I first hiked the Pacific Crest Trail over the course of 1994 and 1996, then I hiked the whole thing in one go in 2013. During the latter hike I kept this website updated as I progressed up the trail. I still have about 45 hours of video to edit, but in the meantime there is a lot for you to look at here. Over the course of the 168 days I wrote 138,734 words and put 13,644 photos on this website.
Sitting in camp near the last lake of the PCT. Matter of fact it is the only one near the trail since Highway 20 (and second one from Stevens Pass).
I know how yesterday I was complaining about the bad weather, snow, and not seeing anything. Turns out it was just having to take a few hits while lining up the death blow (very bad paraphrasing and stretched thin analogy of a Bruce Lee quote). Today was pretty amazing scenery wise. The clouds were still there, got a bit of hail, but the sun came out for bursts and lit up the snowy hillsides.
I offered Rabbit Stick some hot chocolate this morning and he gladly accepted. He is going stoveless so it was a real treat. "This is the best hot chocolate I have had on the entire trail OTC", he said. "Cause it is the only one!" He told me how when he rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, having hot chocolate every morning was one of his favorite memories of that trip. There were a few times where the waves would rock the boat too hard at the wrong time and knock the precious over..so he would have to start all over again.
RS gave me his last full color brochure about his trip across the Atlantic. He carried it for people like me who had a lot of questions. Granted, I had hiked with RS for a bit in the Sierras and never found out about the rowing trip until another hiker mentioned it to me. It was just one of those things that come up in conversation. Reminds me of this guy Robin that my friend MCQ and I met in New Zealand in 2003. Robin had kind of lived the crazy storied traveling artist life and is the king of that. I made a reference to Madonna once and he told me about driving her in the mid 80s from a resort in Mexico to the "borderline" (boom, bah bum dum, crash) so she could make an important phone call. Had this event happened to me, all my introductions to people from that moment forward would be something like: "Hi, my name is Craig, nice to meet you. I drove Madonna from Mexico to the USA one time. Oh, yeah, I would like to order a cheeseburger, no mayo, with fries."
Anyways, the brochure had photos of him working on the boat, afloat on the boat, and a few other things. I have asked him a long laundry list of questions, but the brochure filled in some other info I did not know. He had done the National TV morning show rounds after he finished. He didn't mention it to me but at 57 he was the first American to row across the Atlantic Ocean.
I recognized him in the picture, but he looked a bit different since it was around 2000. He said he has also lost about 40 pounds on this PCT trip.
We did a "cheers" with the hot chocolate. RS told me that with my beard, if I didn't have any Viking in my lineage, I sure could pass for one. Ah, to come from the land of the ice and snow, drive our ships to moon land, always sleep...with a flashing "ah", I wanna go to the western store. (look up Led Zeppelin "Immigrant Song" animated misheard lyrics on youtube)
RS left and I sat in my tent doorway, drying out my gloves over my jetboil stove. The stove might boil water fast, but it sure dries out clothing very slowly. Well, it could be faster drying, but the articles of clothing would be articles of ash instead. It took a long while and I was finally done with one glove. So of course it took the same amount of "long while" to get the other one dry. I was not going to hike with freezing hands today. The snow yesterday was a lot drier so keeping the gloves from getting soaked should hopefully be less of a problem.
Got on the trail around 8:30am or so. The snow was frozen pretty good, it must have gotten really cold last night. After a couple hours I stopped for a snack and tried to dry out my tent in the temporary sunlight. The sun would come out briefly and it would be blazing hot, then it would go behind a cloud and be a little chilly again. This cycle kept repeating to the point of me yelling at the sky "OH COME ON NOW!". The tent rainfly did get a bit drier though.
The trail started climbing pretty good on its way towards Rock Pass. Although the morning was really pleasant, I was back up in the clouds and getting hailed on. Eventually that haily nonsense stopped and it was slightly sunny again. The valleys below were clear but all the rocky peaks had their heads in the clouds.
Just before Rock Pass I saw Let it Be and Delta coming around the corner toward me. I told him congrats on finishing. They had gone up to the border and camped, then turned around and are heading back south to Harts Pass. I told him to check out the hostel in Winthrop and it sounded like he was going to do that. It was good to see him one last time before seeing him in Internetland. I stopped further up to do some time-lapse video with the clouds. Also had to take a pain pill since my right Achilles' tendon is hurting a bit to the point of being annoying. This is new..have not had any sort of pain that I can recall since Bend, OR.
A bit after Rock Pass were the famous washouts. They were pretty big, but not as huge as they were made out to be. Crossing them was a bit tricky in a couple places. Climbing out of the last one I put my foot on a rock and hoped it held so I could fling myself back up onto the band which it held just barely but it really didn't help with me learning to avoid writing run-on sentences.
Rabbit Stick was behind me and I stayed around to make sure he made it up ok out of the last one. We talked for a bit and he asked me if I could get to the border at 2pm tomorrow instead of 4pm. He wanted to make sure he got a photo of himself at the border. I told him that I promised Cora I wouldn't pop up until 4pm..he said that was fine. I felt like I should just go out earlier to help him out, but I've had it planned with Cora for so long that I really didn't want to mix things up.
I told RS that I would be camping either at Hopkins Lake or at Castle Pass. He asked if I could leave a mark if I went to Hopkins Lake and I told him I would.
Woody Pass had a decent amount of snow on it, far more than anyplace else in the last few days. The clouds lifted a bit so I started packing the memory card of my camera full of photos and video. It took me a long while to go the few miles to the high point. The lighting was really great and finally I received a payoff for having to deal with the bad weather these last few days. Earlier RS remarked how we were probably the only hikers who were gonna see the mountains like that. It will either melt away next week or start dumping again.
The trail hit the 7200 (?) foot high point. This is the highest the PCT gets in Washington if you don't take the hiker route over the Goat Rocks in the south cascades. Otherwise this is the 2nd highest point. I had to change memory cards in the camera. It was a good thing I did because the fog cleared over Hopkins Lake below and I was able to get a photo. I had to walk southbound for about 1/4 mile to climb back up the ridge to get the photo. RS had caught up by that point and he asked if the trail was closed and I was turning around and walking back to Mexico instead.
The snow was almost a foot deep here, it must have really snowed in the last couple of days. RS said he thought about it and he would just camp at the border too and go out on Thursday. He said he would buy Cora and I breakfast at the lodge since I had been helping him out with various things. (oh yeah, his Dad was a prolific pulp science fiction writer from the 1930s onward..so RS had a few questions about how to get them into e-book format)
We descended the ridge. This is around the spot that the guy last year broke his foot and had to get airlifted out...six miles from the border. Got to the turnoff to Hopkins Lake and it was a short walk to a nice campsite in the trees not far from the lake.
Made camp and I made dinner. While my dinner was soaking/simmering, I dried (or tried to) my socks out. Nothing worse than putting on freezing socks in the morning.
Tomorrow I hit the border! Might climb back up the ridge if it is clear and take some more photos. Only have about 6.3 miles or so until I get to the border...and don't have to be there until 4pm a that. I looked out the tent a bit ago and could see a few stars, that is encouraging. On the flipside, it is really cold right now and I gotta wrap this up!