Been hanging out here in Packwood. Eating. Writing my journal. Eating. I’ve somehow managed to lose my zip-on leggings for my hiking shorts. I had put them on a couple days ago when the mosquitoes were bad and forgot to repack them when I took them off near Goat Rocks.
Saw Work Horse and Chai trying to get a hitch from the grocery story. Stopped by and chatted with them for a bit. They are going back on the trail tomorrow morning. I suspect I’ll catch up to them at some point. It took them 30 minutes before someone finally picked them up. I’ll have to go through that routine tomorrow.
I’m resupplied for the next 7 days in the bush. Tomorrow I’ll head back up to the Kracker Barrel General Store and wait around for Stormtrooper to show up. Then it is back on the trail !
After my dinner of instant mashed potatoes last night, I’m down to a fig bar, some granola, and half roll of sweet tarts. On the bright side, my pack is nice and light 🙂 I’ve been putting a lot of effort into getting extra miles in over the last few days so I can hit Whites Pass around noon.
To be honest, over the last couple days all I can think about is pizza and burgers. Sometimes, when my mind wanders a bit, I can even smell them. Food. Milk shakes. Anything fried. Fresh fruit. I’m thinking about all of that and more. Guess hiker hunger has really grabbed me.
Today, I’ve a little descent, then another 2k climb up to 6.5k. After that, it is downhill for 6 miles to Whites Pass at ~4k. I’m back in the woods for the most part during the descent. There is a burned out section which gives me a short mosquito break, then they come back when I bottom out.
Just before I start the last big climb, I run into a group of backpackers hiking out. 3 40 something guys and one of their teenage boys. The teenager looks like he doesn’t want to be there, heh. They are asking me all these questions about thru-hiking and seem genuinely interested. I’m in a bit of a hurry so I cut the conversation short saying something about burgers and beer. One of the guys keeps up with me for a few minutes chatting, then he drops back. I can hike the shit out of most backpackers right now. It feels good to be in that kind of shape.
Anyway, I climb this last hill, and get a nice view of an alpine lake as well as the last bowl I’ll see before dropping into the trees.
I’m thinking how cool it would be to ski this stuff in the winter. Then on my left, through the trees, I see a chair lift. Apparently there is a ski resort on the other side of the hill. Well how about that? Might need to make a trip up here one day with my planks.
I took a final break before heading into the trees, chatting with yet another crop of SOBO’s. It is funny because I’m noticing the further North I go, more and more of these SOBO’s want to talk. They want to exchange trail names, etc. Then it hits me. These folks have only been on the trail for a few weeks. They are still nooblets.
After eating my last fig bar and polishing off the last of my water, I had 6 miles to go and it is all downhill. I was making good time rocking downhill with my treking poles at an easy jog. Hot, Hungry, Dirty, and Dry. I decended into Wites Pass like a meteor.
I covered the 15 miles in little over 5 hours, rocking a 3 mile/hr pace.
As luck would have it, a trail angel was dropping off a hiker and offered me a ride. Trevor took me over to the general store to pick up my resupply package, then drove me down to Packwood for the room I booked at the Packwood Inn. The dude was pretty interesting. He works for Chehalis Indian Reservation as a gaming agent. He was full of interesting facts about legal jurisdiction of the State on Reservation territory.
Apparently, this tribe is very financially successful. All tribal members get a ~$30k check every year. The tribe has used money from their Casino to start up all sorts of other business ventures like brewing craft beers, construction, a state of the art hospital, and tons of other businesses. They are even expanding the reservation’s land by buying up nearby parcels. Every kid gets a full ride scholarship to the university of their choice.
Trevor dropped me at the Inn around 1:00 and the first thing I did was leave my pack at the office and go looking for fried anything and draft beer. Well, it turns out that the good town of Packwood has four places to eat. The first is a bar which is closed until 3:00. The next option is a pizza place where one of the employees tested positive for Covid and that’s closed to Friday. Craft Brewery ? Closed until 3:30. Finally, I walk to the edge of town to a burger joint. They are closed with a “Will be back” dial set to 11 Is that AM or PM? I’ve no idea.
All things eventually work out and I get my meal at 3:30. I head back to the Inn and drop into the bathtub for a long soak. Here’s the result.
For this stretch I did 149 miles in 6.5 days averaging ~23 miles a day. I never expected to keep that kind of pace in Washington. Looking ahead, I suspect I’ll have to slow down somewhat given the steeper terrain, but I’m feeling like I am going to finish this thing. I’ve ~350 miles left !
Got up early this morning and chatted with my hapless companion Jeff while packing. He is a physics and calculus teacher with a masters in Geology. He seemed an interesting character, but I was pretty sure he isn’t interested in doing my kind of mileage. Besides the bugs were biting and he still hadn’t got out of his tent by 6:30, so that settled it.
I took a quick picture of the mosquito bog next to our camp site. Nasty.
The first couple hours was flat, slightly downhill to 5k. Then it was time to do some climbing which would eventually top out at 7.5k. Ran into this guy in the lowland area. I guess it was a quayle…dunno.
Gigantic bowls with snow fed streams turning into creeks which turned into rivers. It was just amazing. Honestly there is no point in writing about it, I’ll just lay out the pictures and videos I took.
The trail in that picture took a little over an hour to cover, after which I dropped into one of the bowls. Got mobile service for a few minutes and chatted with Alice until it dropped. Also got a load of text messages from Stormtrooper. He thinks he will be at Whites Pass on Friday. Looks like I’ll be seeing him soon.
I found a nice flat sheltered spot at the edge of the tree line. Setup my tent, talked to a few SOBO’s who were passing by, and crashed. What a day.
Today I’m walking around Mt Adams. Kind of excited about this, because the trail is finally going to get up to 6k. But first, I need to do some climbing. The morning starts off normal.
Then passes through another old burn
Then it turns into a wildflower windfall. Honestly I just kept taking pictures. Reds, yellows, blues, whites, oranges. Butterflies of various colors flying around. It was gorgeous. Here is a bunch of pics.
I passed a popular camp site that was loaded to the gills. Nobody was there, I think they must be climbing some summit trail nearby.
Run into some lava poop mixed in with the fields.
Papa and John and I have been lapping each other all day. They take a break and I pass them. I take a break and they pass me.
Eventually, I just fall in behind them and we hike together for a while. They are a little slower than me but not so much that it throws me off. We spend an hour chatting a bit. Papa is from a little town North of Sacremento. John is from Cost Mesa in Orange county. They are cousins who did a big chunk of the PCT in 2019. They plan to finish Washington, then go down to the high Sierra and do the chunk they skipped because of snow in ’19. They are solid hikers.
So it turns out to be serendipity that we were hiking together, because up ahead is a nasty water crossing called Adams Creek. We talked to a SOBO hiker who told us there are three sets of logs upstream that we can stitch together for a dry crossing. Here’s what that bad boy looked like.
Looking at the video, it really doesn’t capture how deep and fast running this thing was. Honestly it was scary. I was clearly off my game, because I thought I was taking videos of the guys crossing, but failed to press the button. Only thing I got was John leading the way across the first log. That water under his feet is about 3 feet deep (I checked with my poles). Falling on any of these spots would probably have resulted in a SAR call.
After that, we paused for a bit to let the adrenaline rush wind down. We were all laughing and relieved. Hope I never have to do this again.
I walked with the guys for a bit longer. Then they stopped for a break. They said their goal was Lava Spring at 2250 which is short of my goal. So I said goodbye and kept charging on my own. Rest of the day was mostly good views, flowers, and nice trail.
Made it into Goat Rocks Wilderness and camped in a mosquito infested nightmare of a tent site at around 8pm. I figured this one would suck, but it puts me in the right position for the big climb tomorrow.
While I was drifting off to sleep another section hiker showed up asking all sorts of questions about the trail to Walupt lake, how heavy my pack was, and various other random things. I’m sitting in my tent doing my best to help this guy, who must have donated a pint of blood to the mosquitoes while we were talking. FInally he asks if he can setup near me….which is a silly question to a thru-hiker. If there is room, then the answer is always yes. I fell asleep to the sound of him slapping mosquitoes inside his tent.
Up and out at a little after 6. Bye bye Blue. I did my usual pre-breakfast morning hike. Fortunately, I crossed a large area of the forest which was burned which gave me an hour of bug-free bliss. Surprising how little of Washington is burned compared to Oregon. There seems to be a lot more moisture up here.
Then the burned area turned back into old-growth forest. Then I get some of these
Then a few snow blobs
Then my insect friends show up for their morning feast. They stay with me most of the day. The only spot I find that is relatively bug free is a well traveled dirt road. I setup there to cook some breakfast when Papa and John show up followed by Patches.
Patches is anxious to get to the highway into Trout Lake at 2229. Apparently he went swimming with his mobile phone a couple days ago with the expected result. Honestly, I’d get lost all the time without my smartphone maps, so I get his anxiety. He splits shortly after while Papa and John take a break with me.
While I’m hanging out, a car pulls up and out jumps an older couple looking for huckleberries. They plan to hike in a few days and want to time their start with the huckleberry season at this altitude. Spent some time chatting with them about the various berries. They show me various types of blueberries and others whose names I forgot. The guy hiked most of the California PCT back in the 90’s. He said his pack weighed around 50 to 60 pounds and didn’t meet another thru-hiker until around the 400 mile mark. Amazing how times have changed. If I had to lug a pack that big, I would have quit after the first 100 miles.
So that gal starts rumaging through her trunk offering me this and that. Unfortunately, nothing sounds that good, so I pack up and bid them goodbye.
Back on the trail, I’m running into a virtual tidal wave of SOBO’s. I counted 24 of them in groups of twos and threes. With these SOBO’s comes rumors of trail magic a few miles up. Apparently Mama Rose has setup shop and is making burritos. Well I want one! I step up my pace and hit the spot at 2222 only to find….well nothing. Mama has left me burrito-less. Really striking out on the trail magic these days.
By now it is 1:30 or so and hot. I’m at the nadir of this bug filled stretch and got another 1.5k climb coming up. So after crossing this bridge I take stock.
I’ve covered almost 20 miles at this point due to a combination of an early start and the broken promises of trail magic, so I throw my tent up next to the river and take a nap. Papa and John come by for a chat before heading up the hill.
I sleep through the afternoon heat, wash my socks and feet, then pack up for an afternoon climb.
It was a good call. I ran into Papa and John again later in the day and they approved of my timing. The climb was relatively cool and bug free. I setup my tent next to a creek, made some delicious spaghetti and crashed. Did a 25 miler today.