Thursday, August 26, 2010

Culture Shock in Seattle and my Final Journey Home

All Cleaned Up - And Feeling Awkward

Well it's been a few days since my finale in Manning Park and I'm all cleaned up and wearing cotton again....and noticeably 20 pounds lighter. 

Since finishing, I've been spending a few days traipsing around downtown Seattle with my mom.  I can honestly say that I love the city of Seattle, I really do...but I'm having a very hard time dealing with it.  I literally went from living in the woods for four months to bumping my way through throngs of people in the downtown Seattle marketplace.  I went from living freely, to living as an uber tourist.  In the two days that I've been here, I went up the space needle, ate at the rotating restaurant, went to the sci-fi and music museums, saw the aquarium, ate out for several meals, and rode multiple forms of public transportation.  I did have several good cups of coffee, but the stressful and people-filled city streets are just too much for my simplified mind and lifestyle to absorb right now.  I am very much looking forward to getting back to PA and my small hole in the wall apartment with the quiet cornfield out back.  With that all said however, I'm very glad that I was able to spend a really great few days with my mom and catch up.  We have tried to do a little duo trip each year together since my dad passed away, and with the exception of last year, have kept up with it.  Spending the past couple days city-ing it up with mom, has been fun, despite being a bit much for me to take in right now.  I'm eternally grateful that she came out to meet me at the end.  Here are some obligatory tourist-y pics from my Seattle romp:

Space Needle

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

Seattle Aquarium - Strange Fish

Seattle Aquarium - Sea Otters

With the busy city life of the past two days, I haven't had much time to process my hike yet.  There is so much I want to write about, so many reflections that I know are scratching at the surface trying to get out.  I can't wait to get my laptop and finally upload all of my videos and high-res pictures so that I can re-see in full screen what I saw over the past four months.  The iPhone photos just don't cut it.  I have a pretty lengthy list of to-dos already piling up at school which will undoubtedly keep me busy until my Antarctica deployment, but I will be posting at least one more PCT entry with all of my final thoughts on this actual epilogue.  For now, I will enjoy my last evening in Seattle, relaxing in the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, and hop on my flight tomorrow morning.  I can't wait to see people back home. 

I've had a hard time divorcing my mind-set from the trail.  I find that every free minute I have, that I'm checking trailjournals on my iPhone to see where other hikers are...and if people that I've hiked with have finished yet.  I'm already hiking vicariously through others. 

SO....Sometime in the next week or so, I will be posting my cluttered thoughts on how hiking the PCT has truly affected me, and hopefully get some pics and vids up too.  I again want to say thank you to everyone who donated to my dad's memorial fund, and to all those that made my thru-hike a reality.  People back home, family, loved ones, friends, trail angels, hitchhike drivers, hostel owners, pcta volunteers, trail crews, etc.  I also want to say thank you for all of the wonderful comments and congratulatory sentiments left by everyone.  This was certainly one of the most challenging endeavors I have ever undertaken both mentally and physically.  To just have finished alone, is more than I could have ever asked for.  Everything else has just been sweet sweet sugar on top. 

I will try to get some good photos/vids up soon.

take care everyone and...hey....East I come.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 123: Mile 2663.5 (12.2) - THE END

Location: Manning Provincial Park, Canada!


It Is Finished.

Exactly 4 months from the day I took my first step north from the Mexican border, I placed my hands upon the sign reading "Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail". There's really no way to possibly sum up the whirlwind of emotion I'm experiencing right now...especially in a short blog update. I imagine I will compose a more thoughtful epilogue after a few days of letting it all settle in.

In a nutshell, I awoke this morning to some very cold temps. After a hot coffee and the last of my stehekin baked goods, I reluctantly made my way to the border. For those last four miles I tried to walk as slow as deliberately delay the end just a little
longer. When I rounded that last turn and saw the terminus post, I
couldn't hold it in. I broke down as I walked up to it and let out a
howl of joy, with tears streaming down my face. I was actually
there...actually touching the sign. The sign I had been dreaming
about for thousands of miles. I sat down unable to process my
thoughts. Eventually I went through the of myself at
the post, pics of just the post, video, pic of me dumping Mexican dirt
and katahdin water, and various other pics and vids. After a good
hour, I looked over at the sign welcoming me into Canada and made my
way towards manning park lodge. 8 short miles later I found myself
standing at the trailhead, at the final end. There was no more to
walk. It was over.

Now I sit here in my hotel room with countless thoughts racing through
my head. Like I said, I hope to put together an epilogue entry that I
have time to think about.

There are a few things I can say:

Favourite section of trail: Rainy Pass north to Canadian Border
(North Cascades)

Favourite Mountain: Glacier Peak

Least favourite section of trail: Southern Oregon (lots of stagnant
ponds and skeeters)

Closest I came to quitting: Snoqualmie Pass

People that I hiked with that gave me great company...without which I
may not have finished: Bojangles, Canadian Ed, Sandman,
Straightjacket, Wander, Smiletrain, Kerry, Crowdog, Moleman, Guthook,
Motor, Ishmael, Furniture, Rally, the list goes on...

Best trail town: Stehekin, followed by Sierra City

Best piece of gear: tie between Brooks cascadia 5's, and Tarptent

Worst piece of gear: Everything Mountain Laurel Designs (gaiters,
rain mitts, food bag).

Most unbelievable factoid: In all 123 days, it never Rained on me
(full on) once. I never hiked in my poncho. It sprinkled on me
several times, and I did put on my poncho once for when I thought it
was going to dump, but it never actually dumped on me. Crazy.

Best day: Probably two days ago. Going north of rainy pass.

Worst day: probably one of the giardia days:

Best food: tie between drakesbad and stehekin bakery.

Worst town stop: probably tahoe or yosemite (too crowded and stressful)

Best night on trail: cowboy camping on Cady Pass. Magical night of

Worst night on trail, previously that same night when demonic mice
attacked me.

Worst thing I did while hiking: Sneaking through lemah fire closure.
Sorry pcta.

Thing I missed most: good coffee

People I admired the most on the trail: Canadian Ed and Mr. Bojangles.

Most frustrating day: getting lost for five hours before south lake

Most awesome trail angel: Lloyd Gust

Food I ate the most: probably either snickers, pop tarts, or granola

People I'm most grateful to: everyone who donated to my dad's
memorial fund. Thank you!!!

I've run out of things to say. This is Lakewood here, signing off
from the trail for the last time. My incredible pct journey comes to
an end.

Thanks to everyone that actually read my goofy updates here, and to
those that perhaps I may have inspired to get out and try something
extraordinary. Like I posted a year ago after Leadville. We are all
capable of more than we think we are, and we can all do more than we
think we can. Now, I gracefully will exit stage left...

So long, and hike on...

Lakewood. PCT NOBO 2010

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield"

Day 122: Mile 2651.3 (36.3)

Location: Castle Pass


Well here it is. My last night in my tent. And it's raining. I
managed to avoid hiking in it though and so again dodged the poncho.
It's coming down good now. Hope it passes by tomorrow morning.

I sit here, a mere 4 miles from the border not sure how to process
this knowledge. How can I be that close? It seems I've been walking
forever...have i actually made it? I still won't believe it until I
see that terminus sign tomorrow. Today was another beautiful day of
ridgeline hiking over multiple cascade passes. What a fantastic
setting to end such a memorable journey. I found it hard to stay in
the present today. My mind wandered a lot to people I met, towns I
spent time in, and landscapes I witnessed. So many memories
made...that I will keep forever. I thought about the future too. How
hard will it be for me to go back into school mode? Will I have a
hard time with friends? I know coming back from the AT was a tough
transition....I'm hoping it goes easier this round.

So...the plan. Tomorrow morning I sleep in a little and make some hot
coffee for breakfast. Then I stroll the 4 miles to Canada and
celebrate for a while at the monument...where I will also dump my
katahdin water and my Mexican dirt. Then I will hike the 8 mile
extension trail to manning park where I will call my
journey..."ended". I plan on staying a night at the lodge, and family
is flying out to meet me either in Vancouver or Seattle. Then I fly
home and leap into school mode....not before going to one nice coffee
house and enjoying a slow cup of java. That's what I've been dreaming

Signing off for the last time from my tent.

(Pic is in my tent)

Day 121: Mile 2615 (36)

Location: Glacier Pass Campsite


I don't even know where to begin today. I guess I'll throw out the
numbers first. Let's see....I passed the 2600 mile mark today; the
last 100 mile mark. Also I now have 40 miles to Canada, and 48 to
Manning Park. That's less than I run at the Vermont 50... Crazy.
Lastly, I crossed the last highway today, so I'm now committed to
finishing. No bailout points.

Now on to more important things. A few days ago I stated that glacier
peak was my favourite mountain on the trail. While this still holds,
I can definitively say that the north cascades are my favourite group
of mountains. Walking along the ridges today literally gave me goose
bumps. I stopped many times just to take it all in. These mountains
have so much character...indescribable other than to say it's
impossible to not be in awe of them. Today was the best day on the
entire trail for me as far as amazement factor. Even more than the
Sierra. I'm not just saying this because I'm almost done either...but
I have a feeling this last 90 miles will be my favourite of the entire

The day started with an almost 5000 foot climb, but it was spread out
over 15 miles, so I was able to keep a great pace up. With the cooler
weather, I can really hike hard, and not get dehydrated. When I hit
cutthroat pass, and I looked ahead at the breathtaking cascades in
front of me, I about broke down in tears. So amazing. Oh and did I
mention the ridiculously awesome, U-shaped, glacially carved valleys?
(see pic)

I love northern Washington. Even the rain stayed away
today...although it was pretty grey and cold. I passed several day
and section hikers today and got lots of "congrats". This time, it
was a little easier to say thank you. It really set in just how close
I am to having actually walked from Mexico to Canada.

2 more days. Tomorrow is my last full hiking day, and will be my last
night in my tent. Weird.

Day 120: Mile 2579.0 (14.3)

Location: Bridge Creek Camp


Stehekin. Words cannot describe the awesome-ness of this isolated and
beautiful little town. I arrived at the dirt road...the point to
point road that leads to town but can't be accessed from the outside
world, at 9 am. The north cascades bus stops there every morning to
take hikers into the picturesque and quiet little town. I spent the
entire day simply sucking the marrow out of the perfect trail town
until my soul-cup was full. No question....not even close....BEST
trail town ever.....period.

As if the quiet little hamlet wasn't enough with its proximity to the
stunning lake chelan, there exists here, quite possibly, thee best
bakery ever. EVER. Cinnamon rolls the size of dinner plates,
homemade coffee cakes, cookies, get the picture. I
spent two hours there sipping excellent coffee, and eating my fill of
incredible baked goods.

After a full day of relaxation, I took the last bus out of town and
hiked 5 miles up trail to the very nice bridge creek camp. They have
bear boxes here....which means no mice hounding my tent tonight!

Today is my dad's birthday. He would have been 61. I couldn't think of
a better place to finish, reflect back on my past four month journey,
and stare out onto a beautiful lake while thinking of him. I miss you
dad and hope that you dont think I'm too crazy for going on these
ridiculous journeys.

Time to wrap this thing up and go home. The weather forecast looks
better than was reported...small chance of isolated rain sat and sun,
better weather Monday! Woo hoo.

85 miles to go...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 119: Mile 2564.7 (32.3)

Location: Spruce Creek Camp

Less than 100!!!!

From where I'm camped tonight, I have about 99 miles to Manning Park
(91 to border). I have finally made it down to double digits.

Today was a very long and hard earned day. First off, the morning was
very wet. I had an enormous climb up through way overgrown
trail...which of course meant everything got twice as wet.
Thankfully, the old growth blow downs near the suiattle were almost
all cleared, so I was able to make it through in good time. Crossing
the suiattle river was a bit hairy on an old log with gusting wind
blowing, but I made it over. The afternoon had another long and hot
climb up to over 6000 feet again. I pushed ahead tonight to set
myself up for a shot at the 9 am shuttle bus into stehekin. I have
eagerly been waiting for this town stop for a very long time. Many
argue it is the best on the trail. I actually met the bakery owner on
the trail tonight. I had to tell him to stop talking because the food
discussion was making my mouth water!

Anyhoo, once I get my fill of stehekin, I head into the north cascades
to tackle the final leg of this trip.

Day 118: Mile 2532.4 (31.8)

Location: Mica Creek

Ok soo...

Glacier peak is awesome. By far my favourite mountain on the pct (and
not just because I'm partial to glaciers). The entire day I hiked
around the snowy beast with it always in view. The cascades are
magnificent. They aren't the biggest, nor the toughest, but they have
the most character. I feel at home up here. I hiked along amazing
alpine ridges and went over several snowy passes. Amazing views to
the north.

I'm camped tonight with a trail crew that's in repairing the last of
the 2003 storm damaged trail. They've got almost all of the old
growth blow downs removed and have a new bridge over milk creek. This
means i won't have to play "jungle gym" tomorrow! Yay!

Rumor has it, that the rains are coming. Doh! It would be fitting to
go the whole trail without ever using my poncho, only to have my
border photos in the rain. C'mon rain. Hold out for just 5 more days.

Shooting for a 30 tomorrow to give myself a nice and easy nero 12 into
stehekin. Can't wait for that bakery! Then...the finale.

Day 117: Mile 2500.6 (34.2)

Location: Cady Pass

Chasing a PO

Before explaining what that means, let me first give a little cheer
for mile 2500!! Only 163 miles to Manning Park! (end of trail)

First note: I tried to camp 1/2 mile sooner but after getting my tent
set up I was swarmed by very aggressive mice. I had two different
buggers chew holes in my tent to get in. Bastards. The site was an
established campsite, with lots of regular campers. The mice, like in
at shelters, simply know where the food is. I packed up at midnight,
and night hiked .4 up the trail where I'm cowboy camping under a stat
filled sky, and no mice! Love it when things work out.

Ok so...thru hikers have a unique slang. Expressions like nobo, nero,
blue blaze, and the aformentioned chasing a PO. The latter expression
reflects what I'm currently doing. I have a very important drop box
in stehekin. It contains my passport and Canada entrance paperwork.
I have to pick this up. The problem is that I have to make it to
stehekin by friday at 4 pm. Otherwise I'm stuck waiting the weekend
to leave town...which is bad. The po is open for one hour on Saturday,
but from 11:30 to 12:30, which means i still lose almost a day. To
make things more complicated, stehekin is 10 miles from the trail down
a point to point road that is only used by a shuttle bus. This bus
runs four times a day. Long story short....I'm trying to do big miles
now, to ensure I make one of the early shuttle busses on Friday. I'm
chasing the PO.


Today was another roller coaster of a day. Lots of ups and downs with
great views of glacier peak. I am about 10 miles from the base of the
mtn and am excited about tomorrows hike. Passed a lot of pretty lakes
today...but also with a lot of skeeters. They seem to be better here
in Henry Jackson wilderness as compared to alpine lakes wilderness.

Spirits are still high, but I'm having major gear issues. I'm hoping
my shirt, shoes and pack can hold together just a little longer.
Achilles is doing better.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 116: Mile 2466.4 (33.1)

Location: Seasonal Creek Campsite

First off...just checked my email at Stevens pass. Thank you everyone
who commented on my previous post. You can bet I'm going to finish
this thing. If not for myself, definitely for the ol' man :-)

Now back to last nights post...

Long day chock full of climbs. All of a sudden, the pct is acting
more like the AT. Went over several passes today and between each one
was a big descent and climb. The Mosquitos were real bad
today...guess the alpine lakes wilderness is good for hatching the
buggers. As I came to my last pass of the day before camp, I got an
extraordinary view of glacier peak. I must say it is my favourite
mountain so far to look at. Simply stunning. I'll be hiking around
it in two days. Tonight puts me at less than 200 miles from Manning
Park...and one week. Hard to believe that next Monday night (provided
all goes to plan), I'll be falling asleep in the manning park lodge
breathing a very large sigh of relief. My good feelings from
yesterday kept up through today and I felt good walking. Seeing
glacier peak gave me a huge jolt to keep up the miles. I'll admit
that the Mosquitos have me frustrated, but I can honestly say, I've
never anticipated a single section on this trail more than I'm
anticipating the north cascades (last 90 miles).

Tomorrow morning I cross Stevens pass and then head into Henry m.
Jackson wilderness and give myself a nice setup for glacier peak on
Wednesday and thursday. Still on target for Friday afternoon in

It's really winding down. I've been extremely fortunate to have such
nice weather in Washington. I hope the forecast holds.

Day 115: Mile 2433.3 (31.5) lots to write about today.

I'm not sure what happened today, but I had somewhat of a
reinspiration, an epiphany, as it were. Less than 24 hours ago i was
commenting on how I really wanted to go home and how my heart wasn't
in the hike anymore. That seemed to take a positive turn today.

Walking out of the pancake house with a full belly was my first good
move. Turns out that today was their last open day of business. I
lucked out. Secondly, I'm alone again. Unlike Oregon, where my solo
stretch was almost mathematical...and a bit lonely, today It brought
me solace. I walked deliberately slowly, took breaks whenever,
breathed in the alpine air and walked along exposed ridges for hours.
My mind wandered with thoughts of home, memories from the trail, and
what the finish would be like. Dont get me wrong, I still do want to
close the chapter on my PCT book, but It was good to be in the
mountains today. I think this is why I have a new motivation to get
up and walk again tomorrow.

This brings me to the other big note of I'm not
particularly proud of, but definitely glad it worked out. For
hundreds of miles I've been hearing about the lemah fire closure. A
six mile section of trail (only 3 of which actually burned) was closed
and the detour adds over ten miles. Southbounders I'd seen along the
way all had their opinions but several informed me they just went
through it anyway. In snoqualmie, the rangers told me the trail would
be open by sept 1st, but was basically ready. So....when I got to the
roped off trail, I paused a long time wondering what I'd say if I ran
into a ranger or trail crews while walking on a prohibited trail.
Then...i hopped the rope. I felt so dirty and criminal. For the next
six miles, I scampered briskly down the trail, praying not to see a
soul. Luck was on my side and I got to the end of the closure without
seeing anyone. Had i seen someone, i probably would have had a "deer
in headlights" look, and not a very good excuse. Needless to say, I
let out a sigh of relief, happy about the posibilty of still doing a
30 mile day. The closed section was eerily beautiful with all of the
freshly burned trees. It is hard to explain, but it felt almost
ghostly walking through it. The trail itself was all repaired and
honestly I'm still not sure why it's not open yet. Anyhoo

Made it over 31 today after a long and hot afternoon climb. The
weather in central and northern WA is forecast to be sunny (good!) but
very hot (not so good). Might hit 90's or even 100. Who would have
thought northern Washington hits 100? Oh and the
Mosquitos....yeah...starting to get real bad again. Not Oregon bad,
but still bad.

One last note,
It was three years ago today that i set foot upon Mt. Katahdin after
completing what i thought then would be my hardest personal
challenge. Let's hope in eight days, that I can add Aug. 23rd to that
list as well. I still remember vividly the feeling that overcame me
as I laid my hands upon the terminus sign. I can't imagine what the
feeling is going to be like at the Canadian border, I only hope it's
one I'll remember years from now.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 114: Mile 2401.8 (13.5)

Location: Snoqualmie Pass

Sitting here at the HoJo in snoqualmie taking a very nice Nero day.
Woke up early and pounded out the easy 13 to interstate 90. I bought
my food for this next stretch and now have nothing on my agenda except
for being a vegetable. There is a hot tub here and an attached
"pancake house". Nice.

Tomorrow I set out on my last long stretch of 170 miles before hitting
the last trail town of stehekin a mere 80 miles from the border. This
bit will take me through some tough mountians and the glacier peak
area....all rugged and stunning. Many people have told me the last
250 miles of the trail were their favourite. I'm looking forward to
seeing all of these beautiful areas.


The truth is....that I'm very ready for this hike to be over.
Mentally, I have lost most of my hiking motivation. Similar to my
massachusetts experience on the AT, I very much want to go home. With
nine days of hiking left however, I know I would always regret
quitting now. To be conpletely honest, i was ready to be done in
cascade locks, but tried to convince myself that id feel better once
in Washington. Half way through the state, I still feel the same.
So...for nine days, I will do what I had told myself I wouldn't do on
this walk....hike when my heart is no longer in it. I will try as
hard as I can to focus on the amazing scenery, but I will admit, nine
days seems like an eternity to me right now. To make matters worse,
everything is starting to go on wool shirts are fraying, shoes
have large holes, pack has big hole, one pair of not so good socks
left, tyvek is shot, iPhone has started acting wonky, left achilles
has been very sore, etc. Needless to say, I'm hanging on by a thread
and need to focus on the positives: awesome section coming up, best
trail town coming up (stehekin), and family flying out to meet me in

There are two certainties: I will finish this trail....and as amazing
as this walk has been, I will be glad when it is done.

Day 113: Mile 2388.3 (33.2)

Location: Stirrup Creek

Today started as usual at 5:45, but without having to break down a
tent. The miles went by fairly quickly today, quite different from
yesterday. We had a trail magic cooler filled with sprite, something
I haven't seen in several hundred miles. Walked along several clear
cut mountain sides and had amazing views of the upcoming misty
mountains. They look quite intimidating. After pulling into camp at
7:30, I set up my tent right on the trail. This is something I always
try to avoid doing, but with four people in our group it's hard to
find room sometimes. Hopefully, no one comes by. Tomorrow, it's an
easy 14 into snoqualmie where I'll be taking a nero. I'll be buying
my last food resupply and staying in my last hotel room on the trail.
Washington is just about half over.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 112: Mile 2355.1 (35)

Location: Camp Urich Shelter

Got my first "congratulations" today from some day hikers on my thru-
hike. Guess i am getting pretty close. I didnt want to tell them i
still had 300 miles of very difficult trail to go, so i politely
smiled and nodded and said "thank you". Today was one of those days
where the miles were really hard to come by. It seemed like all day we
were never as far as we thought we were. The good news though is that
the whole day centered around the massive Mt. Ranier. We had
beautiful ridge walking with rainier towering over and even Adams and
st. Helens in view. At chinook pass we took a nice break before a
very long afternoon pushing for the urich cabin. It's roomy in here
and we are inside away from the rain clouds and Mosquitos. Tomorrow
we will probably do another big mile day to set us up for snoqualmie.

Day 111: Mile 2320.1 (28.8)

Location: Near Crag Lake

Had a nice day of hiking with a fantastic stopover in White Pass. The
morning was highlighted with an amazing view of mt rainier shrouded
with a morning fog at it's base. Very cool. We hit white pass at 10
and took our sweet time enjoying some snacks and drinks while relaxing
at some picnic tables. After much convincing, we finally headed out,
reluctantly, and did another 17 miles. We are hoping to do a long day
tomorrow and hit the Urich Cabin.

Washington section A: Done

Canada is getting close....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 110: Mile 2291.3 (33)

Location: Teiton Pass

Today featured one of the best trail segments on the entire pct so
far. After a rather mundane morning of long green tunnel, we ended
the day walking up into the goat rocks wilderness, which included a
traverse of the packwood glacier and a walk along a three mile knife
edge. It was amazing. The weather was quite bizarre as well. We had
fog, light rain, sun, mist, hail...all during that three miles. At
one point the mist was so thick it felt like hiking along in a cloud
on a trail that disappeared on both sides. Really great afternoon.

Tomorrow, we hit white pass early and will probably hang out at the
store for a while before hiking on to snoqualmie.

Washington section A, already coming to an end in 11 miles.

Day 109: Mile 2258.3 (35)

Location: Lava Spring

Well, the old band is back together. With my double zero in cascade
locks, bojangles managed to catch back up to me. Since saturday,
we've been hiking together...just like old times. It's good to be
teamed up again. Wander and smiletrain have also caught up. Today we
hiked around mt Adams and did a solid 35 miles to get us to a campsite
near a spring. There's a pct trail crew here that's camped out
working on trail in the area...they gave us some free food! Tomorrow,
we will enter the goat rocks wilderness and hike over the packwood
glacier as well as the knifes edge...some of the best sections of the
entire pct. Then Wednesday I'll be heading into white pass for my
resupply and a little break before pushing to snoqualmie.

Time for bed....

Day 108: Mile 2223.3 (32)

Location: Road 24

Camping tonight with permission on Indian lands. Had a good day of
fairly big climbs. Finally got back up to altitude. Great views of
Mt Adams too. The Mosquitos came back today...pretty bad. Sigh. Oh
well, just a little over two weeks left. Heard that there was a
recent fire up near stehekin and that the bus isn't running now.
Doh! Shooting for a big day tomorrow, and an early wednesday into
White Pass.

Day 107: Mile 2191.3 (36.2)

Location: Panther Creek

Welcome to Washington!!! What an INCREDIBLE two days off. Had a lot
of fun, and it was very relaxing. With that being said, let's talk
about today. I'd like to acknowledge today as "AT day" for two
reasons. First, it was today that I passed the 2174 mile in
a sense, I have now hiked another Appalachian Trail. Second, today
marks my 107th day on the trail (including zeros). Coincidentally,
this is also exactly how many days I was on the AT. Must be my magic

I have decided to break Washington up into four manageable sections.
Mentally, it's easier for me to tackle the state in smaller increments.

Section A: Border to White Pass: ~150 Miles

Section B: White Pass to Snoqualmie ~100 miles

Section C: Snoqualmie to Stehekin ~160 miles

Section D: Stehekin to Border ~ 90 Miles (+8 miles to manning park)

So...only ~110 remaining in section A

Im starting to get pretty weary of walking, but the break I just took
certainly helps. I'm very much looking forward to Washington, but
also to going home.

Pushing on...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 106: Mile 2155.1 (0)

Location: Cascade Locks

Personal Day #2. Back on trail tomorrow.

Day 105: Mile 2155.1 (0)

Location: Cacade Locks

I'm taking 2 days off from the trail. Call them personal days. This
means no updates and I'm taking off both physically and mentally.
Back on the trail Saturday.

I will say that for the first time since hiking, I've committed to
finishing. I purchased my return ticket from Seattle for the end of
this month. Also I had access to a car today and was able to visit
mt. St. Helens today. Amazing.

Be back Saturday to finish this sucker up.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 104: Mile 2155.1 (18.2)

Location: Cascade Locks (OR-WA border)

What a great day...and a day that my feet never actually set foot on
the "official" PCT. Upon leaving camp this morning I hopped on the
Indian springs trail right behind my tent, which took me directly down
to the much anticipated and much favored eagle creek alternate trail.
This trail is about the same distance as the pct, still takes you into
cascade locks, and offers incredible views of stunning waterfalls.
Most pct hikers choose this alternate. Let me was worth it.
Tunnel falls alone made the trip for me with an awesome walk through a
rock tunnel behind a large cascading waterfall. When I got to town I
headed to charburgers where I was pleasantly surprised to run into
Ed. Turns out he got here yesterday and was zeroing. It was nice to
catch up, swap stories and simply hang around with a friend. Later,
sandman rolled in as well, I had figured he was ahead, but he had
actually taken some time in Sisters and had gotten behind me. Didn't
take that speed demon long to catch back up though! Rainbow brite
showed up too, and we all ate dinner at the pacific crest pub. Good
stuff! Anyway...took care of chores and my only job now is to relax
and enjoy my time here before heading into WA. Sent my bounce box
home today...that was weird. Will update again tomorrow.

Pic is of Bridge of the Gods. Yep, that's Washington on the other
side. :-)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 103: Mile 2136.9 (39.6)

Location: Indian Spring Campground

Well, I almost ended up doing another 40 today. I had no intention of
it that's for sure. I started the day with a 10 mile sprint up to the
timberline lodge where I chowed on the breakfast buffet. I went up 5
times to fill up my plate. With a full belly and a lot of motivation,
I walked fast once I left. I opted for the more scenic Ramona falls
trail and was rewarded with a nice lunch break in front of cascading
falls. After a nasty little climb, I ran into a section hiker named
Aaron who is hiking the entire Oregon section. He told me he was
shooting for indian spring and I said I'd tag along...little did I
know it would have me hiking until 9 pm. I considered stopping
earlier, but it was nice to have the company. Now, I have a short 18
into town tomorrow on the much anticipated Eagle Creek Trail. Then a
much needed break.

Pic is of timberline lodge

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 102: Mile 2097.3 (40.4)

Location: Just past HW 26

Well I had always told myself that i wanted to do it just once. Today
was the day. In my over 5000 miles of hiking, I finally crossed that
mythical and legendary barrier of 40 miles in a day. Of all the days
to do it, this one certainly made sense. The trail was well groomed
and mostly flat...a hikers superhighway. The main reason was mostly
to set myself up for a Wednesday night arrival in cascade locks and an
early arrival at the timberline lodge tomorrow. The miles went by
quickly today and I took relatively short breaks. I dont anticipate
any more 40s as my body is hurting. Was nice to walk across the
highway and come to a picnic table tonight. Always nice to sit and
cook. The hiking today was almost entirely in the long green tunnel,
until the last 3 miles when I was greeted by an amazing view if mt.
Hood. Less than 55 Oregon miles remaining! Looking forward to a nice
break in cascade locks. Then...I tackle the WA.

Day 101: Mile 2056.9 (30.8)

Location: Jude Lake

Today was all about realizing just how much people like to talk things
up. I'm not sure why people can't just give an honest answer to a
simple question such as, "what is the snow like around mt.
Jefferson?". Typical responses included, "it's impassable", "do you
have an ice axe?", "miles of icy snow fields", "you need a gps for
sure", "the trail is completely covered, hope you have a compass",
there's snow down to 5000", blah blah. The truthful answer would have
been, "there are a couple of small snow fields near the top of the
pass that you have to traverse, but otherwise it's just patches and
drifts with lots of easy tracks to follow". I guess people that go
through snow want to make it sound worse so that it makes them seem
more bad-ass for making it through or something. Ok enough ranting.
Mt Jefferson was beautiful, as was Jefferson park. Took a ton of
pics. Made it to ollalie lake around 3:30 and relaxed outside the
small store with an ice cold soda and some good conversation with two
sobos: Jason and Cassandra. It was nice to get an honest scoop on
Washington conditions from them. Sounds like I shouldn't have any
trouble. As mt. Jefferson became smaller on the horizon, the upcoming
mt. Hood has started growing larger. Looking forward to hiking around
it and stopping in at the "lodge" up there. It's weird that I have
under 100 miles left in OR. I should end up finishing the entire
state in 15 days...crazy. 89 to do Cali, 15 for OR. Enjoying an
early evening with a campfire tonight by Jude lake. Only a couple
mosquitos too. Aiming for a big mile day tomorrow.

Pic is of ollalie lake with Jefferson about 10 miles away.

Day 100: Mile 2026.1 (37.7)

Location: Small Meadow

2000!!!. Crossed the 2k mark this morning and had a little dance on
the trail. Quite a diverse hiking experience today. Started with a 6
mile hike over exposed lava fields, then went around the back of mt
Washington. Following that, I got to play in some snow around three
fingered jack mountain. Tonight I'm camped in a meadow at 6400 feet
near snow and it will get cold! Tomorrow i tackle Jefferson. As you
can see by the pic, i will be dealing with snow on august 1st. Sigh.
Passed my first true sobos today. They started in Canada 1 month ago
and said all of Washington was snowy...great. Seems that that the
theme of this hike is going to be either snow or skeeters. Hopefully
not both at the same time.

With July over now, i thought I'd compile some stats:

Miles covered in July: 883.6
Avg miles per day in July: 28.5
Number of zero days: 0
Last zero day: south lake tahoe...almost 1000 miles ago.
Craziest weather: golf ball sized hail - ouch
Times poncho worn: 1 (yep, finally)
Scariest moment: A near lightning strike.

Day 99: Mile 1988.4 (30.1)

Location: Lava Camp Lake

Incredible day...on many levels. Got back to the trailhead at about 8
am thanks to Lloyd with a tall dutch brothers coffee in hand. Great
way to start the day. Freshly showered and laundered it pained me to
spray on the deet, but I knew the Mosquitos would be least i
thought. I don't know what higher power was looking out for me, call
it Buddha, call it god, call krishna, call it Allah, call it yahweh,
or simply call it good fortune...but for some strange environmental
and/or ecological reason, the Mosquitos disappeared today in the three
sisters wilderness. For the first time in over a week, i was able to
take long and comfortable breaks. I was able to hike in shorts! I
hiked along all three sister mountains and various other volcanic
areas. Stunning views...,but surprisingly still very snowy. In the
area around obsidian falls, I had long stretches of snow fields I had
to navigate. Crazy considering it's almost august. My day ended at a
great campground replete with nice flat spots and picnic tables! I
sat down, cooked dinner in peace without an evil swarm hovering above,
and had a great conversation with a day hiker. Ah...the little
things. Hiking was fun again today for the first time in a while.
Tomorrow, more lava fields and mt. Washington. Snowy Jefferson and
Hood are looming in the distance. Also, i will cross mile 2000
tomorrow...woo hoo. :-). Don't know how long the mosquito break will
last, but it's so nice to be falling asleep and not hear the "hum"
outside. So so very nice