Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) Thru Hike Blog (2014)

Below is my unedited and uncut journal from my 1250 mile Pacific Northwest Trail Thru Hike in 2014

A New Beginning
Tomorrow I begin hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). It is 1200+ miles from the Washington coast to glacier national park. You can google PNT for more information on the trail.

Day 1- The Beach
A little overview first: over the next 50ish days I will be hiking from the Pacific Ocean through Washington, Idaho and Montana to Glacier National Park. It will be roughly 1200 miles. Why am I doing this? It sounded like a challenge and I wanted to get another long hike in while I’m in between graduating from college and starting a career.

Day one began early with a long day of driving. My dad drove me roughly 6 hours to Ozette lake in the northwest corner of the Olympic peninsula. This is where the trail starts (Cape Alava). He walked with me on the three plus mile connector trail and then said goodbye. From here I walked south along the coastline through everything from giant boulders to dry sand all with the ocean to my right. I passed three headlands which are large rocks that jut out and are much better to walk by when it is low tide. Along the beach there was all sorts of treasures ranging from fishing supplies and play structure pieces to dead seals. I saw a gorgeous sunset as I walked by the yellow bank and made camp on the sand. Hopefully tomorrow I will see a bear or two to make things interesting!
Day 2- La Push
It rained all night so I woke up worried that everything would be wet. Luckily my freshly rewaterproofed tent held up. Most my gear has been patched up from my first thru hike. Lots of it was second hand then. I packed up and carefully hung the wet tent off my pack to let it dry throughout the day. As I began walking down more beaches looking at beach treasures the wildlife began to appear. I saw deer, bald eagles, seals, sea otters, and tourists. The day went by extremely fast and before I knew it I was at the campsite I received a permit for. As usual I decided to keep going and live life on the edge and avoid the authorities. I continued on and made it to the banks of the Quillayute River. I wanted to get to the other side but there was no bridge. Therefore I tried to hitchhike on the river and get a fisherman to take me across. This was unsuccessful but in the process of navigating boulders to get their attention I face planted into the rocks and came away with some bad looking battle wounds. Eventually I took the long way and went over the bridge and around to La Push. It is a pretty interesting little Indian reservation town and the restaurant was closed so I pushed ahead and got a few more miles in. Today introduced a new thing into the terrain of the trail, steep cliffs and role ladders. I did not do much preparation for this therefore was very surprised when I first came to one. Oftentimes the cliffs won’t even have a ladder just a knotted rope to pull your self up on. It makes it interesting and difficult. Since I had to learn the hard way that the tides do matter, I get to sleep in tomorrow to catch the low tide around the upcoming headlands to avoid swimming in the ocean again.
Day 3- The Bogachiel
I woke up on an amazing point looking out into the ocean. The northern Washington coast is amazing on a nice day. At one point i looked out and on a rock were a dozen seals sunning themselves. I walked some great sandy beaches with my shoes off the rest of the morning and then found the trail putting the beach behind me. That’s where my day went downhill. After the trail there were many miles of logging roads to walk. I went a few miles down the wrong one and as expected, it began to rain. Wonderful, now I have to backtrack and get all my stuff wet. Good thing I have a solution to every problem. I put this small lightweight umbrella on my pack to cover me and my stuff and decided to bush whack a mile across dense forest to get back on the right road. One of these decisions turned out to be a good idea. The cross country mile turned out to be through a swamp. I made it through at least but adding swamp smell to my already unique aroma was not what I had planned. 12 miles of logging road walking later I arrived at Bogachiel state park. First I needed a shower. An hour in the bathroom later I was clean. And restocked on toilet paper, dry clothes from the handdryer, recharged phone, clean dishes, full water bottles, and a face clean of the dried blood from my face plant. Next up was finding somewhere to stay. I got invited to stay with a Finnish couple. They fed me too and invited me to stay for breakfast. I enjoyed exchanging travel stories with them. Hopefully I can sleep tonight – there are some insane people here especially when it come to fireworks. Tomorrow I will hitchhike into Forks, Washington for laundry and some more food. Then onward to port Townsend. My phone recently broke from the saltwater but lucky for everyone these blogs should be unaffected.
Day 4- The Town Essentials
Today started off normal, I woke up in a tent again, but this time it was in a campground. Therefore I made use of all their amenities. I spent 30 minutes in the bathroom using the hand dryer to try my tent, shoes, and socks because it rained again last night. From here I walked to highway 101 to hitchhike into Forks, Washington. It took a good 30 minutes to get a ride but once I did they took me to the only place open in town at 7, a coffee shop. I tried to order enough things to call it a breakfast but my only option was coffee and donuts. So I had multiple donuts and began my chores. I did laundry at the laundromat and since I wanted to wash the clothes I was in I had to make good use of the tables and chairs to spare passerbys the sight of me changing. From here I went and bought 5 days of groceries. Then right after I had paid for them I found out my package to forks had shown up after all and I had to pick it up between 11 and 12. So begrudgingly I returned all my groceries except a few candy bars and headed to the library to upload photos and check on my social life. My last chore in town before getting lunch, a beer and hitting the trail again was to fix a broken pole on my tent. I went to the hardware store and they helped me with what they had. I now have an industrial strength solid fiberglass apparatus holding my tent up. Finally I ate pizza, charged my stuff and was out of town and back on the trail after some crafty hitchhiking. As I entered another section of Olympic national park I found out why its a rainforest. While walking through the Bogachiel rainforest it drizzled the entire time. Finally I got a chance to test out my new pack cover! As for the walk, being colorblind I am not that good at the color green but with so much green around I think I have learned to see it. Green moss, green ferns, green grass, everything all around was green. It didn’t even look like part of this world. I think the green caused me to eat 5 days of snacks in 4 hours as well. I finally stopped and a camped next to the Bogachiel river.
Day 5- mountaineering
The second half of today was more like mountaineering than hiking. There is snow everywhere here, so much so that it is nearly impossible to find your way. But the day began as always, in the rain and I walked up the Bogachiel trail and then further up into the mountains where the snow began. There were views of the seven lakes basin and even more mountains to the east. It really explained why they call it the Olympics. My feet were wet all day and it was difficult to find the way because my maps were so wet but even so I put in a pretty big day. That doesn’t mean I didn’t eat a ton too though. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if I have gained weight since the beginning. I am camped at heart lake and am exhausted from all the up and down. It is quite a burden to keep my feet feeling good with all the snow and rain. On the trail today I me 2 volunteers who had an ice axe and crampons, which gives an idea of the snow up here (completely covered ground) and I also met two guys my age and one of them had done the pacific crest trail the same year I did it. His name was picker and I remember meeting him! Short post because I am exhausted.
Day 6- Going the extra mile
I woke up at hear lake and the sun finally was looking like it would come out. So I layer all my wet stuff out and let it dry. My tent and pack cover dried out fine but I don’t think these socks will ever dry out. They must be too thick. So I started slipping and sliding down the mountain to Sol Duc Park. Then after losing that 3000 feet I was lucky enough to be able to climb back up it on the other side of the valley. I then climbed Appleton pass and had some great views with the sun out. Finally I climbed down and continued the extra half mile to have a late lunch at Olympic/boulder creek hot springs. The extra miles began when I decided instead of trying to night hike through a construction zone and risk a hefty fine that I would walk an extra 28 miles around. This could prove difficult as I do not have much food left and it is nearly 100 miles to the next resupply point. I didn’t plan well enough and didn’t factor in extra miles when packing food for this section. Other than the basic action of walking today I saw deer, grouse and grouselings, and all kinds of smaller animals. I knew my feet would start hurting at some point and today chose to be that day. It stems from the fact that they are wet all day and look like when you are in a bath too long. That made them tender and the simple fact that I’m walking much more than I am used to has roughed them up. It is also impossible to get socks dry out here so every pair is wet even if they are 3 days old. It’s a beautiful night and I am camps next to lizard head rock.
Day 7 elwha
Today was full of the extra miles due to the detour. I walked the end of the happy lakes trail then the aurora ridge trail and finally descended 5000 feet to lake crescent. Here I charged my phone up and continued hiking along highway 101. I had to get a ride a few miles on the highway around the construction and the couple that gave me a ride were also beaver fans from Monmouth. They took my picture and I felt like a celebrity! I put in a big day and saw many deer and lots of fawns including some dangerously crowing the highway. I am running low on food but should be in port Townsend soon. My feet hurt and I am exhausted but I think I am still having fun. It is normal to talk to animals right? Slugs are my favorite because they don’t run away when you start talking. The first week is done and I am ready for my feet to get better.
Day 8-port Townsend
I made it into port Townsend! My feet are hurting and are a bit injured but I will rest them for at least 24 hours and see how they are tomorrow. I knew after my last thru hike that I would try to do the number of miles I did per day at the end of that hike and it worked well for the first week. But now it is time to prepare for the last/next 1000 miles. Luckily the people of port Townsend are very nice and it seems like a nice place to rest for a bit. Now I will either stealth camp (sneaky camping) on the beach or find a lawn to pitch my tent. I will explore the town more tomorrow.
Day 9-pounding pavement
I woke up on the beach near port Townsend and walked downtown to a coffee shop to get a final charge in for my phone. From here I made my way to the post office to pick up a package and mail a few things home. Once these chores were done and I was packed up I took the ferry across the water to Whidbey Island. I walked a few miles on some good trails with amazing views of the straight as well as many of the mountains around such as Mt Baker. The day went downhill from here. The long roadwalk took up the rest of the day. With tender feet already, this was the last thing that I wanted to do. The saving grace was that I passed a brewery in oak harbor around dinner time and decided there would be no better place to take a break before walking into the night the deception pass state park. Tomorrow I start moving more east and into some farming country. Hopefully I get to walk on the more trails in the coming days.
Day 10- Bay View
Today started out tough. I woke up at deception pass state park and was attempting to walk to the bathroom barefoot early in the morning and after the pain of walking on gravel without shoes I stepped in dog poop. From here the day could only get better. I started the walk across deception pass as I made my way off of Whidbey island and on towards eastern Washington. The day consisted of many roads again, and my feet are definitely ready for some more trails. They should hopefully start again tomorrow. I walked along many bays and across some long bridges and through an Indian reservation. I started heading. Orthodox along pedilla bay at the end of the day and settled in to bay view state park. It was a great sunset here, but I am ready to get out to areas with more wildlife and on towards glacier national park.
Day 11-back on trail…mostly
Today I started out pretty sore, tired and just not in the best mood. But my goal was to cross I-5 by the end of the day. I started the road walk north from Bay View State park and by 830 could tell that the sun was going to be tough. I continued to walk and finally began to enter a town called Edison. I could see on my maps that they had some sort of buildings but I could not tell if they were stores or barns or what was in store for me. It turns out it was just the town I needed. While walking into town a man watering the lawn of a local business serenaded me with a personal song, and I got many smiles despite my grizzled look. This would have been enough for me but on the way towards the edge of town I ran across Edison cafe. I decided to grab a late breakfast and save my dehydrated food for later on, I am glad I did. The people in there were amazing. They were so nice and once they learned what I was doing they all wanted to follow my blog, cheered for me when they announced to the whole cafe what I was doing and the restaurant was wonderful in making sure I had everything. At the end they wouldn’t let me leave because the cook generously made me a sandwhich and bagged up watermelon for me to eat for lunch. It turned my whole day around and I still can’t stop smiling. The other customers in the cafe were supportive as well and one person actually gave me some money to help in my journey. The rest of the day doesnt matter after that but even still I walked up from the bay and over a large ridge past lily lake and lizard lake and followed some 4wd roads that connected to larger logging roads and past the south side of lake samish. From here I crossed under I5 eleven miles south of Bellingham and walked on last Alger and again back into the logging country. I am camped on top of a ridge with a good view of the hills around. I got in 31 miles today. The actual trails I was on were well used but I saw deer, rabbits, and countless road kill treasures while hiking today. I am extremely tired and keeping enough water has become an issue so I may buy another waterbottle in the next town. I still haven’t seen a bear yet…
Day 12- a bit of everything
Today was full of walking what according to my maps are the worse part of the timber company property. There are roads everywhere and sometimes the trail is on a road and sometimes the trail is an actual trail. This makes it extremely tough to follow and has caused me to make quite a few wrong turns. Other than that it was a beautiful day and was almost a little too hot. It may have gotten close to 90. I am getting up into the mt baker area and the scenery is slowly changing as well. Other than hiking through the Olympic mountain range I have been very close to see level and finally I have begun to climb out of the low altitude and up towards some views. I look forward to continued majority trail walking as opposed to roads and also some nice high altitude views and views of mt baker. While walking today I saw everything from dear to raccoons to snakes to rabbits. I have been surprised at how many rabbits are around. There have also been pockets where the Mosquitos have begun to get bad. I think there is a trail angel around these parts named mamacity but I am sure how or when the best way to get to her is. Looking forward to waking up the song birds once again in the forest!
Day 13- Mt Baker
Today was possibly the hardest that I have had so far. A lot of today was bushwhacking to try to find the trail, get around landslides, and move in the general direction of the unmaintained/invisible trail. And when I say bushwhacking I mean whacking 5 foot plus weeds out of the way to try to find a spot to step in uneven ground. My progress was pretty slow. This added to the Mosquitos made it challenging but in the end it was all worth it! About 7 pm I entered the mt baker-snoqualmie wilderness and am camped directly below the mountain. It is an amazing site and looks as though I could just spend a day and climb up it. Tomorrow will probably be filled with many logging roads and the extra miles of taking the wrong turns but even still the sites make it all worth it. I got in 27 trail miles today and I’m sure well over thirty actual miles, but I guess that means I can eat more tonight.
Day 14- swift creek
Today I did more bushwhacking, more walking on logging roads and finding some great trail with views of all the wonderful snow filled mountains as well as baker lake. It was no doubt scenic. The trouble was that while bushwhacking and working my way across the snow covered meadows of mt baker I lost one of the snow baskets to my trekking pole as well as my phone charger. It is all part of the experience. Near the end of the day I started working my way up the swift creek trail and about 3 miles in I was expected to cross the creek. It was seriously swift and raging. It was WAY out of my comfort zone. So I walked up stream and downstream attempting to find a good place to cross but after two hours of looking I found nothing. I have decided to camp on the bank tonight and hope the raging creek is lower in the morning when the snowmelt is much smaller than at the end of a hot day. Wish me luck I might need it.
Day 15- mamacita
Trail angels are people that are overly kind and assist hikers on the trail. It is a much more pertinent term to some of the long distance trails that have more people such as the Appalachian trail and the pacific crest trail. But knowing first hand from my pacific crest trail through hike, they are amazing and really help at the most critical times. I received word there was a trail angel named mamacita near the place I was resupplying at and decided to give her a call and she gave me a place to stay, a shower, washing of my clothes, and even food. It was amazing and she even gave me a ride back up to the trail. But today would not have happen if I had not made it over the intense swift creek. I decided I would walk upstream until I felt comfortable crossing. It took 150 yards and a half hour of boulder jumping, blackberry fighting, bushwhacking and stream swimming. In the end I found a safe spot and went for it without a problem. From there I hiked the last 9 miles to the highway and down to the forest service road and hitchhiked on into glacier then back to the valley where mamacita picked me up. I have now done 425 of the 1200 miles!
Day 16- into the wild
Today was a good day. I woke up early at mamacita’s house and was greater by a nice cup of coffee. From here I packed up and she made me a wonderful scramble with eggs and pepper from right in her backyard! Then we took me back to the trail and dropped me off. I walked along paved roads ten gravel roads and then finally made it to some trail again. I climbed up for quite a was over hannegan pass and then swiftly dropped thousands of feet into the next valley around the Chilliwack river. I walked along and soon I came to a cable car. There was a cable across the river and a looped rope that ran through a basket. You are supposed to sit and put your stuff in the basket and pull yourself across the river to the other side. It was very interesting. I turned here we began to follow brush creek up to whatcom pass. As I was walking along the creek all of a sudden I saw a piece of bark fall and looked up to see two bear cubs climbing the tree. I was pretty the momma ear was further up the tree but I couldn’t see her. Since I had about 100 pounds on each of the cubs I decided not to wrestle them and just snapped a couple pictures and moved on. I made it up and over whatcom pass and down the other side were the trail is very overgrown and my legs ended up getting pretty scratched up. Even so I got in 27 miles in the north cascades and am very glad I finally got to see some bear.
Day 17- cankles
I woke up early and was ready to start hiking. But before I could do much I noticed that come animal had chewed up some of my gear including the handles of my trekking poles. They even took one of the hand loops with them. With my gear roughed up I just look like a more weathered figure and it makes my story that much better. I packed up and hit the trail. Not even half a mile in there was a large deadfall (Fallin trees) across the trail and on the last step to the ground after crossing it I rolled my ankle on a branch. I fell down, ate dirt, and immediately felt pain all through my ankle. This was not good. I have to average 26 miles a day to get to Orville in 7 more days to avoid running out of food. So I’m laying on my stomach after the fall with no option but to put myself back together and limp on for the next few days. I tied my shoes tighter and used my trekking poles as sort of crutches. As often as I could I soaked it in snowmelt creeks but it is still the size of a large beach ball and it might get some color the next few days. The real trouble came about midday when I rolled the ankle again and it hurt so bad this time I uttered some words the chipmunks should not have heard. I passed over beaver pass and walked in to Ross lake resort which is basically floating cabins and bought some chips and candy bars while I charged my phone to keep these coming. In all I got a bit over the 26 miles I need to average for the day and just hope I can fashion a brace out of duct tape for the next few days. I have been feeling a bit sick too but that may be the exhaustion of having To drag a leg along. At the end of the da I as too tired and just set up my tent on the trail. There’s no law against it. The scenes were not quite as beautiful today but should be when I enter the pasayten tomorrow. Wish me luck!
Day 18- the pasayten
Today I woke up with my tender ankle feeling like quite the liability the plan was to take enough Advil to get through the day and try to get in about 26 miles to avoid running out of food. The first stretch was around Ross lake and finally about mid day I got to leave that lake behind after seemingly walking a circle around it for the last 24 hours. I began the long grueling climb to the devils pass. I think the devil himself was in because it was very cold and cloud. In fact I was walking in a cloud for most of the day. I could tell the views would be nice without the clouds…on the climb I ran out of water and realized just how miserable being thirsty can be. My tongue would stick to the sides of my mouth it was so parched. I finally got water and met a guy hiking a loop with his two dogs and ironically he ran out of water too. I continued through deception pass and am camped on sky pass. Tomorrow I will be hiking on part of the pacific crest trail and that should be nostalgic as I hiked that section with my dad to finish out the 2650 mile hike in 2011. I will try not to get too emotional. I didn’t feel good at all today and my stomach seemed to be upset so I am trying to go to bed a little early and see if that fixes the problem.
Day 19- memories
I woke up to rain. That is never a good sign and always requires extra work while hiking to keep everything dry. I packed up ate the ration I had for breakfast and set out. I have been feeling like I have some form of the flu with a decent fever and the inability to eat much. I try to force things down but it’s an issue. I also and running out of fuel for my stove and out of no cook meals. That aside today I walked twelve miles along the pacific crest trail and it was amazing. It is the terrain my dad and I hiked over the last day on the trail and it was pretty cool to see it again. I passed holeman pass, devils staircase, Hopkins lake, and finally turned off the PCT at castle pass. I believe that is only a couple miles from the very end too. I remembered nearly all of the terrain from three years ago too. The rest of the day was spent navigating with a swollen ankle, cut up hand, and debilitating fever but I pushed on with the allure of town in the future. I made it to the pasayten river and am so tired I even gave up trying to swat Mosquitos. Hopefully I can get some real food down tomorrow, or else I surely will begin to run out of gas. I am not even sure where the real trail is anymore, I have just been walking along the river.
Day 20 – Retracing steps
WOW almost 3 weeks has gone by. I started this morning early hoping to get a good start and some big miles in. My ankle was feeling decent enough to walk and my stomach and headache had subsided. All that being said I put in 4 hours this morning just looking for the trail. It was so overgrown and disappeared so often that I couldn’t tell which point to cross the pasayten river at. Finally I just decided to cross and try my best to find it. When I finally saw trail I could not have been more relieved. After all I had walked 2 miles into Canada looking for it and then 5 miles back. What a waste of time. I followed the trail a few miles and then saw the trail closed sign due to fire. I had no idea. I decided to walk on the closed trail until I saw the reason. After all this trail wasn’t supposed to be closed. I thought the forest service made a mistake. I got up to a point and across the valley on the adjacent ridge I actually saw the forest fire. This startled me and I turned around and realized that all day I had been hiking the wrong trail. An adjacent trail that wouldn’t have mattered except all the connecting trails were closed due to fire. I had to turn around and walk all the way back to where I started the day. It was 4pm and it was all I could do to salvage the day. The positive side is the huckleberries were good. On the long climb up the ridge to end the day I saw a moose. It was an ornery bull and he really didn’t want to move away and let me through. I was amazed at the size of him too. I ended the day on top of a ridge only a couple miles from Canada.
Day 21-friends of tungsten
Today I got up hoping to do a lot of miles to make up for yesterday and because I am running really low on food. So low that I am on starvation rations. That means 1 candy bar for breakfast, handful of granola for each snack, half a bowl of cold bland instant mashed potatoes for lunch and a bag of noodles for dinner. But when you burn 6000-8000 calories a day that diet isn’t one that is going to sustain your energy. I put in quite a few miles walking on ridges where there were sure to be great views but it was both foggy and smokey all day that I didn’t see anything. The real problem with my food situation is that my stove is out of fuel and I cannot cook any more noodles. This all changed when I got to the tungsten cabin. It is a giant renovated old mining cabin that you can stay in. I wasn’t planning to stay in it but I am glad I checked it out. There was a box where people left things they didn’t need. In it I found 3 packets of idahoan mashed potatoes. They are not amazing but they don’t require cooking so they fit my situation. I left 3 bags of noodles to keep food there for those that need it. I ended up putting in a few more miles and finished with somewhere in the mid thirties. Tomorrow I will see my first road in 8 days and 200 miles. Time goes by quick.
Day 22- storms
I started the day early waking up in the rain. I packed up quick and attempted to put in as many miles as I could. I walked around places named horseshoe meadow, snow lake and my favorite goodenough peak. The trail around it was barely good enough to hike on. From there the trail disappeared and I scaled a cliff straight down to the logging roads which I would be following for nearly 40 miles. What a sad place to walk on. The walking got a lot more interesting as huge storms began brewing. The largest lightning storm I have ever witnessed was going on all around me. It was so loud my ears hurt. Then out of nowhere the sky opened up and the rain poured down. I would guess it was an inch in 20 minutes. It was a good way to test my rain gear. I would estimate I saw 60 deer while walking the roads and also many cows that I had to move out of the way on occasion. I finished the day walking around Palmer lake and hope to get into Orville in the afternoon tomorrow and get all my town choirs done before moving on. I have completed half the trail!
Day 23- jazz
I made it into Orville today after more pounding pavement and made the final decision to get a hotel room and break the 22 day streak of sleeping in my tent. I think the $55 room and the fact that it had a bathtub were the deciding factors. They also had a laundry facility at the hotel and a pool. It was too hard to talk myself out of it. It’s strange the town has no cell service most likely due to the lightning storm. I got my room and got many other things in town I needed including a new watch as mine cracked and was leaking water. I grabbed my resupply boxes as well and re packed for the upcoming week. I will be well fed in this next stretch but my pack will be very heavy. After my chores I decided to have a night out in Orville. I had a gigantic dinner out of the supermarket deli and I found a local bar with live music. It was jazz night and I have to admit the band was pretty darn good. The audience was mainly 50+ but they sure liked to dance and it was very entertaining. Nights like these in small unique towns are always memorable with the interesting things that seem to happen and tonight was no different. Older people moving to the music is pretty funny and inspiring in a strange way. It’s like the 80 year olds think they are 25 again and that’s impressive. I will probably get up pretty early tomorrow and hike on to the next interesting town. I don’t anticipate much good cell service out in the middle of nowhere so I apologize in advance for the posts coming in spurts, but if you ration them for 1 or 2 a night they should bridge the gaps.
Day 24- crickets
I left Orville after taking one last shower to cover the upcoming week. I swung by the local bakery for coffee, cookies and a cinnamon roll and moved on. I walked down the highway then started climbing on the whistler canyon trail with my fully stocked, heavy pack. I took some breaks along the way and consumed a lot of the jar of Nutella I am carrying because I have been craving it for a while. After the trail ended I mostly walked on gravel roads the rest of the day with crickets jumping everywhere. They were pretty large crickets too. The day was not complete without a few wrong turns and a couple extra miles though. The countryside is very dry with lots of rolling hills and cattle pastures and the forests not as dense as on the other side of the cascades. Tomorrow I should pass lake bonnventure resort and begin heading more south east. From now on I will have to watch my water and stay hydrated since it is very dry on this east side of the state.
Day 25 – westbounders
Today I woke up near highland ski area and started walking the ups and downs of cross country ski trails to Bonaparte lake. I made it about mid day and was able to satisfy my craving for icecream with a couple ice cream sandwiches. I dried the dew from the morning off all my stuff and continued walking the trail. At this point though the trail turns into a gravel road for many miles. Amazing a couple miles into this roadwalk I met another guy who was doing the entire trail just going the opposite way as me(most people are). We talked about what to expect for each of us and just made small talk then I let him get on his way to get his much anticipated meal at Bonaparte lake resort cafe. I finished the roadwalk in the middle of some private property so I decided to walk due south I try to meet up with the trail. It mostly worked as I am pretty close and should find it in the morning and in the process I got some great practice climbing straight up and down cliffs. During the road walk today I saw many more crickets, deer, and a coyote. As well as many red necks and cows.
Day 26- Sasquatch
It’s been really hot and I think the hot weather is getting to me. It’s draining my energy and causing me to fade late in the day. I also have to carry around 4 pounds of water when I haven’t carried more than 1 for the last 700 miles. I currently have only 500 mile to get to glacier national park. Today I hiked on some trail, some roads and some cross country terrain. It was quite the workout jumping over giant fallen trees. About mid day when I crossed highway 20 eight miles west of Republic I met a very strange man who typified some of the people in these rural communities. He was out for a little hike and proceeded to warn me of bears, snakes, cougars, and my favorite Sasquatch. He said Sasquatch lives in the caves in these mountains and is positive that he exists. He says he won’t hurt you but he smells terrible so you can smell him coming. He said if I see a cave to poke my head in and look around to see if he is home. I thanked him for the advice and wished him luck and continued on my way. The rest of my day was spent going from cow infested spring to cow infested spring and continually moving cows and maneuvering around the dumb animals. Tomorrow should be another mix of old logging roads and trails. After being underfed and essentially running out of food on the last section, I have been eating so much that I may gain weight.
Day 27- hot hot hot
It is hot here. It is really hot. I looked around 5pm when I was taking a break and had phone service and it said the local weather was 102 degrees. After hiking during the heat of the day I realized I need to change up my style for this section from just hiking all day with a few short breaks to taking a long break in the heat of the day. I tried to drink as much water as I could but the heat got to me. I lost all my energy towards the end of the day and had very little appetite. I know this came directly from trying to push myself too hard in hundred degree weather. I walked on mostly trails today and experienced the beautiful rolling dry hills of the kettle range. Along the way I saw at least a dozen dear, as many grouse, and very sparse groups of trees littered with chipmunks. Out here the chipmunks make a very annoying cackle sound. It almost sounds like someone flicking a doorstop but it is extremely loud and aggregating especially in the mornings if they get up earlier than me. Even in the dry environment the Mosquitos came out of nowhere a few times and gave me some bad bites. I couldn’t find water but apparently they had found enough to live. I am going to bed earlier than usual to try to gain enough energy to fight off the heat again tomorrow… And right on cue on of them chipmunks keeps cackling.
Day 28- kettle range
Today I hiked through the rolling hills of the kettle range in eastern Washington. As I said yesterday it is extremely hot and nearly impossible to drink enough water. Mid day I knew that the mountain that the disappeared trail was on was up 3000 feet on the top of this small mountain, so I pointed myself up it and met the trail after some intense bushwhacking and successful navigating. But the climb up the hill was fully exposed and I was sweating incredible amounts. It was like something out of a comedy. After I finally made it to the top of that mountain there was a breeze and a bit of shade to cool down. Luckily on this section I have lots of food so I have been eating like a king and to me that means 3 words: chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Later on in the day I came face to face with three horses in the narrow trail. Many people may know I do not like horses and they make me more nervous than anything I have seen in the wilderness. So I climbed off the narrow trail as far as it was safe then saw the horse jumping and being uncontrollable. The man said to talk to the horse and let it know I’m a person, so I did and it calmed down to pass. But it was just another encounter to enforce my distrust of horses. I crossed highway 22 near the end of the day for the second time near Sherman pass and met two other PNT hikers. We talked briefly but it was getting late so I moved on. The sunrise was amazing as it nearly always is out in the middle of nowhere.
Day 29- deer creek
Today was filled with lot of small ups and downs in the extremely hot weather. I was not really feeling too into it today so I took many breaks and are lots of chocolate, which surprisingly tastes very good melted into a soup. The views were great to look out over the landscape of eastern Washington and the springs seemed to have been placed strategically. Every time that I ran out of water there would magically be a good flowing spring around the corner. With a decent day tomorrow I should be able to make it into northport, wa on Friday morning and get the usual town choirs accomplished. This new watch is not seeming to work very well so that will be something to work on during my breaks tomorrow as well as fixing a draw string on my backpack and taping up my shoes. My shoes have over 800 miles of all terrain walking on them and have become tattered and are only held together by the souls. The insouls have worn through completely in 2 spots so I would say I got the most out of them. There will be a special service in northport as I bury them in the trash and lace up my new ones.
Day 30 – cowbells
This morning I woke up and walked old logging roads around the kettle mountains and down to the kettle river. It was very nice that even on roads that were unsigned I managed to pick the right one to follow and my mistakes costs me only a few minutes. Most of the roads were really not roads, but cleared 6 foot wide paths for snowmobiles to use that had three foot tall weeds. When it got thick it was tough to wade through all the weeds. I made good progress and crossed the highway to Orient and continued to make progress. Then at a tricky road junction I met the daughter of the trail angel’s (mamacita) house that I stayed at in nooksack. It was nice to talk to her for a while. Her trail name is cedar. From there I continued on and started hearing bells. I could not figure out what they could be from but then I finally passed a pasture and saw the cows with bells around their necks. It was unique for sure and now I am camped and surrounded by cowbells. Hopefully I get some sleep. Today I saw many rabbits, peacocks, grouse, and many cattle. Tomorrow I should get in to northport and hopefully get a shower and some laundry done and finally get to put on my new shoes!
Day 31 – northport and gone
I woke up really early to the sound of cows and their cowbells. It was not the best alarm I could have imagined. Cows sure can MOO loud. I walked down the gravel road past sheep creek campground and onto the highway into northport. I crossed the Columbia river only a few miles from the Canadian border and was surprised to see that is only about a third the size that it is at my house in Vancouver. Once in northport I got my town things end which mostly included charging things up and collecting packages from the post office. Then I began to organize. It was perfect timing to get in to town around 10 am when I did because I bought a coffee and my friend Josalin sent me at least a couple dozen cookies and I called coffee and cookies my well balanced breakfast. As I began to organize and pack up my food I realized my pack might actually break under all that weight and there was no way I could eat it all in the coming 5 days so I mailed some of it ahead to my last stop in Eureka Montana. From here I had lunch in town and then really just felt more like getting on the road and getting miles in while it was a bit cooler that the previous days so I hiked on out of town and got in a few miles. In fact I think I got in enough miles to be able to get back on a real trail tomorrow. I am entering grizzly country pretty soon and my can of bear spray arrived. Other than my deadly fists that spray is my only weapon. It is basically strong pepper spray. In town I was also warned about the wolves but I am truly not worried about anything other than a charging momma grizzly.
Day 32- Metaline falls
Today I woke up next to a gravel road that I had hiked into the night to get to and was not even completely sure it was the right one. But I decided to bet on it and continued down what I hoped was a forest service road that would give me a trail to get to the top of Abercrombie mountain. Luckily after a few miles there was a sign for trail #119 and that was exactly what I was looking for. From here it was going to get tricky. My maps said the creek next to me might be the only water for the next 23 miles until Metaline falls. This could be an issue since I only had three water bottles. So I forced down as much water as I could and filled up my bottles and began the hot uphill climb to the top of the second highest mountain in eastern Washington. I made it to the top around noon, so the true hot weather hadn’t set in. As many of the climbs seem to go, I just went right down the other side and dropped all those hard feet of elevation that I had worked for. Eventually I got to a gravel road that would take me to the next road and on through metaline falls, but this is when I noticed the thunderheads rolling in. Within a few minutes of walking it started to sprinkle and then the true lightning started. It was truly amazing. I have walked right through the middle of two different lightning storms on this trip and have been more amazed than anything at the size and power of them. This storm didn’t even let up through the entire walk so I decided I would stay in town and through some good story telling and networking if found someone willing to let me stay in their shop on a couch, dry and out of the elements. It was all I could hope for. Tomorrow I should inch closer to Idaho and cross the border in the next couple days. While walking today I saw some turkeys, chickens, grouse, and even a deer crossing the river on the bridge. My feet felt amazing due to my new shoes and my back could get used to a couch compared to sleeping on rocks nightly.
Day 33- Idaho
Today was a tough one. I did not sleep well last night, so when I finally saw that it was light out I just decided to head out of town. It was much earlier than I usually start. I walked out of metaline falls before anything had even opened and began my slog through some very rugged logging roads and trails on my way to Idaho. Just when the scratches on my legs had begun to heal up I got a new batch of scratches. Overall, it could have been worse and I was able to put in enough miles to make it in to Idaho and be done with hiking in Washington after 900 miles. It is a good feeling. The huckleberries all day today were giant and great tasting. When I finally stopped for the night to set up my camp I got bombarded by mosquitoes. So after starting out nice and clean after going through a couple towns I now have cuts and bites but at least I’m finally in Idaho.
Day 34- Idaho hills
Today I awoke in a dark forest near a meadow. None of my stuff got wet the night before so I was not expecting any dew on the grass and flowers but once I got to the meadow nearby the trail basically disappeared and turned into waste high wet grass. After only a short wall my sox shoes and feet were all soaked. This made the rest of the walking until lunch a little more difficult and made it feel like my feet weighed 10 pounds each. I came out to the correct logging road and it reaffirmed that I had taken the correct path through the gauntlet of trails on the Washington Idaho border. I walked on and got some good views of priest lake where I could change my socks and let my feet dry out a bit. I also met Andy who was camping with a couple dozen of his family member and he was nice enough to offer me some food to compliment my lunch. It’s always great to meet nice people. I walked on a few more miles and I am camped right about where the trail disappears. The first ten miles or so tomorrow will most likely be bushwhacking, which can be extremely slow and frustrating.
Day 35- Major bushwhacking
I woke up near a creek with no idea where the trail went except that it would follow the creek until another creek flowed into it and then from there I would be following that new creek up into the mountains for about 5 miles. I found the creek but a couple miles up into the mountains I could not find any semblance of trail so I decided to climb the tallest ridge in the hopes I would see the lake I would head to next. 2 hours of profuse sweating I made it to the top only to hear something large walking along the ridge breaking big branches as it moved. I never saw what it was but i would like to think it was a grizzly. On top of the ridge I realized I had crossed the ridge much too soon and I had to hop boulders and scramble a few miles in some instances where I had to navigate some rock faces and cliffs along the mountain ridges. About late afternoon I finally found where the trail started again around ball lake. From here I followed it all the way to the road which I am camped at with large rocks poking into my neck and back. I had to walk until 10 pm and into the night to camp here and I could not stop earlier because I ran out of water. Tomorrow I will make it into bonners ferry.
Day 36- all you can eat
Before I get to my day I first have to say, “I HATE MOSQUITOS I HATE MOSQUITOS I HATE MOSQUITOS.” After a day in town I walked a few miles and got eaten alive by the swarm of mosquitos that followed me, most likely from Brush Lake. It was very frustrating and uncomfortable to be bitten over and over again despite using the but spray that I carry but use extremely infrequently. Today I woke up right next to the road that would take me to Highway 95 and in to Bonners ferry where I could resupply and upgrade some gear. I walked over the kootenei river and hitchhiked into town where I satisfied my desire for a nice warm cup of coffee in the morning. Then I hit the library to take care of a few more chores. Then it was time to eat lunch and I had heard about an all you can eat pizza buffet. I may have set records. They also had an open salad bar which I took full advantage of. In fact I ate WAY too much. So much I could barely walk and had to lay in the grass to organize my pack and get over the large amount of food I had just consumed. To get out of town and back to the trail it took three different times hitchhiking as each car was only going a couple miles, and when I finally arrived back at the trail I was graciously greeted by the massive clouds if mosquitos. I now have a lightweight fishing pole with me that I hope to get some use out of in the next few days and I should be done with Idaho and into Montana in the next day or two. My pack is extremely heavy which means it’s time to eat well for the next couple days. Next town stop is Eureka, MT.
Day 37- Feist creek
Today I slept in. At least enough to feel fully charged for the day. I was very low on water in the morning so I drank just enough to get me by and had a small breakfast that didn’t require any water. It was not the best situation to be in but since it has been a dry hot summer with a very small snowpack (meaning few springs) I figured I should save my half bottle of water until I found some on the trail. Luckily only a half dozen miles in I found a questionable pond, but was desperate enough to grab a bottles worth. Thankfully a couple miles down the trail I found some clear, fresh, clean springs that I filled up at. From here I continued to walk a confusing array if trails and was often elated when I saw a sign that signified I was going in generally the correct direction. My maps show the trails and roads but they are often misnumbered which makes the whole adventure a guessing game. Eventually I made it to a small place called Feist creek resort in which there is a restaurant. I decide to make the trek 1/4 mile off the trail and found a place that I could not tell if it was open or not. I tried the door and found the most inviting environment I have seen on the entire trail. The people were great, the customers were great, the food was good, and the beer was cold. They even gave me a free shower (which I desperately needed). Overall it really made my day and since I am trying to slow myself down to get to Eureka, Montana on Monday instead of when the post office is closed on Sunday I figured it would be a great lawn to pitch my tent on. I will officially be in Montana tomorrow and definitely seeing this epic hike 2.0 with the end in sight.
Day 38-huckleberry pickers
If anyone is looking for a job that you can set your own hours at and work in the tranquility of the woods, huckleberry picking is the ticket. In this area if the Idaho panhandle and western Montana there seems to be a big industry of these pickers and I have seen many of them in the middle of nowhere. I left Feist creek early in the morning and spent most of the day climbing up into the mountains. Once up high I was treated to some amazing views with mountains all around me. I walked along a ridge similar to a knifes edge and got the exhilarating feeling of being on top of the world. The trail disappeared at many places along the way and I just continued to walk along the ridge. I am camped in a hole surrounded by giant huckleberrys. I have crossed Washington and Idaho off my list of states to walk across and now I only have about 200 miles left in Montana! In the past few days I have seen bears and heard even more. It is pretty eerie to hear a large animal crash through the brush and then look down the mountain only to see a large bear. My gear has been slowly failing but hopefully it will make it another week. Nearly everything has holes in it and my pack has a giant rip in the front.
Day 39- turned creek
Today I woke up early and began the long walk down the mountain. As the trail began to twist and turn I slowly began to realize that I was not going the right way. Instead of standing confused and wasting time staring at my mediocre maps I continued down the trail to the first road I came to and from here I used my navigation skills to correctly turn up another logging road and regain the trail about halfway. About midway through this day long journey to refine the trail I ate some dehydrated apple crisp for a late breakfast and it may have been the best meal I have had in the last 39 days. From here I crossed the Yack river and traveled up another trail. I found a great waterfall at the end of the day to camp by and even got some fishing in. I hooked one fish and got multiple bites but the fish broke my line sadly and it was getting too dark to retie a fly on my line. Tonight is the 3rd day on the entire trail I have made the decision to hang my food in a tree which is always quite the hassle. I usually use my food as my pillow. Tomorrow I should get very close to Eureka where my last box of food is located. I have currently walked about 1050 trail miles with 150 to go.
Day 40- Montana people
Today was a long hot day with a great ending. I woke up by the waterfall and began hiking through waist high grass covered in dew. This was tolerable but I must have walked through or got stung by some plant because my knees and shins began to burn. It was not a good sensation and really frustrated me. I climbed over the Purcell summit and continued to walk along the dry ridges of western Montana. I then climbed around Webb mountain and the long trail down to the kootenai river. Once I got to the river I had to road walk over the bridge and on towards my last town stop of eureka. If I didn’t mention it before, Montana is on mountain time zone so I had to push my own internal clock back an hour. I walked and then met a nice guy Dave who told me to stay at his place a ways outside of town. It was hard to hear and I didn’t pick up the entire conversation so when I got to his place I was surprised by the number of people. It was a good ole Montana Sunday get together. Apparently every Sunday during the good weather anywhere from 20-50 people get together outside of eureka and hang out. It was great. There was a table of food, people of all ages, and some music. I was even convinced to get in there and play some volleyball. I even got a shower in and am camped under the full moon. Tomorrow I will get my town stuff done and move on the the last 130 miles!
Day 41- into real bear country
I am now closing in in the end of my adventure and also the most densely populated area of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states. It could get a little dicey. I woke up to dew all over my sleeping bag and other things that were out this morning, but since it climbed over 100 degrees it was not too much of an issue to dry my stuff out. From there I went in to Eureka and picked up my food from the post office and also did my laundry. Then of course I had to check out the place that claimed they had the best burgers. They were pretty good but I wouldn’t say they were the best. From there I walked out of town in the scorching heat. Instead of going straight up the trail into the mountains I decided to go an extra halfmile or so to jump in glen lake. It was a wonderful way to spend the hottest part of the day. There were many people with their kids and jet boats enjoying the weather. From there I hiked 13 miles up into the mountains and decided I would once again hang my food because tonight I don’t feel like fighting a grizzly, maybe tomorrow.
Day 42 – Montana mountains
I woke up and was happy to see my food bag still hanging and in tack. I are breakfast and began hiking the ups and downs of these mountains just on the outside of glacier national park. Eventually, after going over mt wam I dropped down to a forest road which I walked for 4 miles then had to fight through the brush of another abandoned forest for 6 more miles before beginning the whitefish divide trail. From here I walked to the top of mt Locke where I am camped for a night and got to witness an amazing sunset. This area is truly amazing and I can imagine it is even more beautiful when there is snow around. There is nowhere to hang my food on the mountain so I am prepared to fight grizzlies. In this mountain time zone it is very awesome that it does not really get dark until almost ten. Hopefully tomorrow I will get to pole ridge where I can get my glacier national park permits and move on to the finish of this trail at chief mountain customs office. I have somewhere between eighty and 90 miles left. It’s a good thing too because it seems that every day my gear has a new issue or at least a hole in it. I guess it was not rated for 4000 miles in 2 trips over 3 years.
Day 43- polebridge hostel
I woke up to a beautiful sunrise and swarms of mosquitos. That meant once I had started packing up I couldn’t stop or else I would get eaten alive. So I packed up quick and set off to put in a big day. I hiked the whitefish divide and got both some great views and some great huckleberries. The ridges I hiked on were very dry and I ran out of water many times. It was not terrible as I was never out of water for too long. In the beginning I met a nice guy clearing the trail and he was my first human interaction since eureka. I have noticed I have become very content and easily entertained by myself. I made it in to polebridge in the late evening. I got a burger and a beer at the cafe along with a slice of amazing huckleberry pie. Then I checked in to the hostel. Polebridge is a tiny town that is for tourists. It is set up similar to an old mining town. There is no power or internet except from solar power. This made it impossible to charge my electronics. I will be on the lookout for a place to charge up before I set our into the wilderness tomorrow. I will leave tomorrow morning and go to the ranger station to get my permit to camp with the grizzlies in glacier national park.
Day 44- Glacier National Park
Glacier national park is beautiful. Today I woke up early at the hostel, packed up and went through the tiny place they call Polebridge to see if the bakery was open. I was in luck and got a coffee and enough day old donuts (1/2 off) to feed an army. I was then told that the ranger station that I could get my permit at opened at 8. Turns out this was wrong and they actually didn’t open until 9. Even with this inconvenience I made the most of it and found an outlet (that I was unable to find in town) to charge my phone. Once the station opened I went in with the 2 places in mind that I wanted to camp at but they were full. It turned out they were all full except for goat haunt shelters. This was 29 miles in. I told her that’s where I wanted to go my first night and she did not think it was a good idea. I set her straight by telling her how many miles I can do in a day and reassuring her that the mileage was no problem, and it turned out not to be. I made it to camp by 7pm. The day was amazing. After walking the road up to bowman lake I was greeted with something out of a fairy tale. The lake was amazing with mountains on all sides. I walked all the way around the lake and then up over browns pass and into the mountains. I went down the other side through a tremendous canyon with lakes all down it and finally got to the Waterton river which was quite wide. It had a cable bridge across that swayed a good 3 feet with every step and started bouncing all over the place after the rhythm of a few steps. I crossed and made it to the goat haunt shelters which are just like a 3 sided garage with a cement floor. I ate and settled in and noticed a boat of tourists came down waterton lake. Apparently there is a shuttle that comes to the visitors center and ranger station here. This area of the national park is jointly managed by the USA and Canada. Even though I could finish the trail tomorrow without much difficulty I decided to go ahead and get a permit for tomorrow night. It will only be a 13 mile day but I should be able to fish and explore the park. Even though I will finish one day later than my 45 day goal, it is much more important to me to see more of the park than trying to rush through the last 25 miles.
Day 45 end of a journey
I had 25 miles to the end of the trail at chief mountain customs and I decided I would make the decision on whether to finish the trail today or not as I hiked. It’s no surprise I decided to go for it and complete the trail in my personal goal of 45 days. I was given coffee by a guided backpacking trip at goat haunt shelter before I started the day and it put me in the perfect mood to enjoy the bipolar weather. It stormed all night long and I was very lucky to have a shelter over my head to avoid the rain. I set off and hiked up and over stony Indian pass which was nothing short of amazing. In glacier national park everything is other worldly. It’s impossible to out it into words. On the other side of the pass I got to hike down the canyon surrounded by waterfalls. This is where I met many hikers exploring the park. I hiked around glen lake and Cosley lake and began the walk along the belly river towards the end of the trail at chief mountain customs. The miles flew by and nothing was going to stop me from finishing although a large bull moose did slow me down a bit. The last 6 miles I was more of a robot than a person just waiting to finish my long journey. I passed a couple guys and a ranger. Throughout the day I received many congratulations which made me even more motivated to finish. I made it to the end and it was a strange feeling, one I couldn’t comprehend. I’m sure it will sink in during the coming days. The road down to civilization was very quiet and it took quite a while to get a ride. I had to plea with other hikers to give me a ride but thankfully I got down and into a small town called st Mary’s and instead of springing for an expensive touristy cabin I slept behind the bar in my tent. The next couple days I will explore the national park and take the train back on the 17th. I will post pictures on here where I get a chance and a trip video within the week but other than that my journey is complete. Thanks to everyone I met on the way and helped me complete this adventure!