Day 136: A Marathon Finish

September 13, 2015
Junction of Two Creeks past Cathedral Pass (2450.8) to Steven’s Pass – Skykomish (2476.0)
25.2 PCT miles
2510.6 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,712 ft, – 6,957 ft

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Throughout this hike I’ve appreciated the contrast and comparison of hiking the PCT to running a marathon. Since the PCT is about 2,600 miles, and a marathon is about 26 miles, this particular comparison has worked well. I’ve only run one full marathon in my life, the Chicago Marathon back in 2008, and I can’t say I ran it particularly well. But my body and mind went through certain stages that I haven’t forgotten to this day, and to some extent, they have mirrored quite well the sensations I’ve experienced on the PCT. Being around mile 2450 on the PCT feels remarkably similar to being on mile 24.5 of a marathon. Of course, if this were a marathon the bizarre physical and mental sensations we’re experiencing would last for another 15 minutes or so, but out here we get to experience them for another 10 days. If you love running marathons but are looking for something more, might I suggest a 5 month thru-hike of the PCT. more

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Day 135: Testing Our Limits

September 12, 2015
Seasonal stream past Lemah Meadow trail junction (2424.7) to Junction of Two Creeks past Cathedral Pass (2450.8)
26.1 PCT miles today
2485.4 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,137 ft, – 4,582 ft

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Today was all about endurance. There’s no other way of putting it….today was downright hard. The whole day was spent climbing up and over two separate passes, Waptus and Cathedral, and my feet hurt the entire time. Today was hard mentally, too. The views were less impressive, and as we dropped down in elevation off our first pass, the trail became dry, dusty, and overgrown with yellowed, brittle plants. Add to this the fact that it was over 90 degrees most of the day, and you get two hikers who felt as though they couldn’t get to Canada soon enough. more

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Day 134: We Can See Clearly Now

September 11, 2015
Snoqualamie Pass (2401.9) to Seasonal stream past Lemah Meadow trail junction (2424.7)
22.8 PCT miles today
2459.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,180 ft, – 6,029 ft

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For Pickles and I, there’s no better morale booster than above-tree line trails and epic mountain vistas. It felt like Washington changed drastically as soon as we crossed over Hwy 90. Instead of walking through hundreds of miles of tree tunnels (not to mention thick grey clouds and fog), today we found ourselves scaling up the sides of mountains, skirting along narrow traverses, plowing through rock fields, photographing crystal clear alpine lakes, and of course, staring out at seemingly endless ranges of craggy mountains. This is our kind of hiking, and it has gotten us quite excited about what else this state might have in store, especially if it chooses to stay clear. more

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Day 133: On a Mission

September 10, 2015 (25th Re-Ration – Snoqualamie Pass)
Stirrup Creek (2388.7) to Snoqualamie Pass (2401.9)
13.2 PCT miles today
2436.5 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,082 ft, – 3,630 ft

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Today was all about getting to town. These days, every hour off-trail is precious, and we planned on getting in as many as possible today even though we still had over 13 miles to hike. With that as our focus, we woke up extra early, kept up a fast pace, and were fed, showered, and resting our feet in bed by 1pm. The whole rest of the afternoon was dominated by our needs for calories, time off our feet, and time with Mama Bear. more

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Day 132: Walking on Sunshine

September 9, 2015
Tentsite before Bear Creek Trail Junction (2362.9) to Stirrup Creek (2388.7)
25.8 PCT miles today
2423.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,291 ft, – 6,640 ft

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It seems that with sunshine comes all sorts of good tidings. Now that the weather has improved it feels as though Washington is doing her best to win us back. We still haven’t had that many views, but the craggy mountain range in the distance looks promising and Rainier continues to delight with all her grandiosity. The real treat today came in the form of incredibly generous and creative trail angels. We had not one, but two experiences with trail magic today and they did much to bolster our morale and melt away another day of many long miles. Most of all, they filled us with much-appreciated calories that fueled our bodies and made us feel much more prepared to finish this hike to Canada. more

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Day 131: Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing

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

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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. more

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Day 130: The Only Way Out is Through

September 7, 2015
Snow Lake (2313.0) to Bear Gap Trail Junction (2337.2)
24.2 PCT miles today
2371.8 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,276 ft, – 3,932 ft

Image 3This morning was a rough one. Pickles and I had had enough of the rain, but clearly Washington had not. We woke up in a cloud, packed up a soaking wet tent, and then silently hiked the first few hours of the day clad in soggy raingear and carrying our umbrellas, a state of being that was becoming far too common. The grey was getting us down and multiple times throughout the morning I caught myself wondering if I’d ever see the sun or blue skies ever again. Amazingly, the weather took an incredible turn for the better around lunchtime, and the second half of the day was spent in much better spirits than the first. more

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Day 129: We’re All in This Together

September 6, 2015
Hwy 12 – White Pass (2303.0) to Snow Lake (2313.0)
10.0 PCT miles today
2347.6 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 1,409 ft, – 932 ft

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Morning neroes are the best. It brings so much relief to know that you only have to get in about 10 miles in a day, and you’re left with the whole morning to sleep in, eat, pack up, and relax. Today was especially enjoyable because of the huge crowd of hikers that were all gathered in the store/restaurant at White Pass. Hikers kept rolling in throughout the morning, wet, cold, and exhausted, and the rest of us greeted them with applause, conversation and hot food. After lunch, when we finally left to get back on trail, we made the rounds saying goodbye to our friends and giving each other one more pat on the back for a job well done through Goat Rocks. We were all feeling especially celebratory about the trail being open all the way Canada, and today more than ever before, it feels like we’re truly in the home stretch. more

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Day 128: Are We There Yet?

September 5, 2015 (24th Re-Ration – White Pass)
Tentsite before Hidden Spring (2293.1) to Hwy 12 – White Pass (2303.0)
9.9 PCT miles today
2337.6 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 1,574 ft, – 2,334 ft

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We assumed that when we finally got to camp last night we were out of the worst of it and that the 10 remaining miles that we needed to hike into town today would be on standard downhill dirt trail. Instead, the morning held yet another adventure in snow, ridge-lines, ice and mud. By the time we finally got to White Pass at 11am we were haggard, wet, freezing cold and forming that obnoxious, futile question in our minds and on our lips: “Are we there yet?” We know that we’re supposed to be enjoying every moment of this experience, but sometimes enough is enough, and today we felt more than just a little ready to reach that Canadian border and be done with all the daily discomforts and seemingly endless miles. more

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Day 127: A Recipe for Adventure

September 4, 2015
Tentsite before Walupt Lake Trail Junction (2269.1) to Tentsite before Hidden Spring (2293.1)
24.0 PCT miles today
2327.7 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,036 ft, – 5,297 ft

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You’ll want to begin with a beautiful and epic wilderness area. Sprinkle in some unique wildlife, like mountain goats, llamas, and marmots. Add in 2 passes, one of which must follow a steep and narrow ridge with cliffs on either side. And finally, stir it all together with freezing temperatures and an afternoon snowstorm. It may end in disaster, but if it doesn’t, you will have something with just the right balance of fun, beauty, challenge, and discomfort that it will become the adventure you talk about for years to come. more

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