July 18th, 2018
Stevens Pass mm 2464 to mm 2452
Distance: 12 miles
For once, no one in my room snored but a guy next door was sawing logs all night and the walls were very thin. Everyone could hear him but I was closest to the source. Nothing earplugs couldn’t solve, luckily.
I slept in a bit, had granola for breakfast, and worked on my blog all morning. Surprisingly, the valley was socked in with clouds and it was considerably cooler. The first clouds I have seen in a week!
Plants headed back to the trail pretty early but I was waiting for the PO to open at 11:30 am…I also needed the extra time to catch up on things. The wifi at the hotel didn’t work but at least I had a good signal. At the PO, we found the nicest clerk. Jenny even remembered us from the pub the night before, since Skybird and Spatz were playing the piano there. She was really helpful and cheery…small town PO’s are great, except for the weird hours (1130 to 1545).
I mailed my rain jacket home because I also have a rain/wind breaker that I am gear testing for Trailspace.com. Between it and my umbrella, I should be ok. It does seem imprudent to go without a rain jacket in WA state but there has been so little rain so far. I only used it for warmth the first week.
I then said goodbyes to Skybird and Spatz, who were taking a zero.
Again, look at those busy streets.
I walked to the highway to get a ride back to the pass. A guy and his son from the hotel were still waiting for a ride. They had left when I set out for the PO and so had probably been waiting for nearly an hour. The guy did not look happy about me adding to the mix but he didn’t know of my secret powers in hitching. I just stood there, letting them do all the work and within 2 minutes, a car rolled up. I rest my case.
Our ride actually came from Braveheart, who is another Trail Angel in the area. Granted, he would have picked up any hikers standing there but I’d like to think I still had something to do with the timing. A 4th hiker came running up and squeezed in, a NOBO that has already walked the whole trail. He said that we will probably be seeing many more from this point on. They are nearly done and I have 2464 miles still to go.
I couldn’t resist getting a hot dog at the cafe, so I didn’t set out until after 2 pm. This next section is only 71 miles, so I figured about 3.5 days. Of course the trail mostly went up, meandering through ski fields. I passed a lot of day hikers and some backpackers. I also found a couple of baby marmots that wandered too far from their den and got caught out. I took a close-up of one that hoped he was invisible in the bush, so cute!
At some point I took a wrong turn at a side trail and walked nearly 3/4’s of a mile off course, down a very steep and rough trail. That’s what finally clued me in that it wasn’t the PCT. I was irked having to climb back up that very steep hill but it could have been worse.
There are so many beautiful lakes in these mountains but they all seem to come with mosquitoes.
I stopped to get water at the last source before my planned HIGH and DRY campsite, and the mossies swarmed me. That was why I wanted to be high up and away from water. There was a couple there setting up camp and I did not envy them. I lugged a bunch of water for about a mile up some steep switchbacks to the top of a small pass, all to hopefully escape the bugs. It was not to be.
I found a woman there, making the best out of a cowboy camp. She looked miserable, with a cloud of mossies over her head. I finally understood that this would be the new normal. Still, they were maybe slightly less bad than near the stream. I put on my headnet and went to work setting up my refuge. At least I have one!
That night I did everything inside my tent. I even ran my stove…don’t worry, there was plenty of ventilation with the flaps open and a breeze blowing. The clouds rolled back in but that did not make the bugs go away. They are here to stay, even at dry campsites. What a bummer.
I chatted with the woman, Sherri, for awhile. She was from Seattle but moving to Switzerland. I told her all about the crazy animals and hiking in Florida and she told me all about the many kinds of edible berries in WA. We talked for quite a long time, mostly because I think she needed a distraction from the bugs until she fell asleep. Plus we were both feeling a bit lonely. Two strangers passing stories through the mosquitoes in the night.
This is what a cowboy camp looks like. Just laying there in the dirt with the mossies. Notice the thin layer of bug mesh? I even took the picture from inside my tent.