, and Ian. Upon arriving to Stehekin bakery, we are in heaven. This bakery is LEGENDARY…a PCT-thru hiker dream come true. Lorax grabs a coffee and giant sticky bun and heads back on the bus to sort out our camping and to hit the post office. I lounge around the bakery with other hikers, feeling the stoke to finally have made it here! We guzzle coffee, eat more sweets than should be legal, and reminisce about our hike. Everyone seems shocked to even be here…so close to the end…we try to put how that feels into words, but it’s so dang hard.

The rest of the day is pure bliss. I love Stehekin! What a great final town before the end of this whole hike.

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August 31 – zero miles (T-FOX)

We take the entire day off in Stehekin…something we rarely did in towns along this journey. It feels glorious to sleep in, spend the entire morning at the bakery (sticky buns AGAIN), and nap in the tent after lunch. Normally these things would make me feel so lazy…but we deserve it! We had to book it to town to be at the post office, and our bodies need the rest.

Lorax and I walk around town, holding hands, trying to make sense of this crazy adventurous whirlwind. How can time fly by so fast, yet our start date of April 18th feel so so so long ago…? And we’ve walked every single step of the way! We didn’t get stuck by Forest fires! We have been so fortunate, not only to have this opportunity, but to have everything go so smoothly. Knock on wood T-Fox…this ain’t over yet!

We say goodbye to several hikers that we won’t be seeing agin – knockout, Freckles, Jawbone and Liverpool. They’re heading back to the trail earlier than us, so they’ll beat us to Canada. It’s sort do sad how this is all wrapping up. Our traveling band of hikers is spreading out…it’s surreal.

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Wedding Anniversary…Hiker Style (T-Fox)

August 22 – 4 miles on Goldmyer alternate
August 23 – 23 miles on Goldmyer alternate + 2438 to 2441 (26 miles)
August 24 – 2441 to 2469 (28 miles)
August 25 – 2469 to 2476 (7 miles)

“I was still stiff and weary at the end of the day – that never stopped – but I had reached the point that aches and blisters were so central a feature of my existence that I ceased to notice them.”  – Bill Bryson, on walking the Appalachian Trail.

Our 8th wedding anniversary photo...classy!

Our 8th wedding anniversary photo…classy!

August 22 – 4 miles

Slept like an exhausted hiker – deep and soundly. Pure heaven!

We leave Snoqualamie today, even though we had allotted the entire day off. We do this often where we push to town so we can have more time off, and then decide to head back to the trail early. I’m not sure if I necessarily “miss” the trail, but I do get a little antsy when we sit for too long. I love you PCT!

We head to The Summit Pancake House for a mediocre but satisfying breakfast. Several other hikers are there, stuffing their faces and pounding coffee – much needed calories and possibly MORE needed caffeine! I look around the restaurant…we are an interesting bunch…fascinating individuals, all brimming with the same anticipation for Canada.

We chill in town for most of the day, catching up on our blog and various “worldly” things. Life outside of the trail can feel so foreign sometimes…majors global events occurring and more facebook friends who are pregnant/engaged/moving etc. It’s a good reminder that while it feels like time has stood still in my own life while I hike, there are fascinating advancements happening with others. Time keeps on ticking!

We spend a great deal of time sorting our food…enough food for seven days on the trail. No surprise here, but our packs were borderline unbearably heavy. Go, Go, Gadget legs!!

We finally hike out at five. Pillsbury has decided to join us for this section. The three of us hoist our packs on, head outside, and are greeted by rain. Heavy rain. Thunder. Everyone tries to convince us to stay in town, and warns against heading into the mountains with a pending storm. One adorable hiker, named Mermaid, even offers to “sneak” us into her room so we have a safe, dry place to sleep. SO TEMPTING…but we decided to hike…and hike we shall.

We climb, and sweat, and rain leaks into our rain jackets…but eventually it stops. We make it only four miles, but at least we broke the ties from town! Those luxurious town stops can really sucker a homeless hiker in!

We set up our soaking wet tent (from the heavy dew the night before), laugh and chat with Pillsbury from inside our tents, and say our goodnights.

Storms a brewin'

Storms a brewin’

A squeaking Pika!

A squeaking Pika!

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August 23 – 26 miles

We are suckered into another alternate trail. The Goldmyer trail shaves off 9 miles, but it’s going to be more rugged and challenging. We’re not really sure if it will save us time, but we decide to give it a whirl. Besides, it doesn’t go outside of our continuous hike to Canada philosophy…we are walking ever step of the way, Baby! Our morning conversation mostly consists of war. I never paid attention that well in History class, but Lorax and his stellar memory reveal copious details of World War 2. I have no idea how he does it…it’s almost as fascinating as what he’s saying. I love that skinny, scruffy man.

We get a slightly earlier start than Pillsbury, but she catches us by noon. We have just finished our lunch stop, complete with my magic bullet mug of coffee – watch out afternoon…T-Fox is caffeinated!

The three of us hike the rest of the day together. It’s a tough one! We kind of regret ever leaving the PCT…we miss her gentler grades. But overall, it’s a beautiful day. Pillsbury and I converse over our shared passions for nutrition and vegetarianism. Man I miss fresh, nutrient dense health foods!

So we’ve run out of water purification tabs at this point, so we’ve been drinking the water straight. We’re kind of going off of common sense and intuition…and possibly a little luck! We hope there’s some iodine tablets in a hiker box at the next town…

Lorax finds a flat, soft, mossy spot where the three of us set up home. We ravenously down our dinners and curl up in our sleeping bags. Washington nights can be chilly…but we got this cozy thing down 🙂

Snow lake

Snow lake

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The leader of the pack :)

The leader of the pack 🙂

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Our evening break spot

Our evening break spot

The embarrassment that is our snack stash...

The embarrassment that is our snack stash…

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August 24 – 28 miles

We all break camp at the same time this morning, and hit the trail HARD. It’s a really solid morning. We are hikers! We are strong! We have come so far!

Plenty of elevation change…plenty of sweating…plenty of panting. Well, for Pillsbury and I at least; Lorax just saunters along, despite the fact he is now carrying all the food. Maybe I should have an asterisk beside this accomplishment…a little disclaimer: “Fox hiked the PCT, but with copious amounts of assistance from the powerhouse who is referred to as Lorax.”

Gorgeous rugged mountains! Pristine aqua lakes! Oh to be alive and well.

With just one more major pass to ascend, we hit another storm. Do we wait it out, or trudge up higher over the notch and brave the rain? We have big miles planned for the day, and stopping means getting to camp later, so we press on (There’s no stopping on my watch! – Lorax)

Rain turns to hail, to rain, to hail, and back to rain. I motor up that climb as if my life depends in it. “Gotta go up to get down…gotta go up to get down…” is my mantra. We successfully reach the tiptop, and the rain stops. We remove our rain jackets, which are soaked not only on the outside, but on the inside from sweat.

We’re tired when we reach camp, but in good spirits. There are so few days left out here on the PCT! It may be hard, but it’s also a simple life – hike, eat, sleep, repeat.

LESS THAN 200 MILES TO GO!

Unreal.

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Freckles, me, and Jawbone discussing a river crossing

Freckles, me, and Jawbone discussing a river crossing

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WET

WET

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August 25 – 7 miles

I wake, and am greeted by my best friend with a kiss and a “Happy anniversary Fox.”

It’s our 8th wedding anniversary, and we’re headed to Skykomish to celebrate!

We hike with Pillsbury, catch a hitch to town (thank you Mary!) and head to the only hotel in town. Funds are getting tight, but luckily this place is affordable. We get a room with a shared bathroom, and no t.v…just the bare minimum! We know, it’s not the classiest choice for an anniversary, but it fits the bank account!

We wanted to go out for dinner, but find we are too hungry by noon, so we grab a seat at the Cascadia Inn restaurant. Our room isn’t ready yet, so here we are, four days since we showered, in our hiking clothes, sharing our anniversary meal together. We laugh as I accuse Lorax of having smelly feet, than later realizing that mine are just as offensive. It’s all so romantic.

After lunch, we shower, clean up, and loiter around town. It’s a cute little mountain town, complete with old buildings, and a piercingly loud train…right beside our room. Maybe I won’t sleep as well as I hoped…

Happy anniversary Mr. Lorax – you stole my heart so very many years ago, but you have not only taken good care of it, but helped to shape it and encourage it to flourish. I love you dearly.

Our 8th wedding anniversary photo...classy!

Our 8th wedding anniversary photo…classy!

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Feels Like Home… (T-Fox)

August 18 – 2303 to 2329 (26 miles)
August 19 – 2329 to 2356 (27 miles)
August 20 – 2356 to 2381 (25 miles)
August 21 – 2381 to 2402 (21 miles)
August 22 – ZERO at Snoqualamie Pass

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August 18 – 26 miles

Back to the trail after another wonderful zero day.

We return to the trailhead and are greeted with trail magic by a couple who walked the beginning of the PCT but only had a month. We had just stuffed ourselves on pizza, but we muscled some room in our bellies for more. Delicious grilled veggies, and a burger for Lorax.

The following morning we hit the trail at our usual time. Another gorgeous day filled with sunshine and Mount Rainier.

Later that afternoon, we came around a bend in the trail and were greeted by a bear. I was walking in the front, and yelled back to Lorax, “Bear!” He was standing right on the trail, blocking our way. We did what we always do when we see a bear that hasn’t run off yet: we started talking loudly and waving our hands, trying to get him to run off.

He didn’t budge. Instead, he raised his snout, sniffed the air, and took a couple paces towards us.

“He’s not moving…he’s not moving…” I began yelling. This has never happened to us! Why isn’t he moving?! In classic T-Fox fashion, I start to panic. I wanted to run away, but knew that was not smart. Lorax continued to wave his poles and talk in a low voice, and he told me to back up slowly. He grabbed a couple rocks, in preparation to throw them if need be. We kept backing away, and increasing the distance between us and the bear. He eventually went back to eating huckleberries, but was still on the trail.

Now what? He’s not moving, and there’s no easy way around him. We sit down a fair distance away, and wait. Some other hikers start approaching from the other direction. “There’s a bear!” Lorax yells. “And he’s not moving.” They keep walking anyway, speaking softly to the bear. He ends up coming off the trail slightly, then jumps on his hind legs for a better look. The hikers stop, just a few meters from the bear, and start taking pictures of him.

Everything worked out in the end, but we were worried that they stopped so close to a bear that was showing some mild aggression. We figured it was safe to pass now and walked by the bear.

Turns out later that day that we heard some south-bounders who had an issue with the same bear. It appears that he just doesn’t seem threatened by people.

Lorax's hamburger...NOT mine :)

Lorax’s hamburger…NOT mine 🙂

Trail Magique!!!

Trail Magique!!!

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Rainier

Rainier

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Bear in the bushes...

Bear in the bushes…

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August 19 – 27 miles

Such a beautiful morning! There’s a bounce in our step these days…just soaking it all in. Lorax spends a good chunk of the morning tossing his poles around (I swear…he’s going to break them), as we listen to music together on speaker.

“You haven’t said, ‘I quit’ in a while T-Fox.” Lorax is right. I haven’t said it, because I finally feel like this is attainable and possible. As much as I have always wanted to complete this hike, there were countless times when I believed I just didn’t have it in me. This has been HARD – probably more so than I expected. It’s been tiring, but also draining emotionally. But it’s been worth it…?…I think…? Yes. Definitely.

We come across two horse back riders coming southbound towards us. They dismount, and we step off the trail so they can pass. For some reason, the horses started freaking out, and eventually BOLTED back down the trail, sans riders.

Oops.

Some other hikers saw the whole fiasco, and decided to call us The Horse Whisperers.

We slept at a public cabin that night, which was packed with PCT hikers, as well as a father with four sons. The family came to the cabin the day before and started feeding hikers, and was so stoked about helping hikers that he came back the next night to help some more! A true trail angel! He served up hotdogs with beans, complete with beer. It felt great to sleep indoors for a change.

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Mr. Lorax

Mr. Lorax

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Llamas!!

Llamas!!

Hanging at the cabin

Hanging at the cabin

Guns at the cabin!

Guns at the cabin!

August 20 – 25 miles

We wake up and leave the cabin, greeted by a wet super-fog. The air is just thick with moisture, and the trees are dripping with water…it may as well be raining! And brrr…IT’S COLD! Hello Washington…it feels like we are getting closer to home.

Clear cuts. That’s what today has to offer. It puts me in a melancholy mood, and I struggle to hike.

A miserable fox...too wet

A miserable fox…too wet

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August 21 – 21 miles

Another foggy morning, so I better get used to it! The fog lifts by late morning, and it gets sunny and warm.

Only 21 miles to Snoqualamie Pass! Sadly, I depended on my podcasts to get me through most of those miles. Hiking to town days are tough because I’m too focused on getting a break, and the miles DRAG.

At lunchtime we are stopped by some locals who are day hiking. They are the sweetest ladies, and they are so inspired by our hike. It’s a good reminder that we are lucky to do this.

Passed 2400 mile marker! What?!

Snoqualamie Pass is heavenly. Now, if we were driving through we might think it’s kind of lame, but to a hiker, it has everything we need. We camp on a dirt road, just at the base of the ski hill. Are we allowed to do so…? I don’t know, and quite frankly, I don’t care as much these days. I just need a place to put my mobile home.

Sleep…glorious sleep!

2400 miles!

2400 miles!

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Into the Heart of Cascadia (T-Fox)

August 10 – 2155 to 2159 (4 miles)
August 11 – 2159 to 2185 (26 miles)
August 12 – 2185 to 2209 (24 miles)
August 13 – 2209 to 2235 (26 miles)
August 14 – 2235 to 2246 (11 miles)
August 15 – 2246 to 2277 (31 miles)
August 16 – 2277 to 2303 (26 miles)
August 17 – ZERO at White Pass / Packwood

Mount Rainer

Mount Rainer

August 10 – 4 miles

Greyhound bus tickets are booked…our end date is actually BOOKED.

It’s a weird feeling – that this once seemingly endless journey has an official end: September 5. I thought 2660 miles would take forever…but apparently forever can arrive. We are discussing the finality of this daily, with mixed feelings of anticipation and apprehension. We are hiking with a fonder appreciation these days though – the days are numbered…

Hood River Oregon was interesting. We managed to get all of our resupply food mailed out by the 4 p.m. deadline, and grabbed a scandalously over-priced hotel room. I realize that as people who hike and camp everyday, we really shouldn’t complain about a room. But honestly, ants crawl on me in the wild, and I prefer to NOT have them crawling around me while indoors. And cold showers are also acceptable in an alpine lake, but not so much in a hotel bathroom. But we did manage to sleep in until almost 9 a.m! GLORIOUS.

We hitched back to Cascade Locks to get back on the PCT. We have scheduled a few extra days to finish the trail because we want to enjoy ourselves. Washington is also very rugged, and has the potential to be very wet, so we want to “take our time” ish.

THE BRIDGE OF THE GODS. The official border crossing from Oregon to Washington, and the PCT goes right along it. We were informed by the bridge toll attendant to walk against the flow of traffic, and be careful. We are so stoked to be in Washington! The last state! Canada feels so close now! It’s like a switch has gone off in my “anxiety-o-meter” that is finally telling me, “Relax T-Fox. You got this girl.”

Washington greeted us with some more good old poison oak. We tip-toed around it and figured this is the last time we will have to do so! The rest of the trail stays at fairly high elevation. We set up camp at (sadly) the grossest site we have camped at to date – Gillette Lake. We swam in the lake because it was over 100-degree weather today, but it smelled like rotten fish. Grossest part was the human impact there. Several fire pits were full, and I mean FULL, of garbage – paper plates, plastic who-knows-whats, old boots, and even diapers. Disgusting. It actually made our stomachs turn…such a lack of respect for nature…and so lazy!

Columbia River

Columbia River

Washington!! Can't believe it...

Washington!! Can’t believe it…

Bridge of the gods

Bridge of the gods

August 11 – 26 miles

I woke in the middle of the night, and looked out my open tent door. There, suspended in the sky, was a full moon. It was actually a super moon, meaning it was not just full, but also closer to the earth than normal. The variation in her orbit changes slightly, which causes variance in how close she is. I’m glad I woke up and got to see her, especially in such a wild and rugged setting. Back to sleep…

Today was muggy. There was definitely a storm brewing in the air, or at least we thought it was. Apparently there was no rain in store for today, but we were welcoming it with open arms. Relieve us! Come soon!

It was also a view less day. We meandered along through the forest, and in a way, I’m glad we couldn’t see the mountainous volcanoes towering above us because it helped me focus on the forest. So lush…so green…so ALIVE.

We camped with a new friend, Pillsbury. She’s the sweetest thing…and her and I just click. I think it’s encouraging to talk to other girls out here who are pushing through similar struggles as me.

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Clear cut logging...the only view we had today

Clear cut logging…the only view we had today

August 12 – 24 miles

The rain came – be careful what you wish for!

This is the first day of hiking on the PCT where it rained for more than an hour. Is this what Washington is going to be like? Did I wish unending rain upon us?

Overall it was a cruising morning with fairly easy trail. Things got more challenging later in the day with a 9 mile climb.

We planned to hike a little bit further, but with the rain being persistent, and the clouds staying thick, we decided to call it a night early. Even though I’ve done lots of backpacking in wet British Columbia, I still get fairly nervous when I get increasingly wet and cold. I try to tell myself that I will eventually warm up in my dry, cozy tent, but it just can’t happen soon enough. As soon as I was covered in down clothing, my anxiety ceased and I could breathe. Oh down coat and sleeping bag…how I love you!

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Lorax in his ever deteriorating hat!

Lorax in his ever deteriorating hat!

August 13 – 26 miles

The rain is ending! We woke up to a light sprinkle, which was tolerable.

The trail has been quite kind lately, especially considering we’re in Washington! We anticipate things to get a lot steeper and more challenging, but for now, we appreciate the gentler grades. There are little to no views right now though, but the trees have been beautiful and their canopy has been welcome in the rain and mist.

Early this morning, around seven a.m., a hiker approached us coming south. It was SCOTT WILLIAMSON!! He’s a PCT hero who held the record for fastest time (up until it was beat last season by Anish), and get this – he yo-yo’s the PCT. As in he not only hikes north to canada like the rest of us, but when he gets there, he turns around and does it all AGAIN. He is a rock star. He’s going for the record for fastest time this season, yet he took the time to talk to us for ten minutes. He is the nicest guy…we are rooting for him!

Later that afternoon as we were hiking along, there was a message in the dirt on the trail. PCT hikers do this all the time – leave smiley faces, hearts, or personal messages. This message had a word every ten feet or so, and it said, “What…does…the…fox…say…???” It brought a smile to my face! I have no idea who wrote it, but it’s cute none-the-less. In response, I wrote, “The…Fox…says…let’s…pounce!”

There are still no views, but we came across the most majestic old growth forest! It is by far the most beautiful forest we’ve seen on the trail. The testimony those old trees have!

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Old school PCT sign

Old school PCT sign

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August 14 – 11 miles

Just two miles of hiking to the road, and we can hitch to Trout Lake for breakfast! We arrive at the road, and there are NO CARS. Notta. Zip. Luckily, after the minutes of no cars, a truck rolls on full of hikers coming from town. Score! We catch a ride back to town with Dave, who is a local trail angel.

We inhale a delicious breakfast, and hang out with several hikers for the afternoon. It feels great to shower, do laundry, and generally dry out. I love hiker-trash community!

In the afternoon we decide to hitch back to the trail. We get picked up by two guys who are going halfway to our destination. They’re going for a two day hike. So we find ourselves only halfway to the PCT, but are hopeful that someone will come along.

It starts to rain. Hard.

We huddle by the side of the road under a hemlock, trying to stay dry. Maybe the pouring rain will increase our chances of a ride…? People will feel bad for us…? Nope. Several cars passed us, without even slowing down. Finally, we are picked up from a local Trout Laker who was just out for a drive. Sure, she can drive us to the trail! What a sweetie…thank you Lynne! Upon dropping us off, the rain ceases, and she decides to come hike with us for an hour. She was great company.

We enter Mount Adams Wilderness – but we can’t see Mount Adams. The fog is so thick, but we know the mountain is looming right beside us. The rain starts pouring again, and it’s getting cold. We pitch the tent and call her a day.

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August 15 – 31 miles

Still wet and cloudy. Heavy, dense, overcast cloud cover for most of the day. We hiked all the way around MountAdams and didn’t catch a glimpse of him until we were several miles away…but what a view it was! The clouds broke just enough that we could finally. Say “hello!”

today was our first 31 miler – 50 kilometres! We had to hike till 9 pm., but we did it.

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Peek-a-boo Mount Adams!

Peek-a-boo Mount Adams!

August 16 – 26 miles

This was HANDS DOWN the most beautiful day on the trail to date. The Sierra’s were obviously gorgeous too, but today just blew me away!

We hiked in Goat Rocks Wilderness – a common hi-lite on the PCT. I think I was suffering from sensory overload…too much to take in at once! And considering we just came out of several view less days, this was almost too much! I will let the pictures speak for themselves. We could see both Mount Hood and Mount Rainier in all their glory. We even saw Mountain goats!

We pushed to make it to White Pass by the end of the day, rolling in at eight p.m. with Carli (Freckles) and Joe (Jawbone). It was great to catch up with those two. Upon reaching the RV Park, there were two puppy Shiba Inu dogs (just like my dog Sitka at home!) and I was thrilled to spend some time with them. Man I miss my little stinker dog…

We set up our tent in the woods, read our books, and passed out until 7:30 a.m.

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 Mount Adams

Mount Adams

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Mount Rainer

Mount Rainer

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Mountain goats

Mountain goats

Cutest Shiba puppies!

Cutest Shiba puppies!

August 17 – ZERO miles

No hiking today! Just relax! Eat! Put your feet up!

The ever wonderful and generous Germans (Half & Half and Friendrick) left a note at the store that they got a room and were letting people shower there. I was thrilled! I showed up to their cramped room (6 hikers in one hotel room…that’s awesome) and savoured the hot shower.

Lorax and I decided to hitch the 20 miles to Packwood to relax for the rest of the day. We are currently happily hanging out in a coffee shop.

Hitching to Packwood

Hitching to Packwood

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Hitching it the bed of a pick up truck...

Hitching it the bed of a pick up truck…

Only 15 hiking days left! That’s just pure craziness…

Walk on,
T-Fox

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Nothing Lasts Forever…Even Cold Washington Rain…

Taking a breather in Trout Lake Washington! No time to update what’s been going on, but we are still happy, smiling, slightly wet, but keeping it positive.

 

Hike on…

T-Fox

Delicious breakfast goodness...

Delicious breakfast goodness…

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