8/3: day 0- 13 miles today
13 miles of blissful trail today. The day began in a hotel room in Everette, WA- I woke up at 7:30 am tired from yesterday’s adventure around Spirit Lake under the haze of mighty Mt St Helens. Fortunately, my legs felt good and I felt a low buzz of energy for the trip up to Hart’s Pass- 30 miles from the Canadian border.
My buddy Scott and I ate some bland hotel breakfast, packed up- checked last minute gear and set out for the long drive north. We did final errands, and by noon we were driving on the iconic North Cascades Highway. The weather appeared volatile, but it never rained. A welcome sign for clear skies ahead. The final push up the winding road to Hart’s Pass was gorgeous- and we saw a mother and baby goat cross right in front of the car.
Fast forward through final gear checks, and photo oops, and the two of us set off on the Pacific Crest Trail towards the Canada border. The trail was perfect and the wildflowers were exploding! Everywhere I looked was amazing scenery. I felt nearly overwhelmed in nature’s splendor. The hike was a bit of a push after yesterday’s adventure around Spirit Lake and a long car journey, but Scott and I set camp a tidy 12.5 miles in, ate and chatted about just about everything. I am excited for another day of wonder in the great North Cascades.
8/4 Day 1- 34 miles
My first full day on the PCT was nothing less than spectacular from morning thru evening. I awoke to my alarm after an eventful night of deer foraging around our tents. Still, well rested, I said goodbye to Scott and quietly left camp at 5:30 am. I immediately climbed a steady 2,000 foot climb over 3.5 miles to Rock Pass. The morning was cool and bright with a soft alpine glow as the sun rose. Wildflowers were showing off… bright red columbine and castilleja, purple Lupine, yellow daisies and the flowers of the huck berry bush.
Everywhere I looked today felt like a painting and I couldn’t stop snapping shots of the views and carpets of flowers.
Plenty of water was found at the base of melting alpine snow fields, and I had plenty of good trail food to keep me going.
Anyhow, after climbing and descending Cloud Pass, and Holman Pass, then bushwhacking through some unmaintained forested trail, I made it to the border by just after 11- took pictures and signed the registry and was off back to my camp.
The 9 mile climb from the Canadian border was a bit of a slog, but soon enough I hit the scenic Cloud Pass and Rock Pass once again. I barely hit lows today, and hope this is a sign of good days ahead.
Seen today: lots of grouse, marmots, hawks, Robins, Pika, Chipmunks… met many hikers on the trail- only trail name offered was a dude name ‘Juice’ who offered unsolicited advise about how to navigate blowdowns…. Last post I talked about fearing isolation, but I think when I am out here, I really crave solitude.
8/5 day 2- 36 miles today
Well, I’m beat! It was a full, gorgeous and somewhat challenging day. I awoke at 5 in my little forest grove, and was on my feet hiking south back towards Hart’s Pass by 5:30. I felt strong and happy with the magestic Cascades towering above me.
I met Scott at 10 am- about 17 miles from camp at Hart’s Pass, and we reconnected about our different adventures from the past day. I reorganized and loaded up on food (way too much!), bid farewell to Scott aka Tall Guy, and was off again on the great Pacific Crest Trail.
I saw a decent amount of people on the trail today. Mostly weekend backpackers, day hikers, and small smattering of thru hikers. I saw many Grouse- and with their fluffy little chicks to sweeten the deal.
Bad news of the day: I lost my trusty pink bandana that I ran Caballo Blanco ultramarathon in- the bandana that I was wearing when I was named Colibrì. I lost it in a fast moving stream- Brush Creek… and nearly cried. Well, we cannot hold onto things forever… it is my offering to the mighty Cascades!
8/6: Day 3- 27 miles
Hello summer living. I am relaxing on the porch in Stehekin, WA- waiting to eat. Feeling good. Nuff said.
The day began at 4:30 with my trusty alarm. I packed for rain, remembering the forecast, but what I got instead was a bright moon, a few stars and dramatic mountains in the twilight before dawn. The morning unfolded like a dream, with twispy clouds drifting across the moon, creating shadow casts on the towering mountains. The Cascades offer drama and mystery like no other range I have encountered.
Well, I ascended to cutthroat Pass first thing, with epic views of the sunrise and moon set. The world felt fresh, there was a cool breeze in the air and my body felt strong. One of those kind of mornings when you feel time slow and there is only peace, mountains and you.
So, trotting along, I descended and descended and descended- about 20 miles through the Bridge Creek basin. It threatened to rain all day until it really did- but just a drizzle and by then I was just 6.5 miles from Stehekin- my destination for the day. Still, it was enough to get the leaves soaked, and thus my shoes and socks soaked. Oh well, a bit of a grouchy moment where I want to be comfortable all the time…
I almost forgot to write about the bears! I saw three! And one much too close for comfort. The first sighting was the best- I came upon the creature foraging for berries and we both stopped to check each other out. The massive animal stood up on two legs to get a better smell of me and I clapped my hands and yelled, “Go Bear, Go!” It lopped away, but I was still able to get a couple photos. The second bear scared the pants off of me… I was hopping along a river bank descent when all of a sudden in the berry bushes to my right, I heard some rustling and a massive bear head appeared. Sheesh! Closest encounter yet and close enough! Third bear sighting was from a much more comfortable distance- thank heavens. I have had enough starts for the day!
Made it to Stehekin before 2 and realized I would have to wait for over two hours for the shuttle… fortunately, I chatted with a friendly trail family and got a lift to town- father named Quaking Leaf, mom- Annie, daughter Lily and son FM. We all wore masks and they were driving a big open air 4 wheeler so felt safe. Back in town all lodging was booked, so camping by Lake Chelen it is. The public showers they have here for PCT hikers are closed, but the same family offered for me to take a shower in their place. Totally amazing trail magic!! I got a hot meal to go from the little restaurant here, and resupplied for my three days ahead. Tomorrow promises to be another beautiful day in paradise.
8/7 Day 4- 34 miles
Camped near the Suitle river
Another gorgeous and challenging day. It started with a late alarm since I was staying on the shores of Lake Chelen and needed to catch the bus at 7:45 back to the trail. I chit chatted with fellow hikers and relaxed a bit on the deck until catching the shuttle. We stopped by the bakery, and I loaded up for the challenging portion of trail I’ve been hearing about. Next was the trailhead and blissful forest walking.
It was actually mostly forested trail today- with breaks to see the towering Cascades with snow fields, wildflowers and waterfalls adorning then.
Seen on the trail today- a few marmots, a banana slug, tons of birds and frogs and wildflowers.
8/7- Day 5- 31 miles in the rain
Hiking the PCT has its ups and downs- literally and figuratively. Today was one of those down days. I hit some lows and got grouchy and quit a bit early.
So, I got out of my tent all bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for the trail. Then, I noticed it was sprinkling- almost like a dense fog mist, but a bit wetter. Hmm. ‘How about I keep my running shorts on and just throw on my raincoat’, I thought- especially with the wet overgrowth that was bound to soak me. Okay, bad idea. Because I hate being cold and I ended up changing into my long johns, rain pants and down coat under my raincoat to get warm. Well, that worked for like an hour or so, until my rain gear soaked through and I realized I now had no dry clothes, and I was back to being cold. Throw in muddy, overgrown, rock strewn, and steep/ eroding trail, full streams, down trees- well, you’ve got an adult obstacle course in the cold rain. Fun times!!
Hiked over 2 epic mountain passes, and although I couldn’t see too far ahead with the mist, it made for a dramatic landscape. The wet wildflowers, melting snow fields and crunching over snow… looking back the day was pretty amazing.
Mid morning, I had this one moment where I turned a corner on grassy ridge and came upon a deer- she was soaked as well- munching on the greenery. We gazed at each other for a moment, and I said, ‘well hello, you’re just as wet as I am!’ Proof that even in times of hardship, you can have these sweet, spectacular moments. Like popping fresh, juicy and freshly washed by the rain berries in your mouth as you pass through think overgrowth. The sense of sweetness pervades through the cold, or wet, or fatigued.
Anyhow, thankfully, the sun came out around 4… not fully, but enough to dry some of my things on rocks before continuing on for a couple hours to camp. What a day! I am beat, beat up and exhausted. Thankful for a dry tent, set up by a bubbling river, getting ready for a deep sleep.