Washington I

July 19, Tues.–9.6 miles–Washington I Snoqualmie Pass

Tues. July 19     Miles today: 9.6        Total so far: 1,228.1

We had a bright, sunny morning, with only 9.6 miles to go for food and rest at Snoqualmie Pass!  We marched uphill and then through a pretty but very wet forest with lots of ponds.  Then the trail became more and more rocky and rough to the point where I can honestly say it was the WORST section of PCT I have seen.  It was either extremely rocky or unbelievably steep, rocky and rooty, with water literally running down the “trail”.  We tried to joke about “is this the trail, or did we get confused and wander off down a creekbed?”

It was slow going, and after a few hours of this, our feet, knees and ankles were pretty miserable, even with trek poles to help.  I tried to look at the great scenery, but mostly all I could do was focus on how to get through the next awful section.  We could hear the traffic roar on I-90, and what a relief to finally get to Snoqualmie Pass!  It turned out that half the place was closed because it’s ski-related.  We went to the Summit Lodge and asked for our box.  Out came the list, and…no box!  Yikes!  But first–food!  We ate and ate at the excellent Family Pancake House.  Great pancakes and coffee there!

We signed on for a room at Summit Lodge and began doing the usual resupply chores, plus lots of phoning to try to find our box.  Our daughter in Corvallis assured us that it had been mailed 10 days ago.  A call to the USPS proved totally useless other than to find out that the nearest actual post office was in North Bend, 20 miles away.  The USPS refused to give us the phone number the the PO in North Bend.  I refused to give up trying, and after consulting the local phone book,  I called City Hall in North Bend,  and they immediately got us the post office phone number.  At last, I was talking to a real person at the “real” post office, and she turned out to be a very friendly lady who soon enlightened me on what to do.

It seems that all mail to Snoqualmie Pass is handled by contract with one lady, who rents a CLOSET at the Chevron gas station convenience store.  That’s where PCT hikers with Gneral Delivery boxes are supposed to go, not to the Lodge, as we had believed.  But the hikers must be at the Chevron by 10:00 am, because that’s when the mail lady comes.   OK…..now we knew where to be tomorrow!

In the meantime, we rested, ate, and prayed like crazy for our box to come!  Before going to bed, we did watch one TV program about the America’s Cup yacht races, because a few years back, Bill was in a contest to design a special piece of equipment for one of the yachts.  His design didn’t win, but the yacht people did send him a cool “America Cup” Tshirt!  We fell asleep praying, “Please, Lord, take care of our box”.  Seems like we do a lot of those “Please, Lord…..” prayers lately.  One of the great things about hiking the PCT is that we really do have to depend on Him a lot.  That is a good thing!

July 18, Mon.–26.7 miles–Washington I

Mon. July 18    Miles today: 26.7     Total so far: 1,218.5

It was a very warm morning when we got up at 5:00 am–55 degrees already!  Wow!  We walked a little while along Blowout Mountain before reaching a ridge with great views in both directions–on one side, Mt. Rainier, and on the other side a large, beautiful valley.  We had a nice breakfast break there, enjoying the views and the morning breeze.  After breakfast, Bill spent some time doing stretches.  He is still battling with plantar fasciitis, which makes his feet really hurt until he can get them stretched and warmed up.  His favorite stretch is to stand on slanted ground (no shortage of that around here!) and lean forward on his trek poles, while keeping his heels down.

Finally we headed on, often hiking through former clearcuts in various “regrowth stages”.  At Tacoma Pass, we met two nice older guys–NoboSteve and his 74-year-old friend, “Plodder.”  Plodder had been hiking with NoboSteve since Chinook Pass, but had simply “run out of steam” and now they were waiting for “Mrs. Plodder” to come pick him up.  We thought it was great that a 74 year old could go that far!  We hurried on for two more miles, aiming for a creek that would be our first water source in 14 miles.  but what a disappointment!  The creek was muddy and yucky.  Sigh.  Out came the water filter, and Bill patiently pumped.  Packs back on, we headed out, and just around the next bend of trail was THE CREEK we’d been looking for, with lots of nice, clear, clean water.  GRRRR! 

Now we were headed for Stampede Pass weather station (our next water source) where we’d also get to see a real “weather array.”  We were not disappointed.  Jacque, the weather technician lady who runs the place, wasn’t home, but there was her cute house with a faucet by the back door where thru-hikers are welcome to her cold, delicious well water.  She has a box near the faucet with a hiker register, information about life at Stampede Pass (deep snow in winter–she gets in and out of her house through the second story window) and a copy of a longdistance hiker newsletter that made for interesting reading as we sat in the shade of the house eating Snickers and drinking cold well water.  Before we left, we looked at the weather array and wondered what all those instruments were.

On we went into a very hot afternoon, through alternate clearcut and forest, for 8 more miles to where there was a pretty cascade right by the trail, where we got more water and washed ourselves, too!  When we stopped for our peanut butter and cracker supper, NoboSteve passed by with a cheery hello.  A couple of hours later, when we reached Twilight Lake (where we’d planned to camp), we found there was no way to get to the lake.  The shoreline all the way around was either dense bushes or swamp.  So we mushed on for another half mile or so to where the PCT crossed a dirt/gravel road and camped there.  We were so tired that all we wanted to do was crash, but the mosquitoes were out in force, which meant having to set up the net tent.  A gentle wind began to blow as we crawled into our sleeping bags, grateful to God for helping us pass the 1,200 mile mark today!  And I continue to be grateful that my shoulder feels fine!