September 15, 2015
Steven’s Pass – Skykomish (2476.0) to Tentsite before Bench Mark Mountain Junction (2498.2)
22.2 PCT miles today
2532.8 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,609 ft, – 4,853 ft
I am excited to announce that it finally feels like we have come to the end of our hike. Today was the first day that we truly felt the end was near, and it added a little bounce to our step. This morning we packed up and got back on trail by 8am, but we were armed with a whole new plan, and most importantly new daily mileages, which eased some of our anxiety and brought back the joy of hiking. Instead of pulling 25’s all the way to Canada with a couple neros thrown in, we’re finishing just one day later than planned, and not forcing ourselves to do anything more than 22 miles a day. This may seem like a little change, but it has made a big difference.
Today’s hike brought us past a few more beautiful lakes, gave us our first full view of Glacier Peak, and fortunately remained dry and cool all day. The weather in Washington is undeniably bipolar, and all we can do is hope that it holds out just a bit longer. Even with all the rain this place receives, some areas of the hike still seem surprisingly dry and even today we went for 6 to 8 miles between water sources. We know water is good for the land and for this state, but if it can hold out for one more week, we would be so incredibly grateful. Nothing ups the challenge and discomfort of a hike quicker than a rain storm. Also, I accidentally left our tent’s footprint at the hotel this morning, so if it does rain this week, it will be the ultimate test for the waterproofing of our tent floor.
The further north we get, everyone we talk to gushes over the beauty of this coming section through Glacier Peak Wilderness, so we’re actually really looking forward to the next few days. With our new plan, we’re looking at 8 more days of hiking, which honestly does not sound like much. They won’t be easy days, but now that we have all day to hike 22 miles, we know we’ll make it. I hate to say it, because I know Washingtonians have a lot of pride and don’t like to hear it, but Washington hasn’t quite won us over yet. We are still holding out hope that the North Cascades live up to all their hype, but from our experience so far, nothing can quite compare to the High Sierras.
As the end draws near, the little everyday experiences of trail life seem especially endearing. Pickles and I are once again reveling in “tent time” and considering our coming move away from the trail as a difficult parting. Despite all the pain and cold and daily inconveniences, we do love it out here, and it is hard to believe that it will all be over in 8 more days. Now that we have our mileage back down to something more manageable, my goal is going to be truly enjoy every one of these 170 miles to Canada. I don’t want to forget too quickly all our woodland creature friends or the iciness of the creek water or the sound of fall leaves crunching underfoot. I still have pain, but I hope to focus as little on it as possible for these 8 days and instead begin the process of reflection and gratitude for this experience which I know will last for many months to come.