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Day 144: Passing Through the North Cascades

Posted by on September 27, 2015

September 21, 2015
Tentsite at Porcupine Creek (2601.3) to Tentsite and spring after Glacier Pass (2624.2)
22.9 PCT miles today
2660.8 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,318 ft, – 4,225 ft

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Today was easily one of our best days in Washington. Turns out that when you can see what’s around you, Washington is actually a beautiful state. When we fell asleep last night it was raining outside our tent, but when we woke this morning, the rain had stopped and we thought we could see some significant patches of blue peaking through the thick forest canopy above our heads. We began climbing up above tree line, and within minutes we were above the low-lying clouds and surrounded by bright blue skies and crisp, brilliant morning sunlight. We looked around ourselves and for the first time in quite a while, became giddy from the beauty of our surroundings. The higher we climbed, the more layers of sharp, rocky mountains could be seen, and the happier Pickles and I became. Fortunately this was only the beginning, and we ended up spending almost the entire day climbing up and over numerous passes, all with mind-blowing views of the North Cascades.

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Of course, all this astonishing beauty only made us more depressed to think of how much we had missed by hiking through a cloud-shrouded and rain-drenched Washington. We thought back to Old Baldy in Goat Rocks, Mount Rainier National Park, and Glacier Peak, and couldn’t help but imagine a whole different experience with clear skies like we had today. Instead, Washington served up some of our most challenging and mentally exhausting days, which I suppose also serve their purpose and make for some potent memories. But despite all our numerous claims on cold, wet nights that we would never step foot in Washington again, we’re now thinking about someday coming back to experience some of these sections in nice weather when we can actually see the mountains that surround us.

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Today we saw those mountains and more. As we took picture after picture and soaked in some serious Vitamin D, we also felt the scales tipping in the direction of missing the PCT when it ends in 2 more days rather than purely celebrating its completion. I see this as a good thing because today helped remind me of all the incredibly good times I’ve had on this trail, and reflect on the end of it with a bit more fondness. If it had just continued to rain non-stop and if we couldn’t see any of these incredible mountains, I would have probably run into Manning Park without looking back, embracing every off-trail comfort and forgetting to appreciate the whole trail for what it actually was. Today reminded me that I love backpacking, I love being in the wild, and I love the PCT…all timely and important reminders.

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Our final pass of the day led us directly up the side of a mountain, switching back at least a dozen times and giving us vertigo when we looked back at where we’d come from. As we crested the top we found ourselves hiking into a large, deep bowl, with gravel rock slides serving as walls and the chirps of pika echoing down the valley. We found a great campsite, complete with a spring that took a little hunting down, not far from the top of the pass. Unfortunately it has become bitter cold out and every inch of skin that is out of my sleeping bag is frozen solid. Our thermometer says it is 42 degrees inside our tent, but it is probably at least 10 degrees colder outside. The seasons have definitely changed and we can feel that it is just about time to finish up this hike and head indoors for a while. It’s just as well since as of tonight we’re only 2 days and less than 45 miles from the end.

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The completion of our 2015 thru-hike of the PCT is dedicated to our dear friend Susan and her 2-year-old son, Daniel. Daniel was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in April of this year, and we hope to help alleviate some of the financial burden of treatment by petitioning readers of our blog to please consider making a financial contribution to Susan and her family by going to this website: https://www.gofundme.com/t4mdbck. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Susan keeps an incredibly well-written blog documenting her journey that you can find at http://littledanielsbigadventure.blogspot.com. Daniel is a little fighter and we wouldn’t be surprised to find him out here on the trail one day. Thank you in advance for your generosity and may you and your family stay well.

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