It’s been a while!

I know I said I was going to keep posting after my last post, but I got caught up and distracted by life. 
A quick overview of what’s transpired since last year…

  • I got Katana a new brother companion
  • I planned a thru hike of the CDT that starts in 11 days
  • I ended a 7 year relationship
  • I lost katana’s new little brother in the breakup. 
  • I finished half of my PCT book
  • I road tripped about 13k miles
  • I section hiked a few hundred miles on the AT and PCT
  • I found another special person… or rather they found me. 
  • I built a new website!

So that’s the very, very crude and short version of the past 9 months or so. The main purpose of this post is to direct all the followers of this blog over to the new website’s blog. I will no longer be posting on here, so if you want to follow the CDT thru hike, plus every other adventure from now on, you’ll have to make the switch 🙂  
The new website is……….

BoundlessRoamad.com 
Hope to see you there! 

Journey Home

10/6/16
Hart’s Pass
27 miles

After reaching the border, we doubled back about 3.5 miles and camped. This left us with 27 miles to reach Hart’s Pass the next day, and the weather was only slated to deteriorate from this point onward, for the foreseeable future. 

It rained for a good chunk of the night, but the morning looked misleadingly clear. We hit it hard,  wanting only to be as close to potential civilization as possible before things got worse. 

Ironic that my final day on the trail,  a day that didn’t contribute to the reaching of Canada, would be my longest day in bad weather to date. 


After the first 4 miles headed back, gaining elevation as we went,  it was either snowing,  hale-ing, or raining for the rest of the day. Everything above 6 thousand feet was already covered in a few inches of snow from the night before. 

So that’s how this final day went; battling the elements one last time. Nothing crazy,  but I was very happy to have my umbrella once again. 

The best part of back tracking south that far, was getting to see all the people heading north that were just behind you.  I got to see maybe 15 people in the span of that 27 miles.  Some new faces,  but most of them recognizeable. People I hadn’t seen since Oregon, northern California, and even the desert.  Congratulating them on their soon to be accomplishment, and in turn being congratulated for reaching ours.

When we arrived back at Hart’s Pass, a most welcomed sight awaited us.  A trail angel named Roger had set up a very elaborate camp filled with tents, tarps, drinks, food, and a homemade burn barrel/furnace.  The fire was the cherry on top. It snowed several more inches during the night, but the morning was absolutely gorgeous.

There were a handful of other thru hikers that had back tracked and were now looking for a ride back to civilization, and Roger informed us that if no one came by Hart’s Pass before noon, he’d give as many people as he could a ride into the towns of Mazama or Winthrop.  Not a soul showed up all morning, so at 11:30, we began loading up the old Volkswagen Van Roger had drove up in.  All in all, we crammed 11 hikers and their packs into that old van. Out of that eleven, six had finished their thru hikes, and five were quitting.  Five people were quitting their thru hike a mere 30 miles from the finish line. Yes the weather was slated to get much, much worse, but I couldn’t fathom bowing out that close, no matter what the obstacle. At the very least I would have waited out any weather in a town, then came back; whatever it takes!


Sadly, a great deal of people had to quit the trail over the next week or so. I don’t know an exact figure, but I’m guessing well over a hundred. Bad storms were rolling in, the winds were high, and the snow getting deeper; it simply wasn’t safe. Katana and I had made it by the skin of our teeth, and I wouldn’t change a thing.


We ended up in the novelty western town of Winthrop, over 30 miles away. While walking around downtown, a man named Ryan who’d read my book and followed my blog recognized me (probably Katana actually) and stopped to talk. This was the first time someone other than a fellow hiker had recognized myself and Katana in a town; what an interesting new experience. After chatting about the hike and some contrasts between the PCT and the AT, Ryan gave me $40 to have lunch on him. This was extremely kind and overly generous, so I let him know I’d also put it towards some other hiker’s meals that I was meeting for lunch.  We took a picture together before departing; great guy.


I’m going to summarize the rest of this day and the following days fairly quickly, as there were a ton of logistics and driving. I made the decision to drive home instead of fly. I didn’t want to step onto a plane in northern Washington, then step off one in Florida. Finishing this hike had been a little harder than I thought, and I really didn’t want to rush home, as homesick as I was. I needed a transition period to decompress. The thought of diving straight back into society and facing the questions and congratulations of friends and family back home felt overwhelming, even to think about. I wanted to put it off.


So in short (I’ll go into more detail at a later date) I paid for a rental car from Seattle to Winthrop, then back to Seattle. The hikers Ledge and Twang had gone into Canada on the same day I finished, then got a ride almost right away to Seattle. I bought the rental, then they drove about 4 hours to pick up myself, and two other hikers named Blaze and Dart.  Blaze, Twang, and Ledge had become like family to me in the last  stretch of the trail. I spent more time hiking and camping with them in final 180 miles than I did with anyone else since Kennedy Meadows south. So first we went from Winthrop to Seattle where we spent the night at a the house of another thru hiker named Focus. The next day I rented a truck and in the evening, drove myself, CatFox, Blaze, and Twang down to Salem, Oregon where Twang’s parents lived, and where Blaze had parked her car for the hike. We spent the night there before departing in the late morning the next day. Blaze was from Delaware, and planned to drive straight home from Oregon. One of my best friends from the AT, named DSOH, lived in Washington D.C., so I made arrangements to be dropped off there on the way. So Blaze and I split the cost of the drive across country. It took 4 long days of driving through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland before finally reaching D.C.    

Edit
I spent three days staying with DSOH, his roommate Luke, and his girlfriend Laura. This pit stop was exactly what I needed. Over those several days, we went out downtown to eat, drink, go to a Bill Burr comedy show at the national theater, do Brazilian Jujitsu, and generally have a good time enjoying each other’s company and relaxing. Spending time with other hikers post trail helps to make the transition a little smoother. DSOH knew what it was like to assimilate back into society after a thru hike, so being around someone who understood what you were going through, that you could talk to, was very calming and healing.


On the morning of my 4th day in D.C., I climbed into my final rental car, then made the nearly 1,000 mile drive back to Navarre in a little over 15 hours. As I write this, I’m 17 days post trail, and I’ve been home 5 days. I have to admit, this transition hasn’t been easy; much more difficult than coming home from the AT. I think it’s the solitude I experienced on this hike that’s making it difficult. I can truly say that I don’t want anything to do with pretty much anyone. That sounds so bad to admit, but it’s how I feel. Since returning, I feel scatterbrained, as well as a major lack of focus. I’m happy, but at the same time I feel incredibly morose. Every time I come back, the world seems just a little more bat shit crazy than when I left it; or is it just me?

Katana is doing well, sleeping a lot. She seems to be a little more subdued after this hike than after the AT. She could be taking ques from my energy, or maybe it’s just because she’s older. Either way, I can’t help but notice some post trail depression in her. She really, really loved Washington.



My body feels great. Not having to dive straight into surgery like I did after the AT has been a huge plus. I went on a run the other day, the first physical activity I’ve done since the trail, and I felt fantastic. My knees hurt at first, but once they warmed up, no issues. My lungs still felt strong, and I ended my run early, when I probably could have gone several more miles.

It’s still very early being back, but I’m already planning for the next excursions; I have a A LOT of irons in the fire. One that’s for sureis my southbound thru hike of the Continental Divide Trail next June. In the short term, I may do the Florida trail this winter, but that’s up in the air, pending some other projects. I do plan to begin writing a book of this most recent adventure on the PCT. I still have a lot to share with you all that never made it into the blog; people, stories, side adventures, as well as little details that make all the difference.

I suppose I do have more to say, but I want to save the good stuff for the book. So for now I’ll just say “thank YOU.” Thank you everyone for following along in spirit throughout this adventure, supporting me with your kind words of encouragement, and helping me to fulfill what I consider my new calling; inspiring and empowering people to pursue their own definition of happiness.

This will not be my final blog entry. I do plan to keep writing in between adventures and keeping any followers in the loop. Also, I do plan to create an official website for a new blog, instead of using the WordPress platform. I don’t have a timeline on it, but I’ll certainly share it on here when I do.

Please feel free to share any questions, comments, or concerns regarding ANYTHING. Now that I’m finished with the hike, I have nothing but time on my hands to respond to you all, so please, don’t be shy.

Remember, the journey is the destination…

Day 172 & Finish Day

​Day- 172

Date- 10/4/16

Location- Side of mountain

Elevation- 5,951 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 23.6 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 2,630.5 miles

Weather/Temp- foggy, clear, rain, snow, hale, 50s, 40s, 30s 

Injuries- none

Pain level- none

Spirits/Morale- excited yet somber

Days without shower- 9

Hunger/craving- grandmother’s cooking

Thoughts/Stories-

Today is the last full day and night of my journey from Mexico to Canada. As I lay in my hammock tonight,  the Canadian border sits 19.6 miles away.  Tomorrow,  the trek to Canada will end, but my hike and journey home will not. Katana and I will hit the border tomorrow, but will not be going any further north.  I do not have the necessary permits for her to enter and leave the country,  so I’m simply going to avoid those logistics and headaches all together.  Instead, we’ll be hiking back south for 31 miles until we hit the last road we crossed. I have no other plans on how to get home from there.  I will take the first ride offered to us, to wherever it’s going,  then figure it out from there.  I don’t think we’re going to fly, bus, or train home; I’ll probably rent a car, or buy a beater. A beater will probably cost as much as a one way rental across the country, but at least I’ll have equity in a beater. I can’t speak for the reliability though; that’ll come down to luck.  

Had a funny thing happen late last night.  I sleep with my food in a pocket beneath my hammock, but I’ve never had a single issue with wildlife until last night.  It was maybe 2 am when I was awoken by the hammock moving, as well as the sound of tugging and tearing of fabric.  I happened to have my face laid right up against the pocket that my food was in,  so the noise and movement was literally right against my head.  When I first awoke,  I was a little disoriented. I heard the noises and felt the ruckus, but my first instinct was that it was Katana readjusting somewhere in the hammock.  I reached out in the dark to feel for her, and when my hand found her, she was stock still,  but I could feel her sitting up at alert.  At that moment I instantly realized something was trying to pull my food bag out of my hammock pocket and immediately smashed my hand against the pocket to scare whatever it was.  The creature disappeared before I saw what it was,  but I assume it was a racoon.  It didn’t get my food out,  but it did manage to put two good tears in my thick food bag.  It was more comical than scary.  

Our last full day of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was quite possibly one of the most uniquely beautiful days so far, and despite the very cold conditions,  I wouldn’t change a thing.  We – had – it – ALL! Rain, sleet, hale, snow flurries of every size,  clear skies, clouds,  white outs, snow on the ground,  mud,  ice,  rock,  loam, gorgeous views, shrouded non existent views, ridge walks, green tunnels,  EVERYTHING! It was like a snap shot of the entire trail squeezed into one day; minus unbearable heat and lack of water.  

Everything about today revolved around the constantly changing weather,  and it was a marvel in and of itself.  It was too impressive to let the cold and wet conditions get you down.  I will say this however, my umbrella was the line in the sand between painful, chilly misery, and an incredibly comfortable day hiking in uncomfortable conditions. I will never hike without a good umbrella ever again.  

Katana was a monster in her element today; unstoppable.  This little animal has eaten Washington alive,  kicking and screaming the whole way down. I’ve hardly kept up with her for this entire state.  I can’t wait to come back and hike Oregon with her; I have no desire to do northern California though; too much heat,  too much rock, not enough water. We could do it like we did the desert,  but anything we do together in regards to this trail from now on,  will be fun and pleasant.  

Aside from the weather,  the terrain was not hard,  but quite enjoyable.  Extremely open most of the time,  affording spectacular views (fog permitting) of the northern cascades, now peppered with snow and ice.  

As I lay in my hammock tonight, knowing the journey concludes tomorrow, I can’t quite describe my feelings.  Excitement, sure; but nothing like the excitement I felt on the night before summitting Katahdin and finishing the AT. I find myself trying to reflect on the journey as a whole; to put it all together in my head before the final steps.  I cannot.  The entire trek is a blur,  and although this hike has not lasted as long as my AT hike,  the passage of time out here has felt dramatically slower; lifetimes. I have seen so many mind numbingly beautiful things, I don’t know how I’ll ever recall them all in their own pristine moments.   

While I would consider this hike to be much less eventful than my AT hike in terms of colorful characters, crazy misadventures, and relationships/friendships with my fellow man; this journey held different experiences and lessons that contributed to my personal growth in ways that the AT did not. The AT opened my eyes to a new perspective and approach to life, and the PCT gave me the chance to further apply and expand upon those learnings.  

Something I’ve found/observed in myself and others since the AT, is that a great deal of the personal growth and lessons you learn out here do not fully manifest until a short while after the hike.  Once you’ve had time to decompress and look back on everything from the now alien and confusing world of modern society that you’ve rejoined for the time being; everything that happened to you during your “time away,” begins to make more sense.  You become more observant of contrasts between the person you were, and the person you’ve become; as well as the actions and tendencies of those around you. Some things you’re going to love, others, you’re going to despise. As you make more observations within yourself and the modern society you’ve come back to, the more sense your hike is going to make in hindsight as you put the pieces of your new life back together.  

I can’t make complete sense of this most current adventure at this precise moment,  or even put it into words that would make sense to you or myself for that matter,  but I will…soon.  

I’m very anxious for what emotions tomorrow will have in store for me. 

Canadia; Day 173

10/5/16

2650.1 miles

19.6 + 3.6 miles

This entire day passed in a sort of quiet slow motion. The weather held out; there were sunny skies, cloudy skies, and overcast skies,  but no rain or snow until the late evening.  

The final 20 miles had its beautiful ups and downs,  but the final 8 miles to the border were all down hill. A very leisurely, gradual descent filled with a handful of blow downs that provided the only obstacles.  Very anticlimactic compared to Katahdin, but anxiety inducing nonetheless as you draw closer.  I can’t describe to you my feelings for the situation other than the words “calm acceptance.” I wish I had more to say about today, but descriptions escape me. 

You descend a gentle slope through the pines, dodging blow downs here and there for several miles. You walk over a number of small creeks cascading across the trail, then switch back several short times, turn sharply to the right… and there it is, you see it; the wooden monolith on the border you’ve seen in countless photographs. Your enormous investment of time, energy, and emotion. Just. Paid. Off. Now what? 

Day 171

​Day- 171

Date- 10/3/16

Location- Near creek

Elevation- 4,295 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 18.3 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 2,606.9 miles

Weather/Temp-  cloudy, rainy, sunny, 60s

Injuries- cut on palm

Pain level- low

Spirits/Morale- somber

Days without shower- 8

Hunger/craving- low

Thoughts/Stories-

Last night was probably one of the coldest nights I’ve experienced on trail. Everything was covered in ice and frost when I woke up this morning,  including my sleeping bag.  

Not wanting to take the chance of getting caught with wet gear on another night as cold as this one had been,  I decided I wouldn’t leave the road until my bag dried.  The sun was out,  but I wasn’t taking the chance of the weather going south after I hiked out,  then not having a chance to dry everything before dark.  So I stayed near the road,  dried my bag and ate pancakes until almost 10 am.  Then hiked out.  I also cooked the pound of bacon and shared it again.  

This ended up being a good idea, because around noon it became overcast,  then sprinkled in the early evening.  Most of the day was pleasant,  but it was obvious the good weather we’d been blessed with was on its way out.  

I’d have to say that the hiking today was some more of my favorite of the entire trail.  Wide open views of the northern cascades, as well as views of the trail ahead and behind,  like a scar on the mountainsides.  The colors were amazing,  and even some of the pine trees had turned orange.  

I feel genuinely sad today.  Every time I think about leaving this place and ceasing to be out here every day, I feel my eyes fill with tears.  I feel more emotional now at the end of this journey than I did on the AT. Perhaps because I know what’s coming.  I was so excited to be going home soon,  but now I’m not.  The urge to withdraw from everything is very strong.  I don’t want to talk to anyone back home,  or even think about going back.  I want to hold onto this feeling that I’ve taken for granted in the later stages of this adventure.  That feeling I’ve craved to recapture since the moment I stepped off the AT nearly 2 years ago. Now,  at the end,  I realize that feeling is about to escape me again very soon.  

When I stopped for the night in a small pine grove near a large creek,  I decided I was going to have my last fire of the trail.  It has been sprinkling on and off and the forecast has called for the weather to get continuously worse each day from here on out.  I painstakingly made my fire with the wet branches around the campsite, heated up my pizza,  then proceeded to lay in the soft dirt with Katana,  entranced by the flames for the next several hours.  It was very therapeutic for my sad, nostalgic state.  

Day 170

​Day- 170

Date- 10/2/16

Location- near trailhead

Elevation- 4,898 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 19.4 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 2588.8 miles

Weather/Temp-partly cloudy 50s 60s 70s

Injuries- none

Pain level- low

Spirits/Morale- anxiously somber

Days without shower- 7

Hunger/craving- low

Thoughts/Stories-

Got a late start around 9 this morning and had quite the melancholy day.  As far as the hike goes,  it was peaceful and uneventful. The colors are getting deeper and more abundant every day.  They’re weren’t a ton of views, but the technicolored corridors surrounding the trail were more than enough to occupy your eyes.  

The terrain and weather was a dream; pleasant, not difficult,  smooth, gradual. Time seemed to fly by, and before I knew it,  we were crossing our second to last road of the journey, slightly less than 20 miles into the day’s hike.  

A short ways past the road,  a former female thru hiker from earlier this year named Wildfire had set up some trail magic cooking burgers and making hot cocoa. We called it a day at her set up along with a few other hikers. Wildfire was promising pancakes in the morning. I wound up cooking all the brahts I had and sharing them with the other hikers.   

I’m now cowboy camped on the side of a dirt road with katana curled up in my sleeping bag. I have to admit,  the excitement of finishing has faded. All I feel now is a sort of somber-ness knowing that this lifestyle is coming to a close soon…

Day 169

​Zero day

10/1/16

Stehican trail head

Finally October! Today was probably my favorite zero day of the entire hike. Slept in,  had breakfast,  did some laundry, didn’t shower,  watched the sea planes, bought a very cheap rod and reel,  then caught the bus up to the bakery around noon.  

My resupply from Stehican is probably the most unconventional yet by backpacking standards. The small camp store in town was out of pretty much everything, and had no plans of restocking since it was shutting down in about a week. So I bought what I could and decided to use the bakery for everything else.  From the store I ended up with a pound of bacon,  2 pounds of cheddar brahts, 4 cans of kipper snacks,  4 small cans of tuna salad, 2 cans of beanie weenies, 2 pouches of instant mash potatoes, and a bag of triscuits. From the bakery I ended up with 3 huge cinnamon rolls,  2 sticky buns (I replaced the stolen one), 4 slices of homemade pizza, 5 jalapeño cheddar bagels, and some kind of chicken-bacon-ranch sandwich melt.  On top of all this, I walked a ways down the street to a private residence known as “The Garden.”  It was basically the equivalent to the town farmer’s market,  except it was only one man running it from his own personal garden.  I’ll elaborate more on the man and the garden later,  but the whole setup was beautifully simple.  I ended up purchasing a pound of homemade goat cheese from the man, as well as some homemade crackers coated in sesame and poppy seeds; deeelicious. Some other people were there too,  and when they asked for certain vegetables, the man (Mark) walked barefoot into his garden, picked the specified vegetable right out of the ground,  then washed and bagged it for them. This was freshness on a scale that I’d only experienced from the fruits of my own harvests(mainly fresh game and fish).  It was wonderful to see this man bringing that kind of fresh “experience” to whoever stopped in.  

While in Stehican, I had picked the brains of some of the locals about the salmon in the river.  The information I gathered basically amounted to this; the salmon just finished spawning; they’re no longer eating; they’ll sit in the river until they slowly starve to death; you won’t catch them since they’re not eating/biting; they’re scrawny and soft right now and don’t taste good.  

My interpretation of this information went like so; perfectly good salmon are going to waste unless someone gets out there and eats them before they expire.  Not biting? Not a problem in the slightest. 

After catching the bus back to High Bridge and the trail head with 4 other hikers named Rocco, Ledge, Blaze, and Twang; I set to work.  The five of us made camp at a small lean-to (not unlike an AT shelter) that had a fire pit just a little ways off the trail. They all stayed at camp while I climbed way down to the river in search of a good perch over the water.  That entire section of river was surrounded by sheer rocky embankment, making it difficult to get close to the water, especially in the spots where the salmon were congregating. 

I finally managed to get over a calmer spot that had a few salmon sitting in it.  To be absolutely certain they weren’t biting,  I cast the rooster tail down and dragged it in front of a couple salmon; they didn’t flinch.  This was actually good news.  They didn’t feel one way or the other about the lure. “This is going to be easier than catching them the conventional way.” I thought to myself.  So for my next cast, instead of pulling the lure across their line of sight,  I timed it with the light current of the eddy to drag it across the bulk of their body.  This is a delicate process if you’re to not spook the fish prematurely. It was even more delicate and challenging in the fading light and distorted, rippling surface of the river.  I tossed the lure just past the biggest salmon in the eddy, then strained to see the lure and the line through the swirling water.  As I slowly pulled the lure across the bottom towards the fish,  I waited until the instant the monofilament line touched the side of the fish’s body,  then snatched the rod back as fast as I could.  The salmon didn’t have time to react as the line quickly pulled across its body, guiding the hook of the rooster tail right into its underbelly and holding fast. I didn’t want to give the fish a chance to run into the main current and whoop me,  so when the line came tight,  I just kept pulling and dragged the fish onto some lower rocks. I’m sure if the fish had been in its prime,  instead of starving itself to death, it would have been a more exciting fight. The fish still pulled and struggled, but it was no contest,  even with my light line.  I repeated this process and caught two more in about half an hour’s time.  All of the salmon were no more than a couple pounds each, with bright red bodies, normal, dark gray colored heads, and that signature curvy salmon mouth with the hooked nose.  

I took the catch back to camp to the great surprise of the others. I don’t think they thought I’d get one,  let alone three.  I gutted two of the salmon and filleted the last one with my folding knife, then laid them over the fire pit on the grate and some flat rocks.  Less than half an hour later we had the best trail dinner if the journey.  The salmon were a little scrawny,  but the meat was moist, pink, and flavorful; couldn’t ask for a better beginning to the end stretch of the hike.  

Day 168

​Day- 168

Date- 9/30/16

Location- Stehican 

Elevation- 1,112 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 19.5 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 2,569.4 miles

Weather/Temp-  clear 70s

Injuries- none

Pain level- low

Spirits/Morale- new shoes! 

Days without shower- 6

Hunger/craving- satisfied

Thoughts/Stories-

As I predicted,  it was a cold, windy, wet night,  with a morning of the same; but it burned off quick, and was soon another beautiful, Indian summer day.  

Stehican sits on the shores of Lake Chelan, the largest lake in the state, and the third deepest lake in the country; number one is Crater Lake, and number two is Lake Tahoe.  I’ve been fortunate to see all three of those on this journey.  

As I said previously,  the only ways into Stehican are boat,  sea plane,  and by foot.  All vehicles in Stehican were brought there by way of barge.  The town also sits within North Cascades National Park,  and as such, there is a large ranger presence, and an even larger tourist presence.  

The 20 miles I had to hike today wouldn’t put me in Stehican; they would put me at High Bridge on the Stehican River,  11 miles from the town itself.  From High Bridge I would have to catch a shuttle bus provided by the park  (for a fee) that runs at specified times between the bridge,  the town,  and a couple other locations in between.  Two of the shuttle times that fell into my range of arrival were 3 pm and 6 pm.  I wanted to catch the 3 pm,  but wasn’t going to be broken up if I missed it and had to wait until 6pm. 

With the day being all down hill and flat, we made it to high bridge with 15 minutes to spare on the 3 pm bus; we took two short breaks all day. 

While crossing over High Bridge, I happened to look down to check out the river; it was chock full of red,  Coho Salmon.  My jaw dropped as this incredibly anxious and dismayed feeling washed over me.  I didn’t have a lick of fishing gear on me for the first time on the entire hike. I think a part of me died up there on that bridge when I realized I could do nothing about the salmon below. So I made a vow to myself to find something in Stehican, then come back and catch a salmon,  some way,  some how,  before I hiked on.  

On the way into town,  the bus stopped at a bakery about two miles out of town; a bakery that will remain my favorite bakery in the world,  but I’ll elaborate on that at a later date.  Stehican supposedly had next to nothing in regards to resupply,  so my plan was to resupply with fresh baked goods from this bakery for the final stretch.  I didn’t do my full resupply on this short stopover, but I did get a few things; some giant homemade cinnamon rolls and sticky buns just to name a couple.  

So after the pit stop,  I got back on the bus for the rest of the short ride,  my baked goodies stacked up on the seat next to me.  A local elderly woman sat in front of me.  She had gotten on the bus a little earlier,  but didn’t get off for the 5 min stop at the bakery. As we rolled up to the main part of town (which didn’t amount to much) after a bumpy ride,  I set about to collect my pack and treats.  I hadn’t noticed,  but out of my 3 cinnamon rolls,  and 2 sticky buns, the two sticky buns had rolled off the seat (they were wrapped in cellophane) onto the bus floor.  One was right next to my feet,  but the other was no where to be found.  There were 3 other hikers on the bus, and I asked them if the rogue sticky bun had rolled under any of their seats.  Negative.  At this point, none of the maybe 7 people has gotten off the bus yet and I’m on my hands and knees, looking the floor of the bus up and down, while making it very clear that I’m looking for my derelict sticky bun,  and not crazy.  This whole time,  the old woman in front of me is silent and unmoving. Less than a minute goes by as I and some of the other riders looked for the sticky bun before giving up. It wasn’t anywhere on the floor of that small bus. I simply accepted the sad fact that my sticky bun had somehow vanished through a portal into another realm, never to be seen again,   just like half my socks when I do laundry.  

I filed off the bus,  still perplexed, looking around outside,  as if an answer to what happened might reveal itself.  Low and behold…it did.  My eyes fell on the elderly woman who was now unassumingly strolling down the road; clutched in her right hand swinging at her side, my sticky bun.  I was relieved at the fact that I now had an explanation for the mysterious disappearance, but simultaneously appalled that I was betrayed by a grandmotherly figure.  Next dilemma…do I pursue? Heck no!  Granny can have it.  All she did was confirm my initial sticky bun suspicions…these things must be delicious. Delicious enough to steal for. Delicious enough to commit a crime for.  A real crime? No,  but a crime of baked, sticky passion; the best kind of crime. Enjoy my sticky bun you sneaky old lady! 

That interesting experience aside,  I can say that Stehican is easily in my top 5 favorite pockets of civilization on the entire Pacific Crest Trail.  I think this is mostly due to my timing.  It was very obvious this place was a tourist nightmare during the heart of the season, but in early fall, it was a ghost town preparing to shut down. 

I sat on the front deck of the lodge that was situated on the shore of Lake Chelan,  sipping a cream soda as the sun sank behind the mountains, and sea planes took off and landed as they transported people to and from the nearest civilization,  50 miles away on the other end of the lake.  It was one of the most uniquely beautiful, pristine sights I’ve ever seen from within the boundaries of civilization.  

I’m now camped out in a designated area behind the lodge and ranger station. I think I’ll spend the day here tomorrow, find fishing gear,  catch the bus up to the bakery, eat, hang out,  then catch it back to the trail head,  attempt to catch my salmon, camp at the trail head,  then hike out the next day. 

I did manage to get my new shoes today.  It felt bittersweet throwing away my old ones,  but these new ones feel like Christmas come early.  Only 80 miles till Canada…

Day 167

​Day- 167

Date- 9/29/16

Location- Side of mountain

Elevation- 5,833 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 23.6 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 2,549.8 miles

Weather/Temp-  partly cloudy 70s 60s

Injuries- none

Pain level- low

Spirits/Morale- anxious

Days without shower- 5

Hunger/craving- buffet

Thoughts/Stories-

The days keep getting better. When I thought I might freeze and wake up in fog this morning,  instead it was just the opposite.  The night was pleasant and calm,  with not a drop of moisture in the air, or on the ground this morning; mind blown. 

The trail was again stunning; gradual,  smoothe, with open stretches here and there.  Still,  the entire 23 mile day consisted of a single giant descent,  right off the bat, then a single giant ascent that I camped just on the far side of.  

One word to describe today would be peaceful. I caught a red garter snake while hiking in the vicinity of another hiker, and they took a picture for me. 

The most non peaceful,  comical part of the day came early in the morning. I was on a descent that was gradually switchbacking down, surrounded by grass and small vegetation,  no trees,  when Katana spooked up a grouse (delicious) ahead of me.  The bird took off like a missile straight at me,  but slightly to the side.  I reacted on pure reflex, quickly swinging my staff at the grouse in a downward, diagonal motion.  I was not quick enough,  nor even prepared for that kind of quick, violent movement,  so when I missed (grazing tail feathers), the momentum of my swing,  plus the awkward weight of my pack,  plus the angle of the trail caused me to lose my balance,  stumble of the trail,  slip on the grass,  fall, then roll about 12 feet down the decline,  coming to a stop on my shoulder in an awkward forward leaning position.  I felt like a flipped turtle for a few moments as I tried to regain my feet.  Immediately I regretted swinging for the grouse.  This was karma telling me to “cool it.” Point taken!  One with nature,  no more upsetting the balance of harmony.  

After finishing the large and only climb of the day, I descended a few hundred feet and made camp on the edge of a Meadow that had a huge buck deer grazing on the far side. I didn’t get a picture before he disappeared into the pines.  

Once again I’m camped at a high altitude,  but I have no disillusions about the weather tonight.  It was a gorgeous day,  but it’s already very cold,  and I can see the fog rolling down the mountains already.  I don’t know what tomorrow will be,  but tonight will be wet and cold whether it rains or not.  

Tomorrow I’ve got 20 miles of down hill and mostly flat hiking to reach my final town of the trail,  Stehican.  Supposedly it’s the most remote town in the lower 48 states; only accessible by sea plane,  boat,  or on foot.  I’m starving and anxious to get there for my new shoes and some fresh food.  

Funny enough,  I’m exactly 100 miles from the Canadian border from where I’m encamped right now.  The final 100. Hard to believe.  

Day 166

​Day- 166

Date- 9/28/16

Location- Side of mountain

Elevation- 5,591 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 20 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 2,526.3 miles

Weather/Temp-  Clear 70s 60s

Injuries- none

Pain level- low

Spirits/Morale- unstoppable 

Days without shower- 4

Hunger/craving- wings

Thoughts/Stories-

Woke up to a gorgeously dry morning next to the creek and wasted no time getting down to business.  In order to get our 20 mile quota in today,  we were going to end up climbing over 7,000 feet,  collectively,  throughout the day. Most of that elevation was distributed between three climbs; an 1,800 footer, 1,000 footer, and a 2,600 footer, plus lots of little stuff in between that you hardly notice.  

The trail itself was a dream; almost no rocks. Even though the trail was fantastic, we hit a new level of switchback hell.  Never in my life have I seen so many switchbacks.  Sure they make the climb gradual and easy,  but the extra miles they add on drive me crazy.  I personally prefer to hit the climbs in the most direct way possible.  Yeah it hurts and burns more,  but you get it over with quicker,  push yourself harder,  and have a greater sense of accomplishment when you reach the top;  like you earned the climb instead of simply having it given to you.  

I enjoyed all the long climbs, despite the monotony of the switchbacks.  Not as many open views as there have been,  but that allowed me to drift in thought more within the green tunnel. 

The continued beautiful weather has improved my spirits considerably. I felt motivated and not the least bit homesick,  just happy to be here.  

Against my usual judgement,  I opted to camp at a fairly high altitude near the top of a climb, simply because that’s where my 20 mile day dumped me.  With the weather so nice,  I’m going to chance the higher elevations. I’ll probably wake up in a cloud tomorrow morning, but I’m used to that at this point.  

The shoes are still doing their job…

Day 165

​ Day- 165

Date- 9/27/16

Location- near creek

Elevation- 3,947 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 22.1 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 2,506.2 ft

Weather/Temp-  partly cloudy 70s 60s

Injuries- none

Pain level- low

Spirits/Morale- lucky

Days without shower- 3

Hunger/craving- wings

Thoughts/Stories-

The fog was so heavy this morning, the water droplets so thick in the air, it almost felt as if it were sprinkling rain.  This lasted intermittently throughout the morning before burning off to better reveal the views.  The autumn colors had only deepened over night. Every hill and mountainside was covered in a patchwork of different shades of reds and oranges. Most of the color changes had taken place in the low growing vegetation, namely the blueberry and huckleberry bushes,  rather than in the pine trees.  

The views were once again open, breathtaking, and huge, affording you visuals of the trail miles ahead of you. As far as the climbs went,  they were long but very gradual, not strenuous at all. The trail itself had its rocky areas,  but was mostly incredibly pleasant.  Everyone had said that northern Washington was a brutal section, harder than the Sierra Nevada. I’ve noticed a few good climbs in Washington,  but nothing to make your jaw drop from the difficulty or even perceived difficulty.  Without a doubt,  much of what I’ve traversed so far would be absolutely miserable in truly bad weather.  So much of the trail is exposed,  it would be torture to hike it in high winds with the addition of freezing temps,  rain, or snow.  I don’t know if those elements are pre-factored into Washington’s purported difficulty, but from simply a terrain standpoint in average to good conditions,  this terrain is nothing but enjoyable.  

We had some great views of glacier peak,  another ice giant of Washington that influenced the weather in its immediate vicinity. Other than the views, the only other notable occurrence was what I can only describe as a “herd” of Marmots that ran across the trail enroute to their burrows, prompting me to dive after Katana in an attempt to keep her from putting Marmot on tonight’s menu.  No doubt she could handle one,  but good lord do they have some chompers on them.  There’s no way she could come away from that scuffle without a few good bites.  

We wrapped up the day in a gorgeous,  rainforest-like pine forest overgrown with moss and vegetation,  as well as being filled the sounds of rushing water from the nearby river and creeks.  

I’ve still been keeping nicely to our 20+ mile daily average, and Katana has done incredibly well with it.  Many of the climbs from here on out are going to be BIG.  The size of climbs I haven’t seen since northern California and the Sierra Nevada. On paper they look intimidating, but after factoring in the miles over the altitude gained,  I don’t think they’ll be terribly challenging.  

My feet are still holding up nicely in the current terrain,  but my foot still pops out of the tear with every snag.  It’s an annoyance,  but luckily that’s all it is.  Hopefully it won’t cause me anymore headaches worse than that…