September 2, 2015
Deer Lake (2216.7) to Waterfall on Forest Road 23 on Cougar Crest Fire Alternate (approx. 2243.6)
20.4 PCT miles today, 6.5 Alternate miles (Cougar Crest Fire Closure)
2280.6 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown
It is unbelievable how much it has rained since we entered Washington. The rain that began last night continued into the morning and then off and on throughout the whole day, choosing the exact moment that we would begin to delayer to start back up again. Not only was today ridiculously soggy and damp, but it has also been freezing cold. It was about 45 degrees in our tent when we woke up this morning, and it never got above 60 degrees the whole day. Fortunately, Pickles and I have the gear for this sort of weather, and we’re managing alright, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve been exactly comfortable. Pickles woke up this morning with a sore throat and sniffles and I still haven’t quite gotten warmed up. This afternoon the sky tempted us with a few rays of sun and some blue sky, and in fact, it is currently clear overhead. As we lay here shivering in our damp tent, we can only hope that the rain has passed and left us with a few clear, dry days.
This morning was just about as discouraging as it can get out here on the trail. We woke to a full-blown rain storm and one of the colder mornings we’ve experienced. We got ready slowly, unsure how we would motivate ourselves to pack everything up in the rain and near-dark. We eventually made a plan that we hoped would keep most of our tent body dry and then we started pulling everything out into the rain, trying hard not to notice as things quickly went from dry and clean to wet and dirty. After breaking down the tent we stomped our way down trail, trying our best to stay positive amidst the endless rainfall.
The hiking turned out to be surprisingly easy today, so we were able to keep all our layers on and not concern ourselves with overheating. We saw a few southbound hikers, and when we stopped for lunch at a creek we saw 3 northbound hikers whom we’d never seen before, but we felt mostly alone for much of the day and pondered more than once the whereabouts of our friends. If you’ve come this far on the PCT then you’re probably quite tough, but we’d imagine this extreme weather will be too much for some.
We knew that about 20 miles into today’s hike, we’d hit the closed portion of trail in Mount Adams Wilderness and have to walk about 5 miles on the road alternate before making camp. We felt we were being cheated since the earth all around us was ridiculously soggy and we can’t imagine that there is actually any fire danger remaining, but there is nothing we can do about a closed trail so we knew we’d be stuck taking the road. As we neared Forest Road 23 we spotted a couple cars through the trees, but it wasn’t until we got closer that we recognized Mama Bear’s Volvo parked at the trailhead. We weren’t expecting to see Mama Bear until Saturday morning at White Pass, so it was a wonderful surprise. She hopped out of the car with a big smile on her face, immensely pleased with herself for surprising us on trail. The sun had just come out about an hour earlier, so we were able to chat and eat a few snacks outside before making a plan to meet 5 miles up the road for camp. Mama Bear drove on and Pickles and I began our road walk. It actually wasn’t a bad 5 miles, and we entertained ourselves by drying out our tent and rainfly by holding them stretched out between us and flying them like parachutes.
When we reached 5 miles, Mama Bear informed us that there was a great camping site complete with waterfalls just 1.5 miles further down the road. Pickles and I agreed that we could go a bit further and finally met Mama Bear after completing 27 miles by 6:30. Pickles and I set up camp as usual and then the 3 of us enjoyed a delicious chili cheese dog dinner. By the time we finished eating it was freezing out and we all retreated to our beds to get warm, read, and write.
As I mentioned before, it is currently not raining, but we are having a hard time believing that it will last for long. If the weather continues like this, it will make for an interesting final 3 weeks. It seems possible that winter has come early this year, and we’ll just have to wait and see whether snow becomes an issue the further north we get. We still feel confident that we’ll make it to Canada, we just might have to acquire a few more layers along the way.