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Day 137: Another mountain

Day 137
Miles: 19
From Pipe Lake to Dewey Lake

In the middle of the night I get up to pee, trying not to trip on the tarp guylines (I always trip on the tarp guylines) and look up. Even with my eyes blurred over with sleep, I am staggered. The stars! I have one of those rare glimpses into eternity, a split-second flash where I really understand how big infinity is, and then I’ve lost it again. I walk to the shore of the lake and sit on a rock for a few minutes and look at the sky, cold and tired. Amazed at the universe. Amazed I exist. Humbled to be here.
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Day 136: fish for supper

Day 136
Miles: 10
From Ginette Lake to Pipe Lake

Town, town, town, town, town! Many possibilities, only two miles to get to White Pass. We pass by Pigpen and Kentucky on our way out – they had come in late last night and camped nearby.

We arrive at the small convenience store and motel that is about all there is to White Pass and find the place chock-full of hikers. It’s all the hikers that had left Trout Lake the same day as us. Apparently they then hiked huge miles and blasted through Goat Rocks, then been exhausted and gotten rooms at the motel and stayed the night. I don’t really understand the philosophy of hiking big miles through really beautiful, amazing places, and then taking time off in town to recover, but it’s a classic thru-hiker move. Strange. Done it myself. Can’t tell you why.

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Day 135: razor’s edge

Day 134
Miles: 19
From camp by Snowgrass Meadow trail junction to Ginette Lake.

When my first alarm goes off at 6:15 I hop straight out of bed, pee, then… then I ruin a good thing and crawl straight back into my sleeping bag. An hour later I figureI really should get up. We’re now closer to the fall equinox than the summer solstice, and we’re losing daylight. Only a few minutes less a day – but it’s starting to cut into our hiking time. I should stop wasting it on the front end.

The two weekenders gift us the remnants of their instant espresso mix and powdered milk (caffeine! woohoo!) and we start off. The best part of Goat Rocks Wilderness is supposedly waiting for us this morning.
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Day 134: Mountains as people and the search for beauty

Day 134
Miles: 18
From the ponds to Snowgrass Meadow

We start the day with our faces in blueberry bushes. Although I don’t know if “bush” is the right word – the teeny plants next to the ponds are only a few inches high. That just makes it all the more surprising that they are so prolific. I wonder why some patches are so flush with the little blue gems, but most of the blueberry bushes we pass have no blueberries at all. It makes it difficult to tear myself away from a good patch… who knows how many miles to the next one?

We get stuck in another patch, then in a huckleberry patch. Then the view opens up for a minute, gives us a glimpse through the trees, and – there is Mt Adams again. Still with us.
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Day 133: high camp and a drag

Day 133
Miles: 17
From lava flow campsite to tiny lakes

The last warmth in the black lava rock surrounding our campsite has disappeared by the morning, and the sun has not yet risen above the mountain. It’s great tongue of ice, the Mt Adams glacier, is a massive tumble of ice that looks frozen in time and not just in temperature. The trail, too, is frozen, with a deep frost in the loose dirt that has formed into feathers and fibers of ice that crunch underfoot. I had thought that I’d overpacked on clothes when I left Portland, but I think now I may have brought just enough.
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Day 132: High Camp, busted

Day 132
Miles: 11.5
From Trout Lake to campsite on old lava flow

The monastery hostel has big picture windows and no shades, facing northeast to Mt Adams. I ditched J in the middle of the night for my own twin mattress, but as day creeps up on us he sneaks back in beside me, and we watch the great face of the mountain turn towards the sun.

We have hot tea and sausage, eggs, toast, fruit, hash browns, and conversation for breakfast. Kozen sits down and eats with us. (I wonder if he considers this breakfast? He’s been up in prayers since 3am.) He chats with us about the trail, life, religion, and then completely floors us asking: “Does this journey have a spiritual component for you two?”
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Day 131: Over the hills and through the woods

Day 131
Miles: 21.5
From Junction Lake to town of Trout Lake

The bottom of our tarp is damp with partially frozen condensation. Brrr. I shiver through pack-up, and leave my windshirt and rainpants on for a little while. Headphones are back in today.

We’re still in the land of little lakes and trees. In the motionless morning air it is a land of mirrors, trees and above and trees below. Trees, trees, trees. Hills. The trail here in Washington must’ve been designed by different people than the trail in Southern California. In SoCal the trail went around hills. Here it goes over, stiff uphills to steep downhills, no messing around. We’d like to get into the town of Trout Lake tonight, and it’s a seven mile hitch, so we need to finish the 21 miles well before dark. Even after all this time town stops are a carrot that can keep me on a hustle.
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Bicycling days slideshow

Bonus post – a slideshow from the bicycle days.

 

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Day 130: the game of tired

Day 130
Miles: 20
From saddle on ridge to Junction Lake

Dawn breaks; my body creaks as I stretch myself awake. The trail is back with me again, inside all my muscles. A yawn that extends all the way through me toes sends my leg muscles into spasms. Oof. It might be a long day.

Either way, it’s nice to wake up to a new world, and a quiet one. We finish the uphill we started last night, and then we hit the lava. An old lava flow has turned this place into a strange plateau of wicked black rock where stunted trees stand up from its inhospitable surface and the ground rolls and gapes hazardously. The trail follows the western boundary of the flow, and it stands like a wall beside us, keeping us on track.

This is the part of the day I think of as “morning happiness”. Tired, aching, regardless – the simplicity of the trail sits with me and each step is a testament to the act of living. I’m not in a box of drywall and carpeting, I’m not stuck in a chair, I’m walking – just walking – going on walking. Even on my worst days here, there is always this moment. Some days the shelf life is about 5 minutes, but the next day, it is always here again.
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Day 129: bursting the bubble

Day 129
Miles: 22
From rock creek to campsite on a saddle

‘Twas the night before hiking
And all ’round the campsite,
It was all to my liking
All tucked in for the night –

When outside of my shelter,
I heard a great clatter!
Everything now helter-skelter
Lights and shouting, feet a patter!

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