No Sleep ‘Til Ashland

Please excuse the brevity. The new WordPress app ate this entire post, except for the title. I have but a few minutes to recreate it before we head out on trail.

Leaving Cascade Locks via the Eagle Creek Trail.



Tunnel Falls.

Day 172 – 15 / 2,237 (2,125)

The best view we’ve had of the Cascades, better than when we hiked through in late August and early September.


(l-r): Mt St Helens; Mt Rainier; Mt Adams

Then a mile later, Mt Hood.

Then a tricky log crossing. A sound of metal clanging turned out to be Jen’s titanium mug as it bounced off the tree and into the raging water below. Our stove was in the mug.

More tricky water crossings, then a glorious sunset on Mt Hood.

Day 173 – 21 / 2,352 (2,104)

An all-morning climb to Timberline Lodge, where we planned on having lunch.

Knowing that the Lodge is one of my favorite hotels, featured in the film The Shining, Jen snuck down to the lobby and negotiated a great deal on a room for the night. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it worked out well and didn’t put us too far behind.

Plus, with much less climbing in the week ahead, we could slowly regain the miles we “lost”.

(why do I get a sense of foreboding as I typed that?)

Day 174 – 10 / 2,362 (2,094)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:

Canada! Now Oregon

Overnight, the clouds that threatened rain passed over with just occasional light sprinkles.

The alarm went off at 6am.  By 605am it started raining.  In ernest.  We had a few hours until we had to meet our friend at the border, so we didn’t rush to break camp.

It rained the entire time, ensuring we packed away wet gear.

Just 10 minutes down the trail, it quit raining.

Just our luck.

Soon we were at the border.  The end of the official PCT.  The northern terminus.

A cause for celebration, but we still have over 400 miles to go as we finish Oregon.

Soon after, our Canadian friend arrived from Manning Park, some 9 miles distant and the end of the extension of the PCT into Canada.

After hugs and getting caught up, he opened his pack and broke out a brilliant picnic lunch – Stiegel radlers (a favorite Austrian wheat beer with grapefruit juice); sandwiches of hard salami, cheese and mustard; stuffed olives; smoked gouda and sliced cantaloupe.

Pure brilliance.

After lunch, he led the way to the  Manning Park trailhead, where we hopped in his car and headed home.  This portion of the trail was done.

And we beat winter, which was the whole purpose of skipping Oregon to get Washington done.

For those of you wondering where the customary pictures of us at the northern terminus monument are, you will have to wait.  We won’t post those until we have actually completed the trail.

Until then, we’re going to relax a few days here in Canada, then head back to Oregon so we can complete that section of the trail.

Day 167 – 4 (+9) / 2,222 (2,650 + 9)

Two Zeroes in Penticton, British Columbia, then a drive to Cascade Locks, Oregon, then a Zero to plan our resupply through Oregon, buy food and get ready to head south.

Getting the true Canadian experience with a third breakfast stop at a Tim Hortons food truck.  Donuts and coffee. Pic courtesy of Don Smith.


Day 168 thru 171 – 0 / 2,222

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:

No Sleep ‘Til Canada

We had a long but gradual climb that would take almost all day, have us cross Rainy Pass (the last paved road we would cross until Canada), then entry back into the high Cascades.




By mid-afternoon it was obvious that I still hadn’t recovered from whatever ailed me the previous week.  Although the 12 miles of climbing was not tough climbing, it took its toll on me and instead of a planned 23 miles, we called it short.

We knew we would pay for that decision later.

Day 164 – 17 / 2,170 (2,598)

We woke up to heavy frost and a few new holes in our food bags.

The little bears made a return overnight.  Again, luckily nothing critical was nibbled on.

Our view from camp right after sunrise.


A short climb, a long descent, a long ascent, a long ridgeline traverse and a short descent into camp at Hart’s Pass, the last road of any sort we would see until we were well into Canada.

The landscape through this stretch was stunning.  We were glad to have the views, knowing that a new storm was approaching and we would likely be in clouds and rain again.

This landscape was dominated by Western Larch, or Tamarack, a conifer that is actually deciduous, with its needles turning in autumn and then dropping.  It’s a beautiful tree.



Jen taking it all in.


Day 165 – 22 / 2,192 (2,620)

From Hart’s Pass, the Canadian Border was in reach, just 30 trail miles away.  For us it wasn’t reachable in one day, but very comfortably in two.

Except we had a planned meeting with a Canadian friend at the border for mid-morning the next day.  That compressed our schedule a bit.

So we cranked out our most epic trail day yet.  Heck, even if we turn out a higher mileage day in Oregon, it won’t have the vertical that this day had, so this will probably stand as our most epic.


With clouds threatening rain, and rain showers visible on the horizon as the sun set, we pushed past our planned campsite to another one an hour past.  That meant we had an hour to push past sunset, but it would get us an hour closer to the border, which also meant we could wake up at our normal time instead of waking up an hour early.  That was a trade we were both willing to make.

The data:  26.89 miles, just .10 shy of our 26.99 headed into Seiad Valley. However, today was +5,500’/-6,200′, where the push into Seiad Valley was a much crusier +3,100’/-7,900′.

Day 166 – 26 / 2,218 (2,646)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:

Bear With Us

With tent spaces below the bridge crossing the Suiattle River, someone had a bit of fun.


Soon after crossing the river, we came to the Suiattle Road trail junction. Just a few weeks ago this junction was the virtual border for thru-hikers, as the trail was closed north of there. While there were some open sections, the effort required to connect them just didn’t make sense.  So hikers called it at the junction.

Some five miles up the trail, we met one of those hikers. Once the trail reopened, he started at the northern terminus and was headed south to connect with the Suiattle Trail.  He was just five miles from completing his thru-hike and was quite excited.

Understandably so.

For us, another day of climbing and rain.  Lots of rain.  And when the rain stopped, the car wash.  Sections of the trail were overgrown with the typical annuals like ferns. These plants grow and stretch across the trail and when they are wet, we get soaked. So it’s like walking through a car wash.

We had a late arrival into camp, over an hour after sunset.  We found our spot, started setting up and noticed the little bears.  A bunch of mice were excited at our arrival.  It’s almost as if they set up a conga line, ready to feast.

We hadn’t had any issues with the mice yet, although here in Washington they are supposed to be quite bad.

We heard some rustling overnight and they finally did breach a food bag.  Luckily they only got an energy bar that Jen didn’t like anyway.

Day 161 – 22 / 2,132 (2,560)


An early start so we could meet a noon-time shuttle into the town of Stehekin. It’s a remote town, accessible only by foot, ferry or float plane.



The PCT enters the valley some 11 miles from town, but luckily a bus operates four times a day to get us back and forth.

We had to overnight since the post office wouldn’t open until Monday morning. Luckily the lodge had room and we were able to shower, do laundry and eat real food.

A beer or two may have been harmed in the process

Day 162 – 9 / 2,141 (2,569)

After collecting our resupply and repacking, we were on the noon-time bus back to the trail. As is typical on resupply days, we had to climb back out which slowed us down and we didn’t make it as far as we had hoped.  But we ended up in a camp with a couple of other hikers, Sodwinder and Nominal Toast.  We had good dinnertime conversation then headed off to our respective tents for the night.

The first time we had spied the moon in many weeks.


I was sitting in my seat on the train.  The engineer released some steam and we lurched forward as we departed that station.

It was right about then I became aware that Jen was shaking me awake.  I heard her ask “is that a bear?”.

That’s when I realized that the steam in my dream was actually a bear sniffing under the bottom edge of our tent.  Silly bear, the whole side of the tent on my side was open and s/he could have crawled right in.

“Yep” was my response.  We listened for a moment and realized it was very insistent on nudging into the tent.  I had sleep to get back to, so I told it to go away.

It did. In a huff.  Stomping its feet.

I went back to sleep.

Apparently Jen did not.  A little while later she shook me again. “It’s coming back”.  Based on the sniffs and footfalls, it was.

But it didn’t hang around. So we got more sleep.

Neither Sodwinder nor Nominal Toast recalled a visit, although Toast did hear twigs snapping in the night, which Jen confirmed was the bear’s initial approach.

Luckily no food or equipment was harmed in the process.

Day 163 – 12 / 2,153 (2,581)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:

Back In the Saddle

As mentioned in the last post, I woke up at 9am.  Jen fed me a bit of oatmeal, which set the stomach to flip-flopping again.  So I crawled back in the bag for a nap.

Once I woke up again, we started talking options.  We had to get to Stehekin by Saturday morning in order to pick up our resupply box that would get us to Canada. By this time it was mid-day Wednesday and we had 70 miles to go just to catch the shuttle to town.  That meant that we had to wait until Monday to collect our package.

Luckily, that meant some of the pressure was off, but it also meant a later arrival in Canada. We’ve already had enough of winter on this trip and every day we delay arrival increases our chances of seeing more of it.

Another factor was another storm forecast for Thursday. We were on an exposed ridgeline above 6,000′, with a climb ahead of us before we could descend.  Not exactly where we wanted to be if we decided to stay put for the day. 

Plus, any miles we got in today cut down the daily average we needed to cover through Sunday to get to town.

So we broke camp and moved up the trail.


Although we were moving, I was recovering from whatever ailed me the day before.

The scenery helped.


Autumn foliage in Glacier Peak Wilderness.


Silty glacial runoff.


Lots of fungi in this rain forest.  Not to mention molds.  Both get us to thinking about those classic ’50’s horror flicks.

Needless to say, we don’t poke or disturb them.


Jen demonstrating her short girl tree hurdle.  We are doing a lot more of this than we should be in this Wilderness.


We kept at it until we got to our goal campsite at the bottom of the next valley.  At least we would be warmer when the rumored storm arrived.

A bit more food to try to improve on my meager 1,200 calories for the day, then it was off to sleep.

The sprinkles began after midnight.

**For those trying to guess my ailment, your first guess, giardia, would be incorrect. Our first guess, a hygiene slip, might be incorrect.  At no time did I present any of the toilet issues that would indicate those ailments (except one singular system-clearing event 48 hours after the first problems appeared).  Just the nausea and fever.

Day 158 – 9 / 2,080 (2,508)

The overnight storm never materialized.  Just sprinkles for a few hours.

We woke up slowly, letting me feel things out.  No more nausea with breakfast, just a bit of stomach tightness afterwards.

Right away we decided that this would be a short recovery day.  Our campsite options were at manageable 10 miles or a big stretch of 18 miles with a 3,000′ climb in the last 4 miles.  Easy choice.

Plus, if I felt better, I could start to eat more to help with the recovery.

But of course, we had rain. And water.


Then there was this guy, guardian of the trail.

You haven’t lived until you’ve been bluff charged by the 15 lbs of fury known as a marmot.

He turned once we started laughing.

Good thing he didn’t ask us our favorite colors.


Fire Creek, Glacier Peak Wilderness. Yes, it is really this color.


Our destination for the night was Mica Lake, a glacier-fed lake.  This was the glacier, with a small collecting pool below.  It then flowed downhill, then down a cliff before filling the basin that is Mica Lake.


It was cloudy so we didn’t get the full color, but every hiker that went by agreed that it was the best lake along the trail in Washington.


Day 159 – 10 / 2,090 (2,518)

Not a lot to report on this day.  We got moving, had a significant descent into a river valley which earned us a significant ascent up the other side.

A cloudy, cool traverse across ridgelines and glacial moraines, then a long descent into camp well after dark.

But this did happen.


Only 550 (+9) miles to go!

Day 160 – 20 / 2,110 (2,538)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:


After arriving at Stevens Pass the afternoon before and being shuttled to North Seattle by Spectrum, we were able to resupply and repair some equipment.  But the best part was the evening and morning with Spectrum and his lovely bride.

When we left Seattle after lunch at Spectrum’s favorite local burger joint, it was raining quite steadily. Luckily, as we drove out to Stevens Pass we climbed above the rain and just had cloudy skies to contend with.

By mid-afternoon we were back on trail.  A gentle climb let us ease into the day.  Tha rarely happens when we have packs heavy with resupply.

A few miles in we passed Lake Valhalla.


But soon it was getting dark,so we pitched camp and called it a night.

Day 155 – 11 / 2,045 (2,473)

We awoke to still cloudy skies, but a bit cooler temperatures.  We were feeling good and tackled the climbs.

If you’ll recall, in the last post I mentioned that the trail in Washington was like sawteeth.  Today was typical, with 6,000′ of elevation gain and 4,700′ of loss in the 20 miles.

Those that like pushing big miles here like to boast of 8,100’+ days, but that won’t be us.

During the afternoon the clouds built around us, shaping some excellent light around us.


But then they started dropping ice pellets on us, then rain and eventually a mix of rain and snow as we climbed into the tent to sleep.

Day 156 – 20 / 2,065 (2,493)

Our campsite the next morning.


That was fine, but to throw a wrench in the works I started having gastrointestinal issues before breakfast. I didn’t think too much of it,  not realizing how it would shape the rest of our approach to Canada.


After a wet morning on trail where it took me three hours to get five miles, Jen spotted a meadow in sunlight and suggested that we lay our stuff out to dry.  Soon the tent was up and all of the wet gear was sprawled across the grass.  That included me.


Thanks to Bedrock Sandles for helping me dry my feet out.

Lying there in the sun felt good, but I was feeling worse.  The only adequate tent site was already occupied, so we had to head up trail.


By 4:30 pm I was in my sleeping bag, wearing every stitch of clothing I had, down jacket, gloves and wool cap included. Even with that I was shivering constantly as other hikers passed by wearing just shorts and t-shirts.

Jen had to wake me up a few times to try to get me to eat and drink warm things.  Luckily I was able to keep them down.

I was going to sleep until 9am the next morning, except for when the fever broke sometime around 2am.

The stars sure were beautiful.

Day 157 – 6 / 2,071 (2,499)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:

Put a Little Boogie in It

That’s what this whole section felt like.  Walking on a saw blade.

The elevations aren’t very high like the Sierra, topping off at only 6,400′ or so.  But each day is a day of tough elevation gains and losses.

If you’ve paid attention to the numbers at the bottom of each day, you’ll recall that we were consistently hitting 24-26 miles per day in northern California before we skipped up to Washington. Here an 18 mile day is a tough day for us.  A 19’er feels epic.

But we keep at it.

So things like this happen.


That’s our quickly scratched marker to signify that we passed 2,000 miles on this hike.

It’s not as fancy as the usual ones every hundred miles that someone has done, but it works.

Day 152 – 19 / 2,003 (2,431)

More sawtooth. Plus a day of water crossings.



Late in the day we ran into an older couple that warned of us a wasp nest on the climb few miles ahead.  Something to look forward to.

Late afternoon, we arrived at a stream next to a campsite and called it a day. Our intended campsite was just another two miles or so, but at the top of a very steep climb that gained 700′ in half a mile.  We did the math and figured we’d limp in to the campsite after dark.  That assumed that there was space, since there was room for only 2 tents.  If not, the next campsite was 5 miles after.

Not to mention the wasp nest on the top of the climb.  We didn’t want to run across that in the dark.

So we had a relaxing evening after a tough 16 miles.

Day 153 – 16 / 2,019 (2,447)

“How do you make a hankie dance?
You put a little boogie in it”.

Old boy was slightly mistaken in his details about the wasp nest.  He said it was the third switchback (of 20) from the top.

As soon as I turned the second switchback from the bottom, I saw the log that gave me a funny feeling.  A few steps later, the hot poker in the calf.  I yelled at Jen to run.

From her point of view, I started dancing a jig next to a rock about 10 feet in front of her.

I turned back to look at her standing there, considering how to run past a rock.  With the nest at her feet.  I yelled “run” again, just at the time she had a little bit of boogie put in her.

She had made it this far in life without the experience of a wasp sting.  Now she knows.

As we got closer to Stevens Pass and the section and day hikers became more plentiful, we experienced what we had read and heard about – with just a couple of hundred miles to go to the border, thru-hikers are like rock stars.

The greetings, the questions and the cheers are very cool.  Everyone is so supportive, even when we explain that we still have Oregon to finish.

But for now we are only a week and a half from Canada!


Day 154 – 15 / 2,034 (2,462)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:

Dry, Dry, Dry

We had gradual clearing of the clouds all day, but spent the day in the trees. Not much in the way of views, but we were in much better spirits as we weren’t wrapped up in rain gear.


Day 149 – 20 / 1,960 (2,388)

After camping in the hills right above the Snoqualmie Ski Resort, we hiked the two miles to the pass, where we ran into quite a few of the hikers we’ve met over the last few weeks.  There was a lot of relief that better weather was here.

We had arranged to be picked up by a friend of Spectrum, a man whom had never met us, yet was willing to drive a couple of hours from his house, pick us up, drive us to the nearest town some 30 miles away, let us resupply, then shuttle us back to the trail at Snoqualmie Pass before heading back home.

That is the definition of a Trail Angel.

Once we got to the restaurant and ordered breakfast, we started talking to the other hikers and found that we could do a full resupply there, between the overflowing hiker boxes, a small grocery store and the gas station. That’s exactly what we did, waving off the extremely kind gentleman who was awaiting our call.

So we did our chores in town and hit the trail by late afternoon, getting several miles up the trail before calling it an early night.  The tent still needed to dry.

This sign met us as we left town.  The next few days were going to involve a lot of climbing and rough trails.


Some say the toughest of the whole trail.

We made it about 4 miles up the trail and found a nice spot to set up camp.  We still needed the tent and sleeping bags to dry out and it was several uphill miles to the next campsite, so it seemed right.

Day 150 – 6 / 1,966 (2,394)

We woke up to dry gear.  Oh happy day!

The day was crisp and clear, a perfect autumn day in early September.

Our first real view of Mount Rainier.


Then quite a few other crags and peaks.  But we also learned why the warning was posted for the horse riders.  It was extremely rough trail going up steep climbs and down steep descents.  In some spots I still don’t know how they would get loaded stock through.

Even by early afternoon, factoring in breaks and lunch, we had moved at an extremely slow one mile per hour.  But eventually the tread and terrain improved and we were able to pick up the pace.

Which also gave us a chance to slow down and enjoy the views.

Tough day of climbs, great views.


Is this the Cascades, Grand Tetons or Dolomites?

Day 151 – 18 / 1,984 (2,412)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:


Even though this first day started off with some blue sky and clouds, the title refers to the rain that we would experience over the next few days.

Another good description for these following days is “hypothermic”.

Our best view of Rainier that we would get.


Then a nice lunch that was almost dry.  Then the rain started.



An hour later we were racing through several bouts of thundersnow.


Then just plain snow.



We were enjoying the official last weekend of summer.

Then this, right before we set up camp.


Day 146 – 20 / 1,904 (2,332)

We were soaked and cold overnight. Dry inside thentent, but in the clouds and a continuous stream of drops off the trees above.  The grove was surrounded by a couple of inches of snow, which kept things cold.

Another issue was eating.  We hurriedly ate a quick got dinner, then jumped into our bags.  It was enough to survive, but not enough to fuel the furnace. So we both shivered all night long and didn’t sleep well.

That impacted the rest of the day.  It was slow going.

But the rain finally stopped and we started to dry out, meaning we could warm up while enjoying some fall color.


We set up camp early so we could dry out.

You long-time readers know what is happening next.

Ice pellets while setting the tent up.  Then the rain started while we made dinner.

And it poured.  And poured.  And poured.

So much for drying out.

Then it cleared out overnight.

Then started raining again 10 minutes before the alarm went off.


Day 147 – 17 / 1,921 (2,349)

Rain, rain, rain. 

In the clouds. 

No views. 

Wearing every bit of clothing we had, just to stay warm while hiking.  Stopping wasn’t much of an option.

Thankfully we both had an extra pair of dry socks for sleeping. We used those as sock mittens to keep our fingers warm overnight.

But the sun will come out tomorrow.

So the rumor goes.

Like we have heard for days.

Day 148 – 19 / 1,940 (2,368)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource:

Rest and relaxation

Our campsite worked great.  Over the years it had been improved by hunters and campers, so we had plenty of nails to hang things out to dry.  And dry it did.

Knowing we had a short day into White Pass, then a hitch to Packwood, for resupply, we took a bit of extra time to inventory the food that we had left and determine what we needed to buy.  That worked out great.  Usually we do that once we’re already in town and it can get a bit hurried and stressful.  It even let me enjoy a second cup of coffee while we were working everything out.

The 8 mile hike to the pass was beautiful. We were able to look back towards the Knife Edge, which was still in the clouds.


We ran into the hiker from two days prior who had made her way up to the Knife Edge and turned around after she was sketched out by the conditions. She had a crazy story.

After she left us, she headed back out to the trailhead. Once there she ran into a driver who just happened to be one of the other hikers in our sponsorship who was already off trail.  He gave her a ride all the way back to Cascade Locks, where she met a friend who got her to White Pass, where we were heading.  She was heading southbound to the point where she turned around, then she would backtrack back north to White Pass.  The weather was better for this attempt and her determination made it clear she would succeed.

As we were leaving Goat Rocks Wilderness, Jennifer stopped in awe.  She finally had a picture in her mind for the line “Purple mountains majesty” in the song “America the Beautiful”.


The pictures really doesn’t do the purples justice.


We were supposed to have great views of Mount Rainier, but the clouds prevented that.  But we still had plenty to enjoy.

Soon we arrived at the pass.  In front of the country store sat most of the hikers we had run across in the previous few days.  They cheered as we arrived, all of us glad to see the others safe after the sketchy crossing of the Goat Rocks.

They were all staying overnight at the pass, but we needed to get to Packwood, some 20 miles west.  So we headed out to hitch a ride.  Within minutes we were in the truck of a very nice older couple.  We had a list of motels and they gave their recommendation, then called ahead to make sure we could get a room.  As they dropped us off, they handed over a handful of homegrown tomatoes that were one of the highlights of this entire hike.

Packwood is a compact town, with everything that we needed within a short walk.  It was fun to watch the flurry of activity as the town got ready for their big Labor Day Flea Market, which takes over the whole town.

We got our resupply and other chores done and went to sleep warm and dry.

Day 143 – 8 / 1,864 (2,292)

As we lay in bed that morning, Jen asked a simple question – “What if we stayed another night?”, to which I responded “if you can get us a room”, which she did.

We really needed a complete down day, something that really hadn’t happened since Burney in early August, although that was injury induced.

We took their cue.


We had breakfast in the lodge, then headed into town for a second breakfast. This plate of biscuits and gravy was our appetizer for that second breakfast.


The rest of the day consisted of lounging around.  Just what we needed.

Day 144 – 0 / 1,864 (2,292)

A later than normal start, we arrived back up at White Pass mid-morning. There we ran into Splash, doing well with new shoes. We celebrated his trail resurrection with a couple of morning beers, then hit the trail by late morning.

We still got a full day’s hike in.


Day 145 – 20 / 1,884 (2,312)

Please help us help the PCT Association as they work to protect and maintain this precious resource: