Washington – done! – Hiking
Day 32: 3 miles. Trout Lake – Dirtroad at Mile 427
There were 22 tents at the camp behind the church at night and I had trouble sleeping listening to everyone glare at the air mattresses and cough right next to me. I also had a crazy headache right after two beers I drank in my dehydrated state.
In the morning we walked a mile to the cafe which only offered products containing pork. I had a little overpriced quiche and a latte, very overpriced but I was still hungry afterwards. Then we did what you do on a city day: go to an old-fashioned coin-operated shower, do some laundry, buy expensive restocking. I bought a lot more food than in the previous sections because I lost weight and in the previous section I ran out of snacks.
We had more food at the restaurant and went to sit in the river drinking beer. The water was so hot that I could sit in the river for an hour, and since it was so hot outside, that was the only place to be.
I have already decided to go on the track – always nero, never zero. I wanted to start the next day earlier and not have to do crazy long miles each day to come. Also, I’m slower than the rest of the Dolphines, so they would surely catch me the next day. So I got into a van with seven NoBos and we were driven to the forest service road, from where I was the only one heading south. I was camping on another dirt road just 3 miles from the starting point.
Day 33: 20 miles. Dirtroad at Mile 427 – Tentsite by Blue Lake
I got up at sunrise a little before 6am, packed my things and started walking. There was a bit of light rain, which was definitely the first time it had rained on the trail. The mosquitoes were getting worse day by day and were also worse in the afternoon.
The trail was mostly through forests, but it was up and down a lot. And a NoBo told me it would be all downhill for us!
I found a table for my lunch for the first time on the trail. Soon four NoBos joined me. One of them had hurt her knee and was waiting for someone to pick her up on a dirt road. We had a fun chat about hitchhiking and being scared on the trail. A man who hiked the Colorado Trail in a snowy year had similar experiences to mine – at first you decide to bail out because it’s too dangerous, then you eat a Cliffbar and decide the trail was actually correct. He had hiked the PCT to Washington and said the trek suffered from it every day. What else can you say. There are many ups and downs every day, but the ups are so magical that you decide to keep suffering anyway.
I passed a few lakes and decided to camp near a beautiful one that had a little breeze. I took a bath in it. I told some NoBos to “pass the message to the Dolphins that Whiskey is near Blue Lake”. Passing these kind of messages on the track is completely normal and the NoBos just said they would.
The dolphins didn’t make it to the lake that night, but I was sure they would catch up to me the next day.
Day 34: 23 miles. Blue Lake to Panther Creek
I woke up when a precocious hiker walked past my tent at 05:30. I got up myself and noticed that the mosquitoes were waking up abnormally early. I first had breakfast after the first climb of the day. The view was good and the trail was easier than ever. No rocks or roots and the elevation gain was smooth. Even the mosquitoes disappeared after the sheep lake.
There was a long stretch of water, about 12 miles, but it wasn’t very hot. I met a woman and her teenage children and she told me she was exhausted and had no motivation to hike. There seem to be some hikers who, after almost 2000 miles, are completely ripped and tired, while others still look fresh and happy. I probably saw a record number of NoBos, every 5 minutes one came back from a switchback. They often didn’t seem to know each other and probably didn’t know that I had to exchange the same greetings 150 times. An older man commented that the morning had been so quiet. I told him that he was surely not alone on the track. As SoBos, we see almost all NoBos but they don’t necessarily meet if they walk at roughly the same pace or if the faster ones are ahead of the slower ones.
I had lunch with good NoBos from the Netherlands and France. They had started early so they had some snow in the Sierras but never used ice axes. They said it was the first hiker bubble from Lake Morena, it really is the first stop from the beginning.
I kept hiking, listening to an audiobook, and hailing the line from NoBos. I descended to the lowest point I’ve probably hiked on this trail, it was almost tropical with all the green exotic plants. My feet were exhausted from climbing miles and miles. I messaged the Dolphines Inreach and they arrived a bit later after crashing their first 26 mile day on the trail. They all disappeared somewhere in the vegetation with their tents since I had found a place for only one tent between gigantic fallen trees.
It was surely the easiest and fastest day on this trail.
Day 35: 16 miles. Panther Creek to Rock Creek
I got up around 6 am as usual and gathered my things very quickly. I bit a bass as I walked, planning to stop for breakfast later. Before Wind River, I saw a few NoBos near some coolers and realized it was trail magic. For the first time for me on the track! I drank Dr. Pepper and ate chips and candy while chatting with other arriving NoBos. What a healthy breakfast!
After that, my blood sugar went up and down. I stopped by a river for my coffee and waited for the Dolphines but they didn’t show up. Apparently they got lost and walked a mile in the wrong direction missing the magic of the trail.
I continued and the trail was quite monotonous, similar switchbacks through green, wet forest and a lot of up and down. I had to greet a new NoBo every 5 minutes. There was nowhere to take a break and I had to race down a steep hill from a switchback when I suddenly needed to poop.
I had lunch off trail on another trail. I was so tired but I had planned to hike a 22 mile day to have a shorter day at Cascade Locks the next day so I had to keep going.
There was a long stretch of water and I missed the first stream after that. I have been to a tent site where someone had pooped directly on the tent site with no effort to bury it. Plus it was next to a water source.
As I descended to Rock Creek, the last source of water for the next 12 miles, I received a message from Skratch that they were struggling and planned to camp near this creek. I decided to stay there too even though it wasn’t even 5pm yet – I didn’t want to finish Washington alone.
The cove was amazingly beautiful, like an oasis and after finding a nice spot for our tents, I met Dolphine nb 3 and we jumped into the cold cove. Soon even the rest of the gang arrived and took advantage of the creek. They had struggled with the fact that this section was boring and difficult at the same time. Croc had forgotten his hammock in a canteen but since his principle was to “never go back”, he did not return to fetch it on foot but slept on the ground “like a homeless person” in his own words.
We ate by the water and chatted with NoBos. We decided to book a hotel for two nights in Cascade Locks and send boxes to Oregon – if the fires didn’t stop us from walking there.
Day 36: 20 miles. Rock Creek to Cascade Locks.
We got up early and I was already hiking at 6am. The trail was going up a lot and even lower, and my shins started hurting again.
The landscape became exotic once we got to a lower elevation than we are used to. It was also very hot. Some NoBos would comment, “Oh, so many SoBos today!” I think we were ten people in total. I told them that we are surely seeing a lot more NoBos. They were perhaps 20 times more numerous than the southbound hikers.
Croc was supposed to be at a post office at 5 p.m., so we all started rushing. The last 7 miles we ran halfway without stopping and it was very hot and humid. The rest of the gang had already left, me and Rebound having limp knee problems afterwards. The descents were just endless.
Finally we arrived at the Bridge of the Gods before 4 p.m. and crossed it while a lot of cars were passing and a crazy wind was blowing us. We found all the SoBos drinking beer at Thunder Island Brewing and had several pints before dinner. We settled into a hotel and went to eat Mexican food while drinking margaritas as big as our heads. We had a brilliant idea to shop for restock boxes after that. We were so drunk it was hard to calculate how much food you will need for 12-13 days of cans. And finally the Walmart didn’t accept any of my Swedish credit cards so I had to leave the place without buying anything. I will never restock at this store again.
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