J and I got back to Tucson and started looking for a new place to live. My friend Lyndall let us camp out in her spare bedroom until we found a place, which was a huge help. We ended up finding a cute little house south of Downtown that had been split into a duplex. The front yard is classic Tucson – neat and totally bare dirt – so I asked our landlord if we could plant a garden out front. He said yes. It’s now a lush jungle of tomatoes, greens and sunflowers. Read More
From Hopkins Lake to Manning Park. The end of the trail.
It’s morning, we’re 6 miles from the monument, and I’m stoked! Any questions about my ability to make it – all the way – to the very end – are finally gone. I’ve got this. All six of us camped here get up and hang out in the beautiful morning by the lake. My resentment of the dude-bros arrival last night has evaporated, and I spend the morning enthusiastically discussing gear and the trail and just generally dude-bro-ing it up myself. (We all have a little dude-bro in us.) J, like always, just rolls his eyes as I get into the nitty-gritty of tarp camping with Snake Charmer. I don’t care that we’re basically done. I really do just like to talk about gear.
From below Tamarack Peak to Hopkins Lake
It was cold last night – it’s chilly this morning, with the sharp bite of fall that has been with us for the last few weeks. I crawl out of the tarp to get some water from the frigid stream nearby, and emerge into an incandescent morning. I’m so full of happiness I might just burst open.
Seahawk and Bumblebee took off at first light. They are meeting a friend of Bee’s on the other side of the border, and want to get to the monument by early tomorrow. I hope we see them there, but I doubt it. For ourselves, we pack up leisurely, Dirtnap, Biscuit, and me. This is the last whole day on the PCT.
From Glacier Pass to below Tamarack Peak
I peak outside the tarp – nothing but gray fog. Any excuse to turn over and go back to sleep… but J is soon shaking me awake. The fog is just a tease, burning off quickly, and behind it there is blue sky. Blue skies! Here it is, October in the North Cascades, and we have blue skies. We eat our candy bars and instant coffee and follow it up with a side of switchbacks. Mountains for breakfast today!
From Highway 20 to Glacier Peak
I don’t know what it was about our funny, little, tucked-away campsite, but something was magical. Here, in earshot of the highway, I slept like an angel. I’m ready to do this hiking business today.
J cuts the sticky bun in half and we share it – the last of our baked goods from the Stehekin Bakery. When we’re ready to go I call out, “Switch?”
“Yeah?” answers Switch from her nylon cocoon.
“How are you feeling this morning?”
“Uh, not good…”
From Stehekin to Highway 20
Well, I’m still tired, but I guess I may as well see this thing through to the end. Partly cloudy today, cool, with an iffy weather forecast. Could go either way.
Switch and Biscuit stayed in Stehekin yesterday as well, and we all take the shuttle back to the trailhead together. We load up on pastries at the quick bakery stop. Yeah, I know they cost an arm and a leg. Don’t care. Money was invented for the buying of blueberry scones.
I am unbelievably exhausted.
The majority of the other hikers here are heading out today, last push to the border. The weather report for the next week could go either way, but it is absolutely perfect today. I watch the perfect blue sky wheel across the mountains and the lake from inside the little hotel. J goes out to explore or do whatever, I do the laundry and call my mother from the payphone. (A payphone! When was the last time I used one of these??) Then I sit on a couch and read a book from the shelf in the lounge – some YA novel about kids with cancer – from start to finish. I don’t love it that much but I cry anyway.
From Hemlock Camp to Stehekin
I wake up not to sun, but to the possibility of it. I was hoping to wake up feeling magically cured, not like a wrung out dish-rag, but dish-rag is still better than yesterday. J once again lures me out of my sleeping bag with steaming hot tea, and I take my titanium mug over to where Switch and Biscuit are camping, and we discuss our various (ineffective) strategies for keeping mice out of our tents and sleeping bags. “I put out wrappers with just a few crumbs on them,” Biscuit explains. “As a decoy.”
From Miners’ Creek to Hemlock Camp
I knew that when I woke up this morning I would still feel terrible, knew it in my skin chills and deep down in the body aches – but a girl can hope. J coaxes me out of my purple and teal nylon cocoon with some hot tea. “Maybe we can just stay here today,” I suggest, although I know that even if I’m not eating any, we don’t have enough food to do that.
“No rush, but you know, why don’t we give it a try?” J counters, mindful of our flat-looking food bags. I get up, but only to pee.
I crawl out into the spitting rain and look back at our campsite: “Holy s—!!!!” I yell. “We need to go! Get out of the tarp! Get out of the tarp!”
From Mica Lake to Miners’ Creek
The blue beaten steel of mica lake last night is transformed – just for a moment – into a bowl of molten gold. The weather forecast had said rain for today, but instead it is this golden morning. V, Thinkfast, and Goosebumps came in to Mica Lake a little bit after us last night, and it’s a companionable morning. The light shines across the deep valley and through Thinkfast and Goosebump’s tent, making the little gray envelope of silnylon look like the castle of a queen. We share the coffee and the view. I think this might be as good as it ever gets, and I don’t even like mornings.