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Wildfire, blownout bridges, and beauty

Nearing the end of the journey, I can honestly say things have been getting more exciting. This part of the PCT dates back to the 1930s, the trail design resembles another trail built in the 1930s..the Applachain Trail. It’s a lot of up and down, but over some beautiful passes. I can’t help but think that these passes must be a little bit more gnarly for the Southbounders.

Smells like a forest burning down
Smells like a forest burning down

 

 

Right after Snoqualmie Pass, the trail dipped into a new valley and was incredibly smoky. It was hard to breathe and I put my bandanna over my mouth to do so. A couple of southbounders came through, bug-eyed and totally whigging. “The whole forest is on fire. Going through that was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” the one guy told us. “There is a ranger down there who will escort you through. But they say you’ll be the last ones.”

 

Don’t go there!
Don’t go there!

We booked it down there and got to a section of trail that was blocked off with yellow tape and a sign saying a ranger will come shortly to guide us through. We waited for 20 minutes near the side of the trail, until a 50 feet burning tree within 30 feet of us came crashing down. The ranger (a woman!) finally came and escorted us to a detour. Apparently, a lightening spark created the fire on the PCT, so the trail got rerouted. But then the fire spread to the reroute! So, now the ranger was re-rerouting us from the re-route. We made it out alive, but what an adventure!

 

A sunny day in Washington can be better than a normal day in California
A sunny day in Washington can be better than a normal day in California

After Skykomish, there is a section of the PCT through the Glacier Peak Wilderness destroyed in a 2003 landslide. There are many fords without bridges. There is an alternate route, but apparently it is long, less scenic, and with lots of elevation change. We opted for the old route and were ready to battle blowdowns. The most exciting part of the this section was where I had to hold onto a branch and swing, Tarzan style, over a section of the trail that had washed away to big fall away cliff. The blowdowns in this section were numerous and striking. These old growth logs which lie across the trail at heights taller than me that required rock climbing on wet bark skills to get over (or going around). It will almost be a shame when this part of the trail is cleaned up, such gentle giants these are.

Huckleberry Hysteria

Some say this is the scariest part of the PCT…
Some say this is the scariest part of the PCT…

Greetings from Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, 2400 miles into the Pacific Crest Trail!

 

We’ve had great weather in Washington so far and the huckleberries have been abundant.  It is hard to hike as the trail is a path through waist-high huckleberry bushes, meaning that, of course, I have to stop to munch!

Pi and SF are happier than a bear
Pi and SF are happier than a bear

The trail recently crossed a glacier and the views of Mt. Rainier and other glacier-covered peaks have been unreal.  Wildflowers are in bloom, hiking friends have been abundant, and times have been great. Goat Rocks Wilderness with Pi and Lint was among the most beautiful sections of the trail. We saw Super Dave again..building a fire like he did every night!

 

 

I’ve had the joy of hiking with Pi, Lint, and Gantz and we’re all enjoying bacon waffles here at the Snoqualmie Inn. It will be hard to leave the PCT, but I’ll make the last of these 10 days and prepare for my next adventure: School!

Mt Hood 55 mile challenge

As you can tell, I am super stoked for the big miles tomorrow.
As you can tell, I am super stoked for the big miles tomorrow.

Right before Mt. Hood, 7 thru-hikers including myself completed a 55 mile day into Timberline Lodge. We all camped together, disposing (eating) unwanted food (you don’t want to carry extra weight in your pack) and prepping ourselves for the big day. Setting our alarms for 3 am, we set off in the dark, only to get rained on an hour into the journey. The rain stopped, as it became light, those who camped near the trail cheered us on asking as we speed-walked by: “Are you part of this crazy double marathon group?”

Can’t gain without a little blister
Can’t gain without a little blister

Not that it was a race or anything, but I pulled in at the head of the pack, and passed a guy not in our group who was doing 50 miles into Timberline. We finished before 6 pm, and were able to grab a warm meal and share a room with all the triumphant victors.