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We started the day knowing we were just 60 miles away from the end. Somewhat last minute, we decided to push 27 miles all the way to Hart’s pass. Mostly because there were no other campsites. We didn’t really want to be pushing larger miles this close to the end because there wasn’t a reason to rush…right? Today’s hike was
It was a beautiful start to the morning with instant views of the cascades all around us. The smoke in the air limited the visibility, but didn’t ruin the majestic peaks and valleys for me. It was a really easy hiking day compared to the constant climb we did the day before.
By early afternoon we started to see small plumes of smoke north of us. This caused Tim quite a bit of anxiety, and definitely made me nervous. At this point we hadn’t gotten cell service or wifi for a week and didn’t have any updates about the status of fires in northern washington. As far as we knew, the only major concern in the area was the mudslide that closed 10 miles of road out of Hart’s pass but that we could deal with.
By later in the afternoon as we came within 10 miles of Hart’s pass we got a better view of the plumes: there were two significant large plumes of smoke north of us, two east/west of us. Knowing there was a ranger at Hart’s pass, Tim pushed quickly to the campsite while I lagged behind more slowly and at berries, knowing these might be my last few of the entire trail.
I finished the last 5 miles with Shaman, and we conversed easily about spirituality and hiking. We passed a sign that was updated today with a map of all the fires surrounding the trail and what trails had been closed. Miraculously, the PCT was still open, but every single side trail was closed by a different fire around us. That map had been updated today.
By this point, we were all just trying to stay positive, stay together, and stay vigilant. All of us at camp made a plan for the next day (that we had changed at least 5 times to this point): hike 27 miles to a campsite at a junction 3 out from the terminus, potentially drop packed and hike in and out to terminus tomorrow.
Knowing we may be hiking 33 miles, we all woke early the following morning.