22 Aug Burning Rubber to Snoqualmie Pass
I got stuck in White Pass. Hikers Grease, Cecil, Long Legs, Jorge, Stedosaurus, and Lite Bright made it too easy to hang out. We gorged on a breakfast of pulled pork sandwiches and soda at the gas station. Moved to the deck of a room at the lodge where Lite Bright’s mom was staying. Shoes off and feet high we settled in.Twelve packs of Olympia and Schmidt beer made the day fly by as all of us dirty hairy hikers laughed away in our filth. The sun rising up and back down as empty beer cans piled up between stories of trail exploits and other hiker antics. Revelry never ceased as the sun began to set.
Somehow, once the light was gone, a group of us pulled away to the trailhead. It was Grease a chemist from Oregon, Cecil an outdoor guide from Idaho, Long Legs a remarkable tall and big bearded guy jokester and his sister Jorge. In the dark we found a camping spot. More accurately, we found some empty parking spots in a dirt lot reserved for horse trailers. It smelled of horse shit and piss. It made a perfect bed and I was quickly asleep.
Camping without my tent, I woke at first light covered in dew. I had the itch to hike. So, I packed up my wet gear in my wet bag and set off. Bleary eyed, Grease woke enough to salute me from his sleeping bag before turning back over. The rest slept and I pushed on.
It was a good day. I caught up with Postholer, a guy I hiked with the first few days near Mexico. We leapfrogged each other down the trail. I entered Mt. Ranier National Park. I sat on the bridge over Chinook Pass to rest and eat an orange. As I did, a beautiful bald eagle came flying towards me down the road. It passed no more than 15 ft away from me as an orange slice dangled from my mouth. Right passed me and a moment later soaring above the valley behind me.
I smiled and finished my orange, thought to myself that Birdman would have loved that! Then, I pushed on to gorgeous Sheep Lake to make camp.
I had been early to bed, so I was early to rise the next day. On the trail by 05:20, I’d hike until 20:30. I passed troops of scouts, talked to a couple leaders, talked to a fireman who suggested I look into Seattle Fire for EMT work after my trip. I startled small herds of Elk down the hillside as I trudged. moving fast and feeling good.
Walking well past sundown, I walked with the littlest bit of remaining light to a small camp near a creek. Exhausted, I tallied my miles to confirm that I’d made my longest day of 41 miles. I had reached a new level of exhaustion. And it felt great. It was a conscious exhaustion where you begin to notice that your body is working and moving almost on autopilot without any sense of exertion or feeling. Excitement kept me up long enough to eat a dinner of rehydrated leftovers – part stuffing mix, part lentil soup, part vegetarian chili, and part instant mashed potatoes. It tasted like food so I gladly demolished it. Sleep comes quick after a day like that.
The next day was the day of the frog. Every stream or creek I crossed, I saw a frog hopping in the water or resting at waters edge. It was a long 28 mile meandering through a haze of fatigue. The heat of the day also made it a tough slog. My body felt tired after the long day but not sore in anyway. My mind was sleepy and slow which is fine when all you have to do is walk.
At dinner time, I rolled down go Snoqualmie Pass where a food truck called to me. I staggered into the RV restaurant and somehow managed to converse with Dan, the cook and proprietor. Beer was on the house, and chicken curry would be right up. Boom shacka lacka…
One hundred miles down in three days. In my mind, I scoffed at the old men who told me I couldn’t keep that pace in Washington. There have been a few along the way who have deemed themselves trail sages and apparently live to tell you how to hike sections and recount to you their many exploits on the trail. I do what I want, old man. That’s my way.
Dan, who runs the food truck Aardvark has “the best curry in Washington” he claims. It was pretty excellent. Well, after I polished it and a tall boy of Rolling Rock, he gave me a lift to the local hostel: Mountain Mostel.
And there, the glorious hero UTurn awaited. Old friend, new brother, fellow hiker, long lost comrade. We hadn’t seen each other since he got off the trail in Tahoe to celebrate his birthday. After his time off trail he decided to finish his trek going South in order to see friendly faces again. And here we were. Bromanticly embracing in our reuniting. Beers were had. Ice cream ate. Movies watched. Catching up done.
Today was a day of rest to honor the trail Gods and in hopes that Birdman catches me before the end. Now, I lounge on couches with my feet elevated, donuts within reach, pizza awaiting me in the freezer, and the anticipation of all you can eat taco night at the ski lodge.
Life is grand! Also, I am overcome with joy each time I get to talk with my brother and neice in London. That happened today. So, I’ll leave you with two nuggets of wisdom from my niece:
“Unkie has whiskers in the mountains”
“I went pee! We need a sticker!”
Stay young, friends. It’s an old world.
Random Trail Notes:
1. Met Scott Williamson hiking South. He’s trying to break the unsupported speed record that he just lost to Anish. Nice guy. Likes tootsie rolls.
2. The gal Beads had to get off trail for a few days so our short lived hiking duo is done.