September 8, 2015
Bear Gap Trail Junction (2337.2) to Tentsite before Bear Creek Trail Junction (2362.9)
25.7 PCT miles
2397.5 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,153 ft, – 4,332 ft
Today was officially our first full day of blue skies in Washington, and with it came out first ever views of Mount Rainier. The mountain appeared out of nowhere while we climbed a ridge early this morning and it was a thousand times closer, bigger, and more beautiful than we had expected. We stopped to stare around every new corner, but eventually it went out of sight and we were left with an imprint of its image burned into our minds and the somewhat discouraging realization that we’d probably missed more beauty than we’d realized while being stuck in a cloud for the last week. Fortunately, Washington seems eager to make up for the loss, and our day, whose soundtrack was our audiobooks, was filled with a variety of interesting views.
We are trying hard to stay in the moment and appreciate our final days on the PCT, but my feet are back to constant aching and the nearness of the border makes it hard to not just put our heads down and hammer out these final miles. We have been hiking for quite a while now and our bodies are anxiously awaiting the good long break that will come in two weeks. However, there are still new places to see and new experiences that we don’t want to miss.
At lunch today I heard something crashing through the woods. I thought it must be a deer but when a I looked up I saw a small black bear running downhill straight in our direction. Without thinking I let out a shout, remembering instinctively that my job was to intimidate him and let him know he didn’t want to mess with us, and in response he stopped dead in his tracks, turned around, and strolled away. After he’d left, Pickles and I reflected that he probably didn’t even know we were there and he certainly wasn’t a threat, but it was probably still good that I stopped him when I did so we didn’t startle him when he got closer. It meant we hadn’t gotten to take a good look at him and we kind of hoped he’d return while we sat there eating, but he was long gone. Any peaceful interaction with wildlife, especially something as beautiful and rare as a black bear, makes for a special moment, and it certainly helped us warm up to Washington even more.
This afternoon was unremarkable, but free of rain, so we had absolutely no complaints. We hiked through a few clear-cuts, enjoyed the fall colors that engulfed the mountainsides in reds, yellows, and oranges, and were more than ready to set up our tent and get off our feet when we reached camp around 5pm. A couple section hikers that we ran into at our water source this afternoon assured us that the coming sections are truly beautiful, so we’re happily shaking off our old rainy Washington attitudes and looking forward to seeing all that the rest of this state has in store.