September 15, 2017: Hiked 15.8 miles back to Hart’s Pass.
We woke up right at 6:00 this morning and of course it was another freezing morning.
It’s always hard to pull yourself out of your sleeping bag when it’s that cold, but the faster you get up and get moving, the faster you can get on the trail and warm up. Procrastinating on the trail doesn’t get you very far. So we got up and made breakfast and enjoyed our (hopefully) last freezing cold morning.
We finally started climbing and my body parts started functioning again. We ran into a ton of hikers heading north to the border, a lot of ones we recognized, which meant much more congratulating and excitement.
We climbed up and down all morning. It was actually fun to know what our trail and elevation was going to look like, having already hiked it, and be able to count down the miles and waypoints back to Hart’s Pass.
All morning we had the lookout, which is just north of the pass, in our sights. So when we finally passed it, we knew we were in the homestretch. The sun was out in full force by this point and it felt great to feel the warmth on my face.
We made it back to Hart’s Pass a little after noon and found out that the shuttle had just left. Just our luck. The next shuttle would be coming back around 3:00 and leaving at 4:00, so it looked like we would have plenty of time to sit back and relax. Colton was a little upset, but I was perfectly happy to sit down and not walk for awhile.
We sat down in the sun and ate the last of our food and enjoyed knowing we were done hiking for the day. More hikers started showing up at the pass, both north and southbounders, and we enjoyed seeing more familiar faces.
At one point I got really thirsty so I did end up walking about a third of the mile back up the trail to get water. I guess the hiking never really stops. But right as I got back, a forest service rig pulled up and a lady jumped out and let us know if she had a full load she would start shuttling us off the mountain. Best news ever!
We shoved as many people as we could into her car and took off on the long drive down the hill. The ranger driving us down said the fire had grown to over 100,000 acres and was now threatening the road we were driving down and the town of Mazama. It was a long ride down the windy mountain and I’m sure her car didn’t smell too good after that.
From Mazama we did the one other thing we’re good at besides hiking… hitchhiking. We got a ride almost instantly by a nice construction worker who was heading back home and drove us up Highway 20 and dropped us off at Bridge Creek trailhead. Colton’s uncle, Adam, lives a couple hours away and had headed out this morning on a weekend backpacking trip from Bridge Creek. So he was nice enough to leave his car for us there to drive back to his house to stay for a bit before we figure out how to get back to California.
We found the car and then spent the next ten minutes looking for the keys. Of course they were in the most obvious spot of all which I assumed Colton had checked first thing and he assumed I had checked. I won’t give away the secret hiding place though. Adam and his wife Brandee left us not only their car, but also a celebratory feast. Real food, real beer.
After our second lunch of the day we hit the road. We had a beautiful drive back on Highway 20 and stopped at Ross Lake, a place we had visited last summer when we came up to Washington for Colton’s grandpa’s memorial. The lake was just as stunning as ever.
We ended our quick little roadtrip at Brandee and Adam’s house and were greeted with a group of boys and dogs. It was the perfect welcome. We showered and started laundry and Brandee made us an amazing dinner of grilled chicken and pineapple burgers and chips and guac.
We enjoyed a great evening visiting and catching up and relaxing. Colton stuffed his face until he really couldn’t eat anymore. That’s a first.
Now it’s just another Friday night in Washington. Only tonight we get to sleep in a warm bed and have tomorrow to do whatever we want. No errands to run. No planning. Either we’re going to be completely relaxed or be bored out of our minds. Probably a little of both.
We’re going to spend a couple days up in Washington and then head back home where we’ll regroup and then head back to the Sierras to finish the 77 miles we had to skip there months ago. We were hoping to be able to hike the fire closures we had to skip in Oregon and Washington, but unfortunately they are all still closed and sounds like they will be for awhile. So it’s back to Cali to finish what will probably be our last four days on the trail for this year. And then hopefully we can complete the fire closures next summer.
So I’m going to keep the blog going until we finish the Sierras. Can’t get rid of me yet!