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.



  1. I’d say you are making great progress in spite of the health issues you’ve encountered recently. Congratulations on persevering through it all. (I guess those Voodoo dounuts must have helped give you an edge! :-) ) For those of us easterners ignorant of voodoo donuts, here is a link to pictures of the huge variety they carry in their Portland store. WOW! http://voodoodoughnut.com/menu.php

    The mushroom is incredible, as is the caterpillar. And the picture of the peaches says it all. Thanks again for sharing all your moments–fun, exuberant, not so fun, and awe-inspiringly scenic. We readers are so happy to be a part of your journey in this way.


  2. You 2 are making such an incredible journey!! And to see the elusive elk! I didn’t see antlers. Did I miss them? Don’t they all have them? So glad your ailments were serial not overlapping!


  3. I hate hearing about your allergies, North Star. Try irrigating your nasal passage with lukewarm water, literally pouring water into one side of your nose and letting it come out the other or if need be down your throat and spit out if possible. Sounds crazy but it flushes out the allergens or aggravating substances. Also, some very deep breathing, exhaling longer than you inhale. Feel better!


  4. I’m so glad you two have each other for support and care. I can’t imagine what I would have done after my bike accident without Stu. The beautiful photos and experiences you are having invigorate me while in suburbia. Hope your nasal passages stay healthy and happy through most of your remaining trip!


  5. Wishing you a mold-free and nose-bleed -free series of days. May, you continue to gain comfort and strength from each other and from fellow hikers and your surroundings.

    North to Canada, eh?


  6. Good to see your post! Both posts, actually. Just after you passed through the Columbia Gorge it went up in flame on the Washington side, but I think a little more East than where you were. The smoke blowing down the gorge has been driving my allergies nuts, so I can sympathize with you NorthStar. Take good care of eachother, and enjoy Washington. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the North Cascades area. I spent a week in Stehekin this summer and it just blew me away! Maybe take a load off your legs and do a little kayak tour in Lake Chelan when you get there. I recommend it if you can stand not pushing towards the border when you get that close to it.


  7. I really identified with your comment about having someone for mutual support when “stuff” happens. That would normally be my wife & soulmate but she is physically unable to backpack due to the effects of high-dose chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer. I’m hoping to find a compatible hiking partner, male or female, for my planned hike next year.

    Your posts and pictures continue to be an inspiration to me for next year. I look forward to following you through to the Canadian border. Good hiking!

    Dwane Koppler


    1. Thanks Dwane! Sorry to hear about your wife, and we hope she makes a quick, full recovery.

      If you start the PCT near kickoff, it shouldn’t be a problem to find someone whose company you enjoy and whose pace is similar to yours. There will be lots of other solo hikers looking for partners, just as you will be. Partnerships and groups form easily and naturally, and everyone is really friendly.


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