Day 146: (20.17 miles)
mile 2175.15 – 2195.87
Today was pretty much a regular hiking day. We were warned about Washington. You are either going up or going down, and as such there is very little even or rolling terrain. This is because the mountain range we are traversing runs perpendicular to the trail…lucky us.
The forest while green, is different from the forest of Oregon. Here the forest floor seems cluttered with downed trees, fallen branches stacked upon each other, new growth trees, giant ferns and other green leafy material. We get the sense that if you veered off the trail, the forest would swallow you up and you’d never be seen or heard from again.
Portions of the forest we walked through today appeared to have been logged about a hundred years ago, as there were remnants of some huge trees having been felled, most likely by a two or four man hand saw, as the stumps were about the right height and “flat” on top.
These places are generally where the forest floor was near choked with the aforementioned “clutter”, however tall thick trees were abundant as well. While the maps and apps don’t really show all the water sources, they seem plentiful and easy to plan for.
Most of the larger creeks had sturdy bridges upon which to cross. No time wasted changing shoes for water crossings. The last water source we crossed, Panther Creek, had some rock fish traps, of which we forgot to take pictures of. We did however, capture a shot of ” Double stuff” from the UK issuing his family (via video) to the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.
While there, the skies threatened rain as thunder rumbled over head. The cloud cover however appeared to be moving away from us. We’ll see. As we approached our intended destination, after making the 2200 ft climb over 2 miles, we came upon a day hiker who appeared to be having some difficulty. She was out of water and had about 2 more up hill miles till she reached her car which was parked on a forest service road we were to cross. As luck would have it, we were fully loaded with water (5 liters and would have had 2 more if our platypus hadn’t sprung a leak…again) we would rather had not carried so much water for a 2200 ft climb, but the next water source was 11 miles from the Panther Creek, where we watered up and thus needed to carry water for the climb, dinner, breakfast and a liter for the next morning to get to the next water source. Seeing that this woman was hurting, we filled her water bottle, let her quench her thirst and refilled her bottle again. Today had been especially humid. As it was, we were drenched from sweating most of the day. The woman thanked us profusely. She told us that although she doesn’t “look like it”, she is an avid weekend hiker, a fan of PCT hikers and secretly wants to do the PCT. We told her we didn’t look like hikers either when we started, so anything is possible. We made sure she was going to be alright before we continued on our way. Just before we reached the dirt road, and a mile from where we intended to camp, we discovered as water cache with several gallons of water. Magic! The water we had given the woman, was now replaced, and we’re fully stocked again. What were the chances we would come upon a water cache in the middle of the forest after a big climb. Too cool. Thanks “Toad”. We rested and rehydrated at the water cache for a bit. We also wanted to make sure the woman made it to the cache as well. The boys (fast thru-hikers) who had passed us on the uphill had set up camp at the numerous spots there and we visited with them for a bit. Not much after we arrived, the woman did also. As she passed, Paul handed her a candy bar, and told her she probably needed to eat something as well. She thanked us once again, and told us she had run out of snacks as well, and hadn’t really eaten that much today either. We talked some more with the boys and then continued on for our last 2 miles or so. We ended up passing the woman again, as she slowly crept up the trail toward her car. We checked on her again, and decided that we would camp at a site just by the road, and where the woman had parked. Once at the road, we saw her car and an awesome campsite across the way. We set up camp, and figured she should reach her car by 8pm. If she did not show by 8pm, we would go back and look for her. She showed up, 8 pm on the dot, phew! She told us she was starting to panic as this was the latest she’s been to her car. We congratulated her on pushing through, and told her that had she not appeared by 8pm we would have gone back for her. She thanked us and presented us with some fresh cherries. While we didn’t make the extra miles we wanted, today was, “just right”.