Wednesday, September 20, 2017


I made it to Canada! It has been a while since my last post and it is the post about finishing the trail so I expect this to be a fairly long blog. I got to the monument at noonish on the 17th. This was a bit earlier than I had planned but the weather report for the next few days was not overly impressive. The prediction was for cold temperatures with a mix of rain and snow. This seemed like a good reason to do a few extra miles and get to Manning Park a half day earlier than planned. It worked out perfectly, there were a few rain drops for the last 5 minutes before the resort but besides that I dodged all the weather. Before talking too much about the end of the trail I should talk about the second half of Washington for at least a bit.

I did not have a single decent view between Snoqualmie pass and Stevens pass. There was so much smoke in the air it seemed like I was always in a cloud, except it smelled like a fire and made my eyes itch and burn a little. Besides that slight downside, the trail seemed great. There were a lot of large climbs and quite a few amazing little lakes. It seemed like if you added the normal views to this section it would of been incredible. As it was, the lakes made up for some of the disappointing views.

North of Stevens Pass the smoke cleared, after the one and only day of actual rain on my entire hike, and the views were not bad! The whole area reminded me of the Sierras. Even though there were roads every other day or so, I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. There was definitely more up and down on the trail but it was well worth it. Even the bigger climbs followed the PCT of having nice gradual trail so those sections weren't too bad.

After Stevens pass the last place I resupplyed was the tiny town of Stehekin. This is a little place at the north end of Lake Challan that doesn't have any road access. There is a ferry that crosses the lake but besides the ferry the only way to get there is on foot. Luckily there is a post office there, and a fantastic bakery. It was odd fitting all my food in my pack knowing that it was the last time on the hike I would be carrying a fully resupply. After Stehekin was also when the weather changed from pleasantly warm to a bit chilly. The nights dropped to right around freezing and the high temperature during the day was in the 50's. Luckily, by doing a couple extra miles a day for the last few days, I was able to get into Manning Park dry.

Hitting the monument was strange. In my mind, the end of the trail is a big occasion and I expected the trail to simulate that - it did not. The last ten miles of trail are down hill or flat and the northern terminus of the trail is down at the bottom of a valley. It was a bit strange to feel so accomplished to make it to the bottom of a hill. It was also interesting to have zero security or anything at the Canadian border. There were so many border patrol people around the southern terminus it seemed like there should be something. There wasn't even much a sign saying anything about the USA side of the border, just a welcome to Canada sign on their side.

Hitting the border with the same five people that I had hiked all of Washington with made it extra special. While making it to the end of a thru hike is a very personal journey one of the things that makes it so special are the people that you meet along the way. I had two trail families along the trail, the group of people I did the Sierras with and the group I did Washington with. In the desert I hiked with Zoom but didn't hike with anyone else in any sort of intentional way. In between the Sierras and Washington I was mostly hiking by myself. I will always remember those two groups.

I have been working on a movie that will do a little summary of the second half of Washington but I haven't finished it yet. I'll post it to my blog in a later post.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Year of Fire and Ice

I've made it to Snoqualmie Pass, mile 2390.6. Unfortunately, making it here did involve getting around yet another fire closure. The closure was from Chinook Pass to 23 miles north. Even the road, highway 410, was closed east of the pass. Luckily one of the people I've been hiking with, Comma, contacted their cousin and was able to get us a perfect ride around the closure. The added logistics of getting around all of these fires has gotten pretty old, hopefully there are no more. The fire does make for dramatic photos though...

Despite the fire, the trail has been great for this section. There is definitely more elevation change as I get further north but the views that accompany the climbs are worth it. For a few days the views included Rainier, which was incredible. I've always found solitary mountains more impressive than large ranges. Washington has been great at providing those, first with Mt. Adams and then with Mt. Rainier. After having so much fun in the snow of the Sierras both of those mountains look like fun mountains to come back and do at some point.

The last couple days has seen yet another heat wave hit the area I'm hiking through. It is unseasonably hot and dry, making fires that much worse. The wind shifted a day ago and all the lovely views disappeared in a smelly smoke cloud. Once again, I cannot see anything and everything smells like campfire. This morning my tent even had a thin layer of ash covering it. The following photos look cloudy or foggy, it is just smoke in the air.

Here is a little video to show a bit of what the trail looks like around here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

One More To Go!

I am currently at Trout Lake, mile 2226.4. Only 425 miles remain on this fantastic journey. It feels strange to be nearing the end so quickly. The large jump I did to avoid forest fires cut 5 days and despite the fact that 5 days in a 5 month trip isn't much, it just accelerated the end. It will be odd to have to adjust to sleeping inside again. I think I have only slept inside 14 nights in the last 4 months. I think I sleep better in my tent than in a bed.

Anyway, the last few days of Oregon were pretty nice. There were some great views of mountains that were covered in glaciers. The trail was pretty easy, the only downside was the Eagle Creek side trail, which goes through tunnel falls, was closed due to a fire but it seemed appropriate for this years Oregon experience. The last bit of Oregon was a long descent down to Cascade Locks and the Bridge of the Gods. It felt a little odd to drop to an elevation of about 100 ft but the trail did not disappoint. I was back around 4000 ft by the next day. Since that was the end of another section here are the statistics for that section.

Ashland to Cascade Locks
Days - 14 (8/12 - 8/25)
Miles - 295 (rough estimate due to side trails and hitches)
Zeros - 1
Avg mpd w/ 0's - 21.1
Avg mpd w/o 0's - 22.7
Total steps - 700,940
Avg steps - 50,067
Highest steps - 70,381

Once in Washington the trail made sure to test me just make sure I was supposed to be there. The second day was a day with two big climbs and I did about 26 miles. I couldn't figure it out but my feet and legs were killing me and I had by far the worst chafing on the whole trail. It didn't make sense, the trail had been hard but not that bad. Once I laid down at the end of the day it finally made sense - I had a fever. Clearly my body had redirected its energies towards that problem and legs and feet had taken a back seat. My fever broke during the night and I felt great the next day. What the experience taught me is if I can do 26 miles, including two big climbs, with a fever I'm pretty sure I can keep doing 25 miles a day through Washington.