It’s the end of my hike. I’m pretty sad that I didn’t make the border this year. I know I made all the right decisions, but it’s still tough. Two acts of Mother Nature got in the way, and sometimes that’s just the way it happens. The day after I got home, I learned that the storm I experienced was the strongest summer storm on record in our region.
My family and friends have been wonderfully supportive, and they are completely on board for next summer as well.
So, by the numbers: I did 252 miles on-trail this year, from Divide Camp near Mt. Adams (2239) to Lake Sally Ann near the Glacier Peak Wilderness (2491), plus eight more miles of entry/exit.
Last year, I hiked from the Bridge of the Gods (2144) to Divide Camp, 95 miles on-trail. And later that summer, I hiked from Cady Creek to Lake Sally Ann to Red Pass (2503).
Next year, God willing, I will rejoin the trail at the North Fork of the Sauk River Trail, just south of Red Pass, at mile 2500. And then I will hike to the Northern Terminus, at Monument 78, and PCT mile 2650.
But it’s far more than just the miles. I’ve met some incredible people along the way. I’ve pushed myself through pain and fatigue. I’ve seen some stunning parts of God’s creation. And I’m so very grateful for all of it.
So, here’s to the adventures of 2015, and may 2016 bring me to Canada.
In July 2016, I headed out for several sections. Check out my next adventureshere
Late last night, I had to come up with an exit plan. There are several access trails along this stretch of the PCT, going east and west, but ultimately I chose to go back four miles to the eastbound Cady Creek trail; it was familiar from last year, the PCT segment was familiar from yesterday, and it dropped the fastest into less exposed territory. I would end up at a trailhead in the neighborhood of Lake Wenatchee. The only problem with the trail was that it is overgrown. Not as in “push the brush aside,” nor “I need my machete.” This was overgrown as in “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” And sodden brush of that caliber gets your raingear soaking wet in a hurry. But it was still the best option. What I didn’t realize was that, given the fire danger, the Wenatchee Ranger District had closed every single one of its trails, including the eastbound ones from the PCT. I texted Steve to meet me at the Cady Creek (Little Wenatchee Ford) trailhead, probably mid-afternoon.
In the meantime, I spent the night reheating my bottles. This was yet another reason to bail: I was using a lot more than my budgeted fuel; I always have extra, but at this rate there was a chance my canister could be empty before I hiked down the Suiattle.
Steve didn’t get the bailout message until very early Sunday morning. And I didn’t get his latest until the same time. Apparently they were now predicting wet snow.
Within an hour of getting my message, he was on the road, with (per my request), lots of dry clothes, towels, etc.
I got up early that morning, stuffed all of my Snickers into my rain shell pocket, and began the process of keeping the must-stay-dry stuff into heavy duty plastic, while separating it from the can-get-wet stuff, and then shoving the tent in the outside of the pack. This totally threw off the balance, especially because the tent was much heavier than normal.
As soon as I was done, I turned on my music, and headed south. It was crucial to keep going; even stopping for a couple of minutes made it hard to warm back up. I kept munching the Snickers, and heading down the trail. My plan was that, if Steve hadn’t arrived yet, I would hang out in the trailhead privy, wearing my sleep clothes and my quilt, until he got there.
I did stop for a minute at the Cady Creek junction, to say goodbye to the trail; even though I was doing the right thing, I was still mighty sad.
9.5 miles, lots of heavy brush, a few scrambles, a heavy creek to ford, some rather interesting blowdowns, and 5 hours later, I arrived at the trailhead, and my waiting husband. The first thing I said to Steve was “252 miles…this year.”
He gave me an enormous hug, and after I had changed into my dry clothes, we headed down the road. There were barricades in place, due to the closure, but we just drove around them. The next stop was burgers and shakes at the 59er Diner, and then we headed over Stevens Pass towards home.
We were singularly unimpressed with the docs in Yakima, so after breakfast, we headed off to our urgent care. The doc on duty was a former section hiker, so he completely got how upset and worried I was. I just wanted to know what it would take to get me back out to the mountains. His first thought was a stress fracture, but when he saw the pictures I took on Thursday night, with the very painful swelling and the redness and heat, he changed his diagnosis to cellulitis. I got an enormous shot of heavy duty antibiotics, a full course of more antibiotics, a follow-up appointment in five days, and the possibility of returning to the trail!
I hobbled my way back to the car, and we headed home. I was to keep my leg iced and elevated at all times, take those antibiotics religiously, and keep using the crutches.
Well, that’s what I did. It was too painful to put any weight on it until midday Monday; it was so swollen it felt like my skin was about to explode. I read books, and played a lot of Mahjongg, all the while trying not to think about having to cancel my trip.
On Wednesday the 5th, Brendan drove me to my appointment. I was more than a little nervous. But I was able to walk…I had ditched the crutches a couple of days prior. So I nervously waited for the verdict…
…and got clearance to go!!!!!
My plan was to keep icing and elevating until we left on Saturday. I also had to do short days between White and Chinook Passes, set bailout routes every ten miles, reevaluate at Chinook, and set bailouts between Chinook and Snoqualmie Pass every twenty miles.
The requirements were met, the bailout plan was in place, the pack was ready to go, and I hit the rack on Friday, August 7, beyond excited for my return.
Steve showed up first thing this morning, and bless his fuzzy little heart, he brought two enormous boxes of Top Pot donuts for all the hikers to share. Score!
Then we headed off to Yakima, to find an urgent care. The decent looking one refused to see me, because we didn’t have an appointment. The rinky-dink small town one did see me, and told me that I either had tendinitis or a stress fracture. They handed me some crutches and sent me home. No notice at all of the red, hot, swollen nature of my leg. Sigh.
Needless to say, I was rather dismayed by this turn of events, and it was a hard trip home. But I was totally pampered when I arrived, and spent the afternoon and evening on the couch.
I can’t believe it. After months of thought and preparation, I hit the trail this weekend. My resupply boxes are ready, my food has been prepared (with a 1.5 pound per day average), my gear has been researched and purchased, and I’m ready to go.
And finally, today. After long goodbyes with the boys, Steve and I left for points south, around noon. Today’s destination was a B&B on the way to Mt. Adams.
Predictably, traffic was a nightmare, but we finally at the Shepherd’s Inn in Salkum. We checked in, and relaxed on the patio for a while, watching a couple of young fawns who pranced around like they owned the place.
We went out for dinner, and then just put our feet up and watched a movie. Tomorrow…