Kayaking the CMT: Camano to Anacortes

The Cascadia Marine Trail is a collection of campsites and launch points that enable people that use beachable and non-motorized watercraft access to travel through Puget Sound in an age of disappearing public access to the shoreline. I am working on knocking out what I refer to as sections of the CMT over the weekends as I love being able to get back on the salt water and do more of a thru-kayak approach to overnights. My goal this time was to go from the Northern Side of Camano Island to Bellingham Bay on my 3 day weekend but that got cut short due to an overuse injury halfway through the second day.

After being dropped off by my father- we headed North on our biggest crossings of the trip. The wind was at our back for the entire crossing to Goat Island.

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Goat Island was once the host of the 4th base in the Triangle of Fire in Puget Sound known as Fort Whittman. Now the obvious question is how can there be a 4th point in a triangle without forming a square? I will give you a hint: it makes no sense. The benefit of this island is that it is a lesser known base so you can generally get the entire place to yourself and the moss compliments the age. Unfortunately- people have felt the need to mark their territory on it so it isn’t as nice as it could be.

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The Island has some fairly large cliffs on the North side and the view is quite nice through the trees. It is fun to imagine what the people stationed here were thinking while they waited for a potential surprise attack through Deception Pass.

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We continued toward Deception Pass fairly quick as we didn’t want to attempt to fight the current flowing against us if we arrived too late. Peak currents hit 6 knots this weekend but we waited until they were closer to 3 knots before going through. I didn’t take many pictures as I was focused mainly on not getting hit by other boat traffic and navigating the currents.

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We made it through and went over to Bowman Bay where we got a glimpse of the large opening to the Pacific along with storm clouds off in the distance. I really enjoyed paddling through this area.

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The view opened up really well once we exited Bowman Bay.

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It was at this point that I remembered there being sea caves along the walls outside of Bowman Bay. We explored a couple of them as I love caving. The waves kept on threatening to crush me into the ceiling which was exciting as well.

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Since I was in my fiberglass kayak, I had to be really careful around the rocks. One bad hit and I would be swimming with the fishes and I only doggy-paddle. This is why I wear PFDs.

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The wind kicked up after this exploration and we found ourselves paddling through some fairly big waves as we approached Allen Island. We had a good time and were ready to get some good food and fall asleep at the CMT campsite on Burrows Island. We saw a large group of rather noisy kayakers in front of us and got concerned that they would be joining us for the night but they headed back to shore and we had the entire campsite to ourselves. We cooked up our food and packed up our gear as best as possible as a storm was predicted to roll in during the night.

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I only woke up a few times but the storm left quite a bit of water inside my tent. I forgot to lower my tent so the wind would have a harder time to bring rain inside. I was happy to learn that my new sleeping bag works really well and I stayed toasty all night.

The morning paddle consisted of an incredible boost from the currents around Bowman Island and we were able to log 11.9mph on the GPSr. It was exciting having to deal with the large waves, swift current, and intense rain/spray from the waves. We had a blast.

Then as we approached Anacortes it became apparent that my paddling buddy was having elbow issues that would lead to a shortened trip. I started to look for alternative landing areas as we approached downtown Anacortes. Along the way we were able to see some cool rotting boats!

The La Merced was the first of such boats. You wouldn’t guess it now- but it was a four masted schooner that was commissioned in 1917 and put into “service” as a breakwater in 1966. It has seen better days- that is for sure!

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Continuing into Anacortes we found some more dying boats. This tug had a very fitting name, although I have doubts as to if it was named that originally. If you look at the boat to the left of this picture- you can see a similar boat with a lot of holes in its hull (I am assuming to reduce air resistance).

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We landed at the Anacortes Seafarer’s Memorial and I dried out as much gear as I could while we waited for my father to come out and pick us up.

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We ate at Anthony’s diner which had amazing food and did a quick look at the bay from above before heading home- feeling tired but happy (and maybe a little sunburned) after a good 36 mile paddle. Even though this trip had reached its end- I am looking forward to reaching Canada and also finishing off a couple more sections in the hopefully near future!

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Happy (water) Trails Everyone!

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Barclay and Eagle Lakes

This hike is one that I put on my list of hikes to go on when I first started backpacking but it fell through the cracks. The original intent was to go up to Big Heart Lake but there was no legal parking up there so we had to find another trail to go on.

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So after two more full trailheads, we decided that this hike would be less populated. While this appeared to be correct- the people on this trail were not what I had expected to find out there. We tried to get down to see Barclay Lake but on each attempt- we had dogs growling at us so I was not able to actually get a picture of the lake.

Continuing on up the less-maintained route to Eagle Lake was a good workout but was manageable once we could actually figure out where the trail started.

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Thankfully- this trail included fewer “bros” and we did not run into anyone until the top of the climb near the small lake up there. This small lake is where things got interesting as a family was camped out partially blocking the trail with multiple off leash dogs that started running at us once they saw us.

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This really didn’t make me feel the warm and fuzzies towards those that are trying to fight the leash laws in this state.

Once we got past these people, the trail finally turned out to be what I had hoped for at the beginning- very few people and a decent lake to visit! To add the fun- there was also a partially abandoned cabin along the lake that I could not find much history on.

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The inside of the cabin was stocked with a variety of things- many of which showed a bit of age… and not much of which showed cleanliness.

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Wilson was an amusing touch- even though it is technically graffiti.

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As night started to sink in, we setup camp at the rather large and well defined site

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Then I went out to get some sunset panos.

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Overall this would have been a good hike for a newbie version of me but the dogs and rude people took away from the experience and I have no plans on going back in the future. The cabin was my favorite part of the hike! If you go- the water has a lot of small swimming creatures in the lake so bring a filter or take from the outlet stream that is free of them (but due to the high activity at this site… treat the water like crazy).

Kayaking Woodard Bay Preserve

I should be updating with two trips- but I forgot to bring my camera on the second one…

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After cancelling the first planned evening paddle out here due to wind and rain concerns, we finally found an evening that would work for the tour of the preserve. I generally avoid preserves ad I find them to be too chunky, but in this case… the water was quite smooth and the reasoning behind going here at night was to watch for the massive bat awakening.

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There is an old trestle that is now used as a massive resting ground for bats. They leave every night in search of things like mosquitoes, gnats, moths etc. in a massive wave (it feels like an understatement to call it only “massive”). The bats form what appears to be a river from under the trestle.

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The trick to paddling here is that the parking lot gets locked 1 hour past sunset- and the bats come out at sunset… so be aware of your timing if you go here. The boat launch also closes for a good chunk of the year. The paddle itself is calm and quite enjoyable as you can tour around the inlets in the area (providing you don’t get stuck out on a low tide).

Climbing Da Klagwats

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Da Klagwats- or more commonly known as Mt. Pugh is one heck of an awesome hike! Gaining 5,300ft in 5.5 miles and features an epic knife-edge and a good scramble at the top! The views are quite simply put: astounding!

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The trail starts out in a forest and continues up at a decent rate until you hit “Lake” Metan which resembled more of a storm water pond. The water was kinda gross looking. A little further up the trail and you leave the forest behind and start the real climb up to Stujack Pass. Stujack Pass didn’t actually yield better scenery on the other side- I am not sure if this was due to the fact that the views on the West side of the mountain are that much better… or that it just isn’t that good of a view.

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This is where people tend to figure out if they have a fear of heights- the knife edge starts soon after the pass.

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As you continue up this trail- the views keep on getting better and better! (As do the dropoffs!)

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This hike has a lot of character and that is why I liked it so much- it is definitely one of the hardest hikes I have done and it was worth the effort exerted to see all of the beauty out there. After the knife edge- you see the glacier which rest atop the Straight Creek Fault.

We continued up the scramble only to find a garter snake in the path! I got quite the surprise when I was face to face with it. How did he make it all the way up here?!

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After a little while longer, we made it to the top!

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The view was dominated by quite a few amazing peaks- the most impressive being Glacier Peak.

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We were also greeted by hundreds of flying bugs that looked a bit like ants- they seemed to enjoy crawling on us but I was not bitten by any so they were more of a nuisance.

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I signed the summit log, ate a few snacks, and took a few more pictures before heading down.

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I had brought 3L of water with me and ran through that right before hitting the stream crossings again so I took a little break and drank some- it was tasty and looked more clear than the lake!

Overall I highly do and do not recommend this hike- don’t attempt it if you don’t have the skills and the strength required for it. But if you do- then it is an amazing hike with a lot of variation and it will make your muscles sore! It took us 7-8 hours to hike the whole thing (including breaks) but it can definitely take a bit longer! Read the trip reports and be careful!

Washington PCT: DONE!

After 5 years- We have finally finished all of the Washington Sections of the PCT!

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In the Summer of 2011, I started on my first section of the Pacific Crest Trail: Washington Section J. This section is relatively short and quite easy to arrange travel between the trailheads and home so it was an excellent way to start. I was proud of myself for keeping my pack weight under 50LBs for the 7 day trip that we had planned to travel the 70 miles of trail. Since then- I have hiked with my good friend and have finally completed a full State with him. I never expected to go for another section after section J but we kept on planning the next section to accomplish and would knock out one more section every summer.

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We have traveled together through 500 miles of blisters, patella problems, bee stings, snow, rain, random pains, stinky feet, hitchhiking, and some good views as well. After looking back at the images from our first section, I realize how much we have changed during this time. We have both aged to a noticeable degree and have learned how to cope with each others positive and negative qualities to form a good hiking team. We ran into someone this year who couldn’t believe we had hiked together every year and were still friendly/not homicidal towards each other. We are not sure as to why- but I have a feeling that our shared challenges in life were enough to cement the friendship and hiking buddy status.

Now… onto the final section of Washington: Section K:

We only had 4 days to hike the 95 miles between trailheads, so we met up right after work and drove for about 7 hours to place the cars at both ends. We started hiking at 11:30pm and hiked in 5 miles to our first campsite. Along the way we found a porcupine!

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I am not sure which one of us was more startled but he definitely smelled worse than we did- talk about needing a bath! I think I can make it at least 3 days before I smell as bad as this guy did!

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The trail opened up into a massive valley with the skyline dominated by Glacier Peak
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We continued a long march into the valley and admired the beauty. The faint and sweet smell of lupine was quite lovely!

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We proceeded down into the valley which was quite nice as the sun exposure had been quite high all day. As we traveled down and bumped into two SOBO hikers- one of which had blood all over her face. After learning it was from a bloody nose and not a bad case of the zombie infection- we offered her some assistance but she refused. She seemed to have stopped bleeding at that point but there was still an impressive quantity around her mouth. After one last check- we kept on going and wished her luck in her southbound travels.

After a few more miles- we ran into another hiker that was doing the full length of Washington from the South. We hiked with her for the rest of the day and joined a large group for the evening. We enjoyed her company- and she enjoyed the jellybeans and iced tea we traded with her.
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Bushwhacking and failed bridges were commonplace in this section as it is the most remote section of Washington. We both bled our fair share and got stung by nettles on several occasions. I love nature.

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The bonus of Washington is the abundance of Water- after hiking nearly 1kmi last year in the Desert- I appreciate good water a lot more than I have previously.

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We were getting excited at this point as we knew that our one lake that we could swim in was nearby- but we couldn’t figure out where it was.

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After just a few more feet- Mica Lake came into view and it was amazingly inviting. I set out my tent so it would dry quickly and we jumped in. It was quite chilly but was a welcome addition to our day. We still managed to travel 23 miles with the quick dip.

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We had no idea what was in store for us after the lake- the trail totally disappeared for the 3,200ft climb so we had to push through these bushes for several miles in the mid-day heat. There was a fine line between overheating and progress as we continued on. This was my least favorite part of the trek- muggy and hot with a good collection of hidden nettles just for added excitement.

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Thankfully the climb ended after a long time and opened up again to fields of flowers and fresh water. I like to think of the PCT as a movie- when you come across a new view, the movie is just progressing at a steady rate. We are always ready for the next scene by the time we reach it. I was concerned about getting stung by bees at this point because they were flying all over the place but they didn’t seem to notice us too much.

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Part of this section was going through the lesser known original route- the trail is still there but there are two big river crossings and lots of extra things to kick- like the stick that went right through my sock as I was walking. Guess I needed new socks anyways.

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This was one of the river crossings- the log is rotting but didn’t fall in when we crossed so it was a fun adventure. We camped on the other side of the log because the light was fading quite fast and I didn’t want to take a chance of losing my balance when crossing. We did our first cowboy camp in a long time- I was getting eaten quite well by no-see-ums until I coated myself with bugspray.

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Huckleberries were abundant and were a very welcome addition to our food supply- fresh fruit out there is a scare item to come by. I ate while keeping an eye out for any bears that wanted to defend their food source.

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Huckleberries also provide an excuse to stop walking for a while- at this point we were nearing the end of our 28 mile day and were hurting quite well.

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This was July 4th- while most of you were hanging out with family and friends, we had to do something- so I brought apple pie and some tasty beverages. Those of you that know my packing style know that it is hard to justify this much excess weight in my pack but even with this added I was only ay 17.5lbs.

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The next day was our final day on the trail and it was incredibly hot out there. We had to keep an eye on water sources as we followed this river all day without very many methods of taking water from it. Combined with a total elevation gain of 6kft and 90F or so and it got to be miserable. We didn’t stop much as the deer flies were eating our skin whenever we stopped.

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This wasn’t the smartest decision to make but again- this one didn’t collapse on us either. The USFS created a detour but with the sound of distant motorcycles on the highway, we didn’t want to take any extra steps- refreshing sports beverages were waiting for us just a few more feet away!

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After finally reaching Hwy 20- we realized that we were not where we thought we were- the trailhead that we parked at was a road walk away. This wasn’t the greatest news but we had hiked this far already and just knocked out the last remaining mile to the vehicle. I am incredibly happy but also sad to be done with Washington and I look forward to hiking with my trail family down in Oregon as I pass through Portland, Bend, and other places that I know people.

WA DONE

My Terrible and Horrible weekend

This weekend was full of Horrible and Terrible events.

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Over a year ago- I met up with a couple that was hiking the PCT and their names were Horrible and Terrible. I mentioned them a long while ago so you are forgiven if you don’t remember my life story. I hiked with them for quite a ways in the desert but got separated due to different hiking speeds. But they stopped by Seattle to say hi- and I took them quite a few places around Washington.

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The first place we went was the PCT!

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Well that is technically Silver Mountain- but we took the PCT to this peak. The views were great and the temperature was about perfect! On the way up, we bumped into two hikers that we spent the rest of the trip with- Lance and Heather (I think). They were originally from Hawaii and were very nice people- I am saying this even without their bribery of fresh fruit at the top. Lance- if you ever read this… thank you very much for the excellent company and tasty fruit! Both were great additions to the day’s adventures!

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The view was awesome.

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We then continued down to Mirror Lake- which is about 1.5mi further down the trail from the Silver Peak Trail.

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Mirror Lake was as pretty as ever and we managed to visit right before the crowds hit the place. The water looked quite nice and I almost took a quick dip in it… but decided that it was too cold to warm up properly. Another time- another place perhaps.

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After this lovely day hike- we decided that kayaking sounded fun as well so we did an overnight to Hope Island.

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The trip over was quite uneventful and very calm which was nice. We met Don and Ken after some further exploring and shared some of our stories and learned about them as well. They had been kayaking together for 20 years and have gone to many of my bucket list destinations.

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We ended up exploring the Island and also went around the bay a little before finally calling it a day and going to sleep.

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We even got to see the Aurora the following morning! Although… it wasn’t as pretty as I had remembered it…

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Overall we had an awesome Horrible and Terrible weekend with mostly perfect weather and some good adventures! It was good to be able to explore the area with them and show them what is possible from their future home in Portland.

Circumambulation of Mount Saint Helens: Loowit Trail

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I bet that you didn’t know what Circumambulation  was a real word- I definitely didn’t but after hiking the Loowit Trail… I can certainly see why people refer to it for this hike! “(from Latin circum around + ambulātus to walk) is the act of moving around a sacred object or idol.

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This trail wraps around Mount Saint Helens and allows you to see a more complete view of the mountain than just hiking to the top.

We started hiking from Climbers Bivouac as the next best trailhead was still closed from Winter. After researching a bit about the trail, three themes were very apparent; The first being that the East side is much easier than the West, that people generally recommended hiking counterclockwise, and that this was not a trail for beginners due to river crossings, massive washouts, and intense heat with few water sources. That last part is why I caution people on doing this trail.

Disclaimer: This trail is hard to follow, has quite a few massive washouts, ropes were used, a couple river crossings are involved, and a lot of rock hopping on massive lava beds will most probably make your day hurt a lot more at least.

So off we went…

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The forecast called for rain on Saturday and partial breaks in the clouds on Sunday so we hid on the East side of the mountain for Saturday. The fog was quite intense and it rained on us for a good part of the day. It was cold and wet but for the 1/4 of the day it was sunny and the scenery was amazing!Untitled_Panorama1

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We were spoiled on the Eastern side of the mountain as the terrain is incredibly easy and remained fairly level. There was one large washout out here that was quite challenging to find a good method of getting down and back up. But this wasn’t going to be the last obstacle as we had just begun.

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There were chipmunks, marmots, and we could hear pikas off in the distance as well which made me happy. I personally despise Marmots but I have a soft spot for pikas and chipmunks.

The following area was known as the Plains of Abraham and it is an incredible sight- I really kicked myself for forgetting my camera here as my stupid cellphone takes rather lousy pictures. The entire area is barren of trees and is incredibly flat and has a small water source that we almost took from but decided that we should be good until the next one.

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My phone camera was having some issues at this point…

Over Windy Pass (which lived up to its name) and we were in the blast zone where the May 18th eruption happened and changed the look and history of the mountain forever. It was eerie as we knew the history of the eruption, the people who were killed in it, and the amazing amount of damaged caused by the lateral explosion.

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This is where the trail got interesting and a lot more difficult as there are a lot of washouts and lava rock crossings that take tolls on your feet. Trail gets to be really hard to find here but you should be safe if you follow the cairns- and don’t fall into the river. There is a trick to crossing here- go upstream a little bit and you should find a better location to cross.

We continued through the no camping zone to the Toutle River and found a campsite there at about 10pm. We were tired, wet, and ready for sleep after the 20-22 mile day.

The rain got heavier as the night went on so our tents got soaked. It stopped by morning and we were greeted to a cloudy and partially sunny day.

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We packed and left fairly quickly and started our crossing of the river (and our ascent back up 1,500ish ft)

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We eventually made it back to the beginning after a few more washouts and large lava fields that were rather annoying and painful to cross.

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Overall we had a good time- but this was not the trip for novice hikers- 32 miles is not much to complete fairly quickly but the washouts and other obstacles made for quite a challenging hike that we enjoyed doing and being done with!

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Bay View State Park, Skagit Island, and the SVT

Another break in on-call duties allowed me to run off into the lovely resources of Washington.

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First off was Bay View State Park- this was primarily found as we wanted a staging area for the launch to Skagit Island for the second night. I was happy that it turned out to be so nice looking! The campground is a very short walk away from the beach (which has a good view of the sunset). If you want to go but are unsure if you can live in a tent- they have some fantastic cabins available for rent and are fairly reasonably priced too!

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The following day we woke up early so that we could get some coffee before paddling to Skagit Island for a night.

After a previous expedition to this small island that turned into a verbal fight between myself and people who miss-understood the concept of the CMT guidelines of no powerboats for CMT campsites- I was on edge as I really didn’t want that to happen again. Luckily we were the first islanders for the day and got the best site.

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The whole island had exploded in flowers- something that I had never seen before here as I normally visit in Later Summer/fall time. It was fairly obvious that the island has not had many visitors yet this year.

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The beaches look white from all of the sun bleached shells that litter it. Makes it seem more like a tropical island.

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The mossy landscape was quite pretty as well- this trail goes all the way around the island and this is one of my favorite sections:

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After some further exploring- we waited for the sun to set the rest of the way by eating dinner with a fantastic view looking towards Deception Pass.

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Once the sun set the rest of the way- we headed out and kayaked with the bio-luminescence (primarily noctiluca). The glow lit our paddle strokes up quite well but the light pollution from the nearby cities still hid the best show. Most places in Puget Sound have a bad problem with light pollution- Hood Canal has been one exception so far in my random night kayaking adventures.

The following morning- we got an early start to try to avoid the worst of the tidal currents (they can get to be incredibly strong out here!)

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The waters were exceptionally calm, we had some issues in a couple places with some strong currents but nothing we couldn’t take on!

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A Selfie with Skagit- my kayaking buddy was kicking my butt and was in front of me by a bit at this time.

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Hope Island- another place that boaters can camp on but I find it is too big to feel like a remote island to me. There is an awesome rope swing which can provide some entertainment if you get the chance to stop there. The trails on this island are nice also- but I find Skagit to be a lot more of what I look for.

After making it home- I decided to see if my sister wanted to do some more leg torture and bike up the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I partially regretted asking her but I was able to drink enough caffeine to keep me awake and we had a good time- It was nice to be able to work out my legs a little bit.

Then finally, some life news- I found a nice place that I am moving to that will be much closer to work than I live currently. My hope is to cancel my parking spot and either walk or ride my bike to work every day. I need more exercise given my current job- and my tendons are complaining about my recent adventures.

Hope everyone is well!

One year ago today…

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One year ago at 10:00am, I began my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail from the US/Mexico border. I had no idea what was in store for me, and I experiences more rewarding friendships and learned more about life than I had ever dreamed of. I have never regretted leaving the trail since doing so and I look forward to coming back in the upcoming years to continue knocking out sections.

This is how much I have done so far:

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And these are my stats:

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I can’t wait to see what the upcoming sections hold in terms of views, experiences, and more amazing people!

Umtanum Ridge

After making many plans and finding points of failure in each- we decided to try for the Durr Road/Yakima loop starting from Umtanum. We had all gone on this trail before partially but had never continued to the ridge line so we set forth to do a potential overnight. The overnight plan was trashed when large storm clouds came in and we just took a long break to enjoy snacks and each others company.

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Umtanum has been one of my favorite spring hikes for a long time as the valley is full of flowers, butterflies, fruit, animals, ticks, and rattlesnakes. The full beauty is on the verge of erupting but has not happened yet unfortunately. The flowers have just started to show off.

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Further up the trail- you start to see interesting geologic formations. This is Chukar Amphitheater which looks very much like an asteroid hit it. This is the aerial image: https://goo.gl/maps/YtjLF I wasn’t able to find more information on it however.

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The trail is fairly unforgiving and you just keep on climbing. The views along the way were nice, so it was quite enjoyable.

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I set up my tent at the top to fulfill my tent-monster tendencies and become one with the dirt again. After 3-4 hours of sleep- I had issues not taking a nap. The view was quite nice!

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The Ridge has a long road that follows near the top and can be seen going off into the distance. The clouds were threatening us quite well but it did provide quite the scenery!

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This is a compilation of about 20 pictures- the full size is a little over 300MP. I might upload it later so it is browse-able but I do not have enough time to figure out that process again.

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We hiked down as the sun was setting and enjoyed the contrasting colors. The shade made for some chilly hiking conditions but it was a lot of fun! I had hoped to find a rattlesnake on this trip, but we were not very lucky in finding them. I had a lot of fun on this trip and got some good exercise too!

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