Day 126: Walking the Road

September 3, 2015
Waterfall on Forest Road 23 on Cougar Crest Fire Alternate (approx. 2243.6) to Tentsite before Walupt Lake Trail Junction (2269.1)
15.5 Alternate miles today (Cougar Crest Fire Closure), 7.6 PCT miles today
2303.7 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown

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There’s really not a ton to say about today. We saw a few little frogs in the trail which was neat, and we listened to hours of our history audiobook, but mostly we just walked along a dirt road in the woods, catching tiny glimpses of Mount Adams once or twice through the trees and waving or exchanging greetings with multiple carloads of hitching hikers as they passed.

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Day 125: The Soggiest State

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

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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.

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Day 124: A Morning Nero

September 1, 2015
Crest Horse Camp – Trout Lake (2205.8) to Deer Lake (2216.7)
10.9 PCT miles today
2253.7 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 2,149 ft, – 828 ft

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It only took us 2,200 miles and 4 months to finally figure out how to make the most of a nero. In the past, we’ve almost always taken afternoon neros, where we would hike in the morning, be picked up between noon and 2, spend the afternoon and night in town, and then get back on trail the next morning. But just recently we’ve started taking morning neros, first in Bend, then in Portland, and now today. This nero was our first of this kind with Mama Bear and we loved it. We got picked up at the end of our day yesterday, had the night to eat, get clean, relax a bit and sleep, and then had all morning to sleep in, make breakfast and sit around feeling refreshed and being incredibly productive. Our afternoon miles flew by and now we’re back in our tent, feeling rested, clean, and more than ready to face the next 86 miles to White Pass.

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Day 123: The Return of Mama Bear

August 31, 2015 (23rd Re-Ration – Trout Lake)
Trout River (2184.3) to Crest Horse Camp – Trout Lake (2205.8)
21.5 PCT miles today
2242.8 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 4,822 ft, – 3,077 ft

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Today is one of those days that ended drastically different than it began. We woke up this morning to a damp, cold tent, put on damp, cold clothes, and then stepped out into a damp, cold world. It was hard to tell if it was even raining or not because there was so much water dripping from the trees and the air seemed infused with it. There was little that we were looking forward to and the miles dragged by as I alternately shivered and sweated my way up and over mountains and rivers.

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Day 122: A Whole New World

August 30, 2015
Tentsite after Greenleaf Creek (2160.9) to Trout River (2184.3)
23.4 PCT miles today
2221.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,779 ft, – 5,815 ft

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Washington has quite possibly been the biggest surprise so far on the PCT. This state is a legitimate rain forest! We have seen more shades of the color green over the last 24 hours than we’ve seen all year. The change from Oregon to Washington happened so immediately and completely that it took us a full day to really grasp the immensity of it. Everything is different, from the wildlife to the trail surface to the weather. The weather is really the big one. It hasn’t stopped raining for more than a couple minutes since we entered this state. After months of blue, clear skies, the continuous rainfall is a bit of a shock to the system. Everything we own, including ourselves, is wet and it is so humid out that nothing stands a chance at drying out anytime soon. We are taking all the changes in stride, trying to make light of our wet gear and wrinkled feet, smiling at the exotic, lush beauty all around, and reminding ourselves that days like today are all part of the adventure.

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Day 121: Welcome to Washington

August 29, 2015
Bridge of the Gods – Cascade Locks (2155.1) to Tentsite after Greenleaf Creek (2160.9)
5.8 PCT miles today, 1 non-PCT mile today
2207.9 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 1,141 ft, – 753 ft

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Yesterday we were so tired by the time we reached Cascade Locks that seeing Bridge of the Gods didn’t impact me much. Today though, crossing the bridge into Washington, and knowing that we only have one state and 500 miles to go on this trail brought tears to my eyes. We were lucky to get out at all today, since Trail Days is the strongest “vortex” we’ve experienced yet. Everyone we talked to tried to convince us to stay another night. They couldn’t believe that we’d leave on Saturday when the event went on for a whole other day, but 20 or so hours of socializing, eating, drinking, and hanging out was enough for us, and we were determined to get back on trail this afternoon, even if we didn’t get in many miles.

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Day 120: Saving the Best for Last

August 28, 2015
Tentsite after Lolo Pass (2124.8) to Bridge of the Gods – Cascade Locks (2155.1)
13.9 PCT miles today, 15.5 Alternate miles today (Eagle Creek Alternate), 1 non-PCT mile today
2201.1 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown

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Today flew by for a number of reasons. First of all, most of the day was spent going downhill as we dropped from over 4,000 feet of elevation down to the Columbia River at sea level. Second, today was totally unique compared to the whole rest of the PCT. We had steep descents, waterfalls, swimming holes, and cliff-drops galore. Third, and most importantly, today was absolutely beautiful, and we kept up a great pace not only because we wanted to finish up Oregon and see what Trail Days in Cascade Locks was all about, but mostly because we were truly eager to see what was around every corner. Pickles and I both agreed that today’s trail was our favorite in Oregon, but it was also our last since tomorrow we hike into our third and final state of Washington.

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Day 119: Lost on Hood

August 27, 2015
Seasonal Stream before Timberline Trail Junction (2104.8) to Tentsite after Lolo Pass (2124.8)
20.0 PCT miles today
2170.7 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 4,412 ft, – 4,976 ft

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Today felt more challenging than it should have. We slept in just a bit this morning since we knew that we only had 2.3 miles to hike before we got to Timberline and its buffet breakfast which doesn’t start until 7:30am. We figured it’d be less than an hour of hiking that would work up our appetite just enough to make us feel like we’d earned as much food as we planned on eating. The first mile was as simple as we’d hoped, but then we hit a sandy incline that slowed us down immensely and made us feel like we might never make it to breakfast. Eventually, after taking hundreds of steps that seemed to get us almost nowhere, we finally made it to Timberline Lodge on the base of Mount Hood.

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Day 118: Is This Real Life?

August 26, 2015
Hwy 26 – Portland (2097.0) to Seasonal Stream before Timberline Trail Junction (2104.8)
7.8 PCT miles today
2150.7 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 1,165 ft, – 739 ft

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And just like that, we’re back here in our tent, listening to huge trees creak in the wind, and brushing our teeth by headlamp. The juxtaposition of life off trail with life on trail is sometimes more bizarre than I can explain. This morning we slept in and when we woke, we were wrapped in flannel sheets on a memory foam mattress. We made breakfast in the kitchen, brushed our teeth in the bathroom, and then used the computer to get a couple things done. It was a typical relaxing day at home…which made it anything but typical for Pickles and I. This afternoon, despite Shyam’s earnest attempts at keeping us around for one more day, we found ourselves once again on trail hiking north. We didn’t get going until 6pm, but the few hours of walking that we did get in felt distinctly different than all the other miles that we’ve logged in the past few weeks and months.

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Day 117: A Zero for the Books

August 25, 2015
Hwy 26 – Portland (2097.0)
0 PCT miles today
2142.9 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 0 ft, – 0 ft

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Today was just about the most heartwarming and fulfilling zero that we could have imagined. There is no way to do it justice with this blog post, but I’ll at least lay out the events of the day, and hope that my current level of joy and gratitude somehow finds a way through.

We had spent a long time anticipating this particular zero, and now that it was here, we faced the stark fact that a day only contains so many hours, and we were going to have to make choices about what we could and couldn’t fit into our time in Portland. We tried alleviating the problem from the start with a nice, early wake-up. We had come up with a genius plan where Pickles drove Laura to an appointment and then work and then got to use her car for the day, while I went with Shyam and Sou to the store at 7am (they go every morning to buy fresh ingredients for the food cart), and then was dropped off at the Rain or Shine Coffeehouse before they headed to work, where I had made plans to meet up with my friend Sheena and her two little boys, Daxos who is 2, and his little brother Caius who is only 1 month old.

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