17 Aug Washington, You Sly Dog
It’s a sneaky state. Hiding away in the corner. But, it’s got some serious mountains.
Heading out of Cascade Locks was hard. I felt like I could have rested a full week there. I took a solid day without walking and had a movie marathon in the living room of the most generous man, Shrek. He’s a trail icon, ex-navy,now trail angel who opens his wonderful home to hikers. So there I was, eating ice cream and pizza, drinking a rum cocktail, watching Angelina Jolie shoot guns on the moving picture panel, my feet hanging over the side of a large pleather chair. I didn’t want to move.
And yet, the next morning came. I began my routine. The shoes came on. The tent down. The pack packed. And, on sore and swollen feet, one step after the other, I left Oregon.
I had company again. A gal named Beads joined me for breakfast burritos before we both danced across the Bridge of the Gods. Beads is a veterinarian from Pennsylvania. I was happy to have the company with Birdman still a few days South.
Washington has made me feel very welcome. I pick huckleberries, blue berries, salmon berries, and the tiniest little strawberries right from the trail. The weather has been great with just one evening of showers.
Three days into Washington, I caught a hitch into Trout Lake. It was the friendliest little intersection of a town. After a stop at the grocery for trail food and a stop at the cafe for comfort food, it was time to get back to business. Walking back towards the trail with my thumb out for a hitch, I came upon an Alpaca Farm. A sign told me they sold alpaca goods including socks. I had been wearing socks with holes for at least 100 miles before Cascade Locks. I jumped at the opportunity to get some Alpaca socks and walked into the farm store. The folks were amazing and after selling me two pairs of the most comfortable running socks I’ve ever owned, Barbara, the proprietor, had hee husband Jim watch the store while she drove Beads and me back to the trail.
A good quick trip to town and we were back to it. Monstrous Mount Adams was our target. We inched towards it in a tunnel of trees and then began circling it to the West. Along the way we met up with two fellas, Grease and Cecil. Good guys. We’d hike near them for a day, around Mt Adams and then away from it. All together, the four of us camped together soon after we entered Goat Rocks Wilderness. Oddly enough, there were actually mountain goats grazing on the hillsides above our camp as the sun went down.
This morning, I woke early. There was climbing to be had. I passed the tents of weekend warriors as I began climbing. Stopping often to take in the view of snow covered Mt Adams in the morning glow. Clouds were clinging to its peak reflecting the morning colors.
The climb was steep and rocky. My shoes, torn open and worn down, weren’t much help. The wind picked up as I got higher and the clouds I had seen near Mt Adams were now heading towards me. The familiar burn in my legs returned reminding me of the passes through the Sierra. I zigges and zagges with the switch back retail and slipped over the loose rocks. Finally, reaching the top I took time to take in the view. Stunning valleys dropped down sharply from where I stood. Wisps of cloud snuck through sawtooth ridges and begin filling the valleys below me.
I saw the trail I’d be walking. It’s names the Knife’s Edge. A gorgeous trail that walks the edge of a ridge steeply dropping to a deep valley on each side. I couldn’t wait. I started down. Exhilarated as the trail thinned. The steeper the drop off the more exciting. Pebbles slid down and out of aight so quickly. I was stable though walking the narrow trail. My legs haven’t felt this strong in years. And, with a wild joy and confidence, I navigated the trial.
Coming off the ridge, I reentered a tunnel of moss covered trees. I’d walk for hours with this as my surrounding. It’s a mindless walk sometimes when the scenery seems unchanging. A walk where you almost don’t notice your body moving forward. Lost in some thought and everything else in autopilot.
I emerged from the tunnel to a paved road and 4 hours had passed. I had reached White’s Pass.
And here I lay. I got my resupply goods and packed my bag. I met up with a PCT trail crew who offered us hikers dinner. And now, after a very long day, I feel like I could sleep for a week. Exhaustion is one of my closest friends these days. But closer still is my excitement to reach Canada.
Back on the trail tomorrow. I may slow to try to finish with old friends. Otherwise, Snoqualmie in a few days.
Wish me luck and good weather.