Mile 2,526.27 to Sedro Woolley

Mile 2,526.27 to Sedro Woolley

Monday, August 10, 2015
Day 10: Mile 2,526.27 to Sedro Woolley
Miles: 19.09
Total Miles: 2,538.35
Miles to Go: 120.55

We woke up at sunrise, only twelve miles from our detour off of the PCT. I had mixed feelings about this; I didn’t want to detour from the PCT, Washington had already robbed us of getting to Canada in 2013, and now it was robbing us of the North Cascade National Park section of the trail and a “proper” finish. That felt selfish, but I had been waiting to finish the trail and see the Northern Terminus of the PCT for two and a half long years now. The other part of me was excited to see my dad two days early. Now that we were missing two days of trail, that meant we could spend more time with him and his wife, Marianne.

While breakfast cooked, I wandered around camp trying to snap photos of the pikas (or “furry burritos” as Krav called them.) It turned out that trying to photograph a pika was nearly impossible. Two dozen photos and only three of them contained a pika.

We were only a few miles into our morning when we came to a large grassy meadow at the base of a mountain. The trail curved all the way around it in a large arc, staying slightly higher than the meadow itself.

“There’s Krav,” Bearclaw said. Sure enough, Krav was way ahead of us, halfway around the arch.

“There’s a bear!” I said at virtually the same time.

“Where?” Bearclaw asked, excitedly.

I pointed to a large black dot roaming across the meadow below us.

“Krav!” We yelled. “Do you want to see a bear?!” But his headphones were in, and he was in his groove.

Bearclaw and I watched the bear as we circled the meadow. He was far enough away he didn’t pose a threat, and so we eventually stopped and watched him. Suddenly, movement caught my eye at the treeline on the far edge of the meadow. Another bear, this one with two cubs, had just stepped into the light. Four bears, in the same morning, in the same meadow!! We couldn’t believe it.

The mother and cubs weren’t in the meadow for more than a minute before she spotted the solitary bear, and she and the cubs turned and booked it back into the forest. All this trail action and Krav was missing it!

We watched the bear for a few more minutes and then left him in peace as we continued up the trail.

When we finally caught up to Krav at break and told him what we saw, he was understandably bummed. I tried to show him the photos I took, but tiny black dots aren’t that interesting. I wish I had a better camera!

The closer we got to the Suittle River, the bigger the trees grew. Soon, we were enveloped in the fairy world of ancient giants. I love old trees. Standing beneath them gives me a sense of calm. A sense of oneness with the Universe. A sense of how small and insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things, and yet a feeling I am an integral part of something so much bigger than myself that I cannot possibly fathom it.

“Hello old friend,” I smiled, running my hand across the rough bark of a particularly large tree. And I meant it; this tree was much my friend as anyone I had ever know.

Crossing the long bridge over the Suittle River, the forest spell was broken. We had arrived at our detour; a large white “Fire Closure Notice” nailed to the tree beneath the junction sign. And just like that, we were once again off the Pacific Crest Trail.

The eight miles to the Suittle River trailhead were beautiful; waterfalls tumbled down baren rocks, the green mossy banks and logs thriving in the spray. But, it wasn’t the PCT.

We arrived at the trailhead at the same time as a couple that had been out for the weekend. They were headed back to Seattle. We explained our situation, and without hesitation, they offered us a ride.

“Where would you like to go?” The woman asked us, as we piled into their van.

“We’re headed to Rockport,” I responded.

“Oh, you guys don’t want to go to Rockport,” she answered back. “There’s nowhere to stay, and it’s super meth-y.”

We laughed, but she assured us she was not exaggerating.

I looked at my map for the next nearest town in the direction they were heading.

“How about Concrete?” I asked.

“Um,” she hesitated. “We’ll drive through town and let you decided. It’s pretty Meth-y too.”

The Main Street of Concrete, Washington was all of two blocks long and had the disheveled appearance of a town that had once been quaint and semi-thriving, but then the major employer (concrete?) had left town and now, it was just a handful of stragglers hanging on by a thread. Besides the Pub, not a whole lot appeared to be happening in downtown Concrete. The Confederate flags draped in the windows of the homes we passed, did nothing to add to the aesthetic.

“See,” our ride said. “Meth-y.”

They ended up leaving us at a hotel in Sedro Woolley, the first community they felt we’d be “safe” in. Thanking them profusely, we wished them the best.

I called dad and changed our location yet again, and he, in turn, once again changed his route to accommodate us. They would meet us at noon the following day, at the coffee shop across from our hotel.

Showered, clothes in the washing machine downstairs, we ordered pizza, and turned on the TV.

Mile 2,508.1 to Mile 2,526.27

Mile 2,508.1 to Mile 2,526.27

Sunday, August 9, 2015
Day 9: Mile 2,508.1 to Mile 2,526.27
Miles: 18.26
Total Miles: 2,526.27
Miles to Go: 132.64

This was, without a doubt, the most challenging day I had ever had on a trail.

Our Krav alarm went off at the same time as usual only today it sang a different tune.

“Who’s ready to get killed by elevation today?!” Krav yelled giddily from his tent.

Purple laughed. I smiled and sighed. We were in for an ass-kicking, and we knew it.

According to our Halfmile App, 5,929 feet of elevation gain and 7,697 feet of elevation loss stood between us and our intended campsite eighteen miles up the trail.

We couldn’t hike fewer miles because between mile eleven and mile eighteen was nothing but steep switchbacks that marched down to the Milk River and right back up the far mountain. I knew we were going to be wasted by the time the day was done, but there wasn’t a lot we could do about but get up and start putting one foot in front of another.

We would have a few miles of nearly flat trail before, as Krav liked to call it, “we would get killed by elevation.” Setting aside my worry of how scary the steep bits would be, I set to making breakfast.

For the first few miles, the trail stuck to the Chuck River valley and was indeed pretty mellow as it worked its way through the forest. Near the trail junction to the Kennedy Hot Springs – which rumor had it had been destroyed in a landslide – the PCT turned and followed Kennedy Creek towards our first big climb up Kennedy Ridge.

The old log bridge at Kennedy Creek had snapped in half, and the center was sitting in the middle of the creek. Early in the day, the water was low enough that the center of the bridge was only mildly wet.

The climb up Kennedy Ridge was mostly forested, with the occasional dramatic view of Kennedy Peak and the Scimitar and Kennedy Glaciers, to break up the monotony of the trees.

We stopped for water at the mossy Pumice Creek, reveling in the fact that the first climb was nearly over and that it that it really hadn’t been that bad at all. Only two hundred feet of elevation gain separated us from Spitfire Creek Pass!

You know that feeling when you feel like you are on top of the world? That was how we felt when we got to the top of the pass and dropped our packs. Peaks rose up like waves around us; range, after range, after whitecapped range.

Far off, we could see a plume of smoke rising from the North Cascade National Park fire. It looked serious. This would be the reason for tomorrows detour.

Not so far off, we could see the familiar pattern of tight switchbacks crisscrossing an overgrown avalanche shoot. Ugh, this would be our last big climb.

Just before we dropped down off of the pass, we stumbled across Mica Lake. Too perfect to just pass on by, we sat down in the shade of a huge boulder and had a late lunch. Supposedly, there was a campsite somewhere nearby; the views were so mind-blowing we were tempted to find it, make camp and stay until the snow began to fall. This was the only campsite between us, and the far side of the switchbacks that taunted us from the other side of the valley.

No, we were on a mission, we were finally going to get to Canada, and we weren’t about to get distracted, or let anything stop us.

For five miles we switchbacked down the mountain, through enormous old trees. At times, the trail was washed out, and we would be forced to detour around it. At times, we would find an old-growth tree blocking our path. Finding a way over them, was a task in itself. Besides these random obstacles, the trail was wide and smooth, and for that I was grateful.

We sat down in the middle of the Milk Creek Bridge and filtered water. It was late afternoon, and none of us wanted to climb back out of the valley. We considered making camp on the bridge, but it was early, and undoubtedly hikers would still be coming by for hours yet. Besides, the water was glacier fresh, and we knew camping on the bridge would make for a cold, damp night.

Knowing we would be destroyed after another 3,000-foot climb, and unsure if we would make it to a camp with water before dark, we decided to eat dinner on the bridge. If I’m being honest, it was just another excuse to procrastinate.

With dinner eaten and no other excuses we could think of, we heaved our packs onto our backs, crossed the bridge and disappeared into the forest on the far side.

The climb was not as brutal as we had imagined. Just long, so long. Switch. Switch. Switch. Are we there yet? Switch. Switch. Oh, a raspberry! Are we there yet? For hours we worked our way up the mountain. What the Milk Creek Valley portion of the PCT needed, was a zip line.

Krav, as always, was somewhere far ahead of us. From the top of the last set of switchbacks, we were still nearly three miles from our intended camp. Secretly, I wished we would find Krav waiting for us on the side of the trail so we could find a spot sooner, but we had agreed on getting to the campsite at mile 2,526.27, and I knew that was where we would find him.

Sure enough, Krav was in camp, just setting up his tent when we arrived. He looked as exhausted as we felt. With dinner already eaten, we crawled into bed, popped a handful of Vitamin I, and fell asleep to the shrill call of pika’s warning each other of our presence.

Janus Lake to Mile 2,498.4

Janus Lake to Mile 2,498.4

Friday, August 7, 2015
Day 7: Janus Lake to Mile 2,498.4
Miles: 18
Total Miles: 2,498.4
Miles to Go: 168.81

Up early, I sat on the edge of a log and watched the mist roll off Janus Lake, as breakfast cooked. The fog slowly lifted to reveal a perfectly mirrored image of the surrounding hills.

A friendly Clark’s Nutcracker flitted around my head, landing on nearby branches and rocks, hoping whatever I was making would be shared. Blindy, the one-eyed squirrel, ran in little circles near my feet, close enough for handouts, but far enough away to feel safe.

I wondered at this little squirrel; how he had lost his eye, and how much more difficult his survival would be with this disadvantage. Even though I knew I shouldn’t, I tossed them both a few scraps of oatmeal. Something about sitting there, in the quiet morning, surrounded by forest animals, made me feel a little bit like Snow White, only less clean and dainty.

Reluctantly saying goodbye to my tiny one-eyed friend, we left Lake Janus and began to climb towards Grizzly Peak. The higher we climbed, the more the views opened up, and soon white-capped peaks were poking up behind the jagged green hills in nearly every direction! Everywhere we looked was postcard perfect – rolling green meadow, met steeply forested hills, that ended in distant white peaks jutting into a cloudless, bluebird sky. Suddenly, a small part of me was happy we had not made it to the end of the trail in 2013 because we would have missed all this beauty in our race against the looming grey of fall in Washington and the impending winter; what a shame that would have been.

Rounding a corner, Glasses Lake sparkled cobalt blue in a forested bowl far below the trail; ahead, Glacier Peak loomed in the distance, it’s glaciers reflecting the brilliant mid-morning sun. My heart sang a song that it had not sung for far too long.

Past Glasses Lake, we entered a long meadow, chock full of ripe huckleberries. Bearclaw and I meandered through, picking fistfuls of berries as we went. Halfway up the meadow, we found Krav, pack off, sitting in the middle of a giant huckleberry patch just off the trail. When he saw us, he turned and smiled; his smile so blue it rivaled the August sky.

We rounded Grizzly Peak, and the views just kept on coming. We stopped briefly for water near the Top Lake Trail Junction and debated having lunch. The junction itself was nothing special, and there was a large lake a half a mile or so up the trail, and so we decided to continue. It was the right choice!

Deep, crystal clear and frigidly cold, Pear Lake was tucked into a talus and pine tree lined bowl just off the trail. We worked our way down to the shoreline and found some large boulders to lunch on. There we met thru-hikers Crow and Lady Bug. Crow and Lady Bug told us all about the Goldymire Hot Springs they had once caretaken.

It sounded pretty sweet and almost made us wish we had taken the Goldymire Alternate out of Snoqualmie… But then we wouldn’t have been on the PCT, and that is what our hearts had truly wanted.

During lunch, we decided to make Lake Sally Ann, nearly nine miles further up the trail, our goal for the evening.

In crazy thru-hiker shape, Crow and Lady Bug vanished within minutes; they were the only people we encountered, and besides a crazed deer we met at Saddle Gap, we had the trail completely to ourselves.

We dropped down to Pass Creek late in the afternoon and stared up at the 1,200-foot climb on the other side. We were tired, and not at all motivated. On the other hand, the thought of starting a new day with a 1,200-foot climb seemed somehow worse. Deciding to go for it, we ate dinner at the creek in preparation for a late night.

The sun had sunk behind the distant mountains, and the last of the light was fading when we decided to call it a day. We were still a mile from Sally Anne, but we were exhausted, and no one relished the idea of stumbling into camp well after dark.

A five-minute search revealed that the only semi-flat, non-rocky piece of ground in the area was a craptastic space in a dense thicket of gnarled trees. It was barely big enough for one tent, but we were wasted, and so we guessed it would do. Pitching our tent, the three of us crammed in and instantly feel fast asleep.

Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven to Janus Lake

Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven to Janus Lake

Day 6: Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven to Janus Lake
Miles: 9.75
Total Miles: 2,471.37
Miles to Go: 187.54

It didn’t rain overnight— it poured so hard that, even pitched under the enormous old-growth fir tree in the Dinsmore’s backyard, the outside of the tent was drenched when we woke up. We packed up as best we could, lying the tent in the misty morning in the hopes it would dry out a little before our departure. Nearly ready to go, we moseyed on into the bunkhouse to see if Krav was ready to roll.

The night before, Joe had told us he would be heading into the little restaurant in Skykomish for breakfast around 9 a.m. and would give anyone ready to go a ride into town for breakfast (and a better opportunity at a hitch.) It was already past eight o’clock and food, and a ride halfway to the trailhead sounded too good to pass up.

Krav sat on the end of his bunk bleary-eyed, staring at his resupply box.

“Hey, Hummingfarts…” Krav smiled.

“Hey, Krappypants. We need to leave in like thirty minutes dude.” I gave him my best “kick it into high gear” look.

I’m not sure where or when it first began, (Oregon I think..?) but Krav had started calling me Hummingfarts, a name, unfortunately, that was well deserved most of our days on the trail. I, on the other hand, had dubbed him Krappypants, in homage to his bout with Giardia. I had nearly forgotten about this until I had read his logbook entry the night before and there in big letters was my name, “Hummingfarts.”

I retaliated with a “Krappypants” honorable mention directly below.

Saying a bittersweet farewell to our wonderful host and celebrity trail angel Andrea, we piled into Joe’s truck with a handful of other hikers and cruised up to the Cascadia Inn for breakfast.

I’m not going to lie to you. In the two years since our attempted thru-hike, I had put on like twenty pounds…maybe more. Thru-hiker eating and desk sitting were ruining me.

“Maybe if I’m really good, I can lose ten pounds on the trail,” I’d thought before we started this last stretch. But now, staring at this menu full of tasty bacon and sausage goodness, my thru-hiker “eat everything in sight” mentality was back with a vengeance. Nahhhhh, I was going need those bacon calories before the day was out.

Leaving the Cascadia Inn with Poco Loco, we headed back to the intersection near the highway. On the corner, was a little deli with a drive-thru window on the side, and a long covered seating area out front.

“Hey, you guys thru-hikers?” We heard from out the drive-thru window. “Come here!”

Walking up to the window to see what was up, the women passed out a sign.

“Just be sure to bring it back when you get a ride,” she smiled.

On the sign in big black letters were the words, “PCT hiker needs ride to Steven’s Pass.” It was bordered in eye-catching red. Now this, was genius!

Poco Loco went first, and with the help of the fancy sign, vanished within minutes. Krav, Bearclaw, and I stood, thumbs out, sign up for less than ten minutes when the tiniest car humanly possible pulled up and offered us a ride.

The driver was thru-hiker alumni, having hiked the trail in 2009, he was more than happy to get us to the trail. The trunk, which already held his small daypack, just barely closed with Bearclaw’s backpack in it. Krav, myself, his backpack, and mine crammed into the backseat. The tallest, Bearclaw folded himself into the passenger’s seat next to the driver.

Knees pressed up against the back of Bearclaw’s seat, backpack on my lap, I could barely breathe. I tried to turn my head to see if Krappypants was fairing any better. Head skimming the roof, pack up against his nose, he took one look at me and burst out laughing. Then, he whipped out his phone and took a picture to show me what was so funny.

Head pinned against my pack my sunglasses were askew; I looked like a crazy person. I whipped out my phone and took a photo of Krav; giving me crazy side-eye. And then we lost it; gut-splitting, childish, impossible to contain laughter.

“You guys okay back there?” Even more laughter.
“Yup, nothing to see back here.” We were roaring.

Unfortunately, the longer we laughed, the more uncomfortable our driver seemed to become. With no idea what was so funny, Bearclaw tried to cover for us with conversation. We laughed nearly all the way to the trailhead.

“What was that about? I think that guy thought you were laughing at him…” Bearclaw asked, confused. Krav whipped out his phone and showed him my photo. It didn’t need an explanation.

We were just crossing the highway when Krav remembered he forgot to buy a staple – his weekly supply of bread. Turning around, he ran to the small store at the Steven Pass ski area to see if it was open. Bearclaw and I lounged by the PCT trail board. We had told Poco Loco we would try to catch her, but at this point, it seemed unlikely. Eventually, Krav made it back, swinging a loaf of bread alongside him.

The trail was pleasant enough, but none of us were particularly motivated. We stopped here and there to pick blueberries, filtered water for longer than necessary at a rocky little creek, and eventually found a lovely meadow near Valhalla Lake where we stopped for lunch and an extended nap in the afternoon sun.

At the ridiculously calm and serene Janus Lake, we found a secluded campsite and decided to call it a day. It was early, and we hadn’t even made ten miles, but we didn’t care. Bearclaw laid down with a book, Krav disappeared into his tent to do whatever a Krav does, and I sat next to the perfectly still waters and contemplated life on the Pacific Crest Trail and what it would feel like to finally make it to Canada…

Mile 2,451.48 to Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven

Mile 2,451.48 to Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Day 5: Mile 2,451.48 to Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven
Miles: 10.14
Total Miles: 2461.62
Miles to Go: 197.29

It was cold; not Washington snowstorm cold, but cold enough that when our Krav alarm went off, no one was motivated to peel themselves out of their sleeping bags. I popped my head out of the tent to see Krav making breakfast from bed again.

Usually, I don’t make breakfast from bed out of fear of accidentally lighting the tent, and subsequently the forest, on fire. Every time I think to myself, “Hey, let’s make breakfast from bed this morning,” it’s immediately followed by visions of me running around, hair singed, hiking shorts still smoldering, trying to collect all the marmots and pikas to herd them away from the flames. This morning, however, I tightly wrapped up the fly and made an exception.

Not that breakfast was that hard or even required that much cooking— we were down to a bagel, some granola, and enough freeze-dried coffee to make one weak cup. Of all the things I could have been low on, why did it have to be the coffee?! I needed it. Caffeine and sugar are Hummingbird jet fuel. How was I supposed to fly down the trail sans fuel?

The ten miles to Stevens Pass went by in slow motion. It wasn’t just the lack of coffee slowing me down; I was procrastinating. I knew that within ten minutes of arriving at Stevens Pass, I would be out on the side of Highway 2 with my thumb out. Most of the planning I’d done for this trip was just me staring at fluffy clouds, dreading the handful of times I would be forced to stand on the side of the road and beg for a ride.

It isn’t riding with strangers; I don’t mind that part. But that’s probably only because I’ve never had what I would consider an “awkward” hitch. I’ve had friends tell me stories of taking rides where the driver refused to speak to them or rides with people that drove ninety-miles-an-hour while explaining that they were recovering drug addicts. The worst was some thru-hiking friends telling me the story of a woman who’d given them a ride in California. Apparently, she’d made room for them by removing her toddler from the front seat, but not before scolding her for drinking “mommy’s beer.” I’m blessed that the nicest people tend to offer us rides.

What I hate, is standing on the side of the road with my thumb out. Everything about it feels wrong. I, like most people, grew up being taught never to take rides from strangers, and never to pick up hitchhikers. Why do you never accept rides from strangers? Because all strangers that offer you a ride are potentially sex-crazed, knife-wielding, homicidal, escaped convict, sociopaths who just want to abduct you and kill you. And why do you never pick up hitchhikers? Because all hitchhikers that need a ride are potentially sex-crazed, knife-wielding, homicidal, escaped convict, sociopaths who just want to steal your car and kill you. Whenever I find myself on the side of the road, I feel like everyone that goes by automatically assumes I’m a wacko that probably wants to kill them. Suddenly, I want everyone to stop, not so they can offer me a ride, but so I have the chance to explain to them that I am not a monster.

It’s amazing how long it can take you to hike ten miles when you aren’t that motivated. We stopped a half a dozen times to put on and take off our jackets. We spent a good thirty minutes picking perfectly ripe gooseberries and huckleberries – the first berries we’d seen in abundance on the trail this year, I might add. I wandered off the trail at Mig Lake to find the “toilets” FluffyStar had been so excited about (and then felt bad for her when I discovered they were nothing more than wooden boxes with holes in the top.) And we talked to every thru-hiker, section hiker, and day-hiker we came across.

The thru-hikers and section hikers were full of woeful news regarding the fire closures. It sounded bad, but as Bearclaw reminded Krav and me, “There is no point in worrying about it until we get to Hiker Haven and have access to the latest news.”

At the top of the ski hill, we met a day-hiker that stopped my lollygagging dead in its tracks.

“You guys must be headed into Steven’s for burgers!”

“There’s burger in Steven’s?!”

“Yeah, they have a great little restaurant.”

OMG?! Why hadn’t someone informed us of this hours ago? We could already be there eating hamburgers!

And just like that, we were off, stopping only once to coax a blue-lipped Krav out of the middle of a blueberry patch. All it took was these magic words, “There’s a restaurant at Steven’s Pass.”

Halfway down the hill, Bearclaw had a horrible thought. “What if it isn’t open today? It is a Wednesday.”

“Why would the guy tell us there were hamburgers at the restaurant if it wasn’t even open?” I questioned. “If it isn’t, I’m going to hike all the way back up here and kick him in the balls.”

“Yeah, you like that?! Did that feel good?! Because that’s how my stomach felt when I found out the restaurant was closed. A$$h0le.” Krav laughed.

At the very bottom of the trail was a sign welcoming thru-hikers. The very last thing it had listed was the restaurant hours: Friday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It was Wednesday.

Lucky for that hiker, I was too lazy (and hungry) to follow through with my threat. Son of a Hamburgalar, now eating real food meant hitching.

As we walked across the overpass and down to the road, I waited for the inevitable. Wait for it….

“You should probably be the one to stand there with your thumb out– women are less threatening.”

….And, there it was.

For five minutes, I stood there, watching drivers pass by us. Not a single car so much as braked.

“I bet we’d have more luck if we just went and asked people in the parking lot if they would give us a ride,” Bearclaw said as we watched people come and go from the nearly full lot across the highway.

That sounded a thousand times better than spending the rest of the afternoon with my thumb out.

“You should probably be the one to ask – women are less threatening.”

Despite what people think, I am quite shy. I can think of a thousand things I would rather do than strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know. When I was little, if anyone I didn’t know tried to talk to me, I would run and hide behind either my mom or my dad’s legs. Unfortunately, I was now a good seven inches taller than my mom, and the same height as my dad. Besides, neither of them was here. Pulling up my big girl panties, I scanned the parking lot for someone who appeared to be leaving that looked as if they might be willing to give three dirty hikers a ride to the nearest restaurant. Sighing, I resigned myself to the fact that I was likely going to have to ask almost everyone in the parking lot before I received a “yes.”

Closest to us were two white SUVs with their back hatches open. Behind one, a statuesque woman with the killer looks of Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction” was loading a large blow-up whale into the trunk. A young girl in a jean skirt and billowy Boho top danced at her feet, her Barbie-blonde hair sparkling in the sun. Behind the other SUV, an impeccably dressed, middle-aged woman was closing her hatch door. There was no way these women were going to say yes. But I had nothing to lose by asking.

“Hello! You don’t happen to be heading west, do you? If you are would you be willing to give three dirty hiker’s a ride to Skykomish? We’re really nice people, I promise.” I smiled, and then immediately wanted to kick myself. “We’re really nice people, I promise,” really Hummingbird? Yeah, because that isn’t creepy and weird…

“Sure, but only because you’re really nice people.” Uma smiled. “We just need to rearrange a few things to make room.”

I could have hugged her for saving me the horror of having to ask anyone else for a ride (and for trusting that I wasn’t an ax-wielding maniac.) But again, that would have been creepy and weird.

Our saviors were Vhari (Uma) and her daughter Kealy. While Bearclaw sat in the front and explained to Vhari exactly what it was we were doing, Krav and I sat in the back with our new friend Kealy.

“Kealy’s a really pretty name. I’ve never met a Kealy before.”

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“I’m Hummingbird.”

“Really?” She smiled and stared at me a moment, trying to decide if I was telling the truth.

“Well, it’s my trail name. My friends call me Hummingbird.”

“I’ve never met a Hummingbird before.” She giggled.

Kealy was highly entertaining. She had a new stuffed bear her grandma had brought her all the way from Alaska. On the drive, she named him “Woods” Alaska Bearclaw, “Woods” being his trail name. Woods subsisted on a diet of Rock Candy, which made me think he’d make a great thru-hiker. When Kealy asked if she could pet Krav’s beard, I laughed so hard I almost cried.

Vhari was amazing. She drove us into to Skykomish, found us a restaurant, and then joined us for lunch. The fact that we were filthy didn’t seem to faze her at all. She seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing and concerned for our well-being. She even saved us from having to hitch a ride out of Skokomish and delivered us directly to the front door of Hiker Haven. Hours after they had gone, I was still thanking the trail gods for their awesomeness.

Andrea and Jerry, the trail angels that are Hiker Heaven, were as wonderful as their reputations suggested. Within no time, we had our resupply boxes, had showered, and were waiting for our laundry to dry.

There was a handful of other hiker’s hanging out— Paint Your Wagon and Sobo Fett– were headed south. While fellow NoBo’s – Czech Mix, Poco Loco, Chardonnay, and a couple who were section hiking Washington— were all trying to figure out how they wanted to continue north.

There appeared to only be two options to get around the fire closure in Section K:

1. Hitch a ride to Chelan and take the ferry up to Stehekin. From Stehekin, we could then take the shuttle back to the PCT at High Bridge; this would mean skipping a hundred and four miles of trail.

2. Hike seventy miles up the PCT to the Suittle River Trail, then hike ten miles east along the Suittle River to the trailhead parking lot. From there it would be a twenty-two-mile road walk up Suittle River Road 26 to State Route 530. From 530, it would be twelve miles to Rockport on Highway 20, and another seventy-three miles up to Rainy Pass; this was the new “official” reroute, but no one seemed to know a whole lot about it.

For Krav, Bearclaw, and I, this was a no-brainer. We would skip as few miles of trail as we could. Deciding on the “official” detour, I called Stehekin and asked postmaster Jonathan to forward our boxes to Winthrop. I then called my dad, who was driving down from Canada to meet us at Rainy Pass, and asked if he could meet us in Rockport instead. All our business attended to, we cracked open a bottle of beer, ordered pizzas, and sat down to enjoy some good old hikertrash company.