August 30, 2015
Tentsite after Greenleaf Creek (2160.9) to Trout River (2184.3)
23.4 PCT miles today
2221.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,779 ft, – 5,815 ft
Washington has quite possibly been the biggest surprise so far on the PCT. This state is a legitimate rain forest! We have seen more shades of the color green over the last 24 hours than we’ve seen all year. The change from Oregon to Washington happened so immediately and completely that it took us a full day to really grasp the immensity of it. Everything is different, from the wildlife to the trail surface to the weather. The weather is really the big one. It hasn’t stopped raining for more than a couple minutes since we entered this state. After months of blue, clear skies, the continuous rainfall is a bit of a shock to the system. Everything we own, including ourselves, is wet and it is so humid out that nothing stands a chance at drying out anytime soon. We are taking all the changes in stride, trying to make light of our wet gear and wrinkled feet, smiling at the exotic, lush beauty all around, and reminding ourselves that days like today are all part of the adventure.
The rain that we fell asleep to continued all through the night and didn’t let up in the morning. We still woke up early to our alarm, but we took our time getting ready, hoping to wait out the rain so we wouldn’t have to pack up a soaking wet tent and hike right into a storm. Unfortunately the rain didn’t seem to be going anywhere, so we hit the trail by 7:30, our packs already pretty well soaked and our new Columbia rain jackets being put to the ultimate test. First thing, we faced 6 miles and nearly 3,000 feet of climbing in 60 degree weather with humidity and a consistent drenching downpour. Not really ideal hiking conditions, but we made it through without complaint, and found ourselves pretty quickly sold on our new “inside-out” rain jackets.
At some point the rain began to let up and we checked our mileage to find that after hours of slow, wet trudging we had only hiked 8 miles. We were a bit disappointed, but since we have no real deadlines in Washington, we knew we could just get in what we could today and figure things out from there. Any mileage was better than no mileage, which would have been the case if we had tried to wait out the storm in our tent this morning.
The rain was a lot to handle, but it didn’t come without its perks. This new tropical-like environment has new critters that we haven’t seen yet on trail. This morning Pickles found a salamander and we spent much of the day avoiding stepping on big, fat banana slugs in the middle of the trail. Also, the rain makes for a landscape that is covered in moss and cris-crossed with streams and creeks. It’s the exact opposite landscape of the desert, which has us quite pleased. Nothing about this place is empty, brown, or dry.
The day ended up flying by after the slow morning, and despite the constant drizzle and occasional downpour, Pickles and I arrived at camp in good spirits. The change in scenery has been invigorating, and the rain was so distracting that we didn’t even notice the huge elevation gain until we added it up tonight in our tent. We did our best to dry out our tent and some clothes in between rain showers this evening, but it was a futile effort, and we’re going to bed warm but damp. This new environment is going to take some getting used to, but we’re happy to see that the West Coast has even more diversity than we thought, and we’d rather be in this wet, lush, bright green forest than walking through dry sand or dirt any day.