August 31, 2015 (23rd Re-Ration – Trout Lake)
Trout River (2184.3) to Crest Horse Camp – Trout Lake (2205.8)
21.5 PCT miles today
2242.8 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 4,822 ft, – 3,077 ft
Today is one of those days that ended drastically different than it began. We woke up this morning to a damp, cold tent, put on damp, cold clothes, and then stepped out into a damp, cold world. It was hard to tell if it was even raining or not because there was so much water dripping from the trees and the air seemed infused with it. There was little that we were looking forward to and the miles dragged by as I alternately shivered and sweated my way up and over mountains and rivers.
The plan had been to hike all day, attempt to dry out our gear if the sun ever came out, and then hike 14 or so miles tomorrow before meeting up with Mama Bear and heading into Trout Lake for a nero. Mama Bear had spent the last 5 weeks away from us in Montana, and we were excited to be reunited and to experience Washington in a bit more comfort. Today, that comfort sounded especially delightful as the skies overhead became gradually darker and colder. By the time we reached lunch we had decided to dry out our clothes and gear where a bit of wind crossed over a saddle since the sun was nowhere to be found and we couldn’t imagine setting up our sopping wet tent and crawling into our sticky, wet sleeping bags for another night.
During our lunch break, we took another look at the maps, and after putting in a call to Mama Bear, began seriously considering a different route into Trout Lake that would actually mean we could be picked up this afternoon instead of tomorrow. We would only have to hike 9.5 more miles before meeting up with Mama Bear and joining her in her cozy cabin in town. Of course, this would add miles onto our next ration, but it more evenly split up our days between Portland and White Pass and it would give us an opportunity to warm and dry ourselves and get back on trail with dry gear. After an intense pro-con battle, we decided to bite the bullet and meet Mama Bear early. It was a challenging decision, mostly for me since any change of plans has the ability to throw me off balance, but once it was made, we didn’t look back.
Of course, the second half of the day went much smoother than the first. The sun finally decided to come out around 4:30pm, lifting my spirits greatly and finally thawing out the cold that had settled deep in my bones, and the environment around us even dried out a bit and changed its tune the closer we got to our pick-up point. There was significantly less moss and more lava rock. The landscape opened up a bit and we began to see more colors than just green. When we reached Crest Horse Camp on Forest Road 60, we were nearly giddy from the change in plans and the coming comfort.
Our afternoon and evening with Mama Bear was perfect. We grabbed dinner at the Inn in town and shared stories about the last 5 weeks apart before heading to our cabin and indulging in some critical self-care. We laid out gear to dry, took long hot showers, and then just lounged around on the couch watching TV. My feet have become increasingly angry and swollen over the last couple weeks, so I spent a good part of the evening trying to show them some love, but I’m nearly out of patience and I’m thinking they might just have to suck it up for 450 or so more miles.
We’re finally ready to sleep, and as I lay in this ridiculously comfortable bed, dry, warm, and clean as can be, all I can think is how happy I am that we were able to get off trail and take this break. We may be a little spoiled, but if there’s ever a time to accept some extra love and care from Mama Bear, it is on a rainy day like today.