Atypical Washington

Day 139 Seattle, WA via Snoqualmie Pass Mile 2402

A cloudy morning in Seattle seems to be ruining my title for this post.  But if my first 10 days in the state are any indicator, there might be sun and clear skies somewhere above the fog over lake Washington.  The Evergreen state is known to be rainy and chilly, and more than a few thru hikers recount enduring a wet, cold slog to the finish after so much good weather for two thousand miles.  I’m sure my debt with Washington will come soon enough, but the first half has been a glorious display of alpine scenery and an abundance of trail magic usually unheard of in these parts.  Mt Adams and Mt Rainier pierced into the sky from many a ridgeline, purple lupines covered the mountainsides like thick shag carpet, and my rain jacket and tent hardly left my pack.  My food bag also stayed heavier than usual as trail magic after trail magic kept feeding us cold sodas, snacks, and delicious meals.  So where were the socked in mountains, wet feet, and lonely road crossings?  Well, there are still 250 miles to go…

While the weather has thus far been unusual, the topography of Washington is as rugged as ever.  Guess it didn’t want to go as far as flattening out for us hikers.  But the upside of all the climbing comes in the stellar mountain views that peek around every corner.  Traversing around Mt Adams, walking the knife ridges of the Goat Rocks Wilderness, and spying massive ice-clad Rainier from every point on the trail.  These mountains are sick!!  The trail has also had its fair share of logging clear cuts, but these empty hillsides do leave room for huckleberries by the acre.  Giant deep blue berries that are literally hanging heavy over the trail.  Several afternoons I have lost time due to such snacking.  I reckon you could probably survive the month of September out here on all the berries: Salmon berry, huckleberry, blueberry, blackberry, and thimbleberry.  Not only tasty, but clearly a good dietary supplement to Snickers bars and instant potatoes.  I’m pretty sure I’m on the verge of a vitamin and mineral deficiency.  And while not all trail magic helps the diet, it is always delicious.   Twice I have stumbled across Shrek’s truck opened wide with cold sodas, beer, snacks, and comfy camp chairs.  At White Pass, Headbanger’s dad had set up shop at the ski lodge, feeding us steak and potatoes, beer, scrambled eggs, bacon, muffins, and even sending us off with some giant hotdogs.  The food bag did not get lighter.  Two days later, Headbanger and I were steeling ourselves for a clear-cut section when a sign for magic appeared.  Magic Man had set up his gig on a completely random forest service road and surprised us with krispy kreme donuts and chocolate milk.  A superb morning indeed!  And to make a record of it, we hit double trail magic that same evening from Not Phil’s dad, who stuffed us with chili cheese dogs, fresh peaches, and my first ever Rainier beer.  Again, the food bag did not get lighter.  Now I sit on a comfy couch in Seattle while my aunt Boo serves up all sorts of home-cooked goodness.  Who said this was a rough life?

As the trail comes closer to the end, my mind has both been reflecting on all the miles and anticipating life after.  Reflection is nice, but it’s more enjoyable to dream of the good stuff ahead that you’ve missed for months.   Here’s my list:

10.  Sitting.  I have come to the conclusion that 25-30 miles a day for me is not sustainable.  As one hiker said, “the only way I’m going to feel better is to stop hiking.”  School will involve a lot of sitting, and I’ll aim for the comfiest of chairs.

9.  Kitchen.  I want it all: microwave, fridge, stove, oven, utensils, ceramic mugs, all that good stuff.  Seeing as how I haven’t even had a stove for a thousand miles, who knows what kind of goodness I’ll be able to whip up once my ‘kitchen’ consists of more than a spork.  (Thanks Bridget)

8.  Cotton.  My hiking clothes are long past filthy, and every time I put on loaner cotton ones it feels like a slice of heaven.  Cotton may kill, but it feels damn good.

7.  Fresh Produce.  See vitamin deficiency.  Kids, it really is better than candy.

6.  Running.  Lots of miles in the legs right now, but not the fast and light kind.  And while I have done some trail running, it’s just not the same with a 25 pound pack and trekking poles.  Eugene here I come!!!!!

5.  Pillow.  I’ve gotten used to the ground and sleeping bag, but a jumble of dirty clothes under your head just isn’t the same.

4.  Reading.  I’m going to get slammed with textbooks pretty soon, but I’m talking about pleasant, before bed stories.  I gave up on this a long time ago on trail; I was just simply too tired.

3.  Music.  Thanks to Annie and some talented fellow hikers, I haven’t been completely without tunes, but mostly it seems I am just humming to myself.

2.  Clean feet and socks.  Now some might say I don’t have healthy habits normally, but really, it’s going to be way better than on trail.  I’m tired of my feet looking like I just finished a shift at the coal mine and my socks creating small dust storms.

1.  Water.  Clean and pure in all its forms: soda, beer, hot showers, no treatment necessary.  I will however miss the ice-cold springs and mountain lakes…

If you want to see something comical, check out my projected finish date on my itinerary.  It was yesterday.  Oops, 250 miles short.   Onward then, to Canada!

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3 thoughts on “Atypical Washington

  1. Cricket, It was great to meet you in White Pass. You and your fellow hikers are on an adventure of a lifetime. Congratulations on what you have accomplished so far. You will soon achieve what relatively few people have. Your family must be proud, and any future employer will be lucky to have an employee with the work ethic of someone who has conquered the PCT.

    Sorry for giving you a hard time about the “Ducks” (what do you expect from a Coug fan). U of O is a great school.

    Al

  2. Nice work, David. I’ll miss reading the periodic updates, but hopefully I’ll get to see you in 2 weeks when I’m in Oregon. Enjoy your last days on the trail.

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