Paying it backwards

Hiking the PCT is not just about putting two feet to the pace of a heartbeat- it is about people helping each other.

Trail Angels are people that offer rides, food, beer, and places to rest to people that are hiking the PCT. I was incredibly grateful when I cam across boxes of beverages, saw a “hiker trash wanted” sign (commonly found on coppertone’s vehicle) or just a sign that listed numbers that you could call to offer rides to the trail or a nearby town. The community built up around hikers is quite impressive and to all of those that helped me on my 950 miles: Thank You!

Before I attempted my thru-hike this year, I had done some trail magic in the form of giving food to starving hikers and picked up some people as well. I did not do much however, so I have been making it a point to pay it backwards to those that have made it all the way up here. As an added bonus, I have been seeing my PCT friends along the way which has been amazing.

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I setup a breakfast at Tacoma Pass in hopes of catching Mr. President on his amazing fundraising journey- the menu was created specifically for him but I brought enough food to feed the other hikers that went through. I met some new faces and made sure that they got good bacon and french toast.

I was incredibly happy to meet up with Mr. President as it had been a long time since we last saw each other- but he saw my final mile on the trail (including the copious amounts of vomit) and he is an incredible person from what he has accomplished in his life, and also his attitude towards life and others as well. His blog can be seen here: http://www.wildernesseffect.com/

And I am going to steal a picture from him from our meeting:

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I am really hoping that I am able to hike with him when I rejoin him in the near future- we made an excellent team in the Sierras and I would love to see him finish his goal at the Northern Terminus!

I also had a meeting with Smitty today (no pictures were taken) but we hiked together for a while with luna and wild in So. Cal. It was good to catch up with him and hear what had changed on the trail (apparently he spent a while looking for me before realizing that I was no longer on the trail 😦  ). I will be bumping into him as he is doing 33 miles a day and will catch up with me fairly quickly- we hope to be able to do some kayaking in Seattle with his wife Danielle before he returns home. Once he goes home- he will be doing a 100 mile race… and contemplated starting the AT as well… Talk about determined!

Next post will probably be after I complete Washington!

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Skagit Island

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 After some delay in getting out in the woods, I decided to go for a quick overnight on Skagit Island (again!). This was my friend’s first kayaking trip which is generally not advisable to start out on salt water on a camping trip. First major event: a capsize! Second: a successful rescue!

Once we landed on the island, we were confronted by a family that had setup camp on the island and told to get off the island. I was not prepared for these people to be so angry/ not understand the concept of sharing. The campsite that we planned on visiting is a human powered-only campsite (no power-boaters) so we ignored their yelling and just set up camp. It was a very tense night and they blockaded the path to the campsite which was rediculous and I finally went through explaining how CMT sites work and what group camping is etc. They stopped yelling at that point but were not happy that we were there.

It was pretty however! The sunset was lovely to watch as it dipped below the horizon and we left fairly early in the morning.

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The morning waters were awesome and calm!

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Climbing The Headless Mountain: Mount Saint Helens

When asked if I wanted to climb Mount Saint Helens, I answered an immediate yes. This mountain has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember and I looked forward to peering into the crater from the rim.

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Driving down to Cougar for a 4 hour nap at a hotel sounded like a good idea- unfortunately… the hotel did not have AC and the rooms were in their high 90s. I still tried to nap as I normally don’t like hiking into the night.

Upon crawling into bed, I was surprised to discover that a joint was already in the bed along with someone else’s hair! Must have been the super special treatment… The heat was brutal and I just kept on sweating as I tried to take a nap. Then the flies started showing up and kept on biting me right as I started to dose off. This wasn’t working according to plan.

After getting about 8 minutes of sleep, the call to leave was heard at 10pm… we formed a car train that moved out towards the trailhead.

Walking up the mountain involves quite a bit of rock hopping and volcanic ash, it is tiring but is a unique hike because of it.

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We arrived at the summit around 2:30am- just 4 hours until sunrise… 4 long, cold, windy hours. I used my patented technique of burrowing deep into the sand and staying in a fetal position so that I could remain fairly warm and also block the blowing sands at the same time. I slept well.

Then the sunrise happened…

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Besides the exercise- the sunrise was the real goal of the trip and it was well worth it. The winds picked up quickly and also had some rain start coming down- so we didn’t spend very much time up there unfortunately.

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45mi… er… 55mi loop

After spending all day wishing I was hiking, I finally picked a hike and left home at 2pm. I had issues determining if I was going to actually start the hike or not as I have not really gone solo on a multi-day trek before and it was *rather* late in the day to be starting a hike in hopes of doing at least 12mi. But I got to the trailhead. I listened to a couple songs while I sat there and decided that I would at least hike up to Red Mountain and sleep at the top.

Once I arrived up at Red Pass, I figured that I had gone this far.. I might as well descend down into the Middle Fork Valley- past the sign that clearly stated “Trail Abandoned.”

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This would not be the last of these signs that I would pass… Apparently my route was a more popular one at one time- now it is looking more like what you would see in Fern Gully. After the first few steps, I slid down a scree field- that sealed the deal… I wasn’t going back up! The trail down was quite steep but eventually leveled out near the Goldmeyer Hot Springs- a tempting place to spend the night, but I had no reservation and needed to make a little more progress. Continuing up towards Dutch Miller Gap I ran into a geyser! How exquisite!

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After spending the night a little further up the trail, I crossed through Dutch Miller Gap and went down to Ivanhoe Lake (which was amazingly beautiful!)

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At this point, I started thinking that I was really doing bad on my time management as the hike was only supposed to be 45mi long… My mood dipped, but I soon ran into a PCT hiker and we chatted and hiked along at a good pace I was still thinking that I was behind schedule as I should have made it further down the trail at that point.

One thing is for certain… I had no time to stop and smell the flowers.

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Time moved on and I hiked through the day, enjoying the scenery quite well. Bumped into quite a few nice people and dispensed some trail food recommendations (mountain house is good… but REALLY expensive) They were amazed that you could eat mashed potatoes on the trail without cooking them. I was happy to share knowledge and my overall appreciation for anything that fills my stomach on hikes.

I had actually done this section back in 2011 and was re-living the experiences up here both good and bad. The area had changed a little bit and I had issues remembering certain parts of the trail. Must be my old age creeping into my brain.

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After spending a night at Park Lakes, I set a goal to get back to my car by noon and drink some of the tasty “sports beverage” that I had left in my car, I missed the deadline by 15min but I was quite tired and stopped caring near the end. Turns out that the hike wasn’t the 45mi that I thought it was, so my progress was just fine- but my planning was not. This is why I always carry extra food!

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Route:

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A confused day of random hikes

After making plans to go on an overnight with a friend, we departed with a goal of visiting White Mountain near Glacier Peak. After about 2.5 miles of walking we ran into another hiker that had just attempted the same hike but had to turn around due to snow conditions. We didn’t have our axes or spikes so we decided that we should return to the car and knock off a few other hikes instead.

First stop: Big Four Ice Caves!

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Please note… nobody should ever go in them… people have died here before. I would never go in them myself…. unless I had a camera!

Next Stop was going to be Mount Index, but a USFS gate (I am starting to dislike them greatly) blocked the path. so we went to Blanca Lake- a very popular hike with a jaw dropping view of glacial dust filled water. It is the only place I have let out an audible gasp when I saw it.

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Been a busy week, so I am finally catching up 🙂