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Today is Thursday, July 22, almost 8 AM, 15 miles to Troutlake, Washington. I am a little over 400 miles south of the Canadian border, which means just a little over one Appalachian Trail left between me and Mexico. That’s a lot.
The trail has changed completely since Snoqualmie pass last week. Toes, Squeegie, Moose, and myself split a room there, and were four of close to twenty southbounders! This community is perfect, for me.
We traded in the snow, blowdowns, and avalanche fields, for bugs, bugs, and more bugs. The trail is way easier to hike, and as long as you keep moving the mosquitoes are not too bad. Due to this, and the fire situation in Oregon and NorCal, and as always the knowledge that Winter is Coming to the Sierra’s, our daily mileage has changed drastically. We have been hiking closer to 25 miles a day lately, and all things considered I am feeling really good.
A typical day on the PCT starts around 4:45-5:00 when nature begins to call. I rummage around in my food bag and delay getting out of my tent until the situation is dire, then pack up my tent and start hiking. Lately, I have been boots on trail by 6 am. This is a miracle for me, but it happens naturally out here (as long as it isn’t freezing). I hike, eat, hike, filter water, take a pee break, switch layers, eat, hike, hike, hike, eat, hike, eat. This pattern continues until usually around 7 pm, but not even close to always. This depends on factors like how long it took me to get there, what time of day it actually is, how good the tent sites are, how close I am to town, and last and probably greatest my mood. Some days I wake up and I just want to hike 25 or 26 miles and push my body. Other days, I want to lay in my tent until 630, Start hiking at eight to only do 15 miles and stop at a super cool campsite. Fortunately, for the most part I have found a happy medium between the smiles in the miles. I think a huge part of that for me is realizing that the smiles are mostly coming from the people that I do the miles with. Knowing Toes is just a couple minutes behind or ahead to commiserate whenever I’m feeling low or celebrate when I’m feeling high often times makes all the difference. Going through the goat rocks wilderness may be my favorite part of the nature aspect of the trail so far. We hiked at the highest elevation we have yet, parting the masts that sometimes cried a vision of the magnificent views in every direction. We camped over 7000 feet, and as soon as I open my tent a little after five in the morning I can’t help but to look out at the sunrise and shout holy shit first thing in the morning. It was hard to leave that campsite despite the cold. For this section, every time I turn around I’m looking at either Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, or Mount Saint Helens. Truly, I hike in the presence of Giants. Despite their magnificence, I sometimes am still constantly surprised when I turn a corner of the trail and there she looms.
Today should be my last town stop in Washington. We are hoping for a quick in and out of town. We are manifesting a corner booth in a local diner with outlets to charge our electronics, all day breakfast menu so that we can have both breakfast and lunch while we sit there waiting for full batteries and Internet chores completed. My Solomons (shoes) have been practically destroyed in less time than it took for the toenail polish to fade from the pedicure I got right before leaving Tennessee. On the Appalachian Trail I could get about 700 miles from the shoes, and they just feel all around different this year, I am not sure what it is, but it is disappointing. You hear stories from tons of folks about having to switch shoes numerous time until they find something that works for them while walking up same distances caring backpacks, but luckily for me my first year I tried was the perfect Cinderella fit. I hope I do not have to start researching process over again. Hopefully I can find either A new pair of shoes to at least get me to Oregon in a week, or enough time, patience, and ingenuity to duck tape all the holes in my current pair efficiently enough to last 100 and something miles. We shall see.
Until next time,