Day 1-7 (up to the Canadian Border, and then south to Stehekin)
PCT miles hiked: 80
Total miles hiked: 118
Our PCT hike beings. The journey started on the 12th when our first trail angels (and friends) Tania and Ro drove us from Seattle to Hart’s Pass – the last 19 miles dubbed “the most dangerous road in Washington.” We white-knuckled only a few seconds of panic in T-kitty’s Volkswagen Golf… mostly the ride was smooth. We camped at “meadows” enjoying the spooky burned out white pines and a well contained camp fire and trail burritos, chocolate and beers, telling stories of lost loves, advice from therapists and yogis, and our first experiences peeing outside. A young deer visits our campsite.
We stash 3 days of food a mile south of Meadows to pick up when we come back thru in a few days. After a few flicks, we say bye to Tania and Ro and start north on the PCT. 2 miles later at Harts Pass we talk to the caretaker who ominously says he saw a few folks head north last week but hasn’t seen them come back through. We walk until about 8pm. Views are outstanding right out of hart’s pass, although we are startled when we experience the tiniest flecks of snow from the sky, which quickly stops. Around mile 2635 we encounter first standing snow on trail, accumulated over steeper parts of the East and North sides of the mountains. We have our first experiences with ice axes. We learn quickly and suffer no casualties. We stop after 17 miles in a beautiful meadow where a silly grouse is whump whumping and showing us his tail feathers like a peacock. Unfortunately we are not the lady he is looking for.
We start the day with snow traverses of increasing difficulty. Descending north of Rock Pass we encounter quickly melting avalanche chutes. I’m so glad for the ice axes. We cross pass with two gents headed south, young men on a section hike. We break by a creek, elevating our already sore feet. We ascend Woody Pass and continue to cross steep slopes where snow is still piled feet deep. We take some flicks and feel thankful for good balance, traction and ice axes. Eventually we loose the trail due to a huge snow field at the top of a ridge. We figure out the field covers up about half of a series of switchbacks down the aptly named Devil’s Staircase. We carefully make our way down using the ice axes, and cutting corners where we can to avoid snow. After that, we have a mile to a lake we can camp at. Never one to pass up a challenge, I suggest that we set up camp, leave all our stuff and make a run for the border, 6 miles away. Groucho agrees and after pitching our tent and storing our food, we take only water and a few snacks and at 5pm head north, arriving to Canada and the monument a little after 7pm. We take some flicks and then head back up hill, beginning our true southbound trek with glee. We arrive back at camp around 10pm.
We wake up late – and cranky – although another deer greets us in the morning – interested in the weeds that have been peed on. Eventually we are ready to tackle the climb back up the hill and repeat the hellish snowfields on Devil’s Staircase. At the top, we break, more chipper and conversational. The rest of the snow that day is challenging, but somehow less so, now that I know we can do it. We meet our first SOBO heading to the border, an Afghanistan Veteran with his beautiful Pyranese dog, Shadow. We hike only 10 miles and decide to go off trail to camp early. We hike down a side trail for a couple miles finding a warm and soft spot by a creek.
We continue southward to Hart’s Pass. Feet aching with blister 1, blister 1a, and blister 2, as well as a twinge of Achilles pain. We get trail magic at Harts Pass! 2 beers and some chips from retired Rangers. We camp by our food cache and are visited by another deer as we do yoga.
New terrain! We head south for 18 miles. Starting the day with some steep traverses but that’s what makes them so beautiful – endless vistas and a clear, cloudless sky. We follow deer tracks thru mud and snow for miles… this deer must also be a SOBO. On the way down the switch backs, a perfectly sharp rock stabs my heel giving me a good bruise on the sole of my foot. We talk of our parents, how who they are has inevitably made us who we are. And here we are. We reach a campsite and do headstands to reverse the blood flow from the feet, then descend a river valley flooded with flowers. We finally cross the Methow River where we break for food, skinny dipping, laundry and tarot readings. It’s a beautiful break and we sing the last two hours of hiking up the hill toward Marmot Pass. The last 1/2 hour I lose steam and become irritable and probably irritating, but Groucho keeps his chipper and we make it. There are a million places to cowboy camp and we go for it, setting up without a tent. We take a little trail up the ridge to get a spectacular panorama shot around sunset. It is our first day without seeing another human soul.
Sometime between 1-3am we take turns waking and wondering why we can’t see the stars. At 4am it becomes evident as rain spits down on our quilts. Groucho stutters awake “What.” We scramble to gather our stuff closer and sling the tarp over our gear, opting to makeshift a shelter with our tarp and umbrellas rather than find 2 proper trees. IT works more or less and we carefully lay and dose until about wondering what we will do if the wind picks up or it starts to pour. At 7am we decide to get up, and as we do the rain subsides. A few miles later the sun comes out and we dry our gear on the sunsoaked rocks at Granite Pass. We ascend the switchbacks up toward Cutthroat Pass and encounter our trickiest bit of snow yet… a pile as high as a human over the trail, and a fairly freaky drop off several meters below. Not for the first time in my life, I pray “dear god, let me live. if I die out here, my mother will kill me.” I live. We continue to Rainy Pass, and see several other SOBO groups have started there heading south, maybe we will catch up in the coming weeks. We make it to camp and find a lovely spot to set up, and go soak our feet, write, yoga, and relax. We fall asleep to the tune of the creek. When I sleep by a river, I always hear music.
We wake at 3:30 am. We’ve decided to do the 17 miles to Stehekin before noon. We make it. It’s mostly downhill, and really nice terrain. We see a bunny and a deer. The miles go quickly and there is a trail angel Joe waiting for us at the bus stop for Stehekin. He gives us beers, and offers to be our tour guide, showing us the post office, the restaurant, and letting us use his phone and the internet on which I now type.
Photos soon. We have about 6-7 days until we reach Steven’s Pass. We’ll update again there.