Because it was a town day we got up already at 6:30 and hiked out at 7:40. But before we left we said goodbye to our new friends and took a selfie!
Kristians then headed out first and because my feet were hurting and tired it seemed to take forever for me to move fast – the trail was all up & down, rocky and covered in tree roots. But the podcasts got me through it. It was still pretty smoky so not many views but I passed many streams and some lakes, too. Plus all the berries!
Suddenly, after reaching a meadow after about 10 miles, I found Kristians sitting by a stream and snacking – he had apparently ran out of water. While we ate a bit and rested T-Bone suddenly arrived; we thought he’d be way behind but apparently he had got up at 4:30 in the morning! So after a break we headed out all together, we only had 5 miles to go.
We went through a forest, did the final climb, passed a beautiful lake and then started to descend – the I-90 highway could already be heard from miles away! As we descended we could see the mass of hundreds of cars; we walked underneath the ski lifts and finally arrived at the highway underpass.
We started to write a sign that we could use to hitchhike into North Bend by the highway ramp but as we were about to start a car stopped: a guy who had hiked the Appalachian Trail the previous year and said that he needed to pay back for the kindness others had shown him. We had a great conversation in the car and soon enough arrived at North Bend, which was about 20 miles away.
We first went to a sandwich place, got something to eat and tried to decide where to stay for the night. We decided to stay at North Bend Motel and thus hiked about a mile there after we were done eating. The town was pretty quaint and green, with a railroad and a river going through it in the middle. Besides the nice main shopping street the only thing that made the town special us the fact that a tv show called Twin Peaks was filmed here. And as it was smoky one could barely make out the outlines of Mt Si looming over the town.
After checking in we went to the room and also made friends with some truck drivers who were staying in the room next door. We got washed and then set out to hike to the grocery store to get some dinner and breakfast. We planned to take the next day off to do laundry and resupply so the main thing was to just eat & rest.
After we got the food we went back to the motel, watched tv and ate a lot. A perfect evening if it weren’t for the constant advertisements on the American TV! The news also said that the forest fire situation in Washington was very bad and that the air condition here was the worst in the US. And then it showed how someone had just got shot in Seattle, where we’d be going to soon. Great!
As this was going to be a lazy day we slept long – until 10 or so. After a breakfast fit for kings we headed out to take our dirty laundry for washing – but the closest coin laundry was at the next town so we had to hitchhike. On the way out we talked a bit to our “neighbours” and mentioned our plans. Once we had then walked about a mile, out to the road where we started to hitch but had no luck, we suddenly heard a beep: one of the truck drivers had taken his truck just to come and give us a lift! That’s how the trail provides.
We put our laundry going, went for lunch at an asian place and then went to go and dry our laundry. When all was done we started to walk back towards North Bend and tried to hitch but noone seemed to care. After about 45 minutes an Iranian guy was kind enough to pick us up and as he worked at McDonalds he gave us a ride there – it was right next to the Safeway grocery store where we had to do our resupply.
With full packs we then walked back to the motel and right after that T-Bone went to get his package of new shoes from the post office – fingers crossed that they work! But then it was time to eat a lot and be lazy – luckily the tv was on our side so we watched Ted 2 and Deadpool before falling asleep.
Despite having to hike out today we still slept long – until 9:30. We had a lazy breakfast, enjoyed the wifi, wrote blog, watched tv and slowly packed our bags. We finally checked out at precicely 11 o’clock to really get the bang for our buck!
It was gray and cloudy outside…and of course still smoky so it wasn’t exactly the kind of weather that invites you to go hiking. But we made a sign for hitchhiking on the shoebox that had had T-Bone’s new shoes in it. We walked out onto the main road and basically started to hitch straight away. It wasn’t long that a nice local guy, an avid hiker and a software developer, picked us up and drove us to Snoqualmie Pass without actually even needing to go there – he just wants to hike the PCT himself one day and likes to hear trail stories.
We were very grateful for getting a ride to the trailhead and finally set off at about noon – we had a 800 meter ascent ahead of us. Kristians and I filled up our water at the first stream and then continued to hike on together. In the beginning it was humid and misty – exactly how one imagines the WA section of the PCT to look like. But slowly we got higher and began to climb above the clouds – soon enough the sun started to shine and we actually got our first ever views of the North Cascades! It was a magical moment – every turn revealed more mountains and in the distance loomed the massive peak of Mt Rainier.
The 6 mile hike thus didn’t feel hard at all and that is also clear due to the fact that we met hordes of dayhikers. Once we reached the top of the climb the trail flattened out and we were awarded with more views as we walked on the ridges. A turn later we reached an exposed but beautiful section of the trail called the Catwalk – with a sheet drop-off to our right. A bit forward and we made it to our lunch spot by a beautiful alpine lake, where we rested and took in the view for about 45 minutes.
We now had 8 miles to go to where we planned to camp – by a little pond. But it wouldn’t be easy – we had to do three climbs with 150, 300 and 150 meter ascents respectively. Plus the same amount of downhills. The trail was mostly very steep and rocky so it was definitely not friendly for our feet. But luckily the amazing views continued – besides the craggy peaks there were also lakes in every valley and we even spotted Mt Baker for the first time.
Up on the ridges, passes and hillsides it was a bit windy but thanks to the clear skies it was still warm. I descended the final hill down to the pond, found my hiking partners and set up camp. After washing ourselves a bit it was time for dinner and sleep.
As some clouds started to roll in T-Bone announced that he’d start to make shorter days than us because he doesn’t want to finish the trail too soon and then spend more money in Vancouver while waiting for his flight. This meant that this would be our last night of camping together…