Day 142: Washington Makes You Work

 September 3, 2017: Hiked Miles 2420.0 to  2447.3 (27.3 total)

I finally got a good night of sleep. I still tossed and turned, that’s inevitable when sleeping on the ground on a thin foam mattress using your clothes bag for a pillow. But it was a lot less than normal. I guess being exhausted from a hard day of hiking was the cure. 

I awoke at 6:00 wide awake. I like to keep my eyes closed and do a kind of meditation every morning before I get up. I concentrate on taking really deep breaths and think about all the things I’m thankful for and actively try to set my mind up for the day by thinking positive thoughts. I find it helps me to calm down and set up a good mindset for the day instead of just jumping up and letting things happen. Plus it feels amazing. It’s the one time I have in my day to just do nothing. I would probably lay there for an hour and meditate every morning if I could, but I usually pull myself up after about 20 minutes, knowing we need to start our day. And of course by then my tummy is growling for food.

Our morning started off beautiful with a long walk down off the mountain into a deep canyon. The sky was smokey from the fire and the sun was already warm through the haze.

My head and nose felt stuffy and even walking downhill, I felt a little lethargic. I think my body is asking for a break.

We got to the bottom of the mountain and then started creeping our way through the valley. We passed over a creek on a bridge that looked like it had had a rough winter.

The valley meadows were beautiful with such inviting lakes that I longed to spend all day swimming and laying in.

But alas, there’s never enough time to swim in every beautiful lake we see. Someday…

And then began yet another long, hot climb, full of switchback after switchback. My legs seemed to drag and every step took all my effort to lift my foot up. It seemed like my muscles had all disappeared overnight and had instead just left me with heavy body parts to drag around. My feet had a mind of their own, not wanting to lift themselves off the ground high enough to clear the many roots and rocks we had to climb over. You would think by now we would be gracefully trapsing through the mountains, which occasionally we do. But more often I feel like I have clown shoes on and tend to trip on every possible thing I can. Of course I’ve never been a very graceful walker. I’ve always been amazed how I can run up and down hills for miles and miles over rocky terrain and not get hurt and then while walking, run into things in plain sight and roll an ankle or bruise a knee. So I shouldn’t be surprised that my lack of grace has followed me out here. 

Throughout the hard day I kept reminding myself how no matter how hard these mountains are to climb, they aren’t as hard as all the time we spent trudging up even higher mountains in the snow in the Sierras. I’m glad I had that experience to put everything into perspective.

Towards the top we got another view of the fire which is now to our southeast. 

At least we’re walking away from it finally.

And a couple good reminders of how beautiful Washington is:

Once we crested the top of the hill and started our way down, we spotted yet another fire. 

This one looked pretty active. Hopefully the trail will lead us away from it.

We finally stopped for lunch a little after 2:00 after a hard 17 miles. We dropped our packs and then trudged up the dry creek bed 100 yards to find water. Usually when I take my pack off I feel free as a bird and walking feels easy. Not today. Even walking without it still felt like I weighed a million pounds.

We finally got water, splashed our hot bodies with the cool water to cool off, and made it back to our packs to strip our sweaty shoes and socks off and eat a much needed lunch. But it was a quick lunch, since we still had 10 miles to go. 

After lunch we made our way a little further down the mountain and I spotted another bear. I heard a noise and looked up see a black cub that I must have scared bounding away in the bushes. All the sudden he stopped, turned toward me, and our eyes locked for about 10 seconds. But once I said Colton’s name to get his attention, the spell was broken and he took off. We were on the lookout for the mom after that, but never did spot her. I can’t remember what number bear sighting this, is now. Six or seven?

We made it down to a cascading stream to cross and then crossed over a bunch more streams in the next few miles. 

We started climbing back up out of the valley and the view behind us was amazing. 

And the view on the way up was even better. 

Often the trail intersects other trails and it’s not always marked which way the PCT goes. Luckily, nice people always make it obvious. 

We climbed and climbed all the way up to Deception Lake. 

Im not sure sure what the deception is. Maybe its inviting-looking water is actually really hot or stinky or something. But it looked pretty nice to me. 

At some point during our climb, my weird, sick, lethargic state that has been hanging over me for the past couple days and making climbing ridiculously hard, finally went away and my energy returned and I was able to conquer the hill without feeling like every step was a death march. Thank goodness. 

The evening was beautiful and the smoke made the sky look quite mystical. 

At last I could look up and see blue sky above us and the end to the tree line and knew we were almost to the top. We crested Piper Pass and let out a little whoop of celebration. You have to celebrate and yell every chance you get out here. Somehow it always makes the climb seem more enjoyable and worthwhile. 

Then we hiked our last couple miles down to a gorgeous valley with this perfect little heart-shaped lake. 

And when we reached the bottom we could look back to where we had come from. 

We made our way down to a cold stream, got water, and found a place to sleep. It was almost dark by this point so by the time we set up, we had to eat with our headlamps on. But the night is not too cold and we only have 14 miles into Steven’s Pass tomorrow where we’re meeting Colton’s relatives and taking a well-deserved day off. Woohoo!

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13 thoughts on “Day 142: Washington Makes You Work

  1. Glad for the day off warning. I’m exhausted seeing those steep trails and imagining your exhaustion. But you came up with a Woohoo, so I’m ok. Your positivity terminus me of Choclate Balls. Must be the trail. Enjoy your O.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When you get a free moment, what muscle stretches do you do that you have mentioned? Also you take photos during the day hike and then how do you add the text for the blog? What software are you using and what type of keyboard are you using? Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I use my s7 edge for pics and for my blog i use the WordPress app on my phone. Kinda a pain to do on my phone but it’s all i have. I do all kinds of structures. Quad, hip flexor, calf, back. As much as I have time for. I pretty much just try to stretch anything that hurts. Also lots of foot flexing because my feet and ankles are always cramped

      Like

  3. Thnx much for this Washington segment. I’ve never seen anyone elses blog show the beauty. Everyone elses PCT blog is Cal desert, Cal desert, Ca desert, Cal desert, Cal, Cal, Cal, Cal, Cal, Cal, Cal, Cal, Cal, Oregon, Washington, Done.
    Rock On.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah! Amazon girl is human after all. Great blog. I think you and Colton need to put it all down in book form. You should also work with REI to give seminars on your adventure. Next time you make the hike take photos of your equipment showing their logos. I ‘ll bet companies would pay for the advertisement.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Starting to plan my meals for when you and Colton make it back to Burney! Plan to cook up a storm for you Amazonians. What is your expected ETA? What genre of foods are you both craving? Can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You should take Forrest Bond’s idea to heart! Robert has his sponsors for extreme cliff diving! I’m sure you can also get sponsors for your amazing trail writing and pics! Always knew your writing would do you well in life!

    Liked by 1 person

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