Day 136

Sep 12: to the border and beyond
Today felt like it should feel profound. But it really just felt like the end of a nice weekend hiking. Perhaps this is because we woke up in a favorite camping spot and could visualize the short miles ahead, perhaps it’s because neither of us ventured on this journey to “find ourselves” or discover new truths, perhaps it’s because the profound will come later – who can say?

We made it to Monument 78, the market at the US-Canada border a little before 11:00am. We took a swig of tequila and poured some out for our homie, Tequila John. We took a bazillion pictures and shared the monument with six others (a woman, a younger woman, a young guy, an older guy, and Clawhammer and B-Line from BC). We walked a quarter mile and had lunch at a stream, then walked to the road and down the road to Manning Park Lodge to wait for my mom.

Mom showed up early, we drove to Dan and Jill’s to get our car, then continued south – to find a clean house, a fridge full of treats, fresh sheets, indoor plumbing, and damn…. just plain ol’ home. 

I thought I was too cool to be overwhelmed by the return, but apparently I am not. 

King Fisher was on the arch this morning, Heron was down at a neighbor’s, and Cooper gleefully peed 100 times on his morning walk.

We texted the guy from Tehachapi with the dead cow to let him know we made it.

And then I started to think about the team of kind souls who made this adventure – this selfish, pursuit of pleasure – possible.
A final thank you post later this week will be this blog’s last entry – until then, thanks for coming along with us on this trip! Your love and support and knowing that we had a cheer squad meant more than you may imagine.
Fast facts and stats below,

Much love,

Batdance, Rockbiter, and Flyguy

Fast facts and stats:
Total days: 136

Cooper miles: 694

Nights slept in a bed: 17

Options for a shower: 20.5

Loads of laundry: 14

Bed total: 17

Actual Zero Days: 1

Longest day: 32.32 miles

Number of times we had headphones in while hiking: 0

Days it rained or snowed: 11

Pairs of Shoes used:

Rob = 6 (2 used, 4 new)

Beth = 7 (2 used, 5 new)

Rob’s calories on one random day: 5033

And grams of protein: 128

Number of places we were visited on trail or in town: 13

Number of people who trekked out to find us: 15

Number of resupply packages: 27+

Number of emails/texts to my packaging/shipping team with changes and updates: 1,432

Best food memories: The French Toast and free PopTarts at Reds Meadow; the first time we shared a half gallon of ice cream in Independence; Stehekin Sticky Buns

What Rob will miss the most: being able to solve almost any problem by walking farther

might as well JUMP


Day 134-135: mile 2585- 2639

Sep 10: mile 2585 – 2612Spoiler alert: the larch have not yet turned.

I love this section of the PCT, definitely in my top five of the entire trail. A few easy miles led us to the road crossing at Rainy Pass, then we had a few more gentle miles leading us up to Cutthroat Pass. If you can handle a 10-mile (round trip) hike with minimal elevation gain, I highly recommend getting up here in about two weeks. It was as beautiful as I remembered, even with green larch, not golden. Maybe it’s because we were high on leftover Stehekin bakery (did I mention that there is a great bakery in Stehekin?), but we both soaked it all in at the top.

If you can handle a few more miles – keep on following the PCT north. One of the best bowl walks is right after Cutthroat Pass. From one bowl to the next, down to a pass then up a ridge, there wasn’t a single moment without epic views or local beauty. The climbs felt insignificant, as the rewards were so great. 

Except for the last climb – oh man, I did not remember that one being so relentless! Big rewards and big winds whopping over the ridge were our gift as we neared the end of one of the best days on trail. Rob found a nice little campsite that was somewhat sheltered from the winds, we set up quickly, ate, and all three of us jumped in the tent for Cooper-Cuddle time.

Sep 11: 2612 – 2639

Rob thought the wind would die down pretty quickly. It didn’t. Only Cooper was able to sleep through it. Our little tent held up to the mighty winds but had a lot to say about it. A bit of rain began to fall/pelt the tent, and then…. ahhhhh… Quiet. We both woke up to hear a bit more sprinkling though the night, and when day began to break, Rob said, “that sounds a little soft for rain.” A Tap-Tap on the walls of the tent led to a whoosh! of snow sliding off. Oh boy, it snowed! Cooper’s favorite! 
Oh boy, it picked up again before we even sat up to discuss the day. That quickly turned into coffee in bed.

It wasn’t a ton of snow, just enough to lightly dust everything and tickle Coop’s senses. I was a bit sad that another of my favorite bowl and ridge walks would be viewless. Then I reminded myself that this was only the 11th day of “bad” weather in 135 days of hiking. Really, not too shabby. 

So we bowl walked and ridge walked and watched Cooper sniff and smell and slide his way down the trail. The views came and went as the sky cleared and changed its mind. Snow, sun, snow, wind, it changed every few minutes, keeping us alert and always cold. I was not-so-secretly hoping for some trail angel to be waiting with a barrel full of hot chocolate for us at Hart’s Pass. No dice. No biggie. Isn’t it hope that keeps one going? We had some extra Via to drink at our first break (thanks again, Jill and Susie!). 

Just up ahead, Rob pointed out our break spot. I fell behind and heard him chatting with the French trio we’d been following since Stehekin. Ah! Apparently there was some serious trail magic here the night before and a wee bit was left on the trail. Canada, here we come! 

A guy we met near Timberline, who is hiking with his dog, Maya, popped up and chatted with us for a spell, but I still don’t really understand his game plan (or if he has one). Nice guy, sweet dog, I think I might just be missing something…

The sun continued to tease us throughout the day as the trail wound around a variety of bowls and dipped down into the trees. Both of us commented that we could vividly recall certain points of interest in this section but couldn’t connect them – we both had big gaps in our trail memory. After a few miles in the trees, we agreed that was probably why.

A steady approach to Rock Pass gave way to the descend-then-climb path to Woody Pass where we walked past our BC buds’ tents and snuck our way into our secret Blankenspot. 

Beth ate her last PopTarts (of the trip… Of the rest of my life?), and we passed the Whiskey back and forth. It took us about six sips each to finish it off. Man, we were getting crazy. 

And this is how the last night ends, nothing epic, no grand thoughts, just a nice end to a long day, feeling a bit cold and looking forward to brushing teeth before snuggling into our sleeping bags. Cooper had a good roll in the heather (it’s his favorite, second only to snow), finished his dinner (good boy!), and curled up in his sleeping bag to quickly snore and dream about whatever he dreams about these days (marmots is my guess).

Tomorrow we wake, have 11 miles to hike to get to the border and then 8 more to hike out to get to the road. It will go by quickly, I am sure, our ride home will be swift, we will be back in Tacoma, and our lives will resume in some fashion that will be presumably similar to when we left. No insights for tonight, no reflections or trying to force meaning onto a day that was just sweet in its own right. The deep thoughts will come when they are ready – for tonight, we just pull our sleeping bags tight and dream a hiker’s dream.

Day 130-133: mile 2513-2586

Catching up: Post 4/4
Sep 6: 2513 -2538

Today was Cooper’s birthday – he turned 8 – and we didn’t have anything special packed for him. He said he didn’t mind since there was no rain when we woke up. A quick up and over Fire Creek Pass led us down through some clouds to one of the most beautiful lakes in Washington (if not the world): Mica Lake. The clouds blew away as we sat down for a snack, and we were riveted. She sure is pretty. 

We both had memories of the trail past Mica Lake being a big brushy mess. I don’t think either of us was super excited about the miles ahead. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as we remembered! We hiked down to Milk Creek, then back up up up, landing at Marmotville for lunch. I had forgotten that we had camped here once, but Rob had a distinct memory of trying to hang our food between two rocks.

The rest of the day’s hike was neither riveting nor thrilling – except for two things:

1) checking out how the new reroute of the PCT and the billion dollar bridge across the Suiattle River were holding up. Both looked good still, we give one thumb up.

2) we passed through a grove of big ol’ trees, and though I always threaten to count the rings of the cut ones, there never seems to be enough time. I was super stoked that someone did the counting for me on this one (though I will zoom in and double-check for accuracy when I get home and will also note that I do not condone forget graffiti):

We camped just across the Suiattle, bunking next to our BC buddies, B-Line and Claw Hammer.

Sep 7: 2538 – 2564

The morning began cool and misty as we crawled up out of the depths of the Suiattle River. It mostly didn’t rain today, which was nice, but the low clouds and most kept he majority of the bid views at bay. 

We crossed through Cooper’s Bowl – a stunning spot that Cooper can disappear into – and wound through a beautiful Meadow at the base of some wicked cool craggy rock peaks. Off of Suiattle Pass, there is a trail that goes to Cloudy Pass – a different hike for a different day, maybe before fall sets in this year? 

Crusing down alongside a creek, I had to stop to pee, and because two people were right behind us, we did a full pull-over and sit while we waited for them to pass. This is noteworthy because it led me to a creek side viewpoint that we definitely did not see our previous time through here, and would have walked right on by it – what a great treat to get a secret view of this massive waterfall down below us!

As we passed by Mt. Blankenship (for reals!), we had a short blast of rain. It was over before a full soaking occurred and all three of us were relieved when it let up. I may have to cancel my Washingtonian status if I keep wussing out about the rain like this…

If you zoom in, you might find a Cooper

Sep 8: 2564 – 2569

Town day, last resupply box, a bed, and the fabled Stehekin bakery had us up and packed super fast this morning. We had five miles to clock to catch the 9:15 bus into town – no problem! We flew down the trail, skipped across High Bridge, and checked our watches: 8:55. Perfect! Crossed the road, walked over to where we saw some other hikers waiting for the bus, and – I’m sure you’ve guessed already – da-da-dah!, 500! 

He was just running into town and then back out, but we were both glad we got to see good ol’ 500 one more time. 

The bus pulled up and there was a mini hiker reunion, as hikers returning to the trail got off and mingled with the hikers going into town. Long Haul (the guy who chatted with David Levin in Packwood), Blaze (a really down-to-earth guy who I don’t think I’ve written about but whom we’ve run into in and off since mile 702), and Bad Mash (a guy we camped with just south of Mt. Adams, who was mostly excited to say hi to Cooper again) were some of the familiar faces. They should all be hitting the border on Sunday, and I look forward to reading their final words in the last trail register.

Time to load the bus and – guess what? Dogs are full price. $7 one way into town. We initially thought that was steep, but since neither of us walked the 11 miles into town, the price point must have been fine.

The bus driver makes a very convenient stop at the bakery (1.5 miles outside of town) every time he passes it. Oh. My. Word. Everything we heard was true. Don’t waste your time saving $1 on the day-olds, if you are there, go all out for the freshies. Best sticky bun ever (sorry, mom, but I think you’d agree).

The rest of the day was town-ereffic: resupply box (thanks for the refreshments, ladies!), lunch, shower, nap, more farewells to 500, and some creative grocery shopping for our kitchenette dinner.

Our room came with an extra bed in a loft, and we offered it to the BC guys during a moment of rain. They showed up to claim their bed, and… I’ll admit, it was great to hang out and hear stories of their lives both on trail and odd, but it was also strange sharing quarters with people we don’t know. Not bad, just strange. It was nice to be able to share the space and the shower and fridge, and it was nice knowing that two hikers we enjoy had a better night’s sleep than if they had free-camped next to the road.

Sep 9: 2569 – 2586

Speaking of strange – it was strange to wake up with people we don’t know that well. Not bad, just strange.

The morning went fast as we made breakfast, packed, checked out, and posted a quick blog before catching the bus back to the trail (and the bakery).

We planned a short day today, knowing that we wouldn’t be on the trail early, and knowing that we would be weighed down with bakery products, both in our bellies and in our packs.

Most of the day’s hike was through North Cascades National Park – a park that is kind enough to make an allowance for dogs in the park, if they are traveling on the PCT and are on a leash. 

We had our first ranger encounter of the entire trip (one had an old GoLite pack!), and were reminded that Cooper had to be on a leash through the park boundary.

The sun was out, the views were clear, and our hiking was swift, fueled by cinnamon rolls. Before we knew it (around 4:30), we were at our destination for the night. Wha? We hardly knew what to do with ourselves. We didn’t want to travel farther, because it would just put us next to Hwy 20, so we relaxed a little, took a rinse in the creek, and decided to drink the wine we were gifted tonight instead of on our last night in the woods (extra weight, didn’t want to carry it for two more days). The wine was delicious and a perfect end to a pleasant day. We are both pretty jazzed about tomorrow, since we already know that tomorrow’s miles are going to be supernovaesque in their epicness.

Mmmm, Stehekin bakery goodness

Day 127-129: mile 2462-2513

Catching up: post 3/4

Sep 3: mile 2462 – 2466We had a delightfully slow morning with the family. Dan made waffles, Jill made endless cups of coffee, the kids made us laugh. College football was on tv, we took turns playing with the kids and packing, watching the rain fall and peeking at the forecast. It was determined that both of our shoes were on the verge of blowout, so we spent some time deciding whether we should drive to REI or just order some and ship them ahead to Stehekin (and hope the existing shoes would make it until then). Cooper slept. It was really hard to get up much motivation to go back out into the wild woods of Washington, even though that’s where we always wish we were.
We stayed so long that it seemed like it was lunch time – and like a trail magician, Jill had a spread of treats laid out on the counter. B&B Farm Stay business in their future? 

Soon it was time to pile into the car and head back up to the pass. 

We arrived at the pass to find: Coppertone! It was such a gift to be able to say thanks one more time and to wish him well in his continued journey. We also found: 500! It sounds like he will be touching the border one day ahead of us, but I can still hope that we will keep running into each other for the next few days.

We hiked all of four miles past the pass, choosing dinner in twilight and a longer day tomorrow over dinner in the dark and a shorter tomorrow.

Sep 4: mile 2466 – 2491

The rain held off for most of the day and we had a generally pleasant walk down memory lane. It’s funny to turn a corner on a trail and know somewhere in my brain that in 200 feet we will walk past a super cool, giant old tree growing on a rock – and then actually see it! There were lots of little moments like that today, connected by long stretches of good old fashioned hiking. 

We stopped for lunch at Pear Lake, where I had a vivid recollection of trying to escape mosquitos among other things, while Rob couldn’t remember it at all. He has remembered other things that are total blanks for me – which is also funny, thinking about what sticks in our different brains when on the same trail, in the same moment, in the same space.

It’s been years (nine, maybe?) since we walked by Lake Sally Ann, but I remembered that we both thought she was an exceptionally pretty little lake and both commented, “it’d be nice to camp here someday.” And we did! Kind of – it was actually quite busy, so we followed an old trail up above Sally Ann and camped high above her, watching the clouds roll around.

Sep 5: mile 2491 – 2513

Woke up to a beautiful and promising sunrise, feeling mostly dry and comfortable. The clouds hung around though, and the trail-side brush was damp. We passed through more beautiful spaces that were made a little sad by the lack of views. It was another day where we could console ourselves with memories of what lay beyond the mist.

We back-and-forthed with the two nice guys from BC, and shared a peek-a-boo glimpse of Glacier Peak with one of them. Glacier Peak, being the 4th(?) highest peak in Washington is always difficult to see – except in this stretch on a clear day. Guess we will be back this way again soon!

Cooper had a grand time today when we strolled through marmotown, trying to spot the marmots as they whistled. He keep saying he would like a marmot-fur coat and we keep telling him no.

A late afternoon rain shower turned a previously favorite lunch spot into our campsite for the night – Pumice Creek, check it out – and right before we got into the tent, we smelled something foul.

Our sweet Cooper found something gross to eat. We are both used to wet dog in the tent, but wet stinky breath dog is an entirely different beast. A cold beard scrubbing in the creek and a handful of treats made our buddy bearable for the night. The only question in our heads as we lay them down on our clothes-pillows was “Will we see Glacier Peak peek at us tomorrow?”

Glacier Peak

Day 124-126: mile 2388- 2462

Catching up: Post 2/4

Aug 31: mile 2388-2408

We woke up to a still and quiet lake and a promise of deliciousness ahead. A quick run down the ski slopes of Snoqualmie put us on a short road walk next to I-90. About 50 feet from the Chevron (our meet-up and package pick-up location), we heard “beep beep!” “Need a lift?” Two McCrearys (Beth’s parents) pulled into the Chevron just ahead of us. Hugs and hellos were quickly followed by coffee and fresh cinnamon rolls. My parents were angels – we had asked them to come early because we had ground to cover and had to get back on trail lickety-split, and early they came.

But our package wasn’t there. My poor mother heard foul things come out of my mouth. Long story short: of all the package holding systems we have used in the last four months, this one was by far the worst setup. The little things can easily get really big out here (for me, at least), so I am grateful that my sweet parents were there to help keep me in check. 

The silver lining: we got to hang out with my parents for a few hours and Cooper had The Best Nap Ever in the back of their car.

We had a light lunch and our dear friend, 500, rolled out of the Summit Lodge. He’s pretty much met the whole family now – how cool and random is that?

Another reason for the pressure we felt to get back on trail was the forecast: rain, rain, and a little more rain. We had hoped to get over our day’s high point before the rain kicked in. Our plans, thwarted by the US Postal Service, were set aside. We would just hike on.

We said goodbye to my parents and made a series of plans for getting returned to the U.S. in a few days’ time. 

Sadly, we hiked one of the prettiest sections of the PCT in a cold rain shower.We both felt sad for our fellow hikers who were missing the beauty and who may not come back this way again. 

We hiked just long enough to get to the always-stunning Spectacle Lake, and the rain paused long enough for us to set up our tent and eat dinner. Thanks to the wind, most everything was dry when we went to sleep, feeling empowered by our Washingtonian-ness and ability to hike through an afternoon of rain.

Sep 1: mile 2408-2441

I don’t know how many of you read the mileage and do quick math and/or care. If you just did the math, I’d like to throw in two notes: 1) Cooper led the whole day, and 2) it poured down rain pretty much all darn day.

32.32 miles in the rain. Oh Lordy, it was a doozy of a day. Again, we were a bit sad in that this area has some really beautiful moments. Sure, there’s some drudgery in a few miles of switchbacks up (and down), but the views we knew were there – just over there! behind the mist! – stayed hidden, waiting for another hiker on another day.

Early in the morning we did some math, and due to a planned meeting at Stevens Pass (farmer Dan and his farmer fam are meeting us for dinner!), we had to hike big miles today. So, suck it up, buttercup, you’re already soaked, let’s keep moving.

Once again, the rain let up briefly, just in time to set up the tent and shovel rehydrated freeze-dried food into our mouths. What did I once wrote about happiness in the trail being tenuous?

Sep 2: mile 2441 – 2462
Everything – yes, every thing – was a little damp when we woke. Except for Cooper, who dries out like a shammy. That dog is magic!

Somewhere around 7:00am, we both started wondering out loud. “Do you think Dan and Jill would mind if we went back to their place?” “We could just camp in the barn, let stuff dry out a bit.” “I bet Jill wouldn’t mind if we did a load of laundry… Or maybe took a shower…” “They won’t even know we’re there.”

(Ok, it wasn’t we, it was me, but you get the idea)

Those maybes pulled at least one of us through the day, as we scrambled to hike 24 miles by 4:00.

Thinking about the food in our box, or at the pass was also helpful, but thinking about a dry barn was pretty motivational stuff. It is mind-blowing how something like 123 days (give or take) of sun can be erased by 3 little days of rain. We both grew up here, we know rain! We hike in it! We are prepared for it! Bring it on! (Just…. No more than one day at a time, please)

Cooper, believe it or not, seems to be digging these rainy days. I think the smells of the forest are unlocked and he and his nose just go to town, sniff sniff sniffing along, tail keeping time, left right left right left right turn!

We caught some cell service in time to text the fam that we would be closer to 5:00 than 4:00 (“ok!” they replied), and then we just booked it, reminiscing about the time we hiked out here with the Levins and Schmidts and a Jimmy.

Without any obvious signs of hesitation or secret-spousal-eye-contact, when we asked if we could come home for the night, Dan and Jill said yes, of course, absolutely. (Though…. They might tell the story differently? Haha!)

We drove back to the farm (stopping for Mexican dinner on the way), hung our soaked gear in the basement, started laundry, took showers, and juggled Auntie and Uncle time with the kids before it was time for all of us to go to bed. Cooper slept through it all. There is some quote about family being the ones that have to take you in – and we are so thankful that they did.

The real reason we are hiking fast through WA – we are missing all the excitement!

Day 120-123: mile 2286-2388

Catching up: Post 1/4

Aug 27: 2286 – 2310

It’s hard to follow a day like Goat Rocks day, but August 27th tried. Started off the morning with a little climb, then a cross over a saddle, and swooooosh, down and around one of my favorite bowls. The clouds this morning were stunning. Could’ve watched them all day.

A quick stop at The Kracker Barrel for coffee, Internet, and a package was followed by an uninspiring walk through a section of trail with heavy horse traffic. Interesting note: we saw more horses in a five-mile section here than in the previous 2300 miles. And Cooper, though very interested in them, behaved like a gentleman.

Our package included some inspired treats from Rob’s niece, delightful artwork from the great-nieces and great-nephew, and a personalized mad-lib from good friends. It was a box of basic resupply and a box full of love. Thanks, Ziemers, Blankenships, and Feinsteins!

We passed the afternoon reminiscing about the time we hiked the opposite direction, from Chinook Pass to White Pass, with Rob’s dad and his dad’s friend, Phil. It rained pretty much the whole first two days – quite a different experience from today.

The berries continue to be un-freaking-believable. If you have a favorite huckle-harvest spot, get out there – quick!

Rainer at sunset

Aug 28: mile 2310 – 2335

Up and on the trail with a spring in our steps, we wondered, as we strolled around a quiet Dewey Lake, where all the day hikers were – it was an exceptionally beautiful Sunday and we expected more traffic. Our question was answered as we crested the hill above Dewey Lake – the final mile or so of trail was a full stream of oncoming hikers. Although overwhelming in the numbers, it was cool to see that the rest of the world was enjoying the fresh mountain air too.

Cars were parked all up and down the side of the road – how will we find Bob and Jan? Oh! Due to a misunderstanding on my part, I didn’t realize we were walking down to Tipsoo Lake to meet them for a picnic lunch. What a great location and a great idea!

We scarfed cheese and crackers, grilled shrimp and salmon, fresh apple slices, a PBR and a Coke, a Little Debbie cupcake, and a handful of Almond Roca before noticing the time and yelling, “oh dang! We need to be back on the trail in 15 minutes!”

Why the rush? We had a second trail visit planned! Today was double magic-y!

Back on trail, the first two miles up out of Chinook Pass were a non-stop train of hikers coming down. The sun was shining and life was good. We kept a steady pace and Rob kept in touch via text with our next date, Weekes. It happened that Weekes was volunteering at the Cascade Crest Endurance Run (google it, it’s rad!), and would be able to join us for a short hike. Wheee! 

Don’t get me wrong – Rob and I are still thoroughly enjoying this wonderful time together, but it was super nice having another person to converse for a few hours. We had pleasant weather, pleasant views, and we set up camp just past the transition into uncharted territory for us. We were surprised with some red wine (and extra coffee!) which paired nicely with the cheese snacks and chocolate from yesterday’s box.

As we slept, Sasquatch came ’round our little valley and made sure we knew he was near. Cooper and Weekes are our witnesses – I could not make those sounds up.

Aug 29: mile 2335 – 2362
After coffee, we said goodbye to Weekes and we parted ways beneath the trees. Cooper tracked Sasquatch all morning, but he was not to be found today.

The new-to-us section of trail was full of more berries. Endless berries. We came upon a magic cabin in the woods that was built by (oh dear I’ve forgotten by who already), and seems to be set up as a winter respite for snowmobilers. Although there was a cooler, it was empty – or, as another hiker said, “it is full…. of disappointment.” We saw 500 had signed the trail register stored there just this morning! We may catch him again!

All along the trail today, we heard stories from our fellow hikers who hitched into Packwood. All of the stories began with: “Hey… So have you guys ever been to Packwood before?” 

One story included someone in Packwood who told a hiker that he knew us (based solely on a description of long-haired guy, blond girl, shaggy dog). David Levin, was that you? 

Our campsite for the night was one of the least spectacular of the trip – except for the fact that it was at Tacoma Pass. I did not know such a place existed! 

Aug 30: mile 2362 – 2388

For a 24 mile-day, there wasn’t much to write home about. Except the berries. They were super excellent today and they were abundant. I think we saw more people on the trail just out picking huckleberries than through-hikers. The mushrooms are also out in surprising numbers and varieties. For all of our hiking in Washington, I can’t recall seeing half as many mushrooms as we have in the last couple of days.

We passed through a few clear cut and a few burned areas, both of which were hot. It was really interesting to have the temperature swing so wildly when we walked out of the clear cut and back into the trees.

The highlight of the day was camping at little Lodge Lake, two miles from Snoqualmie Pass. Coming down towards the pass, we could hear I-90 miles away, but when we turned down towards the lake, we heard only nature. Including Sasquatch  again! We have no witness other than Cooper this time. I will give Cooper credit for trying to engage Sasquatch in a conversation while Rob and I whispered, “what IS that?” to each other. 

watching for the beastie

~ intermission ~

Brief update:

We are all well, Cooper is laying down the miles and now that the weather has cooled, is more excited than either of us to start back up after every break.

The solar charger has proved to be a mild disappointment in Washington, and our days have been a bit longer (and slower) than in recent weeks. Cell service has been intermittent and weak.  Wah, Wah – excuses, excuses,  right? 

Like having a pacer in the last miles of a race, we have had a ton of love and support as we return to our favorite places to be, and I can’t bear to gloss over how much each trail visit has meant. 

So – while I collect our thoughts and try to get them into the written word, know that we are safe and well, we are preparing to say goodbye to PopTarts, and we are looking forward to a little less rain.  Thanks for following our journey this far, and we will post again soon! 

Day 119: mile 2262-2286

Aug 26

Today was the day! The day we got to cross through our favoritest of spots, The Goat Rocks. A brief summary as I will let the pictures do most of the talking:

Strolled up through a sloped meadow, walked the edge of a lovely bowl, crossed Cispus Pass then curled down into Cispus Basin. Saw a waterfall we both swear wasn’t there before. Hit a junction with one of the offshoots of the Snowgrass Flats trail and found……

Cooper’s Second Mommy!

Our first actual on-trail meet up let us share our favorite spot with our good friend, Leprechaun. She had camped the night before with a woman from Cascade Locks who told Leprechaun about seeing a bearded man carrying a furry dog across The Bridge of The Gods last week. Small world.

The four of us climbed up to Old Snowy, then down and across The Goat Rocks Ridge. We saw goats! Then we said our goodbyes (Leprechaun was returning the way she came), and frolicked through meadows and forests until it was time to go to bed in our top secret campsite. We later heard that Leprechaun ran into two of our favorite trail buddies, whom she knew from having been in Cascade Locks, yay!

Cooper was pumped in the morning


Out postpile is cooler than California’s

Heading towards Cispus Pass


Cispus Basin

old snowy summit

pct high point below old snowy

start of the epic ridge walk which is about 2.5 miles long

old snowy is the peak on the right

looking back on the goat rocks from the north

Day 117-118: mile 2206-2262

Aug 24 2206-2233

Today was exciting as soon as we woke up – our end destination was to be one of our favorite places, Horsehoe Meadows.
It continued t be quiet today – since crossing into Washington, we’ve seen about 5 other thru-hikers each day, losing one face, gaining another, mostly new faces. We think “the herd” left Cascade Locks the morning after we did, so the relative sense of solitude may be limited in the near future.
From the border to Road 23 (~5 miles before the end of today) was one of two PCT sections we hadn’t hiked in Washington. And we have confirmed our suspicions that it was because it wasn’t terribly exciting. Nice, pleasant, enjoyable, yes, but neither thrilling not particularly grand.
As we neared Road 23, we lamented that though Coppetone the Trail Magician mentioned he liked to stop at Road 23, we were pretty sure we would not see him again.

We found a small trail magic bin provided by the Buddhist Abbey of Trout Lake right near the road, and paused to share an apple and a V8. Just as we were packing up, Rob turned towards the road and said, “Hey! Look who just pulled up! It’s Coppertone!” 

We shared one last (?) float and good conversation with Coppetone before heading up onto the shoulder of Mt Adams.

It took us some time to get through our day’s final ascent due to an over-abundance of huckleberries. 

Our not-so-secret off-the-PCT camping spot was busy (with PCTA trail volunteers), but we found a quiet little spot to snuggle in for the night. Our rewards for getting this far were a glorious sunset and the promise of a beautiful sunrise, and Mt Adams keeping watch over us while we slept.

Aug 25: 2233-2262

The sunrise did not disappoint this morning, and the three of us were all excited and ready to hit the trail bright and early.

Having hiked this section more than once, we already knew beauty lay around every bend. After a few days of averagely pleasant hiking, it felt good to be “home.” Temps were cool and our feet felt good. It was a rock and roll kind of day.

By lunch we had enjoyed four of my personal favorite hiking spots in Washington: Horseshoe Meadows, Killen Creek, Beth’s Favorite PCT Sign Ever, and the spot where The Best Water on the PCT flows. My heart was full.

Then we had a small section of exposed trail and the sun glared. Cooper didn’t have fun for about a mile, then we turned back into the trees, making him (and us) happy again.

Then we were deep in the trees. Forever. Or at least that’s what it felt like after just making love to Adams with our eyes all morning.

Miles and miles of perfectly ripe huckleberries continued to slow us down, and then I had a “da-ding!” moment: on our first PCT section hike adventure in 2008 (or ’09?), this section was drizzly, grey, and we had no views. I remember saying, “thru-hiking would be dumb because this is awful for ten miles, what if you had this for ten days?” Hahaha! 

We closed out the day looking forward to more of our favorites – perhaps The Favorite of All The Favorites. 

In Cooper news: people often say that hiking with dogs leads to less wildlife sightings. We saw our first deer in about 809 miles today, and Cooper did not chase it. He is so grown up.

Day 114-116: mile 2144-2206

Aug 21: mile 2144-2154

Woke up to a smorgasbord breakfast with Tony and Jen and Susie (and Georgia and Cooper!). A lot of treats are to be had when you meet up with friends who have been living out of their van or truck for a week!

Slow packing was followed by a quick supplement run to the grocery store (PopTarts, duct tape, super glue, and trail mix), then into town for lunch.

Susie said her farwell after our picnic in the park and the rest of us drove back to the trail. Tony and Jen and Georgia were going to walk us across The Bridge of The Gods and into Washington. Jen and I later compared notes and agreed we had a similar preconceived vision of this wonderful, glorious crossing into Washinfton, with hugs and high fives and pictures and farewells.

Well, there is no pedestrian crossing on The Bridge of The Gods, it was a Sunday afternoon, and traffic was flowing. A hasty farewell was said as Rob and Cooper and I single-filed it into oncoming traffic, as advised by the nice till mistress. 20 feet into the bridge crossing, we realized it had metal decking, so Cooper got carried across like a big baby. It was pretty stressful, but Pretty Damn Rad to finally make that cross into the Land of Plenty. Thanks, friends, for a fab send off and for bringing us our Cooper.

Aug 22: 2154 – 2180

After the bridge yesterday, we hiked for a bit but ended a little earlier than planned. It was hot. And Beth and Cooper’s don’t like hot.
In a Washington miracle, we woke up to mist and damp tent! It was cold! Yay! 
We hiked. Cooper was a champ. We walked through an active logging area and saw a wicked-cool tree-eating machine. It was just a darn good day of darn good hiking. I wish I had something more to say about this day, but that pretty much covers it.

Aug 23 : 2180-2206

I think we hiked with The Beastie Boys today.

(Oh wait, I forgot in all about loving everyone out here…)

It was warm again today and we had some of the bigger elevation we’ve had in a while:6300′ up

Keeping in mind that we had a 30-mile day with a total of 1300′, that 6300′ kicked Beth’s butt. Rob was fine. 

We saw Mt Hood, Mt Adams, and Mt St HelensAnother nice day of good hiking, and we are all feeling strong. We love Washington!