Leaving Snoqualmie has brought us to a 2 week mark of time that we have left on PCT. Feeling so bittersweeet, we decide to take a 30 mile alternate route that eventually rejoins PCT to check out the last hot springs we would see on the trail. Now that we are in Washington, the temperatures are much lower making it oh so perfect for a hot spring soak. In addition, Serge and I have committed to go through entire WA without taking any days off, meaning our muscles need all the rest they can get.
Many hikers make a decision to flip flop states on the PCT. For example if they are just getting to Bridge of the Gods (pretty late for the season), they can choose to walk Washington from North to South to avoid bad weather that would be most likely encountered if they were finishing up in Canada.
Clouds begin to clear up on the rainy day. These mountains would noramlly be completely covered in clouds on a rainy day
Luckily Serge and I were good on time, and hoping that the weather will stay in our favor. But of course it would not be a full PCT experience without bad weather. The day after we spent several hours soaking in hot springs, we had a full blown natural cold spring. Full day of hard rain (in 40°F temps) has left every piece of gear soaked. It was impossible to break for lunch because if you stop for more than 10 minutes, you begin shaking uncontrollably and the only thing that kept us warm is movement.
By the time we got into camp, we realized that Serge’s warm dawn jacket and sleeping bag were soaked. Meanwhile, temperature was dropping fast and we could see air from our breath. A very important lesson for thru-hiking is that you must keep a set of dry clothes at all times. For us, it were our sleeping clothes which we never hiked in, and always kept in a water proof stuff sack. I suggested for Serge to put his wet dawn jacket on and wrap himself in my dry sleeping bag in hopes that his body heat and my dry bag will created insulation heat and help his jacket dry up. To our surprise, Serge felt immediate warmth even from wet dawn and decided to sleep in his wet jacket. In the morning, his puffy jacket was completely dried up from his own body heat. In the future, if a small clothing article needed to be dried (like socks or underwear) we would always stuff it inside of our sleeping bag overnight which would act as a mini drier from our own body heat. That morning, to stick to our rule of keeping one set of dry clothes at all time, we had to put on all of our soaked clothes back on. Meaning wet underwear, shirt and shorts, and the most cold – wet socks. At that point you pack up your wet tent as fast as you can and start moving. I am praying that we have a steep incline climb coming up to warm up our bodies.
LUCKILY (no really, don’t know what we would do if it continued to rain), next day has cleared up and with the first chance we’ve got we took everything out to dry on the sun.
Dasha is walking among the giant pine groove
A lot of people have asked – “Could we just stayed in our tent that day to wait out the rain”. Well the thing is, you never know when the rain will stop, and on that day it poured all day. If we were to stop for entire day, we would have simply ran out of food before we got to our next resupply.
I must say that I was a little worried that we will not get to see much of WA with all the rain and low hanging clouds. But we did get lucky, and each day was more beautiful than the other.
Crazy storm system forming next to Glacier Peak
Most magical times of the day were when sun was close to the horizon, whether it be a rise or set. I recall Serge running up and down each hill to get a view, a glimpse of Glacier Peak during a sun set like a little boy. At times like these you forget that you feet are hurting from walking 24 miles that day, that you still have that heavy pack on your back or that if you don’t keep moving you will be getting to camp in the dark. But instead, you stand there like a sponge, soaking in every sound, every breeze, the coolness of fresh air and the time feels still as your inner world is filled with joy. I like to call moments like this – being high on life.
Beautiful sunset over Washington State. The mountain shadow reflected in the sky is being blocked by Mt. Baker in the far distance
The closer we were approaching to the Northern Terminus, the more we would try to slow down, as we did not want this hike to end. The feeling of going back to our home and rejoin the routine of daily life would often make us feeling very sad. Don’t get us wrong, we could not wait to come back to our home, take a nice shower, make a home made meal and snuggle into our cozy bed! But at the same time, we knew that the feeling of excitement of being back home wont less to long and very soon we will be looking at our PCT photos and missing every single moment on it…