Off-trail PCT CA Section C

Nov. 22: A Late Exit

Despite my late night, I still managed to at least get up at an early enough hour that I thought I could get to the trail by noon. I cut the oversize plastic covers off the aglets of my new laces, installed them on my boots, tied the excess lace around my ankles, and went out for some breakfast.

Off-trail PCT CA Section C

Nov. 21: Big Bear Lake

For various reasons, it was around 10am by the time I started hiking. The trail was just a slow climb up the side of Delamar Mountain. I stopped for a snack at Delamar Mountain Rd, where a truck was parked and people were coming by looking for the trail.

Off-trail PCT CA Section D

Nov. 9 & 10: Burbank /Vasquez Rocks

Nov. 9

So after a single deep sleep cycle, my phone alarm went off so I could get all of the following done before 2:50am when my taxi arrived:

Off-trail PCT OR Section A

Nov. 8: Rescued from the Privy (Medford)

I’m going to go out of my way to ensure this post does not see distribution on my mom’s Facebook feed by starting it off with a frank discussion of poop.

Off-trail PCT OR Section F

Oct. 19-20: Getting Ahead

So, I took a zero in Bend. Bend is a great place, but it is certainly not on trail, which means it’s time for another AmAzInG DoUbLe DaY PoSt!!!!…

Oct. 19

Honestly, my zero wasn’t very fun. I spent the vast majority of it in a coin laundromat a 20 minute walk from my motel. That is, I got one load going and ran it all the way through until done. Solid two hours. Then I changed into the clean clothes and washed the ones I was wearing, then went out for a meal of fast tacos and a trip to the grocery to pick up some limes. Then, back at my room, I realized I had forgotten to wash a critical item and walked all the way back out to wash a third load. Finally, it was so late that I had to skip drying it and go.

Why? Because I needed to get to REI, a 30 minute walk in the other direction, with enough time to try on clothes and so forth. I bought some waterproof gaiters, snow pants, a snow jacket, new trekking poles. I had meant to exchange some busted items, but I had been in such a hurry I’d forgotten to grab them. I don’t think I remembered to check whether they had canister fuel, though I expect the shortage was affecting them as well. I would end up starting the next section with only the fuel I had on hand.

Finally, after a day that was nothing but work, I set out carrying my busted, overflowing REI bag to do one fun thing in Bend. (The only bags they had were busted by default.)

I let Google route me to Crux Fermentation Project, the brewery halfway between REI and my motel that looked like it had some good stuff online. But I didn’t trust Google enough once the brewery came into site and tried to take a shortcut. I circled around a jumbled pile of stuff in the middle of a field with the sound of a generator running inside and realized I had stumbled on a homeless camp. On the other side was an impassable drop onto a railroad track. I worked my way back to the Google approved route.

Anyway, it was a nice restaurant and brewery with multiple places to order and a big field and tent beside it with a giant fire and a lot of chill people enjoying their evenings. It was the most normal social event I had seen in a town in a long time. Aside from the masks and distance between groups, of course.

I ate a bowl of something vaguely mex inspired and drank two of their favorite beers, which brought me right to closing time, then started back to the motel, which surprised me by how close it was.

Apples grown and packed in Chelan!

Oct. 20

I got up quite early and repacked my pack to incorporate the new items to get out of my room by 8:20. I turned in my key and set out down the road to my first destination…

Then I realized I didn’t have my phone and ran back to the motel to get the key back. The manager laughed heartily at my forgetfulness. But by 8:30 I was on my way again. Luckily, everything I needed was only a couple of minutes away.

My first stop was the UPS Store, where I sent home the clothes my recent purchases had obsoleted. Right across the street was Bend’s only (yet controversial) transit center. I was to meet a shuttle here that would leave me at Santiam Pass. To confirm this, I asked a stranger. “Unfortunately, yes,” he quipped, in a way that a native might have understood. He then wanted to continue talking about being careful of all the dangerous animals. Frankly, he creeped me out, so I went to sit far from him.

I didn’t have to wait long. The shuttle showed up on time and the driver was super nice and chill. An hour later, I was at the PCT Trailhead, right at the southern end of the closed section I had had to skip.

The terrain I faced once I crossed the highway was some of the dullest I had seen to date. I can’t even describe how uninteresting it was. It was flat and relatively easy to move through, but there was also someone not far away using machinery that sounded like an industrial strength vacuum. I stopped at a pond to get some water because I had forgotten to get enough from my motel room, and then bypassed the side trip to Big Lake Youth Camp, though I could see Big Lake just fine from the trail.

The trail followed the edge of a lava field and I stopped early at the foot of it in a sandy, flat area that was the last marked campsite in Guthook for ten miles.

I set up camp close to the edge of the lava and climbed inside my tent to do some maintenance. Soon, I heard some activity outside.

Owl and Phoenix had arrived following two consecutive zeroes in Bend. And they had friends with them: Firefly and her partner who was entirely new to long distance hiking but would receive the trail name Grommet that very night. Not after the claymation dog character but for the way he liked to manufacture useful gear for the trail and incorporate grommets into them.

Owl and I rearranged an area next to the lava so we could have a campfire to celebrate the beginning of Grommet’s adventure. We all sat near the fire cooking and eating our own suppers until the sun was gone and a thick fog was rolling in. At that point, we all started getting the urge to turn in led by Phoenix. I was second to hit the sack, hoping to get an early start the next morning.

Total distance: 12 miles

That’s not something on the camera blurring the view
That’s just how foggy it was

Off-trail PCT WA Section H

Oct. 9-11: Weekend at Curry’s

Once again, I will be covering multiple days in a single post in lighter detail because this is a trail blog, which means off-trail is off-topic.

Off-trail PCT WA Section I

A brief summary of the family tour of Washington

This one will cover an entire week’s worth of time! But since it didn’t happen while hiking, the subject of this blog, the detail will be minimal. Lots of pictures though.

However, I did promise a while back to talk about what I want to eat when I return to civilization, and since this post documents a brief respite in civilization, this would be a good place to do that.

If you’ve paid attention to my meal photos from town days, you may have some guesses. But the basic idea is that I want hot things, I want fresh things, and I want root beer. And occasionally some just plain beer.

Common targets for consumption include:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Salad
  • Root beer
  • Steak
  • Burrito
  • Root beer
  • Pizza
  • Junky snacks
  • Root beer
  • Something I can put hot sauce on
  • IPAs
  • Sours
  • Root beer

This is why you should not be surprised to learn that on my first morning off the trail, the familia went to the hotel’s attached diner for breakfast and I ordered steak and eggs.

While checking out, a lot of northbounders gathered in front of the hotel getting ready to begin their hikes out. These included Mowgli, Sunny Side Up, and their cat, whom I had not seen since Mammoth Lakes, so we got a quick pic together.

We decided to do a little light walking in nature with the rest of the day. First, we drove to Snoqualmie to visit the falls. We walked half a mile down to the river, and when the others didn’t feel up to climbing the hill back to the parking lot, I went up and drove the car down to pick them up.

Then we had lunch. Amazing burgers from Herfy’s and a drive through coffee stand. Then to No Boat Brewery, a brewery weed been recommended by a couple at Dru Bru, but I didn’t find a single beer there that I liked. The root beer was great though.

Then a drive down to Rainier NP late in the afternoon to visit Paradise. The inn was closed and boarded up, but we walked to a nearby waterfall, ate some bilberries growing next to the the trail, and just before we left, the clouds moved enough to see the peak. We drove back down at sunset and checked out the park’s other inn before driving back to Puyallup to check in to our hotel.

Just took this picture for the punny slogan

The next morning, we took our time leaving but eventually headed west toward the Olympics. We spent some time in Aberdeen, where I visited a sporting goods store and Walmart to pick up some things I needed. We went to a downtown coffee shop while waiting for another recommended brewery to open. But it didn’t open out enough so we visited Mount Olympus Brewing instead. Mikella and I each got a flight. On the way out of town, I got a “halfway finished” pie from a small supermarket.

From there we went to the coast to buy a famous brand of ice cream from a sweets shop in a cute coastal town. It rained the whole time. I should note it rained a bit almost every day for the entire week I spent off the trail, which was a large portion of the reason I didn’t mind the fact I wasn’t out hiking.

We ended the day at Quinault Lodge by the lake and ordered takeout dinner from a nearby restaurant. I had salmon followed by some of the pie.

The next day was a drive up the coast, starting with a visit to a beach for some tidepooling.

Then into the Olympic National Park to walk through the Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rainforest.

Then lunch from a taqueria in Forks that only seemed to have forks available for customers.

After that, we drove to Poulsbo and made it into Sluys Bakery just before it closed. We bought nearly one of everything they had and sat outside a coffee shop on the street sampling everything. I decided to visit one of the town’s breweries, Valhalla Brewing, after that. It had an amazing cider on tap. Mikella had no interest in drinking. We ended the evening with a walk on the wharf docks after dark before driving to a hotel in a completely different town.

Forks’ forks

The next day we returned to Poulsbo to get a Viking Cup and some other things we hadn’t tried the night before, then to the water to eat at a restaurant at had spotted there overlooking the bay. Followed by another visit to Sluys, where I finally found the best item in the store, and the cafe for sweet espresso drinks to go. It occurs to me that Seattle could have become a coffee epicenter even if Starbucks had never been thanks to how much less miserable the rain is when you have a hot latte.

For the afternoon event, we drove over to Bainbridge Island to visit a vineyard tasting room. We tried a lot of wines, some pretty good, but I don’t know anything about wine, so it is never as exciting as beer. Needless to say, Mikella planned this stop.

We caught the next ferry from the island over to Seattle proper and checked into a hotel right on the waterfront. Then we spent several hours in the hotel planning and generally lounging. By the time we decided to call an Uber to go get some pho, nearly every Vietnamese restaurant had closed, including the one we had routed to. No problem. Our driver was very friendly and took us past the bridge troll on the way to another place we ordered take out from over the phone.

The other goal for the evening was a brewery visit, and there was a very nice one just a 15 minute walk from the pho place. We spent the remainder of the evening sampling Floating Bridge beers and eating pho in the tasting room. We Ubered back late and went right to bed.

The next morning, after some small delays at the hotel, we began a trek in the rain. After a brief jaunt along the piers in the wrong direction, we finally found our way to the Pike Place Market, which seemed considerably reduced in activity in the age of COVID. It stopped raining for us here, so we took the remainder of the morning and early afternoon wandering around here. The original Starbucks was closed but the Beecher’s Store was open, so cheese and crackers was had. We also stopped in at a fancy cafĂ© with drink combinations you’ve not heard of.

For the afternoon, we walked to the space needle area to visit Chihuly Gardens and Glass. On the way, Mikella got more coffee and I got a local kombucha. She wanted to walk through the garden with a coffee but that wasn’t allowed. Still, we took our time and got plenty of pictures.

We wanted to visit Holy Mountain Brewing after that but couldn’t get a beer garden reservation until the next day, so instead we Ubered back to the hotel and walked to a waterfront seafood restaurant across the street to eat fish and watch the sunset. Then we walked back to the upper edge of Pike Place so I could try out the brewpub there. We had a table outside on the edge of a precipice overlooking the city. We also had rats running around below us. The beer was very good. Some of the best I tried on this trail vacation.

A short but somewhat sketchy walk down dimly lit staircases and alleys returned us to our hotel to prepare for the next day’s drive.

The next morning called for us to pack up and drive ourselves from the hotel in time to join the first group entering the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Science Fiction Museum and still retaining those elements). On the way, we stopped at a FedEx so I could mail myself a resupply to White Pass. We spent three or four hours in the museum, then left to make our early afternoon reservation at Holy Mountain. We had enough time to drive through a taco restaurant on the way to get food to eat with the beer. It was a strange location for a brewery beer garden and the beer tastiness was mixed, but I did find one I liked.

The rest of the afternoon was spent driving across Stevens Pass to Leavenworth. My second visit in as many weeks! This time I got to sample the nightlife. We walked through the cool touristy part of town to a little basement bar for dinner. I tried the local brewery’s IPA but it wasn’t that exciting. I tried a cider then that was amazing.

After dinner, we visited a sweet shop and bought an incredible assortment of saltwater taffy. Flavors I’ve never even heard of before! Then we returned to the car to drive to the KOA (just so Mama could see) and Safeway (to pick up a couple of items I’d forgotten.

Back at the very fancy hotel we had booked for our last night together, we went down to sit in the hot tub. It was a very COVID-friendly hot tub because it was flower-shaped and each family could sit at the end of its own “petal” far from the others and yet still talk to each other across the way if desired.

But then it was straight to bed because we had to be up and out at the crack of dawn, even before the fancy included breakfast room opened. (The hotel did provide us bagged breakfasts to go instead.)

Last day. Up and at ’em. On the road before it’s even fully light out because we have to be in Chelan before the Lady of the Lake leaves to make its morning run. No problem. We make it with time to spare waiting in a line and visiting the restroom.

Once the boat is underway, concessions begin, and I am first in line for a coffee. It’s a leisurely two hour trip across the country’s third deepest lake before my triumphant return to Stehekin.

Cliff is right there waiting with his white school bus, very confused about our lunch plan but ultimately happy to give us a ride. We travel to High Bridge for pictures and then back to the ranch where Bethany is, of course, happy to sell us lunch. Taco salad!

Soon after lunch, we catch the bus back toward town (though Mama took her time and nearly missed it), going the scenic way this time. Another visit to Rainbow Falls, now flowing somewhat better following the week of rain, a stop in the old schoolhouse where Cliff went to school as a kid (but we couldn’t find any pictures of him inside), a stop in the organic gardens to buy some creamy goat cheese, and of course, a visit to the bakery.

Back in town, we had an hour to kill before the departure of the Lady Cat. We visited the gift shop and walked the cabin trail, just as I had done during my first visit. Then we found and boarded the catamaran just before its departure. The express trip back to Chelan took only an hour or so.

The rest of the afternoon was spent driving back to Snoqualmie Pass while listening to podcasts on the car stereo. When we finally arrived at the trailhead, it was well after dark and raining. I declined an offer to spend the night at the hotel. It might have been a mistake in terms of getting miles done, but I could see no reason to spend the money when I had the energy to get some night hiking done.

After an interminable farewell photo shoot, we did the hugs and kisses thing and I started walking in the rain while the fam drove back to Seattle to get a few hours sleep before their early flight home.

I climbed the ski slopes in the rain by headlamp light and the trail was a stream. It didn’t take long before my socks were soaked through, though my raincoat kept the rest of me fairly dry.

The trail wasn’t in the best condition for these few miles, and the little trickling streams that normally crossed the trail were now huge washes that required a bit of study to avoid letting more cold into my boots. It was much slower going than it should rightfully have been. Also, I had spent a week sitting in the back seat of a Jeep Compass, so my legs aren’t exactly in walking condition anymore.

Eventually, I reached my spot near a junction, a place where I squeezed my tent between two trees on a slightly sloped ground, crawled inside, and changed into dry things to sleep in. It’s impossible to stay completely dry in my tent when it’s that wet, but mostly dry is good enough to get some sleep.

Total distance: 2 miles


Yellow Blazing: Mount Shasta to Hart’s Pass

There will be no hiking in this post. Unless you count hitch-hiking. This, I won’t be tracking distances for each day. In the end of the last post, I was just picked up by a taxi headed to Mount Shasta (the town, not the mountain). Let’s get right into it.