Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cascade Locks to Maning Park, Canada

Today is April 11th, exactly one year since we started hiking the PCT at the mexican border.
Isn't it the perfect time to complete our last post about the PCT and share our Washington experience?

The end is known. We made it to the Canadian border.
But how? Well, that's what this post is all about :)

We left Cascade Locks (Oregon) early after eating whatever we found at the local store for breakfast.
We were determined to start, after not walking on the trail for 5 days.
Soon we crossed the Bridge of Gods, which felt amazing. Unlike crossing the small sign on the California-Oregon border, this state border felt very symbolic. Crossing the beautiful huge Columbia river, leaving Oregon behind us and stepping into totally new state, felt great. I was excited!
Our last 500 miles on the trail!

Everywhere we looked we saw signs telling us we arrived to the evergreen state, Washington.
We knew exactly what evergreen means... But we prefered not to talk about it. Rain will not come, we quietly kept telling to ourselves.

And we started walking, and walking, and walking. Ups and downs, and more ups. we saw no one around. I guess this is the most unexplained thing on our PCT experience. In towns we see so many hikers, but once we go back to the trail we are alone, but still you feel like you're part of a big family. We promised ourselves we're going to take the last 500 miles easy, no more 30+ miles a day. That was our new challenge :)

Day 1 - challenge accomplished. ~20 miles.
We camped on a stream shore and enjoyed a long afternoon. We were happy.

Day 2 - Roi checked the weather forecast. Storm is coming at night. We were not happy anymore.
We walked fast to get to the next camp as early as possible, so the storm will not catch us.
We used a shortcut, walking on a paved road, to quickly get to a nice campsite next to unpaved road. We set our tent quickly and sat next to it, waiting, and waiting. The rain didn't come. We thought about walking again, but it was very cloudy we were sure the rain will start any second.
We had a lot of time to spend until bedtime. Roi played the uku. I was eating almonds.
A nice lady came by and gave us a lot of water. It felt like time is not passing.
Finally it was getting dark. The rain didn't come, but we prepared ourselves for a wet night.
Morning came and everything was dry. Is it possible we were panic for nothing?

It seemed like a beautiful day. We happily continued and met 4 ladies that went hiking for a few days, and they were so impressed by our journey and the small backpacks we carried, they immediately suggested us some snacks. Roi was thrilled. We were happy again.
Few hours later, around 2 p.m. we crossed another unpaved road and planned to take our lunch there. From this point on, everything happened so fast:
We looked at the sky, it was super cloudy.
Roi checked his phone to see if there are any weather updates.
The phone showed - Storm alert, leave the trail immediately if you can or stop walking and camp!
We looked at each other, confused... WTF? Is that a joke?
The rain came 30 seconds later. We saw 2 cars parking and a RV with a man sitting next to it. We splitted - Roi tried the car, no luck. I tried the RV, I asked the man as nicely as I could: 'Any chance you are going to Trout Lake?'.
And the answer was: 'Oh yes, we're going to drive there in about 20 minutes.'
I was holding myself back not to jump on the nice guy with hugs and kisses. I went to look for Roi and we waited under the RV side roof, speaking with the nice guy and waiting for his wife to come.

Soon the rain became hail, and we were so grateful we're standing under that side roof.
Trout Lake was a small town we were about to reach the next morning, but the weather changed our plans. We arrived there by late afternoon with this couple. Heavy rain wasn't stopping for a second. And the forecast for the next day was the same.
We got a small nice (dry!) room at the local store (They keep few rooms for hikers), and enjoyed a zero day the next day.

We had a lot of time to chat with Sally and Chuck (the couple we met on south Cal). They are planning to trail angel on White Pass on the coming weekend. That was supposed to be our next resupply location.

The next day was cold and cloudy but the forecast was better. We left the town early and were back on trail an hour later. Everything was burned out and black. Where the evergreen state is hiding?

For a minute the clouds moved and we saw Mt Adams...

It was cold, cloudy and foggy. But no rain. But for 5 hours. And then it came to visit us again and didn't stop for 2 days. It wasn't a storm nor an heavy rain, but it was consistent. We were wet, our shoes and clothes too. We kept walking because there was no point in finding a shelter. We just wanted it to be over. We wanted to quit!
Roi and I hiked so many trails around the world, and we learned who our biggest enemy is - the rain. We knew what rain on the trail feels like... and the thought of another 400 miles like that made us feel miserable :(

This video was the last thing I recorded before the rain started.

On the second day, at late noon, the rain stopped but left us with heavy fog. We couldn't see anything, that was the best view we managed to see...

1 mile later, we had to crossed a washed out sections of the trail (caused by a big storm that happened few days ago). I started crying. First it was rainy, then we couldn't see anything for the entire day and now the trail is gone! We had to jump over missing parts of the trail. I hated that!
I tried to remember what was the reason we're hiking this trail, and couldn't came up with a good answer.

The last hour of the day was becoming better, though.

We could see blue sky for few minutes, but then light rain reminded us where we are.
We camped at the Snowgrass flats, after walking about 27 miles. So called taking Washington easy...
We were exhausted! And the place where we camped was the worst place we could chose, in case thunder and lightning storm will start. But who cares!

We woke up early the next morning, we knew a hard section is waiting for us, especially with this awful weather, and we promised Sally ad Chuck we will meet them on 5 p.m on White Pass. I guess that was the only reason we grabbed ourselves out of the sleeping bags.
I went out of the tent first, expecting another foggy day. And I found myself speechless! That was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. Mt Adams at sunrise!

The next 3 hours were one of the most beautiful sections on the PCT. We hiked around the beautiful Goat Rocks, took a long breakfast at the Old Snowy side trail, and felt like we're living the dream!

Mt Rainier was standing in front of us, Mt Adams behind us. I took so many pictures that day.
The landscape reminded us the European Alps.

At ~5:30 p.m. we arrived to White Pass, where we found Sally and Chuck surrounded by lots of hikers. They brought big table, a barbecue grill and lots of food.

We were so glad to see them! It was the best trail angeling experience we had.
We ate so many burgers, homemade cookies, cheese, wine, beers.
But the nicest surprise was when they told us they will take us to their house to have a nice shower and a good sleep!
Driving to their house takes ~1.5 hours from White Pass. And they were willing to drive that distance just for us, and doing it again in the morning!
I wasn't stop talking about quitting the trail, but with all this kindness how could I???
Besides Sally promised no rain will come again until August 30th.

They gave us a nice room and bathroom to use at their cosy house. We all had a great breakfast with eggs and pancakes!

We were back to White Pass happy and fresh, ready to finish the PCT.
It took us about 3 hours to say goodbye! Sally and Chuck trail angled for the new hikers coming, and we tried to leave every 10 minutes or so, but then Roi took another burger, and then another beer and another cookie and another one.
Finally we went back on trail after 12 p.m...
We walked almost until dark, and the place we camped turned out to be an elk county. Elks were doing their weird sounds all night! It sounded like long car alarms. Creepy! 


The next day was a nice sunny day. We started to believed Sally, it might going to be sunny until the end of August... We passed a lot of beautiful lakes and saw Mt Rainier for a few times, and Roi took a note to himself we're going to climb this mountain after finishing the PCT. Chuck told us he can take us there, as he is a certified guide. He done it dozens of time since he was young.
I was trying not to think about it. I will deal with this problem later... :)

The section around Chinook Pass was beautiful! Green and Blue were everywhere!

We camped next to 3 guys that did a section hike and were coming from the north. They were telling us horror stories about the trail conditions after Stevens Pass. I got into the tent and didn't want to keep listening to those stories. We had 2 beautiful days, why ruining that?

The next day was nice and sunny for few hours,

but then the fog came back. It was windy and cold and we couldn't see anything 3 meters ahead.
Is that all you can give us, Washington? 2 sunny days?

The next 2 days were cold and foggy almost non stop, except for a 1 hour window where we met a nice lady with her granddaughter, picking huckleberries. So we did the same and ate all of them mixed with our tortilla and chocolate lunch dessert :)

And back to the fog.

We arrived Snoqualmie Pass at the morning of the 5th day, seeing mainly clouds in a distance.
Few days before we got a text message from Jeff, Sally & Chuck's sun, telling us he will come to pick us from Snoqualmie Pass and take us to his place to rest.
So we were really excited to get there.
We picked our resupply box from the c-store at the gas station and waited to Jeff.
He came and 1 hour later we were at his and his wife's beautiful house, with a nice room, lots of food and a good shower.

At the evening we went out eating with them and Andy and his gf at an indian restaurant and that's how we met the entire Caley family, which kind of adopted us in Washington :)  
We went back to Snoqualmie Pass the next morning, but decided to wait and see if some old hiker friends of us will show up, since we heard they were right behind us.
It took about 2 hours and they showed up! Shredder, Watermelon, Carlos, Pillsbury and others! It felt like a reunion. We haven't seen most of them since the Sierras!

Roi took the time to play with Shredder like in the good old times :)

It was late noon when we finally grabbed our stuff and started hiking again.

First hour of hiking was sunny and beautiful! We took a nice break next to Snow Lake, by the time we continued it became cloudy. 20 minutes later light rain started. 5 minutes later heavy rain started. We tried to find a shelter, but the rain won, and we decided to go back few miles to the lake and camp there. Perfect start :(

The next day was OK, no rain and we crossed a beautiful section. But on the last 20 minutes light rain started, and again, we decided to hike back few miles to a spot we saw earlier and seemed to be nice for camping.

The next day was nice and sunny until 12:00 p.m.

We saw a nice turquoise lake and lots of fallen trees on the trail, which in some cases made us wonder how we should pass them...

Just after we crossed a river and had our lunch the rain came back. And it rained heavily for few hours!
Roi and I decided we had enough. Our plan was to hike till the next town and check the weather forecast for the coming week, and if it will be bad we are taking time off the trail.

Our last hour of that day was beautiful with blue sky, and we were grateful this is how our potential last night on the trail looked like.

We enjoyed the last sun light at the camp until it was too cold.

The next morning we woke up to a sunny blue sky day and were smiling all the way to Stevens Pass, we felt good. It might be our last day on the trail...

We arrived to Stevens Pass before noon and got a ride 30 seconds later to Baring, where the famous HikerHaven is. We enjoyed a nice afternoon there and checked the weather forecast about 5 times. Unfortunately, it didn't changed... 60% chance for rain for the coming week :(
We knew what it means... We're not going back.
But how can we end the trail like that, without a real end.
And this is when we started our backup plan - we're going to drive to the closest road to the Canadian border and walk the last few miles.

It took us 3 days to arrange all the logistics, with the kind help of our hiker friend Glitter from Seattle, that hosted us for 2 nights.

We drove to canada and camp at manning park. The next day we started the (almost...) last hike on the PCT for 2014. We hiked 16 miles to the border and back, carrying a bottle of champagne.
We were excited and sad at the same time.

Once we arrived to the monument it really felt like the end...

But you know what?
Since we skipped ~150 miles in Washington, we have a good excuse to go back some day and hike those missing miles ;)

And guess what? we hiked all the way back to Canada with rain!!! That was a sign for us we made the right decision!!!

We took few days in Vancouver to relax, and met our fellow hiker Micah (borealis), and then started our second journey back to Oregon.

We spent few days at the Oregon coast, visiting lots of breweries and cheese factories.

And then we finally went back to the PCT and sections we skipped and hiked around the South Sister (we hiked all the way to the summit!) and around Mt Hood, including a breakfast buffet at the Timberline lodge.

South Sister photos

We had second round in Bend, for 2 days, lots of beers and bike trail. And then visited Hood River town and Portland.

Then we drove to Sally and Chuck's house, where we prepared for our Mt Rainier summit attempt.
We spent 3 days at Mt Rainier. I hiked only to Camp Muir (~3100 m). Roi hiked almost all the way to the summit (~4400 m). Unlike climbing Mt Whitney (4500 m), Mt Rainier requires a technical mountaineering climb.

Mt Rainier photos

Few more days at Seattle and we happily flew back to Israel.