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Day 145-149: Hiking Through Central Washington

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Day 145: American Ridge Trail Junction (Mile 2325.5)-Arch Rock Spring (Mile 2350); 24.5 miles

We woke to a cold rain falling on the tent. Bundling up in our hats, gloves, puffy jackets, rain jackets, and rain pants, we began walking.

After a few miles, we came upon a stately bull elk and several female elk grazing in a meadow near Dewey Lake.

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Low clouds hung above tree-lined Dewey Lake while mist swirled over the beautifully clear water.

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In order to stay warm, we didn’t pause for long at the lake and climbed up to Chinook Pass. We were told this spot normally features a dramatic view of Mt. Rainier, but we all we could see was thick fog. In the afternoon, the sun broke through, and we were glad to feel its warmth as well as see some longer views.

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The sunshine ended up being short-lived, though, and the weather turned quite cold and windy as evening approached.

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Day 146: Arch Rock Spring (Mile 2350)-Tacoma Pass (Mile 2373); 23 miles

Going about our morning tasks, we discovered that freezing rain overnight had iced our bear can lids in place. North Star broke the ice with a few well-placed kicks. After walking a few miles bundled up, we were excited when the sun’s rays began to pierce through the branches.

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We walked through a mix of logged, burned, and old stands of trees today. The older forests were our favorite areas.

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At the end of the day, near where we were planning to camp, we stumbled across trail magic. Not Phil’s Dad had quite the setup. He served us vegetarian chili over tortillas and hot chocolate. We are very grateful to all the trail angels for their support on this thru hike. Trail magic always invigorates us!

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Day 147: Tacoma Pass (Mile 2373)-Olallie Meadow (Mile 2397); 24 miles

Not Phil’s Dad kindly fixed us some hot chocolate as we packed up our gear. Once our fingers and bellies were warm, we said goodbye, and headed north on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The air had grown thick with smoke overnight from forest fires to the east, reducing visibility. Unfortunately, all we could clearly see around us were previously logged areas.

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As the smoke cleared, an unnatural patchwork pattern of forest came into view. All the trees in each rectangular section had been logged at once, so each section contained trees of similar height.

To our relief, the trail occasionally led us through areas of old-growth forest. We noticed dramatic differences between these virgin forests and areas recovering from logging. Most notably, in the older growth areas, the air was much cooler and wetter. This difference in climate allowed fungi and a wider variety of vegetation to grow on the forest floor. The trees in these areas were of all ages and sizes, and dead trees were decomposing into rich soil. It was exciting to witness such a diverse, thriving ecosystem.

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Day 148: Olallie Meadow (Mile 2397)-Snoqualmie Pass (Mile 2402) + 0.5 miles for resupply; 5.5 miles

Strong winds rocked the tent at night, so neither of us slept well. Luckily, we only had to walk five miles downhill to Snoqualmie Pass today. The walk was nicer than we expected, even though it was interrupted by power lines and highway noise.

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Once in town, we headed to the Chevron, which held PCT hiker packages. Bizarrely, they stored the boxes in an empty beverage refrigerator. Opening the glass door and stepping inside, we found a large haphazard pile of boxes. Fortunately, we were able to quickly spot our boxes, since we had decorated them with monster stickers.

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We then proceeded to complete our normal town chores: eating, laundry, showers, eating, and sleeping.

Day 149: Zero in Snoqualmie Pass

We ate well today, and so did Cheep Cheep. She splurged on a bag of candy worms, and ate the whole bag all by herself!

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We shared dinner with our friends Blueberry and Skippy at a local restaurant. It was great to trade trail stories and relax.

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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan #

    Ah, this is the food post. :-) The vegetarian chilli on tortillas sounds delicious. And I’m glad to see you are keeping Cheep Cheep well fed! Hot chocolate on a cool morning sounds perfect. This trail magic is amazing. I love the mountain with the fog picture,and the close up of the drops of water on the leaves. Only 250 miles to go. How amazing is that! -Jan

    September 15, 2012
    • Yes, it’s amazing to have so little of the trail left. People have been congratulating us for having made it this far. It feels great.

      Cheep cheep let us have a few worms too, which was even better. Also, the bakery in Stehekin, our last stop, is supposed to be awesome. We can’t wait for that.

      September 19, 2012
  2. John Willig #

    Monster stickers! I helped pick those out with you so many many months ago, trying to find something easy to spot. They made us laugh then, and they made me laugh now. Cheep Cheep rules the roost!

    September 15, 2012
    • When Jim puts the monster stickers on our boxes, he sometimes has them saying things to us. It’s fun to read their little comments. Thanks for helping us pick them out!

      September 19, 2012
  3. Alex #

    Great photos as always. The one with the sunlight peeking through the evergreens is really pretty.

    I can’t believe Cheep Cheep didn’t share any worms with you two after all you’ve done for her!

    It also occurred to me that your normal town chores are like your very own version GTL.

    September 16, 2012
    • Thanks Alex! We did grab a couple worms when she wasn’t looking. Don’t tell!

      We had to look up what GTL meant. We had a good laugh. I don’t think we’ve met any Jersey Shore people on the PCT!

      September 19, 2012
  4. Kelly Grittner #

    hanks for sharing you amazing adventure. Your photos and narrative provide a wonderful sense of the trail and your love of the environment. You have inspired this 63 year old male to hit the PCT in 2013. I live in Armstrong BC and wondering if you have transportation arranged for the end of your journey. Depending on the date I mght be abe to provide some trail magic..

    Kelly Grittner Armstrng BC

    September 16, 2012
    • Congrats, you’re going to love it! We think we will arrive in Manning Park on the 28th, but if the weather is good, we may go slower. I’ll send you my email and phone number and so we can get in touch. Thanks!

      September 19, 2012
  5. Suzanne in berkeley #

    Wow! Not Phil’s Dad has a great spread (and a great trail name, of course). He must be making so many through hikers quite happy this month.
    Amazing to read and see how much progress you have made. Almost to BC! Hey, didnt you start at another BC?
    Hope the remaining miles are wonderful.

    September 17, 2012
    • Yes, he’s fed quite a few people this year! I’m sure there are a lot of grateful hikers out there.

      We plan to pick up our passports in just a few days. It will be quite something to walk across the border into Canada!

      September 19, 2012
  6. John #

    I’ve been following since Northern California and been loving your pictures and stories. I just completed the Columbia River to Snoqualmie Pass section two weeks ago, so it’s nice to see your photo’s. You’ll love the final push to Canada..I did that section last year. Don’t miss the bakery in Stehekin, it’s a must! Dinsmore Hiker Haven and Stehekin will both have laundry.

    September 17, 2012
    • We have heard many good things about that bakery. We will definitely stop there. Stehekin sounds like the perfect place for our last stop before the Canadian border. Glad you are enjoying the blog, and congrats on completing that section of trail!

      September 19, 2012
  7. Denise #

    Ah the weather turns “normal” on you. Normal for OR & WA, that is. Hope you enjoy the crisp mornings and that the sun still comes through in the afternoons for you. Hot chili for dinner and hot cocoa for breakfast sounds like just the thing when the weather is cold and damp. Kudos to Not Phil’s Dad for creating the spread for you.

    September 17, 2012
    • Fortunately, it’s been perfectly sunny since then. We are grateful since we know it’s not always this way. The forecast is looking perfect at the moment. Thanks for the good wishes!

      September 19, 2012
  8. We were backpacking in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness this past weekend and ran into “Wolverine” who was familiar with your great blog. We have always carried fresh fruit when we are near the PCT or AT for thru hikers and reading how much you appreciate everything, it warms our hearts.

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog!

    September 17, 2012
  9. Kareem #

    Looks like a wonderful trip… I have been wanting to do that for years but just never found the time.. We use to get hikers all the time when I worked in Stehekin in the North Cascades, mostly Aussies though.

    November 21, 2012
    • Stehekin is such a beautiful place, and the people are really friendly. It must have been fun working there. If you don’t have time to hike the whole PCT, you could just explore a section!

      November 23, 2012

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