Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Into Manning Park and beyond

It was cold at night. Not the coldest it has ever been so far, but cold enough. My sleep was as usual - not sound. But I'm used to it by now. When the alarm went off at 5:00 I was relieved to finally start my final day of hiking.
Last night I learned that the bus to Vancouver doesn't go through Making Park at 11:15, but instead goes by there at 10:10. So I needed an early start to get there even earlier than I thought.
I also forgot to do two things at the monument - I forgot to drop the stone I got at Big Bear, around mile 266, on the lowest time I had on the trail. I also forgot to have a photo by the monument with the letters I received from the 7th graders, in the care package Idan and I got from Helen. It was time to do those two things in the morning.
It was still completely dark outside, and the tent was damp. I didn't mind. I won't be sleeping in it anytime soon. I packed up quickly, because Lighthouse wanted to move out for his 30 miles day as fast as he can. We walked together to the monument, and got the photo with the letters. My camera decided it was the proper time to have no battery, so we used Lighthouse's phone instead. I also left the stone inside the monument.
We hugged and went our separate ways, and Lighthouse started his long journey back to Hart's Pass, while got back to the campsite to finish folding my wet tent and head out myself. I finally left camp at 6:00. Early enough.
My fingers got really cold at first, while I was hiking in the darkness with my headlamp. I held my hiking poles under my arm and put my hands in my pockets. That helped, though it slowed me down. Eventually it got a bit warmer, so I started hiking normally.
I found it strange that the signs still called this trail the pct. Right at the campsite where I slept, there was a sign with an arrow pointing south, to "Monument 78", and another arrow pointing north to the "PCT". The Canadians got it all wrong.
The Canadians got it backwards
The trail climbed up for a few miles, to the next campsite, and finally reached a dirt road and started the long descent down to the park. It was mostly an easy walk, and I got to the final section, of the paved road, just as Red Light got there. We walked together and reached the lodge at 8:45. Plenty of time before the bus comes.
We heard we needed to buy tickets for the bus online, so we hurried to the main building to get the Wi-Fi and to ask about it. We found out you can't buy tickets online so close to the arrival of the bus, and that we'd have to get on the bus, and pay at a later stop. OK. I did manage to sneak in a few Wi-Fi moments to send my wife a message I have finished the trail. That was the most important thing.
Idan walked into the lobby. He got here yesterday, and spent the night at the hostel. We both congratulated each other for the completion of our journey. I wanted to try and grab a quick shower at the hostel, so after asking around I went looking for it. I failed miserably, but a park employee stopped by with his car, and told me I could shower in the swimming pool for $5. He gave me a ride back to the lobby, and I finally got my shower. That was nice.
I still had 40 minutes left until the bus came, so I had the breakfast buffet at the restaurant. Eggs, hash browns and pancakes. I'm going to have to stop eating like this soon. The bus came around right on time, and I got on it, along with Idan, Darwin and Red Light. We had to leave an ID with the driver, until our next town stop, where we bought the tickets to Vancouver. Apparently, the Greyhound office over there is located inside a bowling alley.
After a long ride to Vancouver, a long wait at the bus station there, and another long ride to Seattle, I finally reached it at 22:15. It was tiring. Frank picked me up from the city, and into his and his wife’s Nancy house in Redwood, where I crashed for three nights. I later crashed for three more nights with Yulia, Dima and Nick in Bellevue, before finally taking off back to Israel on the 20th.
I toured around Seattle a bit in that week, just sight seeing the down town area on foot. I met up with Lighthouse for a couple of days, and also bumped into Rock Ocean, just as he was bringing in Ball Buster, Tick Tock, Slaughterhouse and Dewey from Hart’s Pass. We even had a short sailing in Elliot Bay.
Sailing in Elliot Bay
All in all I think I had plenty of relaxing time in Seattle to ease me back into society. I also had another week back home before getting back to work, so I currently don’t feel too weird or out of place back in the big city. In fact, I sometimes feel weird about how not weird it all is, like driving a car, or walking around Tel Aviv.
Back home after a very long trip

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 155 - Hart's Pass to Monument 78

What a long day it was.
We woke up at 5:30, and from then I tried not looking at the time. It was cold, but not nearly as child as yesterday's morning had been.
We left quickly, and filled our water at the small stream just north of Hart's Pass. Since we were not using the Halfmile app, we usually filled up whenever we came upon a stream. We knew we had enough water source throughout the day, so that 1 liter would be enough.
The trail was still chilly in the shade, and nice under the sun. We met many section hikers that told us we are "nearly there". They have been telling us that for two weeks. I was starting to disbelieve it.
We stopped for our second snack at a campsite just below what we thought was Woody Pass. Not using our apps and maps left us guessing. We thought this would be "the last climb", but apparently Woody Pass was the next pass, after some more serious climbing, and from there we still climbed about 1000 feet before finally starting our long down hill.
On the way down we meet Shrek, the trail angel from Cascade Locks, and later Legend. The were just sectioning this bit of trail, from Hart's Pass to the border, in five days. Shrek mentioned some switchbacks right before reaching the monument, and hiking down the trail, every step hurts the soles of my feet, I kept looking around for them.
We finally started hiking down the switchbacks, and saw some people standing around. We figured that was it, and I took Lighthouse's phone to make a video of him reaching the end, for the German Television documentary he will be on.
At the monument we meet Darwin, Shadow and Pollack. Shadow headed on later, to have an easier day into Manning Park tomorrow. Pollack came in from the park, waiting for his friends to finish the trail. He broke his foot down in Oregon a while ago. We both did our photo shoots, and sat around for a bit. We left to set up camp at the nearby campsite just when Red Light strolled in.
At the campsite we all had dinner together and had a nice chat, before going to sleep for the last time inside a tent, on an inflatable mattress, in child weather...
Tomorrow I'll have to get up even earlier than today, in order to do 8.6 miles before 10:10, when the bus leaves Manning Park. I hope I'll make or, but if not, no worries. I'll just spend the night there and do nothing.
The sun rises right on the top of that mountain
Just a little panorama
A view back to Holman Pass
Hopkins Lake
And... Almost done

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 154 - cs2603 to Hart's Pass

Wow, last night was cold! I ended up sleeping with two pairs of socks, and my hiking pants over my long johns. And my tent's inside was all covered in frost in the morning.
For the second time on the trail, I made hot oatmeal for breakfast, and we took our time packing up. My fingers and tires were still numb when we headed out, and only after about 20 minutes they felt good again.
After we got to the sunny side of the ridge, it was all very nice and pleasant. Most of today's trail wasn't too hard, except for one tough climb with many switchbacks in the middle of the day. From there it was easier ridge walking all the way into Hart's Pass.
We got here and met Rock Ocean. He is hanging around to make one final shuttle to Seattle, but chances are that he'll leave tomorrow, so it won't help Lighthouse. We also met Pod - a triple crowner from way back, who got around here to hike this section. They both started a fire, which helped when the cold started coming in after the sun came down. But so far it doesn't seem as child as yesterday, so I hope tomorrow morning will be better. Especially since we plan on waking up an hour earlier, at 5:30.
I thought about a special challenge for the last day - hiking with no knowledge of the time or checking out the trail apps and maps. I removed all the clocks from my phone. I will just walk on the trail as long as I can, and try not to take too many breaks until I reach the border. Lighthouse agreed to give it a shot as well.
A wide valley
Definitely getting closer (eh)
The sun was setting right behind that tree
Almost at Hart's Pass

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 153 - Stehekin to cs2603

We got up after a warm night, and went to the store to wait for the bus back to the trail. A few other hikers were around, getting breakfast at the restaurant. And I finally met Use It Up, who was also heading out to the trail with us. The others will probably leave later.
We had a short stop at the bakery on the way out, and I got another quiche, a cinnamon and pecan roll and a blueberry pie. Good breakfast. We also bought "power bagels", which are more like dense while wheat buns. We got most of our stuff from the "yesterday" shelf, but it was still good.
Out on the trail we met a load of hikers who were waiting for the bus in, like we did yesterday. I saw Cheese, Scorpion, Matt & Jerry, Buck-30 and Slaughterhouse. It was nice seeing them again, before the end.
On the trail, we still had plenty of climbs today. Nothing much in the views department. Just long ridge walks, and some forests.
The last 6 miles were all uphill, through Rainy Pass, which is the last highway the pct crosses, and over mile 2600, which wasn't marked anyway on the two. Or maybe I missed it.
We filled our water at the last water source according to Halfmile's app, and crossed many more little streams before we reached our campsite. There's also a little stream right here. Oh well.
The sun went behind some mountains several minutes after we started cooking dinner, and the temperatures dropped quickly. It's very cold in here now, and I'm wearing two pairs of socks and my puffy jacket to bed tonight. I hope the wine doesn't freeze on me.
A mushroom that resembles a golf ball
Another broken bridge over Bridge Creek
Passing through Rainy Pass

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 152 - Campsite near pct mile 2577 to Stehekin

It is always nice to hear the rain drops on my tent, while I am cozy and warm inside. Or wasn't even much of a rain, and there were no winds where we were.
We got up at 6:00, and the rain was all over. By the time we finished eating and packing, the skies were blue and clear of all rain clouds. It was going to be a very nice day.
We hiked the easy hour we had left, to High Bridge Ranger Station, and got there easily at 8:00. Sitting in the sun, we waited for the 9:00 shuttle down into Stehekin.
Lighthouse suddenly asked me if his permit to enter Canada is all he needed in order to actually cross the border. Well, checking his I noticed it is not signed. You are supposed to print it, fill it up and send it to some office in Canada. Lighthouse missed the sending it out bit. It seems he will have to hike back from the border to Harts Pass, instead of getting into Canada. That's 30 miles instead of 9. Bummer.
A somewhat stoned ranger came by and gave us some information about the ranch and landing area. We got more accurate and useful information from the bus driver, when it came.
She told us we can reserve dinner at the ranch, and that they will cover our shuttle fee from the landing to their place and back, so we did just that when we had a short break near the ranch.
Next came the bakery - I only bought a quiche, a cheese and mushroom croissant and a cinnamon roll. Lighthouse got at least three more things in there.
Then, we had a short break at the farm. We tasted the lahssi and cheese, but I ended up buying some cherry tomatoes and a nectarine. They were both delicious.
We finally reached the Stehekin landing at about 10:00. After picking our packages from the post office, we got our free permit for the campsite and set our tents. Lighthouse's package wasn't very good, and he needed some extra food that he luckily found at the store's hiker box later.
We went back to the store in the afternoon, and I wanted to buy some wine to carry with me to the border. I picked a 0.5 liter boxed wine from the fridge and bought it, but later Lighthouse told me it was white wine, and I wanted a red. I asked the lady at the store if they have any red, and she said they just ran out on those. But then she offered me a 3 liter box they got by mistake. She offered it to me at twice the price of the 0.5 liter box, and gave me a bottle of water for free, so I can fill it up and carry out only 0.5 liter anyway. Now I just had to find somebody to help me drink the remaining 2.5 liters.
Lighthouse was not drinking alcohol, and Banjo was not into wine. A bit later we saw the Canadian brothers, Luke and Justin, come around, but they weren't into it as well. Luckily, the bus also brought over Tick Tock, Dewey, Ball Buster and Sizzler, and they helped a bit. At the end I gave the remaining wine to Amy, who worked at the store, and earlier had given us loads of ramen noodles and a bottle of coke.
It was just then, that I made the best decision I had ever made on the trail - I went back to my tent to drop off the wine and some other stuff, before we go to dinner. It was only a 2 minute walk, but on the way back to the store I finally saw bears! I saw a big one, probably a momma bear, carrying a fish between her teeth right next to a house on the lake's beach, and two bear cubs taking her. They went behind the house and crossed the road ahead of me, and then climbed up through the forest on the other side. The people in the house also saw them. It was awesome. I'm so happy I finally saw bears on the pct.
Lighthouse and I almost missed our bus to the dinner at the ranch, but the bus driver came over and called us. Dinner was tasty enough, and I was full afterwards. But apparently the price didn't include the ride back, so we had to pay for that also on the bill, which was annoying. At least they had Wi-Fi at the ranch, and I got to send some messages back home.
Back at the landing, we talked with Ball Buster some more before going to sleep. All the other hikers are camped at the spill over campsite near the visitor center, and only us two are at the normal site.
The sea plane taking of Chelan Lake
Justin, Sizzler and Ball Buster
Tick Tock, Lighthouse, Banjo, Luke and Dewey
Lighthouse playing with the auto blur feature on his camera phone
Lighthouse and Banjo. And 3 liters of wine.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day 151 - Campsite near pct mile 2551 to campsite near pct mile 2577

After a surprisingly warm night, we started to pack out when Banjo passed us. He was trying to go all the way to High Bridge, 28 miles further. If he'd get there by 18:00, he will be able to get the shuttle into Stehekin. If not, he'd camp there until tomorrow morning.
We left camp at 7:20, and immediately saw a much better campsite less than a mile away. Oh well. The trail started with a climb of about 2000 feet, and later another shorter climb.
From that point, though, it was mostly easy down hill for the rest of the day. We hiked down the valley, and then just followed the South Fork Agnus Creek down and down.
We wanted to get as close as we can to High Bridge, so we can easily get there tomorrow in time for the 9:00 shuttle. Taking a break at the campsite in Swamp Creek, we filled some water and headed out to do about 5 more miles.
Lighthouse took the lead and hiked fast. We headed out at 16:00, and wanted to hike until about 17:30. He decided he'd make the most of it and really hurried. I tried keeping up for the first hour, but afterwards have up and just kept hiking at my usual pace. He'd stop somewhere eventually, and I'll get there at the end.
He stopped just under 3 miles from the bridge, right near a little stream, with a small flat spot where we can squeeze in both of our tents. Tomorrow morning we'll just walk the remaining distance and get into Stehekin for a long day of rest before the final push.
Another broken bridge

Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 150 - Glacier Creek to campsite near pct mile 2551

Wow. The third hard day in a row. Today we've hiked almost as much as yesterday, with almost as much climbing, and much more down hill. It was tiring.
In the beginning of the day we had a climb up to Fire Creek Pass, and then started hiking down, stopping for a nice break at Mica Lake. The trail went further down, all the way to Milk Creek before starting a brutal climb of 2500 feet.
We had another break up on the chilly ridge. I double checked the food I have left, and discovered I have an extra Clif Bar, and two extra oatmeal packets. One packet was eaten on the spot.
The trail down started horribly, with a narrow path, which was a bit lower than the surrounding shrubs. My shoes kept bumping into each other, and the trail itself wasn't flat, which made for even harder walking. I was cursing the switchbacks down with every step, until we finally got back into the woods, and the two got better.
It didn't get much better with all the fallen trees we had to hike over or around. But we made it.
We had another short stop just by Vista Creek, after the down hill was mostly over, and then continued on some easy trail towards the Suiattle River. Once there, we crossed the bridge, and had a look at the campsite in the middle of two noisy streams. Seems like it'll be hard to camp there. We were aiming at a spot about 1.5 miles further.
While hiking on, and again climbing up, I was trying to recall if that spot was a campsite, or just a water source on Halfmile's app. It was just a water source - a stream of water flowing down the ridge. We filled up and went ahead to try and find a campsite for the night.
Luckily, after less than 0.5 miles we found a reasonable spot, and set camp. Lighthouse have me an extra dinner he had, so I had my usual Knorr meal, and a dinner of Mac & Cheese as well. I gave him two extra tortillas I suddenly discovered I had.
We saw a southbounder just before dark. He was flip flopping, not sure from where, and was heading down to the Suiattle River for the night.
Mica Lake
I don't know what it means
That was a big tree stump
True bridge over the Suiattle River

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day 149 - wacs2498 to Glacier Creek

This is definitely the hardest section in Washington. The original plan today was to complete the two miles we didn't do yesterday, and then do about 23 more, with a lot of climbing in between.
Most climbs today weren't as steep as yesterday's, but they were still "up". The weather was excellent, and we met many weekend hikers, including two hunters out looking for a bear. I am on the bear's side.
We met Two Bad Dogs, a couple who hiked the trail last year, and got snowed in around here in mid September. They ended up taking an alternate that got them to the Canadian border, but not at the official PCT monument. So this year they came back to stitch up some sections they had to walk around last year, and to hike again some sections they did not get to see at all, while hiking through them in blizzards and snow last time.
We finally reached our original destination at 16:20, a muddy creek with a broken bridge over it. Lighthouse was talking about doing 2 more miles for a while, even though they were all climbing up. We figured we can do it, and push a bit more on the next couple of days, in order to get to the Stehekin shuttle by 9:15. So we climbed these 1500 feet at the end of day. It wasn't fun.
We found an OK campsite just before Glacier Creek, and settled in for the night. I'm laying a bit slanted now, but I only have to sleep here for one night, so I don't care.
2500 miles down
Itsy bitsy spider
And a marmot stalking us
Lighthouse stretching
The broken bridge

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day 148 - Stevens Pass to wacs2498

That was a long and hard day.
After getting up and getting my stuff packed at the Dinsmores, I went to the restaurant across the tracks with everyone else. I got the breakfast burrito, like Copper Tone recommend yesterday. It took a long time for the food to finally get to the table, though, and by the time we got back to the hostel it was already 10:00.
In the mean time Mrs Dinsmore got everyone rides back to the trail. I got a ride with her, along with Lighthouse and Slacker. We finally reached the pass at 11:00, said our goodbyes to Copper Tone, which won't be waiting at the next road crossing in Rainy Pass, and Lighthouse and I headed out.
The trail started deceptively easy, but after about a mile the climbing started. I think we have made about three big climbs today, each was pretty steep at times.
We kept running into day hikers, and Lighthouse was too nice to them, so they all chatted for too long. We also ran into a trail maintenance crew that have us tiny whiskey bottles and fresh apples. I was talking to one of them who plans to thru hike the trail next year. Hope he manages to get it rolling.
More ups and downs later, we figured out we will not be making the planned 24 miles, after such a late start. But there was a campsite about 2.5 before we can stop at.
At about 17:00 we started the final 4 mile stretch to there, with quite a climb, and then a long downhill to the creek. The only good think were all the blueberries along the trail, even though they slowed us down.
Right before reaching camp, Seamstress caught up to us. We got here together. It's s very nice, clear grassy spot, next to a flowing stream.
Glacier Peak
Just a bit of trail

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 147 - Campsite near pct mile 2452 to Stevens Pass

I got up at 6:30, and already almost everyone else was gone. Banjo was still inside his hammock when I left an hour later.
The trail had nice ups and downs today. Some of the ups had a bit of steep switchbacks, bit most of the times they ended quickly. The weather was great, and the views were very good. We got a glimpse of Glacier Peak, which we'd see more on the coming days.
I made a short break up on Piper Pass, and then headed down. I was surprised to see Banjo down in the valley. Apparently he took a wrong turn somewhere, and then walked down a big stone pile down to the valley.
I carried on, climbing another steep pass, and caught up with Tick Tock, Dewey and Ball Buster. I stopped for lunch and they left, and then Banjo came along. We hiked the rest of the day together.
About 2 miles before the highway we caught everyone again, along with Slacker. Down at parking area we had our final encounter with Copper Tone, and I got ice cream.
Hitching down to Skykomish was a pain. At the end a couple of section hikers we met earlier on the trailer went out of their way and took us down, and we met up with the others at the Cascadia Inn diner for dinner.
Another hitch into Baring finally got us to the Dinsmores, where we've met a lot of other hikers. Cheese is here - I haven't seen him since Tehachapi, and Elijah, which I probably last seen in Idlewild. Lighthouse is here - he managed to get his sleeping mat, luckily.
Is that Glacier Peak?
Trying to hitch down from Stevens Pass, with Banjo and Slacker
A healthy dinner at the Cascadia Inn
Don't get too excited. I'm just wearing loaner clothes while doing laundry.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Day 146 - Lemah Meadow to campsite near pct mile 2452

I don't really know why I did such a long day. I had my plan all laid out to finish my hike at the 15th, and that plan included an easy day today, a bit harder tomorrow, and then only 5 miles into highway 20 and a day of resting at the Dinsmores.
Instead, I did a really long day today, just so I can get to the highway tomorrow after noon, sleep at the Dinsmores and head out on the next day. So I'll be done one day earlier, I guess.
The morning was really cold, and my tent was damp inside. I dried as much as I could with the towel, and started hiking with Lighthouse at 7:30. We had a climb ahead of us first thing in the morning, and our feet and palms were frozen. But after some hiking we warmed up.
The skies were finally clear, and on top of the ridge we got some sun. We had a nice breakfast break, and Lighthouse dried his stuff in the sunlight. I was too lazy to spread my tent.
We hiked on, covering another 7 miles. Lighthouse was planning on making an even bigger day than me, so he can sort out some business he has in Seattle. So he just had a short break and headed out. Banjo caught up to us, and I hiked the second half of the day with him.
Climbing up from Waptus River we met some southbounders that Banjo knew from Oregon. They flip flopped from Sisters up to the border and started hiking south. We learned from them that the spot we were hoping to camp at didn't have any good sites, but a bit further on we can find some. Oh well.
We hiked on and over another ridge, and reached Deep Lake. That was the spot I originally planned on staying on. Sizzler will be coming here tonight, since he needs to get to Skykomish only on Saturday morning, to get his package from the post office. We had some 7 more miles to do.
Another climb up a ridge, near Cathedral Rock, and then a long hike down to fording a creek that goes into Hyas Lake. We filled our water there, and started climbing up, looking for a spot to camp.
We found a half decent site about 0.7 miles later. I managed to set my tent on a not too slanted spot, and Banjo hung his hammock between two trees.
After we both finished dinner, other hikers started appearing. We were very surprised, since we have hiked almost 30 miles to get here, but Dewey, Tick Tock and Ball Buster came from the alternate, which means they did a bit less than us. What really surprised us was that Seamstress did hike the official pct, and did about 35 miles today. Crazy.
Cathedral Rock
Creek fording. We remained dry.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 145 - Snoqualamie Pass to Lemah Meadow

After a very good night's sleep, I got up at 6:00 and packed my stuff. Dima was up as well, and was ready to get me back up to the trail by 7:00.
I said goodbye to Yulia and Nick, and we started our drive to the pass. The weather was grim and cold outside, and as we neared the pass it was also raining a bit. We got to the pass at 8:00, and it was not raining there, but set me like it might at any moment. I said goodbye to Dima and thanked him. I am sure getting up at 6:00 and driving for two hours in the morning was not his favorite pass time, so thanks again for the going out of your way to help me.
At the pass, I met Lighthouse. We went over to the diner and met a lot of other hikers who zeroed at the pass, or came in last night. Nobody was rushing out in this miserable weather.
After a short while we went out, at around 8:45. The climb started immediately on the other side of the interstate. We had half of our daily climb, about 3000 feet, in the first 7 miles. We were a bit slow getting there, but with the cold weather and the fog we only made a short snack stop there. We couldn't see any views so far.
Hiking further on, we had an 11 miles of waterless stretch. Only there was water everywhere, gushing out on every little creek. I'm sure yesterday's rains helped a bit.
We ran into Sizzler, who started hiking from the pass at about 8:00. We were talking about how far we'd go today - there is a campsite 21 miles from the pass, which is a bit too close, and another at 28 miles, after another tough climb. That's a bit too far and hard. In between - the steep climb which probably didn't offer any camp spots. We agreed we'd aim for a short day.
Lighthouse and I were still hiking not too fast, but we didn't care on such a short day. The day started clearing a bit, and we got some nice views, for a change. We also met some hikers doing short sections, mostly trying to get their gear dry from yesterday's storm.
Near the end of the day, we crossed Lemah Creek, which once had a bridge that was washed off recently. We just went through the water with it shoes. I how they'll dry tomorrow. Shortly after we reached a big campsite, and set up our tents and made dinner.
After a while Sizzler and Banjo came over as well. I thought more hikers will come around. Maybe a few took the shorter alternate, that also goes by some hot springs.
Lighthouse and I enjoy the views
The bridge is gone. We had to ford through the water.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day 144 - zero day in Bellevue

Today I had a long day of rest and relaxation. Just what I needed before I had out to the cold.
The plan was to get a ride back up to Snoqualamie Pass tonight, but my generous hosts, Yulia and Dima, offered to take me up there tomorrow morning. So it was a full zero down in Bellevue.
During the day I mostly just used Yulia's computer to update my blog, downloaded new music to my phone, copied "Three Men In A Boat" audio book and a lecture series titled "How to Listen and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition". I always wanted that elusive 3rd edition...
I only left the house once, just to get my tortillas, bagels and cheese for the next section. Apart from that I did nothing, except relaxing and eating. And that felt good.
I even had a nap in the afternoon, while outside a loud thunderstorm was making noise. Seems like a good day to zero in.
After dinner I tasted some strengthen wine, I think it was called Marcella, And retired to sleep early for a change. Tomorrow it should clear up a bit. Just in time for my hike onwards.
Onyx. Such a cute cat

Monday, September 1, 2014

Day 143 - wa2379 to Snoqualmie Pass

Dew on some mushrooms
Lizard Lake
Snoqualamie Pass
I woke up in the middle night, and heard some noises coming from the direction of the spring. It sounded a bit like an animal barking. Sizzler later told me it might have been coyotes. Maybe. It was strange. I kept trying to figure out if the barks are getting closer to my tent, and getting ready to go outside and make some noise to scare them away. But they remained far off at the spring, and I drowsed back to sleep.
In the morning, I yet again snoozed my alarm clock from 6:00 to 6:30. I did notice that my tent was covered in dew, inside and out, so I was dreaming about wiping off the water with my towel, in those last 30 minutes. When I finally got up, I did just that - the best use I have found for my camp towel, no doubt.
Heading out, I was happy to see the fog lift, and get some actual sunshine. I made a snack stop under some power lines, in the morning sun. I also got some good cell reception and called home. A good way to start my day.
I passed a section hiker a bit later on. At first I just said "hello" and moved on, but I stopped to take a photo of a big collection of mushrooms near the trail, and he caught up to me and started talking to me. It took a while before I managed to get away and keep on marching fast towards Snoqualamie Pass.
I met Sizzler just at a nice little waterfall, as he was heading out. I sat there and had my 2nd Clif Bar. I had another bar and a bagel left for the rest of the day, but I figured out I would be able to eat something as soon as I get to the pass, so I wolfed down the last Clif Bar on the spot, as well. The bagel will do for the rest of the day.
Further on, I passed Sizzler again, and had some steep climbs around the watershed area, the brings water to Seattle. I started seeing many day hikers, that came in from a dirt road a bit up the trail. Sizzler and I kept leap frogging each other, until we reached some creek where we planned to take a break. I had my final bagel, and was literally left with no food in my backpack. not even a single m.
Hiking on, a couple of day hikers were walking along with Sizzler and chatting with him. I hiked with them a few minutes, before increasing the pace and  moving faster. Just before Ollalie creek there were tons of huckleberries along the trail. I finally stopped and each a bunch, and also tried collecting some in a ziplock, to bring with me down to Bellvue.
I started hearing the noises of the I-90, a bit like a rolling river, from afar. After a short walk along a dirt road, I could actually see the interstate from above. But it was still 4 miles away on the trail. And the trail actually climbed up, where we all knew it should just get down to the road!
After hiking along a little pond, I was happy to see the Snoqualamie Pass Lodge, and the entire rest area, from above. I kept on hiking on the trail, and did not take the shortcut route down along the ski slope, just because I'm anal like this. But it was a good thing - as I was nearing the road to the Chevron store, I saw a man standing and smoking by his car. As I moved closer, he asked me if I was a PCT hiker, and I replied that I was. He then asked me if I am Noam, which took me by surprise. I thought that I'd get to the pass at around 16:00 (which was, indeed, the time), and then I'll call Yulia, and her husband, Dima, would drive up here and pick me up in the evening. I didn't think he'd be waiting for me here. Good thing I arrived just on time.
We drove over to the Chevron, to pick up my package, and I said hello to all the hikers hanging around - Juneau, Rimshot & Kit, Luna, Slaughterhouse, Sizzler, Banjo, and probably some more I didn't notice, and then started the drive down to Bellvue.
It wasn't a short drive, and it was at the end of Labor Day Weekend, but luckily, the bad weather had probably scared away many of the weekend hikers, so the roads were all clear on the way down. We stopped at a park in Bellvue, and picked up Yulia and Nick. It was strange finally meeting Yulia. She said she checked, and we have "met" online about 15 years ago. It was in the days when the internet was made out of gray pages, and we were both frequenting "The David Bowie Page" (later renamed to TeenageWildlife) and writing on the Guest Book there. Ancient history.
Yulia made some great falafel, and I had it in a pita. mm... I love falafel. We stayed and talked until real people midnight, which is much later than hiker midnight, and it was very nice.