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Small creek, campsite nearby to Campsite at mile 2364.66
The temperature last night wasn't too cold allowing me to get a pretty good nights sleep. I awoke multiple times thinking I was oversleeping, but I wasn't. I heard Brad's alarm go off and finally knew it was time to wake even though it was pitch black and seemed like the middle of the night. 5:30 AM is way early, but it will ensure we get into camp before dark.
Our goal was to make it out by 7:00 AM which we did.
Today's hike shouldn't be too bad until the last 3 miles which climbs pretty steeply, but we won't worry about that till the climb comes. After 5 miles we came across Urich cabin which was a perfect place for our morning break.
Inside was a nice table and benches making it great to relax and have a snack. It was still warm inside from whoever spent the last night here and built a fire. Too bad we didn't make it here last night. It would have been a great place to spend the night.
After about 30 minutes it was time to head out. Check out the meadow the cabin looks upon...beautiful.
A few minutes later I came across this really nice PCT sign:
I was wrong yesterday thinking that it was the last we would see of Mount Rainier. We climbed up a bit and came upon an awesome view of the mountain.
One hour later we saw mountains in the distance. Those must be the Cascade Mountains that we are headed towards. Wow...it kind of feels like when we were headed towards the Sierra Mountains 1,600 miles ago.
As you can see from the above photos, it was a beautiful day...until around 3:00 PM when low clouds started rolling in.
Right about that time we started descending, so the rolling fog didn't get in our way. During the descent I came across this cool PCT sign:
And then, I came across an old PCT marker:
We made it to the last water source for the day at 4:45 PM. From here we have 3.69 miles to camp, during which we have 1,515 feet of climbing still left...OY. Why is it that we always seems to have a climb at the end of the day?
Oh well...let's get it over with. I climbed pretty well, keeping close to a 3 mile per hour pace up the hill. When I got to our campsite it wasn't too good. It was windy and fog was rolling in. It was now 6:45 PM so we had no choice but to make it our camp for the night.
We quickly set up our tents and I filtered water for Brad and I. Because of the unpleasant weather, we all cooked dinner in our tent vestibules. I have a feeling dinner is going to be like this for the rest of the hike to Canada.
Tomorrow is another 5:30 AM wake up. We will make it to Snoqualmie Pass where we will meet Tim and head to a hotel for the night. It will be a long day, but with a hotel in site we will be motivated. So, until tomorrow...
Chinook Pass Trailhead to Small creek, campsite nearby
I woke up for the last morning in the Packwood cabin. After spending three nights here, I was kind of getting used to it. Tim was anxious to get going so he can return to the cabin before checkout after dropping us back on the trail. By just after 9:00 AM we were in the 4Runner and on our way back to the trailhead where Tim picked us up last night.
After a 20 minute tunnel construction wait, we arrived at the trailhead to find Aviator and KodaChrome there. Of course we invited them to our daily photo and we were ready to hike by 10:20 AM.
Today we only have 18 miles to hike since we knew we would get a later start out of the cabin. The day started with a 3 mile climb up from the road onto the ridge of the mountainside. After the climb we stopped for lunch on a saddle and think this might be our last glimpse of Mount Rainier.
Today's hike was beautiful and not too bad of elevation change. In the 18 mile hike, we gained and lost just under 3,000 feet. These are the days we can make some miles.
Check out this really nice PCT sign I saw on the trail today:
Share Bear and I were anxious to get to camp so we hiked straight through from lunch and managed to get to camp right at 6:00 PM. This allowed me to collect/filter water, cook/eat dinner and get into my tent by 8:00 PM. It's a good thing too since it is before 9:00 PM and I am exhausted and ready to get to sleep.
Oh, we decided to start waking up at 5:30 AM regularly now because it is getting dark by 7:20 PM so we want to be at camp by 7:00 PM. It will take me a few days to get used to the earlier start, so until then I will probably be pretty tired by the end of the day. Well...I better get to sleep now, so until tomorrow...
Highway 12 (Staying in Packwood)
Dinner is served. We really needed this homemade meal we cooked in our rented cabin!
Sheep Lake to Highway 12 (Staying in Packwood)
When I finally got to posting of this days blog, I was sad to see that I hadn't written anything to go with the photos. In my opinion, this ranks up there as one of the most epic days on the trail. This day's hike took us through Goat Rocks Wilderness Area with amazing views of Mount Rainier.
Killen Creek, wooden bridge to Sheep Lake
It was a very cold night. Probably one of the coldest on the trail. I heard Brad's alarm go off which meant I had 15 minutes till I had to wake at 6:00 AM. At this point I was tucked way inside my sleeping bag and didn't want to even poke my head out. Finally, at 6:05 AM I knew it was time to poke my head out. Yep...it's as cold as I suspected it to be, but I had to get moving.
I was skeptical about getting out of camp by 7:30 AM since we had Kate & Max joining us. It's not that they won't be ready by then, it's just that the bigger the crowd, the harder it is to get everyone on the same page. Surprisingly we were all ready to hike by 7:40 AM.
As soon as we left the tree cover of our campsite we saw this incredible view of Mount Adams. When we got to the campsite yesterday it was raining, so we had no idea of what an amazing view was here.
Today we have to hike 25 miles, but the terrain doesn't look too bad...only about 3,000 feet up and down. The good news is that the sky is blue, so it looks like the rain has past. The bad news is that it is pretty cold and at the start of the hike my hands and feet were hurting. We hiked fast and eventually they thawed out and the hike got more pleasant.
Check out Brad's new shirt he is now hiking with. At least now we can see him coming.
Today we entered into Goat Rocks Wilderness. This area is supposed to be amazing and is our first taste of the Cascades and of what's to come.
Pretty much most of our hike today was under the cover of a forest.
It wasn't until the last 4 miles that we had incredible views of Mount Adams.
I came across another cool old PCT sign today:
We all hiked a bit separated from each other today, but met about 5 miles from our planned campsite. When we left it was after 5:45 PM. Since I hate hiking at night I rushed to get there before 7:30 PM. I made pretty good timing and got to the side trail to Sheep Lake by 7:20 PM. I really wanted to head right to the lake, but the side trail was small and I was worried the others wouldn't see it, so I waited. Share Bear showed up and really wanted to head down to the lake, so I left my hiking pole planted in the ground for the others to see and we headed down.
There was many paths to take to try to find a campsite, so we just randomly picked one and came upon a couple that showed us a site we all may be able to fit in. We then saw a light on the other side of the lake and called out hoping it was Jazzman who said he was gong to meet us here. It was him and he said there were sites where he was. We headed to him and then he was kind enough to go back up trail to point Brad, Max, and Kate this way.
I setup my tent, made spicy ramen soup for dinner, and got inside my tent to get warm in the sleeping bag. It doesn't feel quite as cold as last night, but it is still pretty cold.
Tomorrow we have another 25 mile day, but with much more climbing and descending. Because it took us 12 hours to make the 25 mile today, I am nervous about making the 25 miles tomorrow, so I suggested we get on trail by 7:00 AM meaning we all wake up at 5:30 AM. So, I better get to bed because the alarm will be going off way to early. Until tomorrow...
Road 23 (Staying in Trout Lake) to Killen Creek, wooden bridge
Blue Lake to Road 23 (Staying in Trout Lake)
It was a pretty cold night so I stayed way tucked into my sleeping bag with my hat on and my puffy jacket and hood on. Needless to say, I didn't hear Brad's alarm go off. For some reason I woke and decided to look at my watch to see what time it was. It was 6:08 AM. Oy...I better get going. I quickly got all my stuff together and left the tent. Brad and Share Bear also quickly got ready and we were ready to hike by 7:30 AM.
We started the day with a climb which was actually welcomed since it was cold and the climbing warmed us up. Today we hike 10 miles and meet Tim so we can slack pack the next 14 miles into Trout Lake.
We started spotting old PCT signs on the trail again today. Share Bear asked what I was going to do with all the photos of the signs. I told her that I was going to post them on my blog, so here they are:
This has got to be one of the cutest PCT signs we have seen this entire hike:
As we hiked along I heard Share Bear yell, "Blueberries!" I then stopped and looked and sure enough they were everywhere. We took the next 20 minutes eating our way up the trail eating blueberries, or are they huckleberries? It doesn't really matter what they are, but I will tell you that they were delicious.
It was as we were picking and eating that we noticed a hiking pole stuck in the ground by a trail that went down to a lake. Share Bear mentioned that the pole looked like Max's. "Yeah," I said, "Tim has the same poles as well." Share Bear acknowledged that many hikers have the same poles. As we hiked away and for further and further from the pole, I started to wonder if it could have been Max's pole.
In case you don't know, Share Bear hiked with Max and Kate from the second day on trail. I joined them sometime in May after the snakebite incident. When we all got to Kennedy Meadows we split up and Share Bear, Brad, and I were ahead of them until When they got to Lake Tahoe they decided to skip up to Ashland and skip all of Northern California (625 miles).
We know they left Cascade Locks on Friday, 3 days before us. If they are taking it slow then it is possible it was them.
Anyway, we hiked on and just kept wondering. This is what most of our hike looked like today under the cover of a green, lush forest:
As we hiked I noticed this in message written in the dirt:
We interpreted as a message from Stitch telling us that he was here at midnight last night...crazy!
We made it to Tim just after 11:30 AM and decided to eat lunch before heading out. There was a woman about to hike northbound and just for the heck of it I told her that if she saw a couple hiking to tell them that Mighty Mouse was here. About 30 minutes later who do we see walking towards us? KATE & MAX! Wow...it was them!
After a joyful and exciting reunion it was time to get hiking again. Max and Kate joined us in throwing the gear we didn't need for the rest of the day in the 4Runner and we took off for the last 14 miles of the day.
What a joy to hike with Kate and Max for the first time in 3 months. We spent the time catching up and telling stories and having a great time which really made the miles tick by.
We got to a trailhead and they had this crazy sign rating the hiking trail as "More Difficult"...interesting.
With about 2 miles to go we came across Jazzman who we talked to this morning about him getting a ride and possible staying with us in town. Uh-oh...that was before we found Kate and Max. We now have 7 people who would need to fit in the 4Runner and cabin. We will just assume all will work out and we continued hiking.
Just before 6:30 PM we saw Tim headed up the trail towards us meaning that we were almost done for the day. We arrived at the 4Runner and jammed 5 of us in the backseat and then jammed all our bags on our laps. Not very comfy, but it worked. We arrived at the cabin to dump our bags and noticed that there will be no problem fitting all of us for the night. We then piled back in the car and went for dinner. We found an awesome local place, ate, and returned to the cabin for the night.
What an awesome day. Tomorrow we get to sleep in and hike only 15 miles, but that gets followed up by two 25 mile days back-to-back. I guess I better enjoy tonight and get ready for a few challenging days. Until tomorrow...
Paved Panther Creek Road to Blue Lake
The alarm went off at 6:00 AM in the comfy Airbnb bed. I quickly realized that I didn't have much to do before leaving so I pushed snooze to get 10 more minutes in the bed. It is so nice waking up in a bed. I love sleeping in the tent, but it is starting to get a bit taxing.
At 6:10 AM I got out of bed and got ready to leave for the trail. We left the house around 6:45 AM and was at the trail, after stopping at the general store for a drink, at 7:15 AM right when Share Bear and Brad emerged from the forest after a night of camping.
We packed our bags for the day and was ready to hike at 7:48 AM.
Today we get to slack pack the first 16 miles of the day which is awesome since the day starts out with a 9 mile hill that climbs over 4,000 feet.
While climbing the hill we met up with Stitch who was taking it easy because he is having pain on the bottom of his feet. He decided to try hiking with us for the day knowing that we hike steady and take breaks...something that he is not used to doing.
The climb took us until noon, but the rewarded scenery was so worth it:
We took our lunch break at 1:30 PM. Stitch decided that since he had a whole one hour break, he would set up his hammock. I think he will get used to hiking with us pretty quickly.
Share Bear even managed to get a few minute nap in before we headed out to meet Tim.
After lunch the trail was pretty easy and beautiful. Check out the fall colors that we love to look at but are making us nervous that winter is on its way:
We met Tim at 4:00 PM and packed all the gear and food we needed till we get to the town of Trout Lake tomorrow. Stitch decided to take off and try to get miles in so he can get to town to rest his feet some. We on the other hand took our time to climb the next hill that runs for 4.5 miles. At least it wasn't as steep as the climb this morning. I was pretty happy to see an old PCT sign on the way up.
As we started climbing the sky clouded over and there was sounds of thunder. As we got towards the top we could see rain around us, but not on us.
And the highlight of the day...we hit the 2,200 mile point! We now have only 450 miles left. How exciting!!
Somehow the climb took longer than expected and we didn't get to camp until almost 7:30 PM just when it was about dark. Because it was pretty dark, we couldn't find a good campsite that is protected from the wind over the lake we are camped by, so as I lay here typing this blog I am actually shivering a bit. I better wrap this up and zip up the sleeping bag. Hopefully the rain will stay away tonight, because worse than wind and cold is adding rain to the mix. So, until tomorrow...