Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 29:Skykomish, WA

A day off.


*grocery store


*bounce box

*phone calls



The day was a usual zero. Nothing too crazy except that there were 13 or so people all going about their business. Toward the end of the day, for various reasons, we decided to stay for another day. It will be our first double zero of the trail, and most likely our last, but a bunch of hikers will head out tomorrow and the pace will slow immensley. We willdefinitely leave Skykomish well rested.

PS: Scroll down several entries for some new pictures!

Total Miles:2476.3
Miles Today:0
Camp 124:The Dinsmore's- Skykomish, WA

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August 28:4 Months!

Even though the weather report had said clear skies today, we woke up to rain once again. It was just a light mist, but we weren't discouraged because we were headed to town! We hiked the 8 miles to Stevens Pass, cold, wet, and ready for hot food and a warm shower.

Andrea and Jerry Dinsmore are the trail angels who live in Skykomish, WA and they have been hosting hikers since 2003. They are awesome and take in hikers, offering showers, laundry, internet, a dry place to sleep, and even the occasional hot meal.

Steven's Pass is 15 miles from Skykomish, so we had to get a hitch into town and then the Dinsmore's would come pick us up. We hadn't stood on the road, shivering, for more than 5 minutes, when a truck haling a horse trailer pulls over and begins backing up. When they got to us, the guy sticks is head out and asks if we want to ride in the empty horse trailer. He says, "My wife said it's illegal, but I said, who~ going to check?" Luckily there were no horses in there, and we had hay to sit on and corral bars to hold onto. He laughed as he shut the door, saying, "It's like hauling illegal immigrants!"

He dropped us just across from the deli, and when we hopped out of the trailer, a teenager walking by stopped, grinned really big, and said, "Welcome to America!" It was perfect timing, and we cracked up.

After a great meal at the Cascadia Inn and Restaurant, we got picked up by Andrea Dinsmore, whose license plate aptly said, "PCT Mom."

They are so committed to helping out hikers that they even built a hiker loft above their garage. They have a couple beds and a handful of air mattresses, a computer, and a sitting area up there. They also open up their kitchen and living room for people to hang out in if they want.

We quickly claimed some beds, hung our stuff around to dry, and hopped in line for showers and laundry. We were just happy to be there, warm and dry, out of the rain.

Total Miles:2476.3
Miles Today:8.1
Camp 123:The Dinsmore's- Skykomish, WA

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August 27:Cold and Wet

He alarm sounded at 5:15am as usual, and as usual, we rolled over to ignore it for a few more minutes. We could hear the ran still coming down in a steady stream, and the thought of climbing out of our sleeping bags, let alone our tarp, wasn't too enticing. We all (Boomer, JZ, and us) layed in our tents, drifting in and out of sleep until around 7am when we realized it had let up. Peaking outside, we saw patches of blue sky and sunshine, and we packed up our stuff, hopeful for a day free from drizzle.

No such luck. We were duped.

We hiked for about 2 hours and then the rain kicked in. It wasn't constant, but it pretty much rained all day- anywhere from a mist to a light rain. It didn't really bother me much. We were able to take breaks, and we got 4 second flashes of sunlight here and there. We had more of the ups and downs of the previous day, and by the end of the day, we hd gone over 4 passes that required us to climb 1000 ft or so at a time; some more, some less.

It steadily got rainier and colder, and by late afternoon I had lost my hope of any sun to dry us out. We camped a few miles short of Steven's Pass at Hope Lake, resisting the temptation to take the 1 mile side trail down to Hwy 2, which would take us into Skykomish and a warm bed and shower. We climbed into our semi-damp sleeping bags, prayed that we wouldn't get flooded out during the night, and looked forward to a dry tomorrow.

Total Miles:2468.2
Miles Today:22.4
Camp 122:Hoping for Sunshine

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August 26:Switchbacks Galore!

We spent the morning walking through overgrowth that had our legs and feet soaked before long. Soon the clouds disipated and the skies cleared up and the day was pleasant and cool. The word for the day is "Switchbacks." We lost and climbed a couple thousand feet at a time, switchback after switchback, down one side of a canyon, up the other side, over the crest, down the other side...and so it went. It reminded me alot of Yosemite, only not nearly as steep. The first of our climbs afforded us a rising view of the canyon wall opposite our wall of switchbacks. The top was jagged and glaciers hung in the cirques and bowls below the peaks. The ridge boldly held back the clouds that threatened to spill over and obstruct the clear skies we were deeply enjoying.

It was great; we got to dry out our stuff and hike in beautiful weather all day. It wasn't until we got to camp that the rains came. As one fellow hiker said, "The thing I like most about the rain is not being in it." Agreed! It rained steadily all night. We stayed relatively dry, but with a tarp, it splatters in underneath if it rains for any significant amount of time.

About 2:30am I woke up, sure I was hearing the pitter-patter of little feet running around my head. I sat up, grabbed my light, and thoroughly startled Mark when I exclaimed, "Whoa! There he is!" We quickly shooed him out, and have nicknamed the bugnet "mousetrap." The can easily riggle under the bugnet to get in, but then can't figure out how to get out! It's not too big a deal, because they never get any food, but I am getting a bit tired of having to wake up at night to chase them out. I guess the only other alternative is to not use the bugnet, and if that's my only other option, I'll befriend the mice when necessary. Or at least tolerate them. It's a decent price to pay for mosquito freedom.

Total Miles:2445.8
Miles Today:28.8
Camp 121:I'm Tired of Mice!

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August 25:C3PO, Garbage Bags, and Rubber Gloves

We decided to take it easy in the morning and didn't head out to the trail until 11am. It was Mark, JZ, Boomer, and I; the rest had decided to take another zero day, but since we had to pay $100/night (split 4 ways) to stay another night, we were eager to head out to camp for free. It wasn't raining when we left, but the forecast called for rain and the clouds had the mountains socked in.

We were lucky! It did rain on us periodically, but only a couple of times for 10 minutes or so. There were clouds around, but they opened up a lot and gave us spectacular views! Even the clouds put on a decent show. The wispy ones would rise and fall in the valleys around us, altering the views and opening up new ones.

We had passed a couple hikers a ways back on the trail that told us that this section of trail was "notoriously
beautiful," and boy were they right! It was incredible! It was night and day from the previous couple days of clearcuts we had walked through into Snoqualmie Pass.

It was also a difficult terrain day. We did a lot of climbing over a lot of rocky trail. We even met a couple who said they got snowed on at one point!

We would laugh everytime we'd encounter other short-term hikers because we had aquired some new "gear" and probably looked like a comical ragtag group. Other thru hikers wouldn't bat an eye; we can be an eclectic group. But to most others, we probably just seemed wierd. Boomer had made a poncho and pack cover out of a mylar emergency blanket which was a lovely gold/bronze cover. When he was wearing it he looked like a mix between a knight and C3PO from star wars. Mark and I had made pack covers out of garbage bags. Mine was clear and his was black. They work pretty well if I do say so myself! Last, but not least, I was sporting some brand new, bought at a gas station, flourescent orange rubber dishwashing gloves. Someone had told me that they used them and that, not only would they keep my hands/gloves dry, but they would insulate from the wind as well. Sounded good to me! However, I can only give them a moderate rating so far. They did keep my hands drier than if I had not!
worn them, but they were still damp from my hands sweating inside them. I am also not convinced they are much warmer, and actually wonder if they make my hands colder at times. I'll give them a little more time and then decide. So, all that said, I can't imagine why we got some funny looks...

Since we had gotten a late start, we camped near one of the three Park Lakes in the Park Lakes Basin. The sky was getting continually darker, and we found a campsite just as it started to sprinkle again. It always feels great to get out of wet clothes and into a warm sleeping bag and tarp!

Total Miles:2417.0
Miles Today:15.3
Camp 120:Windy Park Lakes

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August 24:Snoqualmie Pass

All of our hiker friends were up before 5am (one guy was up at 4am!) and gone by 5:30am. We were not. :) We got our usual start around 6am.

JZ had a friend who was going to meet him at the pass, but he decided to hike in 10ish miles, camp, and meet up with us as we hiked by. We met up with Monty about 9 miles from the pass, where he had been camping with a couple and their grandson. We chatted with them for awhile, enjoying their campfire and the warmth it provided.

We made it to within a mile of Snoqualmie Pass before it decided to rain on us. It was funny seeing the day hikers huddling under trees; we just threw our rain jackets over our packs and hiked on by. We were headed for town!

We got a room at the Summit Lodge, and since the grocery store there was very overpriced, Monty and his girlfriend gave us a ride 20 miles down the road to a Safeway. After that it was eat, internet, laundry, and a little Extreme Makeover Home Edition as we fell asleep.

Total Miles:2401.7
Miles Today:16.4
Camp 119:Summit Lodge- Snoqualmie Pass

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Pictures!

Sorry if this grosses you out :). It's the bottom of Mark's foot after being wet all day!
one of the many lakes we pass. gotta love the clouds that are a constant now as we hike.
sunset over a lake we camped by.

the trail goes over the trail as we leave Ranier National Park (Chinook Pass?). The trail barely enters the park...we skirt the edges of the park for a few miles.
the crew drying everything out on a day that finally had sun!
Em...this ones for you! Thanks for the great letter!
Camp Urich. I wish the coolers were ours, but they belong to another family that was camping there as well. We have hit a few of these huts along the way. They are always nice if the weather is iffy or if mosquitoes are bad.
Mt. Ranier. We think it got a bit more snow when it was raining on us. It's normally covered in glaciers, but I don't think it's usually THIS white!
The Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run was going on one day through the section we were hiking. This was at Stampede Pass, and since it was toward the end of the day, they let us have free reign of the food table. It was great!
Mark hiking in the clouds.
Hiking a day out of Snoqualmie Pass (Just above the Parks Lake Basin). Yes, I am wearing rubber gloves. Someone told me they would keep my hands warm and my liner gloves dry in the rain and wind. So far, I give them only a moderate rating. My hands are only warm some of the time and my gloves are still wet from my hands sweating in the gloves. Oh was worth a try! Any other suggestions? Oh, and yes, we are using trash bags for pack covers, which DO work.
Mark above the Park Lakes Basin.
Ah...blessed sun breaking through the clouds.
Delate Creek waterfall. Mom, this is the only picture of a waterfall we have on our current memory stick, and it's not the best one, but I thought I'd put it up here for you anyway!
The view on one of our many climbs and descents between Snoqualmie and Skykomish.
The only ford we've had to do in a loooooong time. No matter. We were already wet due to rain. We also end up walking through overgrowth that is wet and your feet are wet in no time at all. Getting us ready for the Glacier Peak area!
We saw this sign as we were coming into Steven's Pass (Skykomish). So now we have to beware of bears, mountain lions....and blasting. :) We had none, though. The only sound we heard was of Marmots and Pikas.
This was our hitch into a horse trailor (no horses though)!The guy who picked us up was joking about hauling illegal immigrants, and when we got dropped off, a kid walking by smiled and said, "Welcome to America!" It was great!
The guys in the picture with me are (L to R) Boomer and JZ.
Hope this gives you a little more insight into our journey!

Monday, August 25, 2008

August 23:Clearcuts and Runners

Today we entered the clearcuts. The last 40-50 miles or so into Snoqualmie Pass is littered with these patches of forest that have been clearcut. Not only are they ugly from a distance, but when you walk through them, they are overgrown and could be really hot depending on the weather. Luckily for us, the weather was fairly mild, so it wasn't really too bad.

We got about 12-15 miles in (just past Blowout Mtn) when we ran into a guy who told us a race was going on today. It's called the Cascade Crest 100-mile Endurance Run, and about 100 runners start this race and run 100 mils straight. The average time is 28-30 HOURS of running. They run straight through the night and eveything. They are on the PCT for just a part of the race, and it just so happened to be the section of trail that we were walking today!

For most of the afternoon we were stepping off the trail to let these runners by. They were all very curteous, and many were interested in what we were doing (well, as interested as you can be as you run by).

The trail through this area is pretty steep; in fact, parts are some of the steepest trail we've had outside of Yosemite. Many of the runners would walk the steep or long uphills and run the flats and downhills. At one point the trail was so steep that we passed a couple of the runners (that had just passed us) as they trudged up the hill!

The bonus was that they had all kinds of stations along the way, and we hit the last one not long before it was going to close. They gave us a green light to eat whatever we wanted, so we loaded up on fresh fruit, sandwiches, and even hot soup! It was fun to hang out there for a bit as well, because as runners came in, everyone cheered them on as they grabbed some food, water, headlamps, etc, and headed back out.

I made the comment at one point that I would hate to run 100 miles at one time, and Mark's reply was, "That's what most people would say about hiking for 4 months straight!" Ok. He's got a point. To each his own.

We only had 2 miles left to hike, where we joined up with the rest of the crew camping on an abandoned gravel road. We fell asleep to the sound of the last few runners pounding on by.

Total Miles:2385.3
Miles Today:30.2
Camp 118:Another Mouse

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August 22:Sunshine!!

We woke up chilly, with slightly damp clothes still, but the skies were clearer than they'd been in days. As the day went on, it cleared up, and not only did we have sunshine, but we had cool weather as well- the perfect combination!

The day just seemed happier; we got to dry out all our stuff during lunch, while staring at the incredible Mt. Ranier! It was amazing. We had great views of the mountain all day. There was so much snow and ice on it that it looked solid white! We could see Little Tahoma, the small peak that sits on it's shoulder, and we could even pick out the Disappointment Cleaver, the route we took on our climb up Ranier.

The goal for the evening was Camp Urich, which sits in Government Meadow. I never like camping in meadows because of all the mosquitos, but since there was a shelter there, I figured it would work out. There was already a group there when we arrived, but we shared the space well. Some of us camped, and some of us slept in the loft, while they camped and slept downstairs. They had a TON of food, but they really didn't offer to share, which was a bummer, since the chili they were making smelled amazing. It was a great night. We were warm, dry, and mosquito free. What else could we ask for?

Total Miles:2355.1
Miles Today:25.3
Camp 117:Camp Urich

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August 21:Rain, Rain, Go Away...Pt. 2

We woke up to a steady drizzle outside, and relunctantly began packing up our bags. The only thing that gave me hope was the forecast of sun later in the day. We trudged out into the rain, after noting that the thermometer outside our room read somewhere between 40 and 50 degrees.

The first few hours were miserable. It was cold and wet and showed no sign of letting up. We trudged through a muddy, wet trail, doing our brst to avoid the pools that would form in the divets. I spent a lot of time asking God to calm the storm (he did it once before, right?), but it wasn't until the afternoon that it stopped raining. We saw sun twice for about 10 seconds each time, but it mostly just fogged us in all day. It was unfortunate, because I'm sure we would have had some great views of Mt. Rainier, but we were just thankful it wasn't raining.

Most of the crew camped at Anderson Lake, but there wasn't much room for camping in the one small campsite, so Mark, JZ, and I headed 1.8 more miles down the trail to Dewey Lake.
The first campsite we came to was filled with tents. The next one we found said, "Closed for Restoration," but we were so tired and ready to be dry in our sleeping bags, so we decided to camp there anyway (shhh...don't tell!). We figured we couldn't do much damage since we weren't hanging out there for more than a few hours to sleep.

We were there kind of early since we hadn't taken many breaks because of the rain, but I had eaten and written journals and it was only 7:30pm! It was too cold to do anything other than lay in my sleeping bag (it turned out to be one of the coldest nights of the whole trail), so I was asleep by 7:30pm. Luckily it didn't rain on us and the skies began to clear, bringing smiles to our faces and an expectant hope of a dry day ahead.

Total Miles:2329.8
Miles Today:27.0
Camp 116:"Closed For Restoration"

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August 20:Rain, Rain, Go Away...

We woke up to the sound of rain falling outside. We ate some breakfast and slowly began to pack up our bags when Flippy popped his head into the room to inform us that everyone else was taking the day off. The weather report said that it was going to rain all day and that it was supposed to clear upthe next day sometime. Checkout was noon, so we had a few hours to wait it out and decide.

We went back and forth, but ended up staying. We added a 6th hiker to our room, so the cost went down slightly per person, which helped.

The front desk had some movies we could rent for $1/day (VHS!), so we watched 3 movies on the tiniest TV ever. One just happened to be a 1989 ESPN Sports Bloopers that was horrible!

We cooked food, relaxed, and watched movies, but by the end of the day I was ready to hit the trail in the morning, rain or shine (hoping, praying for shine). It was good to rest, but it was starting to feel like we were barely hiking! We went to bed, hopeful that tomorrow would bring blue skies and sunshine our way.

Total Miles:2302.8
Miles Today:0
Camp 115:White Pass, Village Inn

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August 19:White Pass, WA

everything was wet when we woke up, and that would prove to be the theme fo the morning. Luckily we only had 12.5 miles to go to get into White Pass. We had thought of ca,ping there, but at this point I was ready to pay just about any price for a hotel room :). The day began with a grueling climb up 2100 ft to the top of a ridge before descending back down 2100 ft into White Pass. I'm sure it was a beautiful area, but it was misting all morning, we had no views, and our hands were freezing. We were ready to be out of the rain.

It was in the last few miles that the rain cleared a bit and we had a glimpse of clear skies. It was an on-again-off-again thing for the rest of the day, but at least we got a break.

We had met a guy at Lutz Lake the night before, who we thought was just out for a couple days. Turns out he hiked the PCT in 1982 (started when I was 1 month old and a day before Mark was even born!) and he was back doing just the state of Washington. Since the rooms are meant for skiers, they sleep quite a few, and he ended up sharing a room with us (there were 5 of us total). It was fun hearing his stories about sailing in Alaska and his other adventures.

After a brief try at hitching down to Packwood for a bigger grocery store (no love in these parts), we resupplied and cooked up a great dinner since the rooms have a small kitchen. Part of our dinner was corn on the cob. A truck had tipped over nearby and spilled a ton of it, and everyone was just picking it up, keeping some, and giving away a ton more. It was a restful evening, and we even got to sleep on one of those beds that pulls down out of the wall. How fun!

Total Miles:2302.8
Miles Today:12.5
Camp 114:White Pass, Village Inn

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August 18:Goat Rocks Rocks!

That's what Coach wrote in the Trail Register in Cascade Locks in 2003. Mark wrote to me in a postcard on that same trip, "Goat Rocks Wilderness. Lots of Rocks. No goats." I would agree with both of them. Goat Rocks was probably my favorite section of trail outside of the Sierras (at least what we saw of it), and we saw lots of rocks, but no goats. It was very Sierra-like in that it is very exposed, with great views of the surrounding peaks.

The wildflowers were out in force, and we wound through mountainsides covered in Lupin and Indian Paintbrush. It even took us right in front of a 20-foot waterfall!

The clouds came and went, and thus, so did our views. As we made our way north, toward the Packwood Glacier, we began crossing a few small snowfields, and eventually came to an unmarked junction on a ridge near Mt. Snowy. We had seen a trail runner go left here, and rock cairns went right, although that looked like a summit trail for Mt. Snowy. After consulting a map, we determined that the PCT went straight, which was a scree trail, and the most undefined. The bummer was that the clouds moved in right then, so we were whited out and had very limited visibility. We followed the trail out just above the Packwood Glacier which is not a crevassed glacier, just a lot of snow). Mark said in 2003 all of that was a steep snow field, and we really only had one small section of snow...maybe 100 ft or so.

Just passed the Packwood Glacier is where you get on what is called the Knife's Edge. It's a narrow ridge of trail that you traverse for maybe a mile and a half, cimbing up and down, with steep drop-offs on either side of you. Just s we got there, a guy showed up who had been hiking behind us for a short while. Long story short, he was really confused and lost. He tried telling us that the way we were headed on the PCT was south, and he was convinced we had walked all the way around Old Snowy and were headed south. Mark took the time to take out the map and show him where we were and that we were, in fact, headed north, and in the end, he agreed with us. However, we heard from our friends later that the same guy gave them wrong directions as well and pointed them down the wrong path. Granted, it was fogged in, so he didn't have good visibility, but he was still adamant that he knew where he was.

After that encounter was the Knife's Edge. We were bummed it was foggy, but gla that the wind stayed to a minimum. Others had gone through on their hands and knees in places, and we didn't have anything that bad. We got some cool pictures despite the lack of a view.

We eventually rolled into Lutz Lake, tired from the day and ready for a good nights sleep. After making sure we wouldn't wake up in a puddle if/when it rained, we crashed, glad to be warm and dry once again.

Mark postcard- Lots of rocks; no goats.

Total Miles:2290.3
Miles Today:27.9
Camp 113:Goat Rocks Wilderness

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

August 17:Mt. Adams

We were told that the ride was leaving for the trail around 7:30am. Half the group got up early to head down to the cafe in town for breakfast. We were up and ready to go when they returned, but somehow we got stuck in the second group to be taken back up and ended up about an hour behind them.

The day began with a 2000 ft climb up the shoulder of Mt. Adams. It was fun to be back there since we had climbed on Adams twice, summiting once.

We spent the day navigating around Adams, and we had some incredible views! Regardless of the clouds, it wasn't fogged in, and we got some up-close views of the glaciers tumbling down the north face of the mountain as we crossed glacial creeks. The creeks were so silty, they were impossible to see through. I even had to ford my first creek since the Sierras (I think). Mark found a rock to hop across, but I wasn't confident and couldn't find a different way across, so JZ and I walked through it, which was a little disconcerting since the water was opaque, not clear (you can't see how deep it is or where the rocks are). Luckily JZ went first and the creek wasn't very wide so it all went well.

The forecast for the next 5 days or so was "chance of scattered thunderstorms," but it held out all day until 5 minutes after we set up our tarp for the evening.

It was another mosquito-filled day, and we actually set up the bugnet and squeezed four of us underneath it for our first break. It was awesome! I love that thing everytime we use it.

Most of our crew had planned to camp 20 miles in at Lava Spring, but we didn't want to stop that early, so we (and JZ) hiked on another 4 miles or so to a campsite near Midway Creek. We set up our tents and had them up not more than 5 minutes when the first rain drops started to fall. Then the thunder and lightning started, and we just prayed that it wouldn't be a repeat of the last storm we were in around Mt. Jefferson. Luckily it never really downpoured on us, and the ground was more absorbant, and we stayed dry as can be all night long.

Total Miles:2262.4
Miles Today:24.5
Camp 112:Double Thunder(storm)

August 16:Talked Into Another One

The plan was to hang out for the afternoon, and head back to the trail late afternoon. But since most of the crew had already decided to take a zero, come late afternoon, we decided to stay. It was pretty crazy around their house. It was Chris' (Tripod) bday on Monday, and he was planning a party for that evening. Imagine doing that, watching your two small kids...all with 10 extra people around. He had some friends coming in for just a few hours, but a few more were going to camp in the backyard as well.

I was feeling pretty peopled out, so I borrowed Thrust's (hiker friend) book, Children of Men, and hid upstairs in the room we were staying in. It was was nice and relaxing with nothing pressing to do. Mark said it was the first day he almost felt bored.

People started showing up in the late afternoon for the party. It was pretty low key and most of us went to bed pretty early, anticipating an early start.

It wasn't the first, and may not be the last time we get talked into a zero...

Total Miles:2237.9
Miles Today:0
Camp :Dawn and Tripod's House

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August 15:Trout Lake, WA

We were all prepared for a miserable day filled with mosquitos. They were definitely around in the morning as we climbed up from Blue Lake and got some views of Mt. Adams. We even ran into a guy hiking south who told us that they were horrid for basically another 50 miles or so. But we were pleasantly surprised to find few to none the rest of the way into Road 23 where we would go into Trout Lake. We took some nice long breaks with no issues all day. It was wonderful!

The terrain was beautiful once again. We were mostly in trees, but the sun shown through, lighting up the trail and the trees around us. We were once again thankful for the tree cover because it was HOT. We were dripping by the time we hit Road 23.

Half of our group had been there for over an hour with no luck hitching. Luckily JZ and Slider had some friends in Trout Lake they had each hiked with at different times (same couple), and they were more than happy to take in all 10 of us! We all hopped into his pickup, with our packs strapped to the tailgate for the 13 mile ride into town. Most just camped in the backyard, but JZ was generous enough to give Mark and I the bed he was going to sleep on and he took a couch. What a gift! We took showers, did laundry, and just hung out. And because Dawn and Tripod (his trail name) have two little kids, we even got to watch the Disney flick Treasure Planet.

Even though it seemed like we took over their home, we also knew they were hikers as well, and totally understood what it is like. Most thru hikers are more than happy to be trail angels for others when they get the chance. So thanks again, Dawn, Tripod, Aiden, and William for takng us in and sharing your lives with us for awhile!

Total Miles:2237.9
Miles Today:23.9
Camp 110:Dawn and Tripod's House

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August 14:Indian Heaven, Mosquito Hell

It was a short few miles and we were back at 900 ft. It was up from here. Today would be another 5000ish ft climb day. It was a loooooooooong climb and it felt like it took forever. Luckily the terrain was beautiful and that made up for it. And every so often we popped out of the trees and got some awesome clear views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

It was extremely hot, and we were saved by the tree-cover that shaded us and kept the temperature manageable. There were no bugs and we were out of poison oak territory again and I was able to hike in shorts for the first time in a long time. It was great!

Later in the afternoon we were hoping to hike a couple more miles before taking a break, when we popped out of the trees into a campground picnic area. On the picnic table was a small cooler and a white barrel that we thought said "Hiker Trash." We were pumped to see a cooler, and I thought, "Hmmm...creative trail magic...a place for hikers to dump their trash!" It's always nice to shed a little weight. We soon realized that it ACTUALLY said "Hiker Stash" and was full of goodies, which was even better! The guy who supplied the cash as there, and lucky as we were, he had only been there about 5 minutes and just refilled both the cooler and the bucket. And to top it all off, he brought out a bunch of fresh fruit and cookies as well. I had my first Marionberry ever (hybrid of blackberry and rasberry). We sat for 30 minutes or so and had great food and cold gatorades before heading back up the trail.

It was lucky that we stopped when we did, because we took like 10 steps past the road by the campground and it was almost immediately buggy. First it was just tons of flies, but soon it was mosquitos galore. Yep...welcome to Indian Heaven Wilderness- notorious for being mosquito crazy. When Mark hiked through here in '03 he had his craziest mosquitos here. He took a swat at Coach's leg and killed somewhere around 21 mosquitos in one swat! Mosquitos suck, but they do keep you moving forward at a good speed.

We set up the bugnet again, and I quickly found refuge inside for the night at Blue Lake. We all hunkered down inside our tents, escaping the blood-thirsty little buggers as best we could, having conversations from tent to tent until we all passed out, cozy in our sleeping bags.

Total Miles:2214.0
Miles Today:28.3
Camp 109:Indian Heaven, Mosquito Hell

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August 13:We're in Washington!!

It was about 7am when we started our walk across the Bridge of the Gods and into Washington. This is a toll bridge that normally charges $0.50 for pedestrians to cross, but I guess they figure it would be wierd to charge hikers since it is technically part of the trail. So we walked across for free.

About half way across is a "Welcome to Washington" sign where we stopped to take a few pictures. Luckily there wasn't much traffic since there wasn't a sidewalk.

Our day was spent going up. Since Cascade Locks is basically at sea level, you don't have much choice. We had an initial climb of 3300 ft, then lost more than half of it before climbing back up to the same elevation before eading right back down. It was a lot of work. I think we climbed at least 5-6000 ft today.

On our last climb up, we came across the wierdest sight. There was a man in jeans and a flannel shirt hauling all kinds of luggage up the huge hill we wee climbing up. No joke- he had 6 different things he was hauling. Two HUGE canvas bags (Mark said, "big enough for a body, so I kicked one on the way by to make sure."), 3 suitcases (the plastic hard kind), and one several gallon water container. He was definitely a bit strange. he said he was on a long hike and rambled on about money and food stamps. We all pretty much hurried past him and were thankful we still had a few miles to go before camping!

We were all pretty much dead by the time we hit camp. I kept thinking that it felt like a neverending couple of miles, but we got in and decided to set up only the bugnet.

Later in the night I woke up to Mark saying, "Get out you little bugger!" Turns out a mouse had burrowed in the dirt under the mosquito netting and then was frantically trying to figure out how to get out. He was running around the perimeter of the netting throwing himself against the netting. He left pretty quickly once we pulled up some spots to let him out. Luckily he didn't eat more than a half of a chocolate covered raisin. Always a surprise, but at least there were no slugs!

Total Miles:2185.7
Miles Today:30.7
Camp 108:Mouse in the House

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August 12:Cascade Locks, OR

I woke up at some point in the middle of the night to Mark moving around a lot. Eventually he left to pee, and I thought that was that. Later I find out that when he woke up, he was searching for an ear plug (many a train rumbles by 20 ft away), and he found a slug right by his head! It's the wierdest thing; we have been seeing these nasty slugs on the trail the last couple days. They are maybe 2-2.5 inches long and roughly the width of a hot dog. They are gross, and they move so slow I've never been able to tell one is even moving. Don't ask me how one made it all the way into our tarp. I'm just glad it was by his head and not mine!

We hung out in the park all day, leaving only to hit the PO and grocery. It was a pretty relaxing, albeit WINDY day.

The park is on the Columbia River, which is known for it's high winds. Tons of people come here for kite boarding and wind surfing. We had to weight down basically everything so it wouldn't blow away. It definitely kept things cool, though, which was nice.

We hit the sack early after a good dinner at the pub that is being converted to a hiker hostel. And the best part slugs!

Total Miles:2155.0
Miles Today:0
Camp 107:Cascade Locks Park

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August 11:Eagle Creek Trail

We tend to stay pretty purist when it comes to walking the PCT. We connect our steps, don't skip sections, and don't take alternate routes much. But even before we left for the trip, we had decided we were going to take the eagle Creek Trail into Cascade Locks. Most hikers do; it's supposed to be incredibly beautiful, with a handful of waterfalls along the way.

We first took the Indian Springs Trail down to the Eagle Creek Trail. It was VERY steep. Even the guidebook mentions that it could be tricky if wet, which luckily it wasn't for us. Not only was it steep, but unmaintained as well, which means it was super overgrown, with tons of downed trees to crawl over.

Awhile back Mark had lost his trekking poles by leaving them at a bus stop in Shasta City. Today he was gifted with a pair that someone had lost on the trail. They were just stuck in the dirt on the side of the trail. It was the perfect day to find some since we had a steep descent to do.

The Eagle Creek trail is a MUST if you ever hike the PCT! It was super scenic and the waterfalls were awesome. Tunnel Falls wins the gold medal, though. It was a tall, relatively skinny waterfall, but the coolest part was that the trail goes through a tunnel behind the falls! That falls alone was worth taking this trail.

The trail basically takes you into Cascade Locks, which is practically at sea level. just two days before we were on Mt. Hood at 5900 ft, and today we end up at 200 ft. It just doesn't seem right!

We weren't in town long before a guy found us to claim his wife's trekking poles that Mark had found. I'm sure he was thankful he didn't have to hike back up a few thousand ft to get them!

JZ also ahd some friends in town that he had hiked with previously. It was cool to hang out with them and hear stories about previous hikes on the PCT and CDT (Continental Divide Trail). We even got to meet a couple people we'd heard of, but had never met: Ron, the founder of a gear company called Six Moon Designs, and Jonathan Ley, who is making a set of maps for the CDT.

It was a very relaxing night, hanging in the city park (it has a campground where PCT hikers can stay for free), right down on the Columbia River, which serves as the border between OR and WA. We will take a day off tomorrow and then we will head into the last state of our hike...only 500 miles to go!

Total Miles:2155.0
Miles Today:26.2
Camp 106:Cascade Locks Park

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

August 10:Ramona Falls

We decided to stay for the breakfast buffet at Timberine Lodge before heading out. It was fantastic! There was fresh fruit (the good stuff like watermelon and pineapple, etc) amd even REAL whipped cream, which was awesome in hot chocolate and on waffles. We finally managed to get a group shot with most of us (all but Flippy) by the PCT sign near the lodge before hitting the trail, which I am really happy to have. We've hung with this crew since Lake Tahoe, and they have been a ton of fun!

A few miles out, there is an alternate route you can take that walks you by Ramona Falls. The guidebook picture wasn't anything to write home about, but we'd heard it was cool, so a few of us decided to head that way. Was it worth the trip! It was a beautiful, cascading waterfall that the guidebook did not do justice to. And the best part was that it looped you back around to the PCT not long afterward. Totally worth taking that alternate loop.

The original PCT in this area had been washed away some time ago, and they have since rerouted the trail. this is fine, except that on the reroute you end up 1500 ft lower and *get* (have) to climb back up. Not too hard, but definitely more work!

We made camp by a small spring. I was out of water, so the name, Salvation Spring was a bit accurate. It seemed crazy that the next day we would walk into Cascade Locks...our last stop in Oregon! Besides...weren't we just in town? Was it already time for another shower?

Total Miles:2128.8
Miles Today:21.5
Camp 105:Salvation Spring

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August 9:Mt. Hood/Timberline Lodge

We were really excited to get to Timberline Lodge that sits at 6000 ft on the south side of Mt. Hood. We had climbed Mt. Hood a couple years ago, and had loved the Lodge. It was just fun to return to a place we'd been before that we really enjoyed.

Timberline Lodge is a historic lodge built by the CCC during the depession. It is built with huge wooden beams and has huge stone fireplaces as well. And, since Mt Hood is one of the few places you can ski year-round, it is always packed.

It was kind of a bummer because there has been a low cloud layer lately, and there really wasn't much of a view. Most of the mountain was clouded in all day and evening.

When we first arived we headed to the Blue Ox Bar for some pizza. We had been there a little while when I heard Mark say, "Did you guys go to school in Indiana?" I turned round to see Jon and Marie (Lawrence) Myers siting at the next table! They graduated a couple years ahead of us, but Jon had led, and Marie was on, my mission trip to Mozambique my freshman year. I had also helped out with his youth group for awhile that year as well. They were just down from Seattle on vacation, but it was a fun surprise to run into fellow IWUers at random.

A few of our hiker friends got a room for the night, so we took advantage and showered and did some laundry before heading outside to camp. It was a bit chilly, but a few of us found a nice spot out of the wind and we were quite cozy once we set up the tarp and bundled up. We were in a restricted camping zone, but a bunch of the workers camp back there for the summer instead of paying for housing, and they were cool with it. It was one of the best nights sleep we had so far. We even went to bed clean!

Total Miles:2107.3
Miles Today:21.5
Camp 104:Timberline Lodge Stealth Camp

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 8:Easy Miles

When we talked with Billygoat in the Trinity Alps in CA, he mentioned that if you ever wanted to go for a personal best as far as high miles, that the place to do it was out of Olallie Lake Resort. We weren't going for that, but boy was he right! The trail was super easygoing all day. We had a couple good climbs in there, but they were so gradual that it didn't really slow you down.

We cruised along, defying the death march and taking breaks every couple of hours or so. Even with all our breaks, we still managed to do 29.5 miles by 4:30 pm! We headed into the Clackamas Lake Campground for a dinner break and some water.

Our crew had decided to camp there, but since it was a Friday night, the place was crowded and we could tell it was going to be party central all night (which isn't fun when you go to bed at 8:30pm). Since the night before had been loud, we decied to hike on a couple of miles to Timothy Lake and get some peace and quiet. Just as we were getting up to leave, a ranger pulled up to get money for the campsite, which made us even more glad we had decided to move on. Who wants to pay to camp when you do it for free every night?

We found a peaceful little spot along the lake, just in time for the sunset. The best thing was that the lake is so big and breezy that there was not even ONE mosquito all night!

Total Miles:2085.8
Miles Today:32.7
Camp 103:Timothy Lake Sunset

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August 7:Mt. Jefferson

We woke up relatively dry and headed out into the snow. We tried to stay together since we were still walking over quite a bit of snow. So 8 of us tromped out onto the shoulder of Mt. Jefferson, working together to find our way. There were periodic patches of trail melted out that confirmed we were going the right direction, and soon the snow receded and we were back to mostly trail.

Jefferson is, according to Mark, probably the best looking volcano we pass. And as you hike on and around it, you get some incredible views.

We took our lunch break from a viewpoint on a ridge just past Jefferson, and it was incredible. We dried out our tents and sleeping bags while gazing at the glaciers cascading down the upper flanks of the mountain. We even had a glimpse of Mt. Hood to the north.

Then we were back on the snow, but luckily their were cairns to guide the way. We really had no intentions of stopping at Olallie Lake Resort to camp, especially since it is closed, but the crew decided to camp there, so we did as well. There is all kinds of speculation as to why they didn't open this year (snow damage, neglect, etc), but they were kind enough to let us camp in the picnic area by the lake anyway.

Everything was going smoothly (aside from the sneaky chipmunk that ate Slider's snickers) until we were heading to bed (the usual 8-9pm). It was just as we were laying down that a car pulled up and there were people talking and kids running around screaming. This went on for awhile, and when I realized there was a group of people who were going to noisily hang out and roast marshmellows right next to our campsite, I stuck in the earplugs and fell asleep. Apparently the party went on until at least midnight, and that's when one hiker went to nicely ask them if they could be a bit quieter (he really was nice). Some were more receptive than others, but they did finally go in to wherever they were staying. As I said, I had in earplugs, so I only heard about it in the morning. Earplugs, like the headnet, are worth their weight, even if you only use them once or twice. You'll be thankful in the morning!

Total Miles:2053.1
Miles Today:23.6
Camp 102:Olallie Lake Resort

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

August 6:Out From Sisters, OR

Instead of heading out bright and early, we stayed at the Best Western to partake of the continental breakfast. We got a hitch from a guy who saw us sporting the "hiker to trail" bandana and turned around to pick us up.

We weren't on the trail more than 20 minutes when it started to rain. We had heard on the weather channel that thunderstorms were predicted for the next three days, so at least we were prepared. It rained for most of the morning and then, beautifully, the sun came out. It was blue skies everywhere.

We were headed toward Mt. Jefferson, and the reports for THIS mountain were that it was "treacherous" and that an "ice axe and crampons were recommended." We figured that there would be a bit more snow than around the Sisters, possibly with a few more steep slopes; however, we weren't too concerned because we were with a big group and we had maps as well. It couldn't be worse than anything we'd already done. And it wasn't. We did hit some snow, but only had one place where we really had to fan out to find the trail.

Just as evening was approaching, the sky began to darken and rumble. We began to hike a little faster. Our goal was Shale Lake, not too far down the trail, and we wanted to get our tents up before the heavens opened up. Just as we got there, a few drops began to fall. We found a spot, set up the tarp, and started digging a trench around the perimeter of the tarp to funnel water away from us.

It didn't take long before the rain came...and boy was I glad we had a trench! It filled up quickly and soon there was a steady flow out both ends of the tarp. And then the hail started! It was small hail, but since the tarp leaves a small opening around the bottom it would hit the ground and bounce in. It was actually kind of fun, even though we were frantically trying to make sure everything was staying dry.

It all only lasted for 10 minutes max. We actually fared pretty well; many of our tenting friends ended up in a puddle! Luckily that was the end of the rain for the evening and we were able to get a good nights sleep after wiping down our ground cloths and sleeping pads. Oh, what an adventure!

Total Miles:2029.5
Miles Today:22.6
Camp 101:Downpour and Hail

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August 5:2000 Miles!!!

The race was on. We had 25ish miles left to do to get to the road to hitch into the town of Sisters, OR to get to the PO before 5pm. Not impossible, but definitely not a day to lounge around.

We hit McKenzie Pass, which is in the middle of a lava field. We sat at our break staring at miles of lava rock, and from this distance it looked like a flow. In the near distance (if that makes sense) was Mt. Washington, which we would head over on our way to Santiam Pass, where we would hitch into Sisters.

We walked for miles through the lava flow, which is very hard on your feet. We also spent a lot of time in a burn area, which burned in 2003 just a week or two after Mark and Coach walked through.

Although we were in a hurry, we did stop to celebrate and take some pictures at the 2000 mile marker! It seems crazy that we have walked that far and that we only have around 650 miles left to Canada. Exciting and yet sad as well.

We practically ran the last few miles into Santiam, pausing only briefly to down a glass of cold Gatorade from a fellow hiker who was meeting up with some friends for a couple days.

We hit the road (where we found a cooler...yay!), and managed to get a hitch within 10 minutes. And the great part was that we got picked up by people heading to the PO! Not only did they take us to the PO, but they dropped us at a burger/shake joint as well. We were surprised to get a package from Canada from Pat Hammell, the mother of someone who went to Mark's parent's church back home. It was a great surprise and fun to get some "edibles" from Canada! We also had a blast looking at all the fun hiking pictures Coach sent.

Our goal was to stealth camp in a nearby park, but we heard through the grapevine that Chickety and Neighbor, two from our group, were at the Best Western, so we decided to join them and go in on the room. Mark would say it was the best pillow he's had on the trail yet!

Total Miles:2006.9
Miles Today:24.6
Camp 100:Best Western- Sisters, OR

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August 4:A Bugnet

Aaron took us out to the trail and we started hiking around 9am. We had heard all these rumors that there was tons of snow around the Three Sisters (a set of 3 volcanoes), and that the trail was obscured, possibly for miles. "Impassable!" was the report, which always warrants a raised eyebrow and a bit of questioning. Usually they say that so that most people won't head up into the mountains and cause problems (like needing to be rescued, or more likely, getting lost). But thru-hikers have been through the Sierras already, and we've already spent weeks navigating on snow and buried trail. Plus, we knew hikers had gone through before us and, by now, there were most likely footsteps leading the way through the snow.

For most of the day there was very little to no snow. We scoffed a bit, wondering if we'd see any to speak of. It wasn't until later in the afternoon as we went around the North Sister that we hit some snow fields. There was definitely snow, but not for miles. Only a few spots required us to search for the trail. Definitely passable.

The end of the day wound us through some lava fields that were spectacular. What's cool about being up on the shoulder of these volcanoes is that you get some awesome, up close views as you walk on by. And the colors are stellar as well. Black lava rock with splashes or stripes of red mixed in. Very cool.

We made camp just after Minnie Scott Spring, surrounded by snow, and busted out what may turn out to be my favorite piece of gear yet (and a recent purchase at REI): our bugnet. For $15 at REI you can get this massive bugnet. It sets up as a big cube, so even if you sleep out ("cowboy camp"), you can set it up and find relief from the mosquitos. We also figured out how to set it up inside our tarp, so now we are bug free! I am so happy! It is just an incredible feeling to be able to get away from them. Even though they aren't as bad as they were earlier, it's still nice. We had considered trying to sew mosquito netting to our tarp, which would have been lighter, but it is probably a project for another day. Either way, I love the bugnet, and it is worth every ounce (all 15 of them...but we're still lighter than most people's tents!).

Total Miles:1982.3
Miles Today:24.0
Camp 99:Bugnet Trial Run

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August 3:Bend, OR

Annie was awesome and made us a great breakfast (in fact, it seemed like she never stopped cooking/baking while we were there!). We lounged around, ate food, used internet, and hung out.

We hit a great little mexican restaurant before running a few errands (grocery, rei, etc) and relaxing around the house.

It was just all around fun to get to see them and hang out, and they were more than hospitable, making us feel right at home. And the bonus is that Bend is a really cool city (the biggest one yet at around 75,000). It's definitely on the list with Shasta City and Ashland for top places we love along the trail. It even sports Mt. Bachelor, the local volcano turned ski resort. Always a bonus.

Thanks again Aaron and Annie!

Total Miles:1958.3
Miles Today:0
Camp 98:Aaron & Annie's- Bend, OR

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August 2:Elk Lake Resort & Bend, OR

We woke up in a misty cloud and trudged in the last 6.6 miles to Elk Lake Resort. We hit it just in time for breakfast and apologized profusely to Flippy for having his tent and umbrella on the one night it rained on us. Luckily he managed to stay dry by sleeping on the porch of the resort and he wasn't mad in the least.

We had a great (but overpriced) breakfast and gaped at the prices in the small store there ($2 for a snickers; $2 for grandma's cookies which have $0.59 stamped on the package, etc).

We got ahold of our friends, Annie and Aaron, who live in nearby Bend, OR. They were going to be out of town for the day, but they tempted us with the offer to pick us up later that evening to stay at their place. We had originally planned to se them at Santiam Pass, another 50ish miles down the trail, but Mark's shoes were pretty well spent and it was questionable whether they'd make it 50 more miles or not (see photos we put up a few posts down for a visual).

We went back and forth and changed our minds a few times, ut when all our hiking friends decided to take a day off at Elk Lake, we decided to go in. We called up a trail angel in Bend who picked us, JZ, and Boomer up and took us into REI so we could get a few things done before A & A got back. After a great meal, we relaxed on a fantastic patch of grass and watched people float down the river on anything from tubes, to pool rafts to bedroom blow-up matresses.

We were super excited to see A & A! They used to work with us at Heritage and we've managed to see them twice since they've moved back to Bend. We've been looking forward to seeing them since central california; we've met some awesome people hiking the trail, but there's just something great about seeing people we knew beforehand. Very refreshing, not to mention they are just fun people!

Total Miles:1958.3
Miles Today:6.6 (+1.1 side hike)
Camp 97:Aaron & Annie's- Bend, OR

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

August 1:The Gift

We hiked out early, expecting horrid mosquitos, but we were pleasantly surprised to find very few around. It wasn't long before they showed up when we stopped, but it was mostly a stage 2 mosquito day.

We walked passed tons of lakes- some big and blue and beautiful, others more stagnant and nasty than anything. We were able to find some breaks where a breeze was blowing and the mosquitos weren't so bad, which made taking breaks a bit more enjoyable.

The trail wound through rolling, tree-covered hills. Somehow we missed a chunk of our group at lunch (or rather, they missed us since we stopped first), and we didn't see most of them again until camp.

I could tell I was at my whits end because I had woken up already dreading going to bed that night amidst all the mosquitos. Since we have a tarp and not a tent, we don't get any refuge at night. Our friend Flippy, in regular Flippy fashion had decided to pull a rediculously long day (43 miles) and head all the way into Elk Lake Resort, where the rest of us would end up the next morning. Often when he does this he ends up "cowboy camping" (sleeping under the stars) and not using his tent. So, in a brilliant and desperate moment, as he's walking away from getting water, I yell, "Hey Flippy! What are the odds that you are going to set up your tent?" He says he doesn't know how bad the mosquitos will be so he's not sure, and heads out. Disappointing for sure.

Less than 2 miles later we come upon the rest of the crew in camp. Flippy's hanging out and he says he's decided to leave us his tent (he later said he could tell how much I didn't want another night of mosquitos). It only has one pole, which he'd lost, so long story short, you can use his umbrella instead. So he leaves us his umbrella and tent, with promises to return them in the morning. Let me just say how amazing it was to climb inside that tent and have no mosquitos buzzing around my head all night. It was a true gift. However, sometime in the middle of the night we wake up to rain, and we groggily realize that we have Flippy's tent AND unbrella! We felt horrible! All we could do is pray he found shelter somewhere and hope he wasn't mad (he wasn't). Despite the rain, we slept well and dry and bug free all night. Thanks again Flippy!

PS:Scroll down a few entries to see a few pictures!

Total Miles:1951.7
Miles Today:32.0
Camp 96:Flippy's Rainy Tarp Tent

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July 31:Shelter Cove

We hiked 10 miles into Shelter Cove Resort where we were going to buy a bit of food, take showers, and do laundry before hiking out again. We showed up around 10am and, slowly but surely our group took over the porch area.

It was a pretty relaxing day. We sat around and mooched food off our friends who sent themselves way too much food in their resupply packages before buying a few small, select items ourselves.

We hiked out around three, headed for a ski hut 8 miles down the trail. We would have considered doing more, but the thought of being indoors and mosquito-free for a night was more than tempting. It was a bit hard to find, but we got there around dusk and enjoyed our evening with the other few hikers who were finding refuge there as well. It even had solar lights!

Total Miles:1919.7
Miles Today:18.1 (+2.8 road miles)
Camp 95:Maiden Peak Hut

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July 30:Life Behind the Headnet

I'm starting to fel like oe of those kids who lives in a bubble. You know- the kid on tv who is allergic to everything or has no immune system or something and has to live in a bubble. Well, I have been spending my day(s) looking at the beauty of Oregon through my headnet.

We have come up with stages of mosquito madness:

Stage 1: Not many around. Pleasant walking and pleasant sitting. Possibly have to swat at one or two.

Stage 2:Pleasant walking...they don't really find you. Sitting you are swarmed, however, and you must have DEET a/o a headnet or both.

Stage 3:Swarmed while walking and sitting. Must wear "mosquito armor" and DEET at all times.

Today was a stage 3 day. It was quite possibly the worst we've had them yet. It wasn't like this all day, but they were pretty bad in lots of places, and then we came up on Summit Lake and all hell broke loose. They were psycho. We threw down our packs and threw on jackets and headnets and DEET. It makes me happy we were eased into the mosquitos, because if we had gotten this from the get-go, I might have gone mad.

The rest of our crew was camping at this mosquito-infested lake (they all have tents), but since it was still early, we decided to head on a few more miles in hopes of some relief or at least cooler temps. The next few miles took us up over 1000 ft and into the glacial bowl of Diamond Peak. There was still a ton of snow, and therefore, still a ton of mosquitos. But it was definitely cooler which makes sleeping all zipped up in our warm sleeping bags more comfortable. We got all organized, set up the tarp, and I made use of the 10 min or so of mosquito relief before they found their way in. Just before sleep, we took it down and set free the 40 or so in our tarp, where they promptly began buzzing around our heads :). Regardless, we still slept well and had a great view when we woke up as well.

Total Miles:1901.6
Miles Today:30.8
Camp 94:Diamond Peak

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July 29:Mt. Thielsen

We woke up to the howling wind that kept us shivering as we stood taking pictures, awed by the incredible sunrise over Crater Lake. We all ran around taking pictures for a bit, then marched off down the trail. We did what our friend, Flippy, calls a "Death March." Our little (or not so little) hiker group has grown from 8 to 10 now, and often there is anywhere from 2 to 8 of us all lined up, hiking together. A "death march," is when a bunch of us all hike in line and go for miles without taking a break. Normally Mark and I aren't into the death march thing; we like our breaks. But today there were just too many mosuitos to stop, and we quickly found ourselves 12 miles down the trail.

It was a cool day because from the crater rim we could look out and see Mt. Thielsen. It seemed so far away, but we ended up having lunch on the shoulder of the mountain at the trail junction for the summit trail. It's a crazy looking mountain to climb because the summit looks like it could literally only fit one person on it and, according to the guidebook, "has one of the steepest trails in existence." Well, we decided not to climb it today, but continued hiking until we reached the high point of Oregon/Washington at 7560 ft. From there it was a short descent to a great flat area where we set up camp: all 10 of us, sitting around, eating food, chatting it up...all wearing the ever-so-handy headnet. I'm thinking I should name it. Any suggestions?

Total Miles:1870.8
Miles Today:30.2
Camp 93:Eight Friends and a Trail Jct

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Some Pics...finally!

We've been wanting to put up some pictures for some time. Unfortunately we sent home our first memory card, so these pictures are only more recent ones. But, it should still give you an idea of what we've been up to. Enjoy!

Here we are at the Oregon/California border. An exciting moment for sure, but not the most spectacular...just a wooden sign on a tree :).

Showing off the holey socks. I wear toe socks and a liner over them. These liners made it over 1000 miles before wearing out...I have since relplaced them and my feet are very happy.

Mark hitching at Etna Summit near Etna, CA.

Trail Magic near Ashland, OR. These are some of the crew that we've been hiking with for awhile now. From left to right: Swiffer (me), JZ, Thrust, Slider, Flippy, and JB.

Sunset from the Crater Lake rim. The pointy mountain on the right is Mt. Theilsen.

Here we are on the Crater Lake rim in the early, windy morning.
Ahh...the ever-present headnets. Love those mosquitos!

Below are Mark's shoes he just got rid of. People always ask if we send our shoes home when we're done with them, and this should answer your question. Nope...we trash them. They usually don't look this bad, and luckily he gets to walk out of Bend, OR with a new pair of shoes!