Day 137-140: Good Friends, Old and New
Day 137: Snag Creek (Mile 2174.5)-Near Big Huckleberry Mountain (Mile 2197.5); 23 miles
We began the day with a 1500 foot climb, then immediately dropped, losing all the elevation we had just gained. Washington was already showing us its steepness and greenery.
Close to lunchtime, we ran into North Star’s friend Stephen coming towards us on the trail! We had arranged to meet him, but planning on-trail meetings can be challenging. We were excited that it worked out.
We stopped at Trout Creek and ate our normal lunch, supplemented by watermelon, cucumber, and tomato which Stephen had brought. So tasty!
Stephen continued hiking north with us, and even the uphill miles flew by as we shared stories. Most of the climb was forested, though we occasionally had good views to the south, towards Mt. Hood.
We found a good campsite on a saddle. As we began eating dinner, Stephen revealed three peaches he’d carried up the hill with him. It was a wonderful surprise to end the day.
Day 138: Near Big Huckleberry Mountain (Mile 2197.5)-North of Deer Lake (Mile 2218.5); 21 miles
We packed up, said goodbye to Stephen, and headed north on the Pacific Crest Trail.
From the side of Huckleberry Mountain, we had nice views of Mt. Adams, 25 miles away. And looking around the forest floor, we spotted a fantastically colorful mushroom.
The moist environment was good for mushrooms, but bad for North Star’s mold allergy. As the day progressed, she developed a throbbing headache and became very tired, requiring several rest stops. Antihistamine medication helped a bit, but we still had to set up camp a couple miles before our desired location.
Day 139: North of Deer Lake (Mile 2218.5)-Near White Salmon River (Mile 2237); 18.5 miles
Early on, we saw elk prints along the trail, so we decided to walk as silently as we could. Our quietness paid off a few miles later when we spied four elk in the forest. We were excited to see our first elk of the trip!
The walking was flat and easy, but North Star got another bad headache, making each mile seem frustratingly long.
The forest shared little gifts though, like this cool caterpillar that seemed right out of a children’s book.
Our day brightened further when we encountered some unexpected trail magic. Bucket, who we’ve leapfrogged with several times over the past few hundred miles, knew we were having a rough day and left us a nice gift on the trail.
Though once again we couldn’t cover as much ground as we had planned, we were heartened by the kindness of a fellow thru hiker. Our friend Bucket is pictured (on the left) with Shutterbug and Swiss Cheese at the top of this post.
Day 140: Near White Salmon River (Mile 2237)-Muddy Fork (Mile 2257.5); 20.5 miles
Two things helped North Star today: taking allergy medicine a few hours before the previous dose wore off, and climbing out of the forest into drier alpine meadows.
Milky glacial creeks flowed freely as the hot sun hit the glaciers on Mount Adams.
One creek turned out to be more like a raging muddy river. At first it looked like we were going to get wet, but luckily, after walking upstream, we found a simple log bridge.
Despite all that flowing water, the air had become dry, and Shutterbug got a bad bloody nose near the end of the day. North Star set up the tent and prepared dinner as Shutterbug tended to his nose. Recently Shutterbug had been carrying extra weight to ease North Star’s burden as she dealt with her allergies, and now North Star took on extra tasks to help him out. Before sleeping, we noted how wonderful it was to have each other’s support. On a journey this demanding, traveling with a close friend makes obstacles easier to overcome.