September 1, 2016, Mile 2647: What I Need

At Castle Pass, mile 2647

I got zero sleep last night. And when I say zero, I mean zero…no dozing, no nothing. I was going to get up at five and zoom ahead to Castle Pass 2647, which is a perfect spot for staging a border crossing. But by five I was completely zonked.

I finally got up at six and poured some coffee down my throat. Then I threw my gear in my pack, told Jessi that I was going to go for it, and planned on hiking to 2647, but 2643 was my backup. She gave me a hug and wished me good luck. I texted Steve too, telling him that I’d confirm midday whether I could make it to Manning Park on Friday afternoon.

Then I saddled up, wished everybody well, and split, at top speed.

A couple of miles in, I felt great relief. Like I said, the group of women was great…they had their own goals, their own modus operandi, and so on. It just didn’t mesh with my hike. And at this juncture, nearly 400 miles in, I wanted to finish on *my* terms.

I kept my pace up, and in a little while I stopped for water. While I was there, I met Last Call and Zinger, two women I’d met at Shrek’s, in Cascade Locks. They said they’d see me in Manning Park, which will be great.

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As I was putting on my pack, the group arrived and started getting water. They asked how my leg was doing, and I said Great! And I smiled, wished them a good hike, and headed up the trail.

Today’s stretch was full of ridge walks, long traverses, gorgeous views, and alpine meadows. Unfortunately, it was also full of thick fog, ice cold rain, howling wind, and occasional snow. This is the second of two times I’ve been in the North Cascades, when snow has fallen at the end of August. Sigh. Anyway, it was miserable enough, and exposed enough, that even though I was cold, I couldn’t stop to add a layer. I did manage to text Steve; the miles were good enough that Friday was a go! And that added to my impetus to just keep walking.

There wasn’t even the temptation to stop and take a few pictures…there was nothing but fog. The pictures I’m using here are from Zen; he and Vanilla were right behind me on the trail, and managed to stop and get a few shots.

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Panorama from before the storms set in

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I plugged away over four passes, the largest of which was the Woody Pass area, about five miles long. This section kept wrapping around and climbing ridges. I really wanted views, but it was not to be.

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zen-woody-pass-fog
Actual view from on top of the ridge

With about three miles left, I dropped into the trees. It was more sheltered, but I was cold, and decided to keep plowing ahead. Just keep walking. Remember Billy Goat. Just keep walking.

Finally, I hit Castle Pass, said hi to the couple one tentsite over, tossed up my tent, climbed in, stripped out of the wet stuff, put on every available layer, and started pounding instant mashed potatoes and hot cocoa.

The rain kept falling, with occasional letups. I set my alarm for five, and crashed hard. On my terms.

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