PCT 2018 RECAP || Food & Resupply

One of the most asked questions of thru-hikers from non-hikers is “But how do you carry food for that long?”, “What do you eat?” or some iteration of concern about how we feed ourselves on trail. What most people don’t realize is that these trails are not in the middle of nowhere. The trail passes through, or very close to, numerous “resupply points”. A resupply point can be anywhere from a bustling city like Portland, OR, to a lakeside resort in the middle of the Sierra, like Vermillion Valley Ranch. The majority of resupply points are small towns. One of the cool things about doing a long hike (at least, for a city girl like me) is to visit these small towns and meet the people who inhabit them, most of whom are very familiar with the PCT, and value their slower pace of life near the great outdoors. In this post, I want to go over the towns I went into, adding commentary about certain ones, and then go into the food I ate on trail. I only ask that you withhold judgment once we get into the food discussion. Most thru-hikers are simultaneously proud and ashamed of the food we consume on trail.

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Resupply Stops

Number of towns visited: 47

Number of towns resupplied in: 34

Number of towns resupply purchased in: 24

Number of towns mailed resupply to: 11


There are basically 3 ways to do resupply: mail all boxes ahead of time (or have a resupply help person at home to mail boxes), buy all food along the way, on trail, or do a mixture of these strategies. There are certainly pros and cons to each strategy. Me being lazy, and not entirely knowing what I'd like to eat while on the trail, buying resupply along the way was definitely the way to go! Having done a thru-hike now, I think I could do a complete mail-drop resupply in the future, but I'd rather buy along the way.

California

1 - Lake Morena

2 - Mount Laguna

3 - Julian

4 - Warner Springs

5 - Idyllwild

6 - Big Bear Lake

7 - Wrightwood

8 - Acton KOA

9 - Agua Dulce

10 - Casa de Luna

11 - Wee Vill Market

12 - Tehachapi

13 - Lake Isabella

14 - Kennedy Meadows South

15 - Bishop

16 - Mammoth Lakes

17 - Tuolumne Meadows

18 - Kennedy Meadows North

19 - Echo Lake

20 - Donner Pass/ Auburn, CA

21 - Sierra City

22 - Buck's Lake

23 - Belden/ Caribou Crossroads

24 - Chester

25 - Old Station

26 - Burney Mountain Guest Ranch

27 - Burney Falls State Park

28 - Burney

29 - Mt. Shasta

30 - Etna

31 - Seiad Valley


Oregon

32 - Ashland/Medford

33 - Mazama Village (Crater Lake NP)

34 - Shelter Cove Resort

35 - Big Lake Youth Camp

36 - Ollalie Lake Resort

37 - Timberline Lodge

38 - Cascade Locks

39 - Portland

40 - Hood River


Washington

41 - Trout Lake

42 - White Pass

43 - Snoqualmie Pass

44 - Steven's Pass

45 - Leavenworth

46 - Holden Village

47 - Stehekin

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The towns listed in black are places I visited and sort of passed through. I either slept, or ate food at these places. I almost never skipped an opportunity to eat town food. There are some places not listed that I also happened to get town food from: like the random fire station parking lot on trail that LOL and I ordered pizza to.

Some places where I mailed a resupply to, I also supplemented with food in the area. For example, I did not really resupply in Agua Dulce. I had a few care packages sent to me from friends/ family, and some leftover food from the last stretch, so I didn’t need to buy anything extra. This happened to work out well, since I heard the market was really low on hiker food when I was there. In Stehekin, I knew I’d be visiting the famed bakery, and purposefully left out lunches of the box. I had a couple leftover ramens from the last stretch since I went through faster than previously anticipated, and bought the rest of my lunches at the bakery (yes, I had a giant cinnamon roll everyday for the last 3 days on trail).

 

Changes I’d Make For Next Time

 Thanks Alice & Elizabeth!

Thanks Alice & Elizabeth!

  • Mailed Boxes

    • I would not send a box to Warner Springs or Burney Mountain Guest Ranch. Both of these places have a highly curated hiker store with meals for a stove and cold soaking. Sure, they may be slightly more expensive than the grocery store, but you don’t have to pay for shipping, so I think its a wash. I personally think you can go through all of California without sending a resupply box, unless you only like fancy food or have a strict diet.

    • I solely depended on care packages and Yogi’s store, Triple Crown Outfitters, at Kennedy Meadows South. I definitely think you could easily resupply from TCO for your first stretch through the Sierra, all the way to Kearsarge Pass. You’ll probably be getting a package with your Sierra gear in it, but I don’t see a reason to add food to that package. TCO had the hiker food down.

  • Better OR/WA Planning

    • I think I did this decently well, and I obviously survived, but there are a couple things I would do differently next time.

    • Hindsight being 20/20, and in my particular situation, I would mail ahead all of my OR/WA boxes from Medford. There is a huge Walmart in Medford, with incredibly cheap food and a huge variety. They had way more variety of Knorr Rice Sides, Ramen flavors, candy, and snacks than any grocery store. There was also a Trader Joes and REI in town, which made for nice supplementary snacks. My parents also visited me in Ashland/Medford, but I know other hikers rented cars for the day, or took public transportation to Medford from Ashland just to resupply in the cheaper Medford.

      • Why? Because when I got to Cascade Locks to resupply for Washington, it was a shit show. The local market in Cascade Locks sucks. Sure, it can get you to Trout Lake, but I was trying to resupply for all of Washington at this market. This sentiment was shared by other hikers in the store. This led me to going to Portland AND Hood River to finish my resupply. I do think the resupply options in Washington are good enough to supplement sent boxes. So if you just buy the basics and snacks you know you want, but know you can’t get in gas stations (like specialty snacks from Trader Joes, for instance), it will be easy to add on more food if you find your pace has slowed down, or add more food if you realize you’re hungrier. So, you don’t need to precisely plan the Washington boxes in Medford.

    • If I didn’t send everything from Medford, when I got to Cascade Locks, I should have taken the bus directly to Hood River. The public transportation was cheap, the UPS store is next to the local grocery store, and there’s also a Walmart in Hood River. It would have been much smarter to resupply for all of Washington here.

    • I would not have gone to Portland. Portland was so spur-of-the-moment as a day trip from Cascade Locks, born out of frustration of the terrible resupply in Cascade Locks and a desire to eat donuts and Salt & Straw and Grassa. And while I had fun, it was a whirlwind, and I could have better spent the day resting.

    • Even though I sent boxes to Washington, and I personally would again, I think you could not send boxes to Washington, except for Stehekin. Trout Lake was good for a 3 day to White Pass. At White Pass, you can go to Packwood, with a real grocery store, or just resupply at the Kracker Barrel gas station (but you’ll probably be eating exclusively Ramen, chips, meat sticks, and candy to Snoqualmie. But some people can make it work). Snoqualmie Pass’s gas station was surprisingly good, and its only 2.5-3 days to Steven’s Pass. At Steven’s you can go to Skykomish or Leavenworth pretty easily to buy food. I would not send a box to Steven’s Pass again, just because there are two towns nearby to go to. For me personally, it would have saved me the Hood River stop, since I only went there to send a box via UPS to Steven’s Pass, since they only accept UPS or FedEx. I did this as a little insurance for myself, though. I was meeting friends at Steven’s Pass, and wanted to make sure I’d still have food if something came up and they were no longer able to meet me and take me to Leavenworth.

  • Using Zero Day Resupply

    • I’d definitely consider not stressing with shopping in Oregon or Washington, and just using a company like Zero Day Resupply to send all of my resupply boxes to those towns.

 So many berries in Oregon & Washington

So many berries in Oregon & Washington

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Places I Thought Were Difficult to Resupply In

  • Echo Lake - This one probably won’t impact most people. Usually people go into South Lake Tahoe, but I did not, so I resupplied here. It is a very small shop with high prices and lacking variety. I basically ate ramen, oreos, and kind bars from here to Truckee. Let’s just say, I was really happy to eat town food after that. The deli and ice cream is reeealllyyy good here though, so I’d highly recommend stopping here anyways since its right on trail and get an ice cream and pack out a sandwich for lunch/ dinner.

  • Sierra City - Was definitely lacking a good assortment of hiker food. They were even out of sunscreen when I went through. The store is pretty expensive as well, though similar to many very small town markets. Cost wouldn’t be a deterrent for me, but variety would.

  • Caribou Crossroads - They did have decent hiker food, but again, very lacking in assortment and volume. Lots of things were sold out, and they weren’t restocking. It was cheaper than Belden, but I’d probably buy from the Belden store. The free camping and diner food was good though! However, both will have sufficient food to get you to Chester, which is really only ~2.5 days away.

  • Seiad Valley - This store was also really lacking in variety and volume. Most of the shelves were empty. I didn’t resupply here, but I was trying to buy something to put together as dinner that night, and it was slim pickings. The cafe is amazing though. I wish they were open for dinner!

  • Mazama Village - Really just car camping food. Would definitely send a box.

  • Big Lake Youth Camp - You would need to send a box here. Or just go to Bend/ Sisters if you aren’t doing boxes in Oregon. Good news though. There were lots of people offering rides/ day trips from BLYC to Sisters & Bend when I was there, so you could stop by to do laundry & take a shower & eat & sleep for a donation, and see if a trail angel could bring you to town to shop for groceries only.

  • Olallie Lake Resort - It was tiny and expensive, and CASH ONLY. But, they did have hiker food.

  • Timberline Lodge - No viable resupply options here unless you ordered moderately expensive food from the restaurant and packed out that for your resupply to Cascade Locks.

  • Cascade Locks - Like I said above, fine for just getting to Trout Lake or White Pass, but not for all of Washington.

  • White Pass - You could do it if you like to eat gas station food, but this would be a difficult place to do a full resupply. Great for supplementing a box, though!

  • Steven’s Pass - You’re basically SOL if you don’t send a box here. You would definitely need to hitch to Skykomish or Leavenworth, preferably, Leavenworth.

  • Stehekin - Some people pride themselves on resupplying entirely from the bakery to get to Canada, but I am not one of those people. There are some snacks in the gift shop store, but you should send a box here.

Hiker Food & Eating Habits

There are, surprisingly, many schools of thought when it comes to food for thru-hiking, or long distance section hiking. Some people will avidly count calories. Others make sure all of their food is above the 100 cal/oz threshold for a good calorie-weight ratio. Some will even make that number higher: 120 cal/oz. Some people will home cook and dehydrate all of their meals before the trail, others live off of junk food the whole time. I couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the ways to eat on trail, so I’m just going to tell you what I did. From my observations, it seemed that many people on trail ate similarly to me.

Its also worth noting a few things about my eating style:

  1. I cold soaked my food in the Desert, Sierra, NorCal, and Oregon. What this means is everything I bought & ate was “no cook”, and I generally just cold soaked my dinners, only occasionally soaking lunches.

  2. 99.9% of the time I had a sit-down lunch and dinner; breakfast was always on-the-go.

  3. I didn’t count calories, though I tried to keep the majority of my food above the 100 cal/oz “threshold” for a decent calorie-weight ratio, but taste and cravings were the most important.

Breakfast

Breakfast was the meal that had the least variation during my whole thru-hike, and it never really bothered me. Breakfast was always either a Belvita cracker pack or PopTart pack. Sometimes I tried the KIND breakfast bar things. I would alternate which one with resupplies, and got sick of PopTarts briefly in the desert. I tried to mix it up as much as possible with flavors, to try to prevent getting tired/ repulsed by one.

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For probably over 50% of the trail, I also had Carnation Instant Breakfast drink mixes with breakfast. I’d use two packets to mix into my 0.7L bottle. Sometimes I’d add a Starbucks Via packet, or chia seeds. I would only have the “Rich Milk Chocolate” flavor. I was scared to try the vanilla or strawberry. Carnation also has protein and vitamins & minerals so I felt slightly healthy when starting my day with it.

Snack Time

Since breakfast was not very caloric, I ate snacks constantly throughout the morning until lunchtime, which was usually around 12-1 pm. These morning snacks were mainly bars and fruit snacks. I found that Welches fruit snacks are the best. So much better than Motts or some other off brand gummy. Welches all the way! Bars were all over the place, but the key was variety. So many people get sick of Clif bars instantly. I tried to keep it to one Clif bar per day, and with flavor variety, so I wouldn’t get burned out. I should mention that I HATE nuts. So anything that was purely whole nuts I can’t handle, but its ok if there are chunks of them in there, or ground, or whatever. But I will never be able to eat a pure KIND bar, for instance. I know, I’m weird. If you like nuts, you can have more bar variety. I finally got into a rhythm of doing 3 bars, 1-2 fruit snacks, 1 cracker/ snack pack thing, and 1 candy bar as my allotment for morning snacks. Sometimes I had some sort of energy snack like a Gu gel, which was nice to eat when my stomach started growling and I still needed to walk 2 miles before lunch… it kept me from getting too hangry. Sometimes I’d eat all of this before lunch, sometimes I wouldn’t. My hunger definitely fluctuated on trail, throughout the whole trail. And I wasn’t really doing this in the desert. IDK what I was doing in the desert, but NorCal-Canada, this was the formula I used. Also, all of these snacks + my breakfast bar fit into my hip belt pocket, so I never had to stop to eat in the morning.

After lunch I usually wasn’t that hungry, but if I was, I’d eat anything leftover from the morning, and snack on whatever random goodie I packed for myself for that stretch: cookies, keebler, fruit squeeze, whatever.

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Bars: Clif Bars (only the regular and builder - I hated the nut butter & fruit smoothie ones), Bobo’s bars, Larabars, Chewy Bars, Z bars, Nature Valley Oat Bars, Probars, Lunabars, KIND pressed fruit bars (banana + chocolate SO GOOD).

Fruity Snacks: Island Fruits, Berries & Cherries, Tangy Fruits, Apple Orchard Medley were my faves (from Welches), fruit leathers, gushers (didn’t eat these that often, idk why), squeezable fruit mush/ baby foods, dried fruit: cranberries and mango are my faves. Wild berries in Washington were great treats!

Savory Snacks: Keebler crackers, Flavor blast Goldfish, Cheeze-its, wasabi peas (stopped eating these in the desert, but I can’t remember finding them later on). Basically any kind of crunchy, savory snack in a fun-sized package.

Other Random Snacks: Animal circus cookies, nutella/ Jif individual packets w/ pretzels/ sticks to dip, olive packets, bagged cereal, Oreos.

Energy Snacks: Honey Stinger gummys, Gu Gels, Energy Stroopwafels.

 Thanks Pammy & Geri!

Thanks Pammy & Geri!

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 Not great for calories, but really nice to mix it up.

Not great for calories, but really nice to mix it up.

Candy Bars: Snickers (regular, almond, peanut butter), Dark Midnight Milky Way, Butterfinger, Mounds are my favorites.

Candy: Sour gummy worms were my favorites, but also did regular gummy bears, and tropical Skittles. I’d eat these mainly as dessert, after dinner, but would also throw them in my hip pocket to snack on in the afternoon.

Chips: I really didn’t snack on chips during the day, usually just eating them with Lunch, but sometimes I snacked on them while filtering water. My favorites were Ruffle cheddar, Kettle cooked Lays, Honey BBQ Frito twists, Pringles (the can fits perfectly in the side pocket of your backpack & is super light & you can put your trash in it when you accidentally throw out your trash bag). I was always craving Salt & Vinegar or Cheddar flavors.

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Lunch

 Chips go with everything at lunch

Chips go with everything at lunch

I had difficulties with lunch, mainly because I would get sick of these meals pretty quickly. I had a few staples though, and I’ll list them in order of when I was eating them. A general rule of thumb I had was to make sure I was eating carbs, protein, and fats during lunch so I would have a variety of energy sources.

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  • Tuna Tortillas: Ate this a lot in the desert. I liked the tuna packet flavors that had some spice: buffalo, jalapeño, thai flavor, etc. I also tried to eat the ones with olive oil/ sunflower oil (bc more calories & healthy fat), but those didn’t taste good. I usually put a packet of mayo and handful of chips in the tortilla to add extra flavor and texture. Needless to say, I got sick of these and didn’t eat tuna after NorCal.

  • Salami Tortillas: Just like tuna tortillas, but with salami. Also added mayo packets and chips for the extra flavor and texture, and added cheese, of course, usually string cheese. I hated having to slice cheese & salami, so I preferred the pre-sliced packaged stuff. I got sick of this too in California, and was reminded of this when I tried to do it for lunches for a little bit in Oregon.

  • Mini Pizzas: I owe this one to my mom. It takes a little work and is kind of messy, but its a nice change of pace & taste. English muffins + Bobli pizza sauce + Hormel pepperoni + Babybel cheese. I only did this a few times just because it was kind of hard to eat and took a little long to assemble. Didn’t get sick of the flavors though!

  • Avocados + Carbs: English muffins + avocado + red pepper packets. So yummy, but avocados are heavy, and packing out the pit and skin is heavy. I did this once, and the avocado got punctured and it got on my food bag and other food. So yummy though!

  • Cold-Soaked & Cooked Dinners: see examples in the Dinner category - this was sometimes more convenient, but I was never happy during the stretches where lunch and dinner were essentially the same.

  • PB & J Bagels: I held off on peanut butter for a while, because on a previous backpacking trip I never ate the PB I packed bc I never wanted to eat it. So I kinda wrote off eating PB while backpacking. In NorCal, after being sick of tuna and salami, I decided to give it a try and I can’t believe I waited so long. Bagels are heavy, but high in calories, and so is peanut butter. I loved the Skippy Natural w/ Honey kind. I used the Smuckers Squeezable Strawberry jam. It’s heavy and not very caloric, but necessary to add moisture and flavor. It is just so yummy and I highly recommend this as a good backpacking lunch. I could go ~6-7 days on one jar of PB and Jam, so about 2 resupply stops, meaning in town #2 I only needed to buy more bagels!

  • Packed Out Town Food: I didn’t do this nearly as much as I should! But it was always great to have town food for the first lunch back on trail: pizza, burritos, sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, etc.

 Packed out pizza - amazing!

Packed out pizza - amazing!

 One of my fave lunches

One of my fave lunches

Dinner

I always looked forward to dinner time! Dinner signified the end of my hiking day. I usually ate it in my quilt, in my tent, in a partially upright position. I cold soaked for the majority of the trail, and all of my dinners were either cold soaked or cooked. If there was no protein in the main part of dinner, which was usually the case, I added a meat stick for protein and fat.

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 So many mashed potatoes

So many mashed potatoes

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  • Knorr Rice Sides: These were a huge staple in my dinner diet. I got sick of the broccoli & cheddar flavor early on, but all of the other ones are great. I was always excited when the Asian flavor one was in the store, which almost never happened. I ate these cold soaked and hot. Cold soaking took ~4 hours to get everything nice and soft.

  • Ramen: Another huge staple. I love ramen and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it. I didn’t do anything fancy with it, just the full pack + full flavor pack. Beef & Chili were my favorite flavors, and I ate the Top Ramen and Maruchan brands. I also ate this cold soaked and hot. When I was feeling extra fancy, sometimes I splurged for the large Shin ramen brand packs with veggie and spice packs.

  • Mashed Potatoes: Idahoan brand all the way. I had to be careful here: I knew I could get sick of these fairly easily, so I made sure to only have one per resupply, sometimes leaving them out entirely. My favorite flavors were loaded, garlic, and baby reds. The baby reds had a nice texture, with a little crunch, which was nice. I also did these cold and hot, and though I am a fan of cold soaking, I will admit that they taste better hot. Some people make a creation called a Ramen bomb, which is a pack of ramen + some mashed potato flakes. I never did this, but its pretty popular.

  • Couscous: I liked the Near East brand pine nut and garlic flavors. I didn’t have couscous very often, For some reason I couldn’t really stomach eating a whole box in one sitting, and got bored of the flavors. I did have it occasionally though and would split one box into 2 ziplocs for 2 dinners. Not a lot of calories this way though, so I’d have to make sure to eat more chips and maybe 2 meat sticks or something. I like couscous in real life, not sure why I had a slight aversion to it on trail. I only cold soaked couscous.

  • Annie’s Mac & Cheese: Can’t really gush enough about annie’s mac & cheese. I loved the shells, white or regular cheddar. This was probably the best part of using a stove, as you can only cook pasta. Cold soaking just doesn’t work for it. So yeah, mac & cheese is the best and idk who you are as a person if you don’t like it. This does use a decent amount of fuel and time to cook, but its not too bad.

  • Dehydrated Meals: Mountain House, Backpacker’s Pantry, Good to Go, etc. Those are my favorite brands, and when I used a stove, I ate them occasionally. I never bought them (they’re definitely more expensive than ramen!), but my mom loved buying and sending them to me. Thanks mom! These usually had protein in them, so I didn’t eat meat sticks when I had one of these around.

  • Knorr Pasta Sides: Never really got into this. You definitely can’t cold soak these, and I craved mac & cheese for pasta when I had a stove. If I carried a stove for the whole trail, I probably would have dabbled in these more.

  • Meat: For fat & protein, I’d add a meat stick to these super carby meals. Sometimes beef jerky, sometimes a tuna packet (but hardly every that bc I’d get sick of too much tuna). Chef’s Cut BBQ chicken was my favorite flavor. I also loooove Slim Jims. I liked the Tillamook brand for a bit, but then got really grossed out by the texture. Epic meat bars were amazing. The Bison cranberry bacon flavor was my favorite. However, these didn’t have as many calories and fat content as chef’s cut and slim jims, and were heavier. I’m picky about beef jerky, so only got it when I knew I liked the brand (like in Yosemite!).

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Food Summary

Overall, I was pretty happy with my food. The only thing I truly got sick of was tuna. On a future thru-hike, I would probably eat like this again. I think variety is really key when you’re on a thru-hike. Don’t only buy Clif bars or Ramen, because you’ll probably get sick of it real fast. If you feel like you’re getting sick of something, try to trade on trail, and make sure you don’t buy that thing in the next town. Give it a week or so, and you’ll probably be ok eating whatever it is again. I never held back on food cravings. You really don’t have to. You’re burning so many calories that you don’t have to feel bad about eating a whole box of Oreos! So if you see something in the grocery store and you’re just like, YES I need to eat that, then buy it. You’ll smile every time you eat it on trail.

If I was going to dabble in sending more boxes or for a hike that didn’t involve resupply, I’d want to experiment at home a little bit more with dehydrating my own food. There are definitely down falls to eating crap, and although I didn’t necessarily feel depleted, I probably was lacking in certain nutrients. It would be nicer to eat healthier on shorter thru-hikes too, when you might not have enough time to lose a lot of weight and eating terrible foods will catch up to you faster. I’d definitely experiment in making meals higher in fat content, and maybe try making my own breakfast bars that are more nutritious and filling.

I hope this was helpful if you’re in the midst of trying to figure out your re-supply strategy! As always, leave a comment, or send me an email if you have more questions.

A Day in the Life on the Pacific Crest Trail

Thru-hiking is pretty awesome. You get to see beautiful places, eat whatever you want, sleep under the stars every night, breathe fresh mountain air. What more could you ask for? Thru-hiking is great, and it is also incredibly glamorized. It’s not like a regular backpacking trip for most people. In order to successfully finish a thru-hike like the PCT within the weather window, sacrifices have to be made. This post isn’t meant to dissuade anyone from hiking, but to show you what you actually do all day on a thru-hike. This is what a normal day looked like for me, for over half of the trail (NorCal - Washington). And after that day finished, I woke up and did it all over again. You probably know most of this already if you read all of my blog posts, but maybe not, so here it is. :)

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4:30 AM: Alarm Goes Off

*My first alarm goes off* I always woke up to my first alarm until Washington, where I struggled because of how dark it was in the morning. I’d change into my hiking clothes, deflate my sleeping pad, stuff my pad, pillow, quilt, sleeping clothes into the liner bag in my pack, take my morning meds, put my electronics away and in my pack. Look at my water bottles to remind myself how much water I had. Check Guthooks for next water source based on how much water I had. Start throwing stuff outside of my tent, put shoes on, pack food bag, take down tent, and then I was off. If I really had to go to the bathroom, that was the first thing I did. Otherwise I went right before leaving. For 90% of the time I hiked with Hot Mess & Butters, I’d wake up at 5. Sometimes we woke up really early though. But I was pretty much waking up at 4:30 after we split up bc the days in NorCal were so hot, hotter than the Desert.

5:30 - 6:00 AM: Begin Hiking, Eat Breakfast

The time I started hiking depended on when I woke up and how warm it was. I was faster at getting ready when it was warm, and if it was warm, I’d be waking up earlier anyways to hike more in the cooler weather. Some days in Washington I didn’t start hiking until 6:45. I ate my Belvita or Poptart first thing, while drinking my Carnation breakfast mix.

 Hiking as the sun rises is amazing

Hiking as the sun rises is amazing

6:00 AM - 1:00 PM-ish: Hike

I always tried to get the majority of my miles in before lunchtime (~15-17 miles). Generally, I’ll stop for water at some point in the morning, depending on water sources and how much water I started the day with. This break is about 10-15 minutes long. Sometimes as long as 30 min if there are people to socialize with. I rinse my drink mix bottle so it doesn’t get moldy, and I eat a snack. I also try to time it so I’ll be at a water source for lunch, so I don’t have to carry extra lunch water. I eat a snack every 1.5-2 hours while hiking; do not stop to eat, generally.

Think about life, have song lyrics stuck in my head, pee break, curse climbs, take pictures of pretty things, check Guthooks to see when the climb will be over, fantasize about town food, keep re-calculating my speed in my head, pee break, check Guthooks to see where a good lunch spot would be (near water). When hiking with people: talk. Sometimes talked to myself out loud. Sometimes listened to music/ podcasts.

 The PCT isn’t all stellar views

The PCT isn’t all stellar views

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Lunch

I made myself hike a minimum of 12 miles before eating lunch, even through Washington. Sometimes lunch would be closer to 12 pm, but I generally started it in the 12-2 pm time frame, and took an hour to sit down and eat. When I was hiking with friends, this was nice socialization time, and I took small naps in the Desert and Sierra, and our lunches were a little longer (up to 2 hours). By myself, lunch was lonely bc no one was around, so I ate faster and took a shorter lunch.

I’d take my shoes and socks off, eat lunch. I would filter water, move some into my drink mix bottle, add an electrolyte supplement to it. Sometimes drank that water at lunch, sometimes drank it first after lunch. I’d get all my trash I’d accumulated in the morning into my trash ziploc. I’d change into my second pair of socks. Right before leaving, I brushed my teeth. I’d check Guthooks to see what the afternoon looked like terrain-wise, and roughly calculated a spot where I’d want to sleep. This all depended on when I started hiking again.

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 Desert lunches always involved finding shade & taking Siestas, and sometimes would be 4 hours long!

Desert lunches always involved finding shade & taking Siestas, and sometimes would be 4 hours long!

2:00 PM - 7:00 PM: Hike

I’d generally get 10+ miles done after lunch. I was usually more tired after lunch, so I’d put on a podcast or music or audiobook to get me pumped up again, or to distract myself from how tired I was/ how hard the climb was. In the second half of my hike, I listened to some form of entertainment in the afternoon 90% of the time. I tried to keep the entertainment for the afternoon only, not the morning.

Probably have to stop to filter water again; check Guthooks to see if water is nearby where I want to camp. If not, make sure I have enough water for the rest of the day, dinner, and the morning until the next water source. If cold soaking, take the “dinner water” and start cold soaking dinner, around 4-5 PM. Check Guthooks around 5 pm to see if I’m still on-track for the campsite I’d roughly picked out during lunch. Adjust accordingly based on if there’s a climb to camp or a downhill, and how tired (or not tired) I am.

Eat more snacks when I’m hungry, get distracted from podcasts bc I start thinking about random things, take more pretty pictures, fantasize about more town food, pee break, maybe #2 break. Look at Guthooks more than I should to see how much progress I’ve made. Start really picking up the speed as 7 PM approaches - generally my cut off time for hiking, as that time allowed me to do evening chores before bed.

 Sunset came earlier and earlier in Washington. If I got to camp by 7-7:15, I’d be eating by headlamp.

Sunset came earlier and earlier in Washington. If I got to camp by 7-7:15, I’d be eating by headlamp.

7:00 PM - 7:30 PM: Set Up Camp

Send Garmin inReach message to my parents. Go #2 maybe. Set up my tent, crawl into it, blow up sleeping pad and pillow, get quilt out, plug in electronics that need to be charged. Take baby wipe shower and get into PJs. Sometimes take a Benadryl. Examine and massage feet.

 I’d like to personally thank Good Man Gramps for this, and many other campsite suggestions.

I’d like to personally thank Good Man Gramps for this, and many other campsite suggestions.

7:30 PM - 8:15 PM: Eat Dinner

Sometimes did this in my tent. If around people, ate dinner and socialized with them outside unless it was super cold, then we socialized from our tents. I always ate dinner out and away from my tent in the Sierra, because I’d have to pack the bear canister and put it somewhere far from my tent. While eating I also transferred/ filtered water, made my Carnation drink mix in my water bottle, and took out all my morning snacks for the next day and put them in my snack pocket (except in the Sierra. I had to do this part in the morning, which meant I had to wake up 15 min earlier those mornings). After dinner, I’d squirt some water into my cup and swirl it, drinking the grey water.

 Eating dinner can sometimes be the most miserable part of the day (*cough* Yosemite *cough*)

Eating dinner can sometimes be the most miserable part of the day (*cough* Yosemite *cough*)

8:15 PM - 9:00 PM: Bedtime Things

After dinner, I packed my food bag up, and other loose items/ toiletries. Put on any extra layers I needed, and then crawled into my quilt. I spent the rest of my night writing my blog post and choosing the pictures I wanted in it, then edited them and put them in my special album on my phone. Before going to sleep, I’d check Guthooks and see what the first part of tomorrow looked like, and also did some quick math to see how many miles I was from the next town, making sure I was still on schedule.

 Bedtime chores included tidying up so I’d have less to pack up in the morning

Bedtime chores included tidying up so I’d have less to pack up in the morning

So that’s that! As you can see, I basically hiked alllll day long. Sometimes interesting things would happen, but it was mostly just lots of hiking!

2018 PCT Gear List || POST HIKE

Overall, my gear list pretty much stayed the same from the beginning until the end of my hike, with only minor changes. Below you will find links to my LighterPack lists for each section of the hike. I’m going to use the same template for this post as my pre-hike list, but will be including some commentary on the items, especially if they were ditched or added to my set-up. I will be doing in-depth reviews on core pieces of gear, which you can view on my gear review page, and will do a separate post on clothing systems and layering, and what I think is really appropriate for a PCT thru-hike from Spring - Autumn. This is like, 99% accurate. There are some toiletries that possibly changed during certain parts of the trail, parts of my first aid kit got depleted or I threw some things away, etc. But for the most part, this is accurate, especially for the important items.

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PACK:

  • Zpacks Arc Haul - overall good
    • lined w/ Gossamer Gear pack liner - liner tore, repaired w/ duct tape fine. Used 1st bag from Campo-Ashland, 2nd bag from Ashland-Manning Park. Would use again.
    • Customizations: 1 shoulder pocket, 2 hip pockets, lumbar pad, ice axe loop (1 side only), V-strap top closure - Did NOT use V-strap closure, ended up not liking how it cinched down. Everything else was perfect.

Shelter:

  • Zpacks Duplex Tent - Loved
  • MSR mini groundhog stakes (8) - Fine. The pulleys would break. I probably replaced all 8 at some point just because I liked being able to pull on the string to get them out of the ground. Durable, stayed in ground really well.

Sleeping:

  • Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt - Loved everything about this
    • Customizations: 10*, 950 fill, short, wide
  • Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad - Short w/ stuff sack - Ditched stuff sack, and pad. Did not enjoy having the pad only go down to my knees. I would kick my backpack out from under me and my legs would have no support.
  • ADD: Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad - Women's - I liked that this pad was full length, and I already owned it.
  • Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad - 1/8" - This was just a hassle and a ton of dirt got onto it when I layed it down and the point of it was so I wouldn't have to sit in the dirt. Before getting rid of it completely, I cut it down to a sit pad size, but threw that away too.
  • Sea to Summit Aeros UL regular pillow - I almost sent this home at the beginning bc I couldn't get comfortable using it, but after 2-3 weeks I was in love.

Cooking:

  • Talenti soaking jar - Replaced every so often, stopped carrying for good at Snoqualmie Pass. Perfect size for 1 pack of all the classic cold soaking foods
  • Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon - Long - No complaints. Good utensil. Still amazed I didn't lose this ever.
  • Zpacks 14 L food bag - No complaints. Held up well, no holes or tears.
  • Gallon Ziploc trash bag - the best trash bag.
  • ADD: Snow Peak LiteMax Stove - Carried in the Sierra and Washington. If I were to do this again, would continue to cold soak in the Sierra, only bring stove for WA.
  • ADD: Toaks 750 mL cup pot - Carried in the Sierra and Washington. If I were to do this again, would continue to cold soak in the Sierra, only bring stove for WA.
  • ADD: OpSak Medium - Carried in Sierra to store overflow food that would not fit in bear canister during first 1-2 days after resupply.
  • ADD: BV 500 Bear Canister - Carried in Sierra from Kennedy Meadows South to Kennedy Meadows North. Requirement. Would carry this again because the lighter options are way too expensive.

Water:

  • Sawyer Squeeze filter - Great filter, probably wouldn't change my filtering system.
  • Smartwater 1 L Dirty x2 - In the desert, I kept both bottles "clean". Had 1 clean and 1 dirty in the Sierra & NorCal. Only carried 1 clean 1 L in OR & WA.
  • Smartwater 0.7 L Clean x1 - Kept a 0.7L bottle with me at all times. Used for drink mixes.
  • Evernew 1.5 L bladder x2 - Ditched one of the bladders at KM South.
  • CNOC 2 L bladder x1 - Kept this through the desert, but had some issues with leaking, so could never trust it to store water. Left in hiker box at KM South.
  • ADD: Smartwater 1.5 L Dirty - Added this is OR & WA because it made things easier.

Clothing Packed:

  • Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Jacket w/ Hood - I love this jacket so much. It was the perfect amount of insulation for me in all parts of the PCT. I didn't wear it much in NorCal + Oregon bc of how hot it was.
  • Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Long Sleeve Top (sleep shirt) - Another winner. I never felt like I needed something warmer or heavier to sleep in. On the contrary, some nights I would wake up with sweat on my chest bc I was too warm. I liked to wear something though bc I'm not a fan of my skin touching sleeping bag material.
  • Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Base Layer Bottoms (sleep pants) - Again, perfect thickness. Never needed anything warmer for bed. These pants did get snags in them and run, so I had holes in my butt, so you shouldn't sit on rocks/ trees directly while wearing them.
  • Montbell Tachyon Wind Pants - Unfortunately, these didn't work out for long. They acquired holes along the seam on the inner thigh and I put so much duct tape on them that they were probably 3 times heavier than the actual product. They did keep me warm, though, and I carried them until Donner Pass when I finally threw them away.
  • Frogg Toggs Ultralite Rain Jacket - These held up ok initially, besides some places I needed to use duct tape to patch. They were an excellent warmth layer while they lasted. In NorCal after I got a bad sunburn, I hiked with this on, unzipped, for the better part of a week to fully protect my arms. This was the final nail in the coffin. It got destroyed after that. I threw this out in Belden when I got my new OR rain jacket.
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  • Injinji Midweight Crew Socks - Love these socks! They were pretty durable. The longest I wore one pair until they got a hole was from Donner Pass to White Pass!
  • Darn Tough Midweight Crew Socks (sacred socks) - These were my sleep socks, only to be worn when it was very cold, and never allowed to leave my pack liner so they wouldn't get wet. I used them mostly in Washington, but on a handful of nights in each section.
  • The North Face E-tip Gloves - I carried these for too long. I maybe wore them twice in the Sierra when we started hiking before the sun rose, and literally never again. I ditched them in NorCal, picked them up for Oregon, and traded them out in Washington. I am not really a glove person, and these were simply too thick and warm for me (and they're considerd thin)
  • Post-pedicure "flip-flops" - Camp shoes - This was such a hopeful attempt at UL camp shoes. They broke on my first night. I picked up oversized flip flops in Warner Springs, and then purchased Croc sandals in Big Bear.
  • ADD: Icebreaker Beanie - I purchased this in Warner Springs bc I had a few cold nights early in the desert and thought a beanie would help. It really didn't and I hardly ever wore it bc when I did, it just rode up on my head, and didn't cover my ears, which were the things that were actually cold. Despite this, I carried it the whole time (except in NorCal), until I found a replacment in Portland.
  • ADD: Mountain Hardware Waterproof Gloves - I sent these to myself for the Sierra so that I would have a warmer glove. Spoiler Alert, its not actually very cold in the Sierra and these were definitely overkill. I never wore them. I sent them to myself for WA, but ended up swapping them for the Montbell rain mitts (see below).
  • ADD: Croc Sandals Camp Shoes - I picked these up in Big Bear Lake. I didn't wear the sandals that often on the trail - mainly when I was going to the bathroom in camp, after I already took my shoes off - but they were helpful in town. They were also completely useless when they got wet, so I couldn't use them as a water shoe without fear of slipping and injuring myself. I loved having flip flops in town, especially since it was usually really hot, but I would mostly look scornfully at them while on trail, cursing their extra weight and volumne.
  • ADD: Darn Tough Ankle Socks - I picked up an extra pair of socks for the Sierra, to have a total of 3 hiking socks, but this was unnecessary, since it was always sunny enough in the Sierra to completely dry out the previous day's wet socks.
  • ADD: Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket - I swapped this jacket for the Frogg Toggs in Belden. I've had it before, and I'm not this jacket's #1 fan, but this does the job on a PCT thru-hike. I mainly used it as a warmth/ emergency layer/ to do my laundry in until it started raining in Washington, and I thought it did a good enough job in the rain: Trapped in enough heat to keep me warm, but not too much that I was profusely sweating under it.
  • ADD: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants - I bought these when I bought my OR jacket bc they were on sale. For some reason, I held onto them throughout all of NorCal and Oregon, which was NOT necessary. Don't ask me why I didn't send them ahead, laziness I guess. I mainly wore them while doing laundry. They were super great to wear in Washington though, when it was actually cold and rainy. They did get tears along the inner lower leg seam. Hot Mess & Butters also had this problem. It appears to be a weak spot on the pants. It wasn't a big enough problem to render the pants useless, but I will be warrantying them.
  • ADD: Montbell Zeo-Line L.W. Balaclava - I picked this up to replace the Icebreaker beanie I purchased in Warner Springs. It was a much better layer for me, and I wore it most nights in Washington.
  • ADD: Montbell Zeo-Line Lightweight Gloves - I bought these in Portland, replacing my North Face gloves. These were lighter and better at wicking sweat. I wore them to sleep a few nights in WA, and wore them a few times on cold days in WA.
  • ADD: Montbell UL Shell Mittens - Instead of carrying the heavy Mountain Hardware waterproof gloves I had, I swapped for these to wear over the LW liner gloves. They were only annoying when I wanted to use my phone and take pictures, but I usually didn't need to do this when it was raining. I was very happy with my much lighter weight glove set-up in Washington.
  • ADD: Extra Pair Injinji Socks - Definitely a good idea in Washington! While the extra pair of hiking socks was unnecessary in the Sierra, having a third pair of dry socks in Washington was great since it wasn't sunny and warm enough to dry a pair of socks, even with them hanging off my pack all day.
  • ADD: Patagonia Capilene Thermal weight Hoodie - I threw this into my Cascade Locks box to wear in Washington, and it was the best idea I had. It was a perfect layer over my short sleeve shirt on cold, sunny days.

BATHROOM/ TOILETRIES:

  • Deuce of Spades trowel
  • Compact travel toothbrush
  • Travel-sized toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Lip balm w/ SPF
  • Small stick sunscreen
  • Mini nail clippers
  • Mini Tweezers
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Mom's Stuff Salve
  • ADD: Small lotion bottle
  • ADD: Tube of Vagisil - Amazing for preventing and healing chafe
  • Small Body Glide - Sometimes carried. Good for chafe hot spots during the day.
  • Wet Wipes - Always had a pack with me. Gave myself a baby wipe bath almost every single night on trail.
  • Personal rx meds
  • Toilet paper for #2

Safety:

  • Garmin InReach Explorer+ - Great! I sent out a preset message to my parents every night that I didn't have cell service. The message only didn't go through once, on a night with bad weather in Washington. My parents and family like to track progress on the synced online map based on my nightly location messages.
  • Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife - Worked as I needed it to: cut salami, tape, etc.
  • Bic mini lighter - Of the "click ignition" variety. I found that these click ones didn't work at high altitudes. I had to borrow Hot Mess's lighter throughout the Sierra (thanks bud!).
  • First aid kit: leukotape, alcohol wipes (2), band-aids (4), antibiotic ointment (1), small amount of ibuprofen, TUMS, benadryl, immodium. - Never needed alcohol wipes or band-aids. Used A LOT of ibuprofen, benadryl, and Claritin.
  • Repair kit: needle, duct tape, thermarest repair, cuben fiber tape, tenacious tape. Needed to use all of these items at some point on the trail, except for the thermarest repair.
  • Maps: Halfmile, Guthooks, Gaia on iPhone, carry paper back-up in Sierra, Washington. Never used Halfmile app, never carried paper map back-ups.

Electronics:

  • Petzl Bindi headlamp - REI dropped the ball on this and didn't follow up with my pre-order, so I brought a different headlamp.
  • ADD: Black Diamond Iota Headlamp - Bought this after my Bindi order was not fulfilled. It was fine. Didn't have all of the features I wanted, lower lumens, slightly heavier, and no red light, but it was a good headlamp, great for camp and hiking in the dark right before sunrise/ after sunset.
  • iPhone 8 plus + case + charging cord - Used for so many things. Guthook app, camera, entertainment (podcasts, music, audiobooks). Held charge very well. Would only be at 70% battery at the end of the day in airplane mode with frequent music/ podcasting and guthook-checking.
  • Sony a6000 camera w/ f3.5-5.6 16-50 mm lens - Carried for the whole hike, but didn't use as often as I anticipated. Next hike I would carry differently: Rigged onto my shoulder strap, and with a weatherproof cover, instead of sitting in my side pocket.
  • Anker PowerCore II 20000 external battery (2 USB ports) - This was a really great power bank. I never ran out of battery. It was probably too much power than I needed, as I really only ever needed to charge my phone. My other devices (Garmin, headlamp, camera) held enough power that I only needed to charge them in town. I would carry a 10,000-15,000 mAh one next time.
  • Anker Powerport Speed 2 wall charger (2 USB ports) - Great charger, charged things very quickly, and fits into a socket sideways, so it won't block the other outlet. This was usually great, though sometimes, trail angels/ establishments would have large power blocks and my charger would end up blocking another outlet, which was mildly frustrating since I kind of bought this so I wouldn't block other outlets. Oh well.
  • Micro USB cord (Anker + Garmin + Sony + headlamp)
  • Earbuds - Apple, generic ones that come w/ iPhone - These things are champs. They resided in the breast pocket of my shirt 100% of the time, I put them through the wash and dryer multiple times and they still worked. I went through 2 pairs, but the first only broke after 1,100 miles when I stepped on them on the floor accidentally, and the next pair lasted from there to Canada!
  • Zpacks DCF small dry bag - Pretty good, but some holes wore into it.

Other:

  • "Wallet": ID, 1 credit, 1 debit, health ins card, small amount of cash - necessary, I used a Lululemon gift card holder/pouch that I use as my wallet IRL. Stored in a sandwich ziploc bag w/ my PCT permit and CA campfire permit.
  • Gossamer Gear Liteflex Hiking Umbrella - Only used in the desert. It was nice to have when it was really hot and I couldn't find any shade.
  • Sea to Summit Bug Net - Used in the Sierra and NorCal where the mosquitos and gnats were the worst for me.
  • Bandana - Pee rag. Needed to replace it once.
  • Tennis Ball - Brought this from home to use to roll out my feet. It came in handy during the first weeks on trail, ultimately I got rid of it in Tehachapi.
  • ADD: Extra Buff - Was gifted this by a trail angel in Julian and carried it the rest of the trail. It was a pot holder when I used a stove, a snot rag, and a spill clean-up rag.

Clothing Worn:

  • REI Sahara Long Sleeve Shirt - This was a great shirt! I ultimately switched out for the short sleeve version, just because I wanted to tan my arms and was tired of constantly wearing a long sleeve.
  • Lululemon On the Fly Shorts - I really liked these shorts. The pockets were huge, they were durable, comfy, and stretchy. However, they bled color onto my shirt, and the thick waistband held onto sweat excessively.
  • Patagonia Active Mesh bra (old version) - This bra was amazing. It's my favorite sports bra for hiking. Comfy, not itchy, wicked sweat well. I'm sad they don't make it anymore, because I want more.
  • Icebreaker Siren Bikini Underwear - Merino wool - Only carried 1 pair of underwear and it was fine. Never got a UTI, used my pee rag 90% of the time.
  • Injinji Midweight Crew socks - Love these socks!
  • Altra Lone Peak trail runners - Used the 3.0s, 3.5s (mens & womens), 4.0s. the 4.0s happened to be my favorite!
  • Rx transition glasses - Oakley. Pretty much hated my glasses bc of the way they looked on my face and the lenses never got dark enough, making me look ridiculous in photographs. Can't wait to get LASIK!
  • Dirty girl gaiters - Only wore in the desert, but wish I also wore them in NorCal and Oregon.
  • Buff regular - Wore exclusively on my head in OR & WA, used as a pillowcase cover at night, so it was probably covered in drool.
  • Patagonia Trucker Hat - Wore throughout California, but it started getting itchy on my forehead and bothersome, so I sent it home.
  • Outdoor Research Sun Gloves - Only used these in the desert
  • Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork hiking poles (& tent poles) - I sort of broke my first pair bc the bottom wore down so much while I had the tech tips on them. Thankfully, my mom had the same pair, so she sent me hers in Chester and I mailed mine back home. Her's had the carbide tips on, which I would recommend over the tech tips. Did not have any issues with the poles for the second half of the trail.
  • ADD: REI Sahara Short Sleeve Shirt - I really liked the short sleeve version. I felt more free, and liked my arms tanning.
  • ADD: Patagonia Strider Shorts - These shorts were great! Quick-drying, very comfy and lighweight. Not as durable as my other shorts (they got a hole in the butt from a log), but I liked them.

Sierra:

  • Kahtoola Microspikes - Loved having these in the Sierra. They made me feel much more secure on the snow. I sent them home in Mammoth Lakes since there wasn't much snow north of there.
  • CAMP Corsa Ice Axe 60 cm - Never used my ice axe, it stayed attached to my pack during the whole time in the Sierra. I can't comment on whether someone should carry one or not, but I really only carried it because I didn't want to not have it, fall down a slope, and be blamed for not carrying one. It's a personal decision, and if the snowfall is above 50% of normal, or you are entering the Sierra pre-June, I guess I would bring it again.
 Rain jackets that transform into skirts are good for laundry day

Rain jackets that transform into skirts are good for laundry day

Gear I Won’t Shut Up About

I did a lot of research on gear prior to beginning the PCT. A LOT. I’m a gearhead. I like gear, I like collecting it, I like reading reviews on it. I poured over gear lists of previous hikers to find commonalities between what they used and liked the best. And after using most of this gear for 2,700 miles, I’ve developed some obsessions. These are the pieces of gear you’ll probably hear me talking about the most (sorry to all of my friends who literally don’t care and will probably have to hear this in person at some point).

 Hot Mess also had an EE quilt that he liked

Hot Mess also had an EE quilt that he liked

  • My Whole Sleep System. Obsessed. I’m in love with my quilt, and I’ll recommend the Enlightened Equipment Enigma 10* to anyone, or at least, every woman who wants to hike the PCT (men can get away with the 20*). The customizations of short & wide worked out really well for my body and sleep style (mostly a side-sleeper). I was never claustrophobic, a problem I encountered with basically every classic sleeping bag I’ve tried. I was never cold in the middle of the night once my body got a chance to warm the quilt up. I felt like it was my little home, and snuggling up in my quilt at night was one of my favorite activities on the PCT. My sleeping pad, the NeoAir Xlite Women’s was great. Super light, slightly higher R-value than the unisex one, so comfortable. Once I hit NorCal, I was more comfortable on my pad than in a real bed. And my pillow! I hated it for about the first 2 weeks. I couldn’t get comfortable with it. But after I finally got used to it, it was wonderful. It’s so light, I don’t know why you would be a gram weenie and skimp on it.

  • My Montbell Balaclava. I wasn’t even going to go to Portland when I got to Cascade Locks, but this balaclava I picked up at the Montbell store there made it all worth it. I struggled with my beanie the whole hike: it just didn’t stay on my head. This balaclava went on my head immediately after getting to camp almost every night in Washington. I like the ability to wear it under your chin, over your chin, over your mouth, or over your nose, and the ability to not wear the hood. Its just so versatile! There’s a little bendy piece at the nose part so you can kind of hold it to your face better. It was the perfect layer to sleep in! I also would have worn it in the early morning, but my thermal layer had a hood, which was sufficient. Next hike though, I would bring a thermal layer w/o a hood, and use this, which would save a couple oz.

  • My Tent. The ZPacks Duplex truly is an amazing tent. I had some struggles with it in the desert: camping with groups was difficult at times because it had a big footprint, I was still perfecting the pitch, etc. I even contemplated switching out for by Big Agnes. But, towards the end of the desert and into the Sierra, I finally appreciated how great this tent was. It’s so simple, so lightweight, and actually pretty versatile. I couldn’t believe I’d thought about not using it. Once I got the hang of things, I could set it up in under 5 minutes. The big doors were great, and its SO light. And it was a PALACE inside for just myself and my gear. I actually called it “The Palace” because it looked so regal, like a castle. And also because it was huge. I got some micro holes in the top that I repaired w/ cuben fiber tape, which has held up well. There were some other small ones I was too lazy to fix bc of how small they were, but guess what? I was poured on in Washington multiple nights and I never got wet inside the tent (except for that one night, but I think that was due to my pitch and how slanted the ground was). But it rained after that night and I was bone dry. I would 100% recommend it to anyone about to embark on the PCT if its in their budget. I will continue to use it, but I may look into other lighter, smaller options on a future solo thru-hike (like the ZPacks Plexamid), just because I really don’t need that much space.

 Such a pretty tent

Such a pretty tent

Gear List Links:

PCT 2018 RECAP || Trail Stats

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I’m a nerd, and like statistics. It’s a fun way to organize and look at the hike in a very non-personal way (but also very personal because very few people probably have the same stats as me). I also get asked many questions like “how many miles did you hike per day?” and “how many times did you have to hitch hike?” And some of these I haven’t done the math on yet, and others I kept track of during the hike and had an exact number to give. I’m sort of stealing a template from Butters, who posted it to her blog about her’s and Hot Mess’s hike. Thanks, Butters! She also goes into some more in-depth info about the trail, reroutes, etc. that I really don’t want to go that much into, so you may want to give it a read! Also, their blog is super interesting as well, so if you’re looking for another blog that gives a day-by-day synopsis of the trail to learn more about trail life, or you’re wondering what happened to them after we split, go read it! So here are some interesting facts, numbers, and some completely random ones.

 Sometimes these signs were so accurate. Others times so, so wrong.

Sometimes these signs were so accurate. Others times so, so wrong.

The Pacific Crest Trail by the Numbers

The PCT is ever-changing. As of this post, 10% of the PCT is still on private land, and there are continuous efforts to move the PCT onto public land to ensure that access to the trail is permanent. That means the trail and its mileage can change over the years. For example, a new trail re-route added 2.6 miles to the trail this year, making it 2,652.6 miles long. There’s another proposal to move part of the trail in the desert. There are also detours, some more permanent than others, that are not taken into account in this “official mileage” like fire detours and endangered species detours. I will be using the mileages from Guthook, as that’s the app I used for my entire hike, and found it to be incredibly accurate, and really easy to get this information.

Total mileage: 2,652.6 miles

Total elevation gain: 461,668.3 ft.

Total elevation loss: 460,335.7 ft.

Total number of days on trail: 163

Total Average miles/day, including “zero days”: 16.3 miles/day

Total Average miles/day, NOT including “zero days”: 18.9 miles/day

Number of Zero Days: 23

Number of Nearo Days: 17

If you didn’t already know, a zero day is a day where no miles are hiked on the PCT. Meaning, no positive progress on trail is made. I make this distinction because there were days I hiked, but made almost no forward progress on the PCT itself. If this was due to a fire closure, and the miles were some type of forward progress (like the fire closures in the Goat Rocks, Glacier Peak, and Pasayten Wilderness areas) I counted this as a hiking day. If it was a resupply detour (like hiking out of Kearsarge Pass to Bishop), I counted that as a zero, because no PCT miles were hiked, even though I still had to hike. A nearo day is a “nearly zero day” and is defined differently by each hiker, and can change over the course of the trail. For ease of counting, I consider a nearo to be 10 or less PCT miles hiked in a day. Zero and Nearo days are essential to rest and recovery. Some people can take a lot less, some people take more. I tended to like to take my zeros in bunches, especially at the end of a section.

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Halfway Point: 1,326.3 miles

# of days to reach halfway: 92

# of days to finish: 71

average miles/day first half: 14.4

average miles/day second half: 18.7

As you can see, I completed the second half of the trail 21 days faster than the first half! It probably would have been more if I hadn’t been sick in Burney. The reason why it takes so much longer to complete the first half of the trail for many people is two-fold: 1. The desert & the beginning of the trail is just so new. You’re generally moving slower, and hiking less miles for a variety of reasons: getting used to trail life, preventing injury, socializing more, possibly spending more time in towns for rest & relaxation. Pack weight can be a factor too: water hauls can easily be 3+ L (6.6 lbs+) and if you’re not hiking big miles, your time in between resupplies will be longer, so you might be carrying 10 lbs of food for some of the 100 mile stretches. I remember in particular, the stretch between Big Bear and Wrightwood (Desert) to be long. It took me 6 days to do those 103.2 miles, but only took me 3.5 days to go from Castella to Etna (NorCal), a stretch of 98.5 miles. 2. The Sierra is another factor in the first half of the trail. Snow travel is inherently slower than dirt trail. And sometimes you’re not even walking in the Sierra. You’re postholing, you’re route finding and scrambling down rock, you need to take extra time to ford rivers. You’re dealing with altitude, which makes breathing harder, and you’re encountering the steepest trail you’ve seen so far. You’re also carrying more equipment and food, making your pack heavier. For myself, I did not feel like I had my hiking legs by the time I got to the Sierra. I think I acquired them sometime in Northern California ;). Once you get past the Sierra, you’re in full summer mode: the days are longer, the trail no longer holds snow, you’ve now hiked over 1,000 miles, the towns seem to be closer together, so you don’t have to carry so much food, and the terrain kind of gets easier in parts, so you’re really able to kick the hiking into higher gear.

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The Numbers by Section

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The Desert (Campo - Tehachapi):

Total miles: 566.5 mi

Total elevation gain: 95,290.7 ft.

Total elevation loss: 94,359.9 ft.

Average grade: 334.8 ft/mi

Total days spent in the desert: 42

Zero Days: 5

Average miles/day: 13.5 mi

Average miles/day WITHOUT zeros: 15.3 mi

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The Sierra (Tehachapi - Echo Lake):

Total miles: 525.8 mi

Total elevation gain: 98,671.9 ft

Total elevation loss: 95,089.6 ft

Average grade: 368.5 ft/mi

Total days spent in the Sierra: 35

Zero Days: 5

Average miles/day: 15 mi

Average miles/day WITHOUT zeros: 17.5 mi

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Northern California (Echo Lake - CA/OR border):

Total miles: 599.4 mi

Total elevation gain: 102,558.1 ft.

Total elevation loss: 103,911.4 ft.

Average grade: 344.5 ft/mi

Total days spent in NorCal: 39*

Zero Days: 8*

Average miles/day: 15.4 mi

Average miles/day WITHOUT zeros: 19.3 mi

*I took 3 zeros with my family, and 4 zeros sick in Burney during this section, which was 4 zeros more than anticipated. I was also sun sick in Sierra City. Both of these illnesses set me back, in an unquantifiable way besides the zeros (my mileage surrounding those days was lower than normal as well). If you were reading my blog posts, you know this was incredibly frustrating, and in general, between my “Lakehouse Zeros” and my “Burney Zeros” I had a really difficult time finding a rhythm in Northern California.

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Oregon:

Total miles: 455.4 mi

Total elevation gain: 63,060 ft.

Total elevation loss: 69,058.1 ft.

Average grade: 290.1 ft/mi

Total days spent in Oregon: 24

Zero Days: 4

Average miles/day: 19 mi

Average miles/day WITHOUT zeros: 22.8 mi

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Washington:

Total miles: 505.5 mi

Total elevation gain: 102,087.6 ft.

Total elevation loss: 97,916.7 ft.

Average grade: 395.7 ft/mi

Total days spent in Washington: 25

Zero Days: 1

Average miles/day: 20.22 mi

Average miles/day WITHOUT zeros: 21.1 mi

Other Random, Fun Statistics

Pounds lost: ~15-20 lbs*

Pairs of Shoes: 5 (Altra Lone Peak 3.0 M’s: 1, 3.5 W’s: 2, 3.5 M’s: 1, 4.0 M’s: 1)

Miles hiked with a “tramily”: 1,195.4

Miles hiked solo: 1,457.2

 I hiked with Butters & Hot Mess the longest: about 700 miles (& I <3 them forever and ever)

I hiked with Butters & Hot Mess the longest: about 700 miles (& I <3 them forever and ever)

Rattlesnakes seen: 6

Other snakes seen: 16

Bears seen: 2

Bee stings: 2

Thunderstorms: 1

Fire Closures: 6** (1. Mountain Fire near Idyllwild, 2. Holcomb Fire near Big Bear, 3. Fire closing the official PCT in Crater Lake NP, 4. Miriam & Clear Fork Fires in Goat Rocks, 5. Bannock Lakes Fire near Stehekin, 6. Holman Fire near Canadian Border)

 Sometimes you wonder why there’s a fire closure when there’s snow on the ground.

Sometimes you wonder why there’s a fire closure when there’s snow on the ground.

Other Closures: 1 (Endangered Species detour near Wrightwood)

Collapsed Tents: 2

Cowboy Camps (sleeping under the stars, not in a tent): 7

Solo Camps (where no other hiker was camped within sight): 6

Number of times I fell down: 13

 I fell a lot in the snow. Pretty happy I didn’t die.

I fell a lot in the snow. Pretty happy I didn’t die.

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Number of times I tripped: LITERALLY CAN’T COUNT SO MANY

Resupply stops: 34***

All “town” stops: 44***

Number of times hitch-hiked: 18

  • Longest wait for a hitch: 45 minutes (from Kennedy Meadows North back to Sonora Pass)

  • Solo: 5

  • From Cops: 2

  • In an RV: 1

*I never got an accurate weight at the beginning of the trail, but I definitely started overweight, and I have a general idea of where I was, not giving a care in the world about the food I ate before starting. Obviously, I wanted to eat all of my favorite foods I knew I’d never be able to eat on trail (Thai, Indian, Poké, Pho). This isn’t necessarily something I would suggest, as it’s probably better to take some weight off of YOURSELF, so you have a lower chance of getting injured. Help your joints out, ya know? The exception: if you’re already at a healthy weight, don’t try to loose weight pre-trail! Especially if you are a man. The men always loose so much more weight. However, I weighed myself the morning after finishing (in a doctor’s office, no less), so I was able to estimate my weight loss a little. I think its way more noticeable in the way clothes fit: I went down at least one jean size (good thing my mom brought the smaller pair to Seattle!), and could probably have fit in jeans 2 sizes down.


 First day on trail. CHINZZZ.

First day on trail. CHINZZZ.

 Lots ‘o tummy

Lots ‘o tummy

 1 chin. CALVES. notice how much further my hip belt is cinched.

1 chin. CALVES. notice how much further my hip belt is cinched.

 There are muscles in those inner thighs I didn’t know existed.

There are muscles in those inner thighs I didn’t know existed.

**Fire Closures vary year to year. The two in Southern California have been closed for at least 1 year, the Mountain Fire having been closed since 2013. A new fire sprung up in the Mountain Fire area this summer, creating new challenges for the detour in the area. Southern California is so dry, so prone to fires. It is SO important to practice fire safety, and better yet, never have an open fire, as it’s usually illegal to in the area anyways. The Crater Lake fire was a relic from last year’s fires in Oregon. It closed the official PCT, which is better know as the “horse PCT”. Hikers almost never take the official PCT, opting for the Rim Trail instead, so we can actually see Crater Lake. The rest of my closures were in Washington. These will be temporary, and will most likely open next year for hikers. Of course, next year’s class will have other fires to contend with. Fire closures will also depend on the time of year you hike through certain areas. There are hikers who didn't have to deal with any “new” closures (aka the ones in Washington) because they were SOBO, or NOBOs who went through earlier in the season. Some people had it even worse: the CA/OR border was closed for a while, causing hikers to re-route through that, and the Canadian border was also closed at one point! You probably remember me stressing out about these closures if you read the blog, but know that I ultimately lucked out because I hiked through after the trail had re-opened.

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***I’m going to do a more thorough resupply/ food blog post, so stay tuned for more information about resupply & town stops in that one! I’ll go into this more in the post, but “town” is in quotes because sometimes “town” would be a lodge or community center or camping resort that’s not what a normal person would think of as a “town”, but it was some sort of civilization, so its what a hiker would consider to be “town”.

Day 163: mile 2641.6 to Canadian Border to Manning Park, B.C. to Seattle, WA

9.25.18. 11 miles to border. 8.5 miles to Manning Park Resort.

The last morning on trail. My alarm went off at 5:00, like usual, and like usual, I went back to sleep until about 5:20, trying to keep warm. It was so cold! I raised my arm and felt the condensation that had turned to ice on my tent wall. Double Down woke up and yelled “good morning!” to me, and we chatted, getting ready, not believing, but pretty happy this was our last morning on trail.

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We started walking together around 6:10, headlamps on, chatting about all of these “lasts” we were experiencing. The last wake-up, the last pop tart, the last sunrise, the last climb. The sunrise was truly beautiful. It was an amazing last morning on trail, despite how cold it was. We climbed the last climb together, less than 1,000 feet. I was marveling at the beauty, disappointed that I wasn’t able to see the Pasayten Wilderness from the PCT yesterday. As we reached the top, I passed Double Down since I’m faster at downhills than she is, and really took off. I saw a hiker I met back in Oregon who was making his way back to Hart’s Pass after tagging the border. I was only 6 miles away!

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I passed the lake I wanted to camp at, happy that I stopped early yesterday since I had a gorgeous morning and would not have made it to camp there before dark if I kept pushing. It was all downhill from there to the border. It was so peaceful. I was trying to reflect on my whole hike up until that point, but I couldn’t really concentrate, too excited to finally reach the border. I passed the last campsite on the trail at the junction with the Pacific Northwest Trail. 3 miles to go!

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I was really happy I kept my rain pants on all morning as the trail would pop out from the woods every so often and the overgrown brush was frosted. My pants looked soaked just from brushing up against the plants. The last 3 miles breezed by. Actually, the whole morning did. It was probably the fastest 11 miles I’ve ever hiked on the trail. Soon enough, I reached a little rock marker saying “1 mi left”. I had to pee, so took a quick pee break, knowing I wouldn’t want to at the terminus and wanting an empty bladder so I wouldn’t pee my pants with excitement at seeing it. The trail switchbacked down, every switchback I as wondering if this was it. I was trying to look at the mountains in the distance to see the clear cut of trees that signifies the border. And suddenly, I heard voices. I slowed down a little bit, turned the last switchback and saw the clearing.

 the last major views

the last major views

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I can’t really explain how I was feeling. I thought I would cry, but I didn’t. I walked right up to the terminus and touched it. Not really believing I was standing there, a place I’d seen in so many pictures. It was over. 2,652 miles of walking towards these wooden posts and there they stood. There were two other women there, having arrived just a little bit before me. I had them take my pictures with the monument. It was hard to climb since it was so icy! And the lowest post is so much higher than the one in the desert! After the photoshoot, I sat down next to them, reading through the trail log and adding my signature. I cheered as Cover Girl and Dune came up, then Double Down, and some other hikers I didn’t know. I hung out at the monument for almost an hour, until I couldn’t feel my fingers and toes anymore, and then walked into Canada.

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Of course, the hike into Canada started uphill, but, as I had hoped, I barely felt like I was climbing. Once the trail emerged into the sun, I took off both sets of gloves, and my rain gear. It was hot! I also put on a podcast, something I had refrained from doing in the morning. It was 4 miles uphill, and went by pretty fast. At the top was a campsite with a pit toilet, which I used. My last pit toilet on trail! And then it was downhill. Pretty steep downhill at times, and my knees were screaming at me. I ran into Double Down as I was descending, and we walked together for a bit. And like no time had passed, I was at the road in the park! I laughed as I passed an elderly couple sitting in portable lawn chairs by the river, the man was shirtless and sun tanning. I guess this might be the last warm day in Canada? It was just a funny sight. I then walked a trail that paralleled the road, eventually getting onto the road and taking it all the way to the resort.

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I could feel the emotion building in me as I was walking through the parking lot, trying to find my parent’s van. And then I saw my dad round the corner, and then my mom and Riley, and then I started crying. A lot. My parents had been so supportive of me this whole hike. Driving to meet up with me in places, mailing me things ASAP when I needed them, always throwing in things I didn’t ask for: dehydrated meals, cliff bars, and candy, FaceTiming with me in every town. They are my biggest fans. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them. After composing myself, we went to the van, and my mom handed me a gift: a custom-made wooden PCT trail sign from a company we follow on Instagram, with my trail name on the back. I started crying again. Once all the crying ended and I got my things loaded in the car, I realized I was really hungry. So we went to the restaurant and got some things to go, went back to the van, and took off for Seattle.

The border crossing at Sumas was pretty funny, as the agent couldn’t believe I hiked the length of the USA. He asked me lots of questions, which I sure is kind of a screening process, but made it sound like he was genuinely interested. He also asked for and took my Canadian Entry Permit paperwork (good thing I had it!). And then we were off to Seattle. Once we got to our favorite hotel in the U District, I peeled my dirty hiking clothes off of me (yes, I wore them the whole way back, I am hiker trash), threw them in a laundry bag, and showered for the first time in 10 days. I also got a good look at the bites I discovered on my thigh, and saw that they definitely had grown, so made a note to go to urgent care sometime while in Seattle. Then, we went to Staple & Fancy, an amazing restaurant, to celebrate finishing. It was pretty weird to think that I had woken up on trail, hiked almost 20 miles by 2 pm, and was sitting in a fancy restaurant eating the fanciest food in my favorite city, less than 12 hours after finishing the PCT.

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I didn’t have that much time to process the completion of the trail today, but I’m sure I will in the days and weeks to come. I want to thank everyone who has read my blog, followed along on Instagram, sent packages and letters, and messaged words of encouragement. I want to thank the countless trail angels for the rides, the sodas, and the wonderful conversation. And to the PCTA, and its volunteers, for keeping this trail protected, maintained, and loved. The Pacific Crest Trail has undoubtedly changed my life, for the better. And even through all the times I cursed at the trail, hated the trail, hated the sun or the rain, I loved the trail, and wouldn’t change my hike for anything.

Day 162: Hart’s Pass to mile 2641.6

9.24.18. 21.4 detour miles. 0.3 PCT miles. 21.7 total miles.

It was so cold last night. Definitely the coldest night on trail so far. I kept my filter in a ziplock bag in the foot box of my quilt to make sure it didn’t freeze. I woke up before 5 am needing to go to the bathroom (at least it was a pit toilet again!), and got right back into my quilt when I got back. I slept in until 6:20ish before getting ready. I packed up, walked back to the guard house and threw my trash out in the bin they let hikers use, and then continue up the gravel road to start the fire detour.

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It had been very tempting to ignore the fire closure and just hike the PCT. I met a couple of backpackers doing a loop yesterday and they hiked south through the closure and said the fire was never on the trail. The trail angels I met last night said that they talked to hikers who did the border tag and were coming back to Hart’s Pass, and they hiked through the closure as well. I guess I’m just too moral of a person to outright disobey a federal mandate, so I hiked the detour route, more miles and less scenic than the PCT.

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It was all uphill on the road to the trailhead, and there was snow and ice covering the ground and plants. It was also very cold and pretty windy once I reached the trailhead. I had to climb just a little bit more and then the trail descended down from Slate Pass into meadows and woods that were not icy, but very, very muddy. Not only that, but it was apparent a whole herd of horses & mules had recently walked this whole trail, and they had just torn up the trail with the mud. It was terrible and so difficult to walk and just so, so muddy.

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The trail wasn’t very scenic at all, and I was kind of bummed out that my last full day on trail was on a non-scenic detour that wasn’t even the PCT. I ate lunch around 1, having done around 13ish miles. I ate my last Stehekin cinnamon roll and a packet of ramen. What a classic lunch combo. After lunch, the trail undulated a bit and then started climbing after crossing a few forks of the Pasayten River.

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This part of the day was a bit prettier, with some meadow interspersed with forest and aspen trees, but a lot of the trail was overgrown and the tiny spiky branches of bushes whipped against my legs as I walked by, sometimes drawing blood. About halfway through this last trail, the climb got steeper, but that meant it was almost time to get back to the PCT!

 Views from my last campsite at Woody Pass

Views from my last campsite at Woody Pass

Finally, I was back on trail and had some nice views! I wanted to get further today so that my last day would be easier, but it was almost 6 pm when I got to the tentsites at Woody Pass, and the next spot wasn’t for another 5 miles, and I really just wanted to relax at camp instead of hike into the night. I camped with Double Down and we talked about the trail, marveling at how tonight is our last night of the whole hike. The last campsite. The last dinner. After some reminiscing, it’s like the universe knew it needed to throw something in there for the last night and I saw a mouse climb up my trekking pole that supports my tent! I smacked the pole and the mouse flew off. Of course, on my last night on trail, I’d see a mouse actively trying to get at my food. I placed my food bag outside of my tent. I don’t care if a mouse chews a hole in that, but I’d be sad if it chewed a hole in my tent on the last night!

 Eating my last meal - Annie’s white cheddar Mac - in my quilt in my tent wearing all of my layers

Eating my last meal - Annie’s white cheddar Mac - in my quilt in my tent wearing all of my layers

I still can’t believe this is my last night on trail. I spent so much time before the trail and on trail thinking about what tomorrow would be like. How I’d be feeling, what it would be like, how it would feel to finally see the northern terminus. I’ve seen so many pictures of it, I wonder if it will even feel real when I get there. It’s just so crazy to think this is finally happening and it’s all coming to an end. To be completely honest, I always knew I could finish this, but I never wanted to get my hopes set too high in case something out of my control prevented me from finishing. Or worse, letting fears and doubts - things completely in my control - overtake me and prevent me from finishing. But it’s actually happening now, and I still can’t believe it. Something I’ve dreamed about for a few years, something I’ve dreamed about more than anything else, will be coming to fruition tomorrow. I’m nervous and excited. And there will definitely be tears.

Day 161: Rainy Pass to Hart’s Pass (mile 2622)

9.23.18. 30.6 miles.

It didn’t rain too much last night. The hard rain stopped around 8 or 9, and it may have drizzled some more. My tent, rain jacket and pants were still super wet. I hate packing up wet stuff, much less putting wet gear back on. Thankfully, my shoes were a little drier and I had dry socks.

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I started hiking at 6:20. I immediately started climbing, the climb was not finished from yesterday. This was a little steeper though. I passed the spot I wanted to camp and was happy I didn’t go there: I was completely in a cloud the whole hike up and that tent site was in the thick of it. I leapfrogged with another hiker named Double Down throughout the morning.

 The last mile marker. I was freezing cold.

The last mile marker. I was freezing cold.

As I approached the top of the climb, the mist I was in was turning into snow! So I’ve officially been snowed on now. It was super light and actually so much better than rainy mist bc it’s not as wet.

 Packed out 1 cinnamon roll/ day for lunch

Packed out 1 cinnamon roll/ day for lunch

I could tell that the top of the climb should have good views, but there was so much fog and clouds I couldn’t see much. I was excited for the larch trees though! Some are already yellow, but most are still a yellow-green color. They’ll be beautiful in about a week I’m guessing! The trail undulated along the ridge for a while before descending a bit, then climbing again shortly to Methow Pass, before a long descent through woods. I took my lunch break by the Methow River, eating not only a cinnamon roll from the bakery, but also a dehydrated meal since I didn’t have it for dinner last night thanks to the trail angels. I met and chatted with Cover Girl (a man) and Dune.

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I was feeling very full after lunch, which didn’t help on the climb out. It wasn’t so steep, but definitely rocky at first, which I hate, and it took me a while to find a good rhythm. I worked up a sweat on the climb up and actually took off my rain gear, but at the top, it was windy and I could tell it would probably start getting misty again soon, so put it all back on. I was right. Soon, it started snowing again. Like I said though, so much better than rain.

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The trail went up and down a ridge for a little bit before another small climb and then a descent. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to Hart’s Pass, but once I got to the camp area before it and saw my timing, I decided to go for it, even though I’d need to finish the miles with a headlamp. I booked it down there and arrived around 7:30 pm. Low and behold, there were former hikers doing trail magic! They were waiting for some hikers to finish their border tag. I grabbed an orange from them, and found a campsite to set up in. I quickly set up with the snow falling around me, but like I said, so much better than if it was raining bc I was pretty dry & my rain gear was basically dry getting ready in my tent! So not a lot of really wet stuff in corners. And my feet were dry since the snow doesn’t really get to your socks in the way that the water does.

 Dark at 7:30 pm

Dark at 7:30 pm

I can’t believe I’m 30 miles from Canada! The feeling is unreal. I also can’t believe I did a 30 today. First in Washington! Sometimes when the weather is bad and you don’t stop to take lots of pictures, you just power through the day.

Day 160: Stehekin to Rainy Pass (mile 2591.4)

9.22.18. 19.5 miles.

Whew. Today was kind of rough. Actually, it wasn’t too bad until the end. I slept in a little, getting to go back to sleep after using the nice flush toilets at the campground. I got ready shortly thereafter though as breakfast started at 7:30 and I wanted to eat before the shuttle left at 8:15. I had to say goodbye to Dead Zone who was thinking about zeroing again or leaving later in the afternoon. I hope she took another zero based on the weather! I ended up eating with a girl named Stitch, who was raised in Half Moon Bay! What a small world. I think I was the first person on trail to know exactly where she’s from. And she knew Belmont, of course. After breakfast, I got on the first shuttle with a handful of other hikers. It took a little under an hour to get to the trailhead, with a stop at the bakery. Having already got my baked goods, I stayed in the shuttle.

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The hike out of Stehekin was nothing to write home about. Just low elevation forest, no views for the whole hike, and it was all uphill. Gradual, but still uphill. I leapfrogged with everyone on the shuttle for most of the first half of the day.

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It rained on and off throughout the day, but was actually pretty sunny at first. But, by the time I got to Rainy Pass, it was coming down real hard. Another fun thing: I got stung on the ankle by another bee! Right before getting to the highway. It was pretty painful, and every step stung. When I got to the trailhead, a former hiker from this year was doing trail magic with his wife! They had soup and pizza, which warmed my soul. I also got to sit in a chair to examine my bee sting. I couldn’t find a stinger, must have pulled it out with my sock, but my ankle was already swollen. I got the bite/ sting pad from my kit but it appeared to be dried out. I took a Benadryl instead.

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I was anticipating hiking another 3.5 miles, but it was raining so hard, I was soaking wet, and the bee sting was hurting, so I threw up my tent at the trailhead along with most of the other hikers who left Stehekin today. Hopefully I’ll just have to wait out the rain tonight and it will be sunny tomorrow.

​Day 159: Holden Village/ Stehekin Zero

9.21.18. 0 miles.

Today was just a really great day. I hadn’t anticipated on taking any zeros in Washington, but since I cranked out the miles the last few days and got to Holden Village last night, I was able to enjoy today off!

 All the hikers waiting for the shuttle

All the hikers waiting for the shuttle

I got up and was walking to the actual main village at 7:10, and would be there just in time for breakfast to start! As I was getting settled and figuring the place out, I saw Dead Zone!! It was such a lovely reunion. I was so happy to see her. Dead Zone skipped NorCal and the second half of Oregon, but wanted to hike Washington. I knew she was ahead of me, and I knew I’d catch up eventually, I just didn’t know where! So despite the breakfast being very lackluster at Holden Village (literally just different kinds of bread and yogurt w mix ins), it was great because I got to reunite with a friend. As I was making my way towards their table, I heard my real name being called and Captain was there!! I didn’t even recognize him with his beard! I met Captain leaving Mt. Laguna way back in the desert. How fitting to have met up with him again in the last town on the PCT when we met in the first one! The trail has a way of doing things like this. I met some other really nice people Dead Zone and Captain had made friends with.

 Kat, Stitch, and Dead Zone

Kat, Stitch, and Dead Zone

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After breakfast, I paid and got a ticket for the shuttle to go down to the dock to catch the ferry to Stehekin. I had some time to kill and went to the library to charge some things a little and read a backpacker magazine. At 10:30 I went back to the loading area and it was so funny seeing all of the hikers chilling on the stairs. We stick out so much, and stick together so much too. It makes my heart swell when I see a bunch of hiker trash hanging out together. I also ran into Mantis when getting ready here, who I hadn’t seen since I got sick in Burney! He was relieved to see that I was better and continued on the trail. We all loaded onto the school bus shuttle, which is possibly the worst smelling school bus in the world. I sat with Bernt, one of the hikers I met in NorCal and we chatted about Washington. He’s from Monroe.

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Once we got down to the landing, we only had to wait a little bit for the ferry to come. We loaded up our things, and once we got moving, bought our tickets and then drinks and snacks. The ferry ride was pretty short, and soon enough we were in Stehekin. I immediately went to the post office to get my box, which I had to wait a little while for since the postmaster was down at the dock getting mail from the ferry. I was relieved to have my box in hand: it contained my passport and Canada entry permit, which were essential to have to walk into Manning Park from the terminus! After sorting through everything, and grabbing some things at the store, Dead Zone and I tried to figure out the bakery situation. We ended up taking the free bakery shuttle to the bakery, but needed to take the $4 regular shuttle back to Stehekin. No problem. I needed that bakery to finish my resupply anyways, and we were hungry! So we went to the bakery and gorged ourselves! I got a quiche and strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode to eat there, and bought a cupcake, muffin, and another pastry thing there to eat later, AND three cinnamon rolls to complement my resupply. I’m living large these last few days on trail. After eating and singing Hamilton together (which I convinced Dead Zone to listen to back in the desert, even though she’s a Brit who didn’t think a musical about an American founding father could be that good, and now she’s obsessed....) and annoying everyone in the bakery, we got on the shuttle back to town, arms full of baked goods.

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 My bakery haul

My bakery haul

We got our stuff organized a bit and then got a permit to camp at the campground near the ranger station, not able to get a room in the lodge since there’s a wedding party here and all the rooms were booked. After setting up camp, we went back to where everyone was hanging out. Captain has been buying everyone beers and Mike’s Hard Lemonade (which brought back memories of freshman year of college). I had a few Mikes, the most drinks I’ve had on trail. He also bought EVERYONE burgers! Captain is literally one of the nicest, most generous people I know. I don’t even know how to repay him. Especially since he and his wife Alana, and Jim were my saviors when I left Mt. Laguna all those months ago in a terrible mood with thoughts of giving up on my mind. So I don’t know how to repay him, but I thanked him again for prepping me up back then. Who knows where I’d be if I hadn’t run into him.

 Me &amp; Captain

Me & Captain

Feeling a little tipsy and very tired, and not happy about the hard sprinkling and random winds gusts, Dead Zone and I went back to our tents after much socialization and WiFi usage. Now it’s time for bed and to finish up the trail!

 Happy Hikers

Happy Hikers

Day 158: mile 2535.2 to mile 2551.8 to Holden Village Campground

9.20.18. 16.6 PCT miles. 11 alternate miles. 27.6 total.

I again snoozed my 5:00 am alarm. I’m liking this new system. I eventually wake up between 5:20-5:30 which was my intention with the 5 am alarm, but I’m one of those people who are kind of against the snooze thing & would rather just wake up to my alarm at once. Oh well. The light sprinkles I heard on my tent got me going pretty quick. I did not want my tent to get too wet.

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I was hiking by 6:15, and soaring downhill, even though it was dark and I needed a headlamp. Usually I’m moving a little slower when it’s dark, but the trail was really smooth. I was 5.5 miles into the day in less than 2 hours. Then, the climbing started. Very gradual at first, with some undulating trail, then more constant uphill for about 5 miles. It was at a decent grade though and not too steep, so that was really nice, and I moved pretty well up the incline. The weather was weird all morning. Sun and blue sky, but then it would be sprinkling. Then it would be cloudy again. So bipolar.

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Of course when I sat down for lunch, the clouds were in, and it was drizzling a little harder, but still on & off. I cooked some ramen and ate other random snacks to decrease my pack weight. About halfway through my lunch, one of the hikers from NorCal who I’ve been leapfrogging with, Amanda, showed up and we ate lunch and chatted together. She’s really nice.

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After lunch, it was time to finish the remaining climb to the Cloudy Pass junction, where the Bannock Lakes Fire closure begins. The climb was steeper than the first part, but only about 2.5 miles, and went by fast. The views on the PCT were nonexistent all day, but when we got onto the Hart Lyman Trail alternate, the views were astounding! We climbed a little, descended, climbed again over cloudy pass, and the views really opened up. The mountains were incredible, I could see the glacier blue waters of Lyman Lake below the mountains, and the fall colors were in full swing in the meadows. It was amazing. All I can think about in my mind when I see views like that is to sing “The hills are alive, with the sound of music!”

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After ascending Cloudy Pass, the trail was downhill the rest of the way, with a few uphills, but not bad. My feet were hurting pretty bad, but overall the alternate was great. It’s a great trail with beautiful lakes, and the grade wasn’t terribly steep like the awful Goat Rocks detour. Only one more fire detour left to go!

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I was impressed with my speed. I started the alternate at 2 and got down to the Holden Village camping area at 6. Only one other person was there when I got there, but Amanda and her group came right after me. We all set up our tents, searched for and used the pit toilet, got water at the creek, and made dinner and talked at the picnic table. I like nights like these where I can relax and socialize. It definitely helps that tomorrow is a “town day” - we’re all just in a relaxed mood now that we’re not trying to cram any more miles into the day - because we went as far as we could!

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​Day 157: mile 2510.6 to mile 2535.2

9.19.18. 24.6 miles.

Boy, today was hard. So steep and so many blowdowns! And washed away trail! And super narrow trail that’s a trench that makes it hard to not trip or run into the sides of higher ground! These miles were probably the roughest I’ve faced collectively.

 not sketchy at all...?!

not sketchy at all...?!

 it’s getting frosty

it’s getting frosty

I woke up to my alarm at 5, but didn’t start getting ready until 5:30, still tired from yesterday. I was hiking by headlamp at 6:10. It’s so dark in the woods. The morning was not relaxing. So much overgrown trail, I felt like I was bushwhacking sometimes, and was smacked in the face and legs by thin branches as I walked by. I was immediately climbing after a more flat walk through these overgrown parts. Steeply uphill. It was a pretty hike, but I was hurting. I ran into some hikers I recognized from back in NorCal - Amanda, Bernt, and Hans. Finally at the top of the long climb, I took a small break to chat with those hikers and eat a snack. The view at the top was simply breathtaking. The mountains were dusted with snow, the alpine meadows below so green and littered with white stone.

 crazy blowdowns and navigating thru steep mud

crazy blowdowns and navigating thru steep mud

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I hiked a steep 1.5 miles down to Mica Lake, home to the bluest water I’ve ever seen. The perfect spot for lunch. I was joined by Sprinkles & Burps, and Burps even decided the water was so tempting, he had to jump in. In his defense, it was pretty warm in the sun on the rocks we were sitting on.

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After lunch, it was another 4 steep miles down to a bridge over a creek. My right knee has not been happy with these steep downhills and has been twinging every few steps as I go downhill. After the steep descent, of course we had a steep ascent right after. The trail went right up and over another mountain, directly across from the one we were on in the morning. We could even see the switchbacks of the climb across the valley from Mica Lake. The climb was about 4 miles, and seemed to drag on forever.

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Finally, I reached the top, and the trail descended a little and I walked through a pretty alpine meadow with beautiful mountain views before slightly ascending again, and then beginning the long descent down to another valley, where I’d be camping. I was practically sprinting down the trail, always trying to get to camp before 7 pm, so I can set up in the light. I always get there slightly later, and it’s usually fine enough to set up camp. I got to the campsite I wanted and there were TONS of tents. Where the heck did all these people come from?! They did not seem to be PCT hikers, and it looked too crowded, so I continued down the trail, hoping to find something decent, and found some dug out tentsites below the trail just a few yards away from the large, occupied camp spot. I hope the others behind me found places! There weren’t really any on the way down.

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Tomorrow will be an interesting day. The Bannock Lakes Fire has closed part of the PCT to Stehekin, so I need to take a detour to Holden Village to get to Stehekin. It’s going to be ~16.5 PCT miles, and then another 11 detour miles to Holden Village. We’ll see if I make it all the way to the town or stop short. I need to be on the 10:30 shuttle to the ferry to Stehekin on Friday, so it’s ok if I can’t make it all the way to Holden Village tomorrow, but I need to come close.

Day 156: mile 2482.5 to mile 2510.6

9.18.18. 28.1 miles.

Wow. Today was pretty dang hard, but also one of the most, if not the most, beautiful days on trail. My alarm went off at 5 this morning, more of a way to get me stirring earlier. I got up pretty much right away though bc I needed to go to the bathroom. After slowly changing and packing up, I was hiking by 6:15.

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I started off climbing first thing, and had the most amazing views. I thought I’d be in the clouds since it was so foggy at the lake, but I was above them, and so was Glacier Peak and Mt. Rainier. The sky was cloudless above the sea of fog that settled into the valley, and it was amazing.

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I descended for a few more miles before getting to water and taking a break to filter and eat a snack. As I started descending, I went into that sea of fog, but the way the sun lit up the fog and steamed though the trees was like the heavens shining on earth. Right after, there was a climb up to the ridge. The climb wasn’t too bad, and I went up pretty quickly. I saw Sprinkles & Burps at Lake Sally Ann, a beautiful alpine like with crystal clear water and chatted with them for a minute before continuing another mile uphill to my lunch spot on the top of a ridge, with plenty of sunshine to dry out my tent. Sprinkles & Burps joined me a few minutes later and we enjoyed lunch together with our magnificent view of Glacier Peak.

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After lunch, I descended for a bit, and while I was hiking along I heard the loudest noise ever: military jets flying overhead. I’d been hearing them a lot the last few days (which is really annoying and kinda ruins the whole backcountry experience). But this one flew right over where I was standing, and I caught a picture of it. I wish they wouldn’t fly in wilderness areas (and SO close to the ground), but I can’t imagine what the view looks like for these pilots. Probably pretty awesome.

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 150 to go!

150 to go!

After the jet interaction, the trail eventually started climbing again, steep in some parts, more gradual in others. At the top of this climb I noticed something more acutely: how much new snow/ frost had fallen and accumulated on the mountains, and even near the trail. Mostly at places above 5,000 ft, and most noticeable above 6,500 ft. Still, makes me slightly nervous for bad weather. Once reaching the top of a pass, there was a long, nearly 7 mile descent to the camp I wanted. It was a long evening, and the forest was so thick and the mountains so high, that it was pretty dark walking around the forest, even before the sun set.

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I couldn’t wait to get horizontal in my tent. Today was tiring, and I haven’t walked that many miles in a day in Washington yet. Tomorrow will probably be another bigger day, with another early wake up call.

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Day 155: Steven’s Pass to mile 2482.5

9.17.18. 18.3 miles.

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As usual when I’m in town and have cell service & internet access, I stay up way too late. Thankfully there weren’t any hard core snorers in my bunk room, but I still didn’t sleep the best. I’d get too hot then cold. At 7, I decided to get up, and start quietly moving my things into the landing to begin packing. I changed into my hiking clothes and went downstairs to check on the progress of my drying clothes. Everything was good except for the socks. I moved them to a hanger right in front of the fan, with hopes they’d dry before I left. At 7:30, it was breakfast time. The volunteers made us hash browns, eggs, pancakes, and cut up fruit! Great breakfast. After eating, I loitered around, using internet, checking the latest weather forecasts, and getting the rest of my things together. I called my mom and dad, and then walked back to the trail.

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The first 3 miles we’re so cruisey! Flat and sort of downhill, I flew down the trail. After that, the climb began, which wasn’t too bad of a climb- much easier than leaving Snoqualmie Pass, but I had much more food, so my pack was just so heavy, making the climb worse. There were lots of day hikers out, including two older men who were really excited to chat with thru-hikers, and a group of older women, who were also extremely excited to talk to a thru-hiker. One of the ladies had a little notebook that she wrote in of all the PCT hikers she’s met while on her day hikes, and asked for my name and start date. They were really cute and cheered me on to Canada!

 My favorite lunch

My favorite lunch

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The trail went downhill for a ways before beginning to climb up again. I stopped at a creek to get water, then proceeded to my lunch spot near Lake Janus. I packed my favorite lunch for this stretch: PB&J bagels. It’s really filling. After lunch, the trail continued climbing, all the way up to Grizzly Peak, where I had my first views of Glacier Peak! I savored them, not knowing if I’ll see the volcano again because of the turbulent weather. After the long climb, it was downhill for a couple of miles, and a little more uphill to Pear Lake, where I’ve set up camp for the night. Tomorrow is going to be an early morning as I’m trying to hike a big day. These next few days are going to be very long since the Bannock Lakes Fire detour through Holden Village complicates things a bit as there’s only one shuttle & ferry per day to Stehekin from there, so I need to be there by 10:30 am the day I want to go to Stehekin (the 21st) or the night before. Preferably, I’d get there the night before. But we’ll see!

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Day 154: mile 2456.7 to Steven’s Pass

9.16.18. 7.5 miles.

I set my alarm for 5:30 this morning, knowing I needed to get hiking on time, and knowing I’d roll around in my quilt for as long as possible. I could hear some light rain hitting my tent, but finally started getting ready around 5:45. Starting with the rain jacket and pants on was a necessity. Right after I used the amazing pit toilet near the camp, it started raining. I packed my tent up and started hiking.

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The rain fizzled out for a bit, but started right back up again. It was not an easy 7.5 miles to the pass, there was one pretty steep uphill, and another more gradual one, before the trail finally descended towards the ski resort. Happy to get out of the rain, I went straight to the resort, mainly focused on getting a hot breakfast panini and coffee to warm my soul. I also needed to get my box. While eating, I talked to my mom on the phone, discussing ending logistics. I’m lucky my parents will be picking me up in Canada! I then got my box, and as I was heading outside to reorganize my stuff, Will and Angel appeared! I dropped all of my things, so happy to see them! They helped me carry all my stuff and we hurried to Will’s car to get out of the rain.

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First stop was to head over to the Mountaineer’s Lodge so I could get checked in since I’d be staying the night there. I got the run-down of the place from one of the volunteers, and then went back down to the basement to start pulling my wet stuff out to dry in the drying room, start a load of my bucket laundry and get that stuff drying, and brought my other things up to the bunk room. Angel opened up my resupply package and I rummaged through it, making a list of things I still needed. After I was done with all of that, we all headed off to Leavenworth!

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We went to Safeway first so I could get resupply out of the way, and then we ventured down to the main touristy part of town with all of the Bavarian decor and shops. We browsed the streets and found a bratwurst place, so we ate there for lunch, all of us getting our own brats and sharing a pretzel. We walked around some more, and eventually ended up at an ice cream place and all got the same flavor - chai honeycomb. Great minds (and tastebuds) think alike! I had such a good time with Angel & Will and I’m so happy they came out to visit me and chauffeur me around! It has been a morale booster to be visited by friends, and it’s definitely needed for this last week on trail!

 See you guys soon!

See you guys soon!

After a lovely afternoon, they drove me back to the lodge and we said goodbye. I’ll be seeing them soon enough in Seattle, but this visit was way too short. It was hard to see them go! Thankfully, the lodge is incredibly warm and welcoming. I took a shower, finished my bucket laundry, changing into the first set of clothes I’d washed & dried, and organized my resupply. I then went upstairs and caught up online, especially with work stuff: I’ll be going back to REI after the trail and needed to send some emails! I also finalized some after-trail travel. I’ll be hanging out for a few days in Seattle before flying to Sacramento to go to my lakehouse for some decompression time before finally going home. I texted my mom some info on clothes to pack for me, and soon enough, it was dinner time! The volunteers are amazing and cook us dinner and breakfast at the lodge. We had spaghetti, corn bread, a tomato salad, and brownies for dessert! After dinner, where Sprinkles and I discussed true Harry Potter canon and our dislike of the Cursed Child play, we helped out with dishes, and then relaxed some more in the communal living area. It’s such a nice lodge, and they are so kind to us! There was even a movie playing, but I used the time to blog and use social media, before going to bed, always later than I want when I’m in town. Today was also my 5 month mark on trail! So insane!

Day 153: mile 2434.7 to mile 2456.7

9.15.18. 22 miles.

Well, this morning was... messy. I’ll just say this: the thing that everyone jokes about happening that makes you a “real thru-hiker” happened to me this morning. I’ve had some very close calls over the course of the trail, but it officially happened today. *if you know, you know* Afterwards, I sat in my tent, already feeling pretty defeated for the day.

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I started the day finishing the climb I began last night. It was partly cloudy and I was getting warm towards the top. After the ascent, there was a long descent to a rocky creek crossing. From there, the trail went up steeply for a bit, then leveled out for a few miles, then climbed steeply up again. I had my lunch break by Deception Lakes. Very pretty. I again made hot ramen which has been a treat! The weather was iffy all afternoon, threatening to rain. I put my rain jacket on after lunch just in case. I finished the rest of the climb, and then had a shorter descent before steeply climbing again.

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At the bottom of the descent, I saw Estes down the trail facing me, madly waving his arms, trying to get my attention. I immediately stopped and he called out “Bear!” I hesitantly took a few steps forward since I couldn’t see where he was indicating. Then I saw this massive, beautiful black bear, that was mostly black in color with some brown fur around her neck and face. She was staring at Estes before turning around and noticing me. Me and Estes started yelling at each other to make the bear retreat, which sort of worked. I continued down the trail, loudly speaking to the bear, who actually perched up on her hind legs to watch me walk off. We turned around and watched her retreat back into the bushes & Estes told me he saw her with cubs, who ran up into the trees, but she stayed on the ground, en guard. Estes saw me coming in my bright rain jacket and stuck around to warn me. Thanks Estes! I was completely engrossed in my audiobook at the time, which was Hour of the Land by Terry Tempest Williams, and she had just described a bear encounter on the recording! How fitting!

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Estes and I were walking the same pace mostly, me lingering about 100 ft behind. There was a little more up & down to go, and we ran into quite a few weekenders on our way to the lake where we wanted to camp, Mig Lake. I originally intended on going a little further, but the rain was starting to pick up and I wanted to be warm in my tent, and not hiking until dark like yesterday. I’m still 7.5 miles from the road, but I’ll be there in the morning. I’m super excited because Will & Angel are meeting me tomorrow and it’s going to be great! We’re going to go into Leavenworth.

Day 152: mile 2407.9 to mile 2434.7

9.14.18. 26.8 miles.

Last night was pretty cold. I slept with my balaclava and liner gloves on the whole night! I didn’t hear much rain; maybe a small shower every so often. My tent was wet in the morning, so it rained at some point!

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I got going pretty quickly after my alarm went off. I could hear Estes moving around so decided to get ready. I actually beat him though, even though I thought he’d be gone by the time I got out of my tent! It was cold in the morning, but not windy or rainy, so I left all my rain gear off, but put my thermal top on. The views were stunning right away. I had such a beautiful view of Spectacle Lake with the mountains in the back. So amazing! The mountains here are so imposing.

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After a small, short uphill, I had a very long downhill to a few creeks, and then a long uphill right after that. I took a lunch at the top of the climb, where I was able to find a nice big rock and lay out my tent and quilt to dry. It was so nice sitting in the sun. After taking about an hour for lunch, I walked a short distance to a tarn to get some water, and then continued along, going into another long descent to the Waptus River. The views were so stunning. I was able to identify Mount Stuart in the Enchantments from the trail, and there were so many other beautiful craggy peaks. I also couldn’t believe how lucky I was with the weather. No rain today!

 Mt. Stuart in the Enchantments in the distance

Mt. Stuart in the Enchantments in the distance

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I got down to the river and checked guthooks. I still needed to hike 6 miles to get to the camp I wanted, and it was almost 5. I pretty much booked it as much as I could considering it was all uphill. It’s hard on a day like today where your body (knees) get too used to one motion: downhill or uphill. So when the opposite starts up again, I feel pretty creaky. I prefer days that are more rollercoastery bc it’s more varied. During my hike to camp, I saw a huge elk bull run across the trail! I was stunned. Usually it’s deer, and I’m still startled when they run across the trail, so a huge elk was a little more startling. They move fast though, and run/hop the same as deer.

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 fall colors are popping up all over the trail

fall colors are popping up all over the trail

I got to camp a little after 7:15. I can already tell it’s starting to get dark even earlier. I needed my headlamp at 8 pm just to do things in my tent.

Day 151: Snoqualmie Pass to mile 2407.9

9.13.18. 14.7 miles.

I didn’t sleep too well last night, and as frequently happens in town, needed to get up to go to the bathroom a few times in the night. I ended up getting out of bed at 7:30 after having got at least an hour of sleep right before then. I started getting my stuff packed and Jazmin woke up around 8. We went and got breakfast next door once all of my things were in my pack. Unfortunately, Jazmin got a phone call halfway thru from her roommate wondering where she was bc she was supposed to meet Comcast at her place! So she had to leave after breakfast to try to meet them, and couldn’t hike out with me. It was still really great to see her and spend time with her! She was such an angel and bought my breakfast as well. Thank you Jazmin!

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I was going to hike out after she left, but it started raining pretty hard, so I went back to the room and scheduled blog posts and laid down on the bed, watching the weather outside. Finally, at 11 when I needed to check out, I hiked out. It was raining, but I knew it would rain on and off all day so there was no point in delaying any longer.

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The climb out was tough. Very steep, wet, rocky, and rooty. The major climb was almost 3,000 ft in 6 miles. The trail undulated for a bit once it topped out. I got some water from a lake at the top just after hitting 2,400 miles! I pulled out the pizza I packed out and ate that as I walked. It was too cold to stop to eat lunch.

 All fog on the Kendall Katwalk

All fog on the Kendall Katwalk

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It rained on and off all day, with a ton of fog that would sometimes clear to reveal the beautiful views. Towards the end of the day was best, I actually got to see a little bit on sunset! The afternoon had steep climbs up very rocky trail. I complain about rocky trail a lot, but so does everyone else out here. It’s literally the worst kind of trail. Every step has to be so intentional, especially going downhill. And there was so much of that today. I couldn’t believe I only hiked a little under 15 miles today. It felt like so much more work.

I got to camp to see Estes there, so I went and set up next to him and we chatted until it was time to go to sleep. He’s a real nice guy, and I’m happy we keep leapfrogging!

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Day 150: mile 2379.8 to Snoqualmie Pass

9.12.18. 13.3 miles.

I woke up this morning without my alarm, not having set it last night. I could hear that it was lightly raining, and I needed to go to the bathroom, but I forced my body to hold it until I packed up and got my rain gear on. Amazingly, my bowels didn’t protest too much.

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I had one really steep climb for the morning, and it was actually really beautiful and not too bad. Maybe my legs are finally strong enough! Haha. It was still pretty cold and rainy though, sometimes breezy. I didn’t need to stop and filter water at all this morning. I know it’s bad, but it’s really hard to drink cold water when it’s cold out, so I haven’t been drinking a ton of water. I’ll make sure to rehydrate in town.

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After some ups & downs, the trail went mainly downhill for a while. It was not easy going though. There were lots of big rocks and slippery roots and muddy soil to contend with, so I needed to be careful to not slip. I met a few day hikers on my way down, chatting with them. One in particular really held me up though, Old Goat. He was so nice and sweet and has section hiked the whole trail, and his sister is a trail angel in Mazama, the last town in Washington. He wanted to talk for a while... when I only had 2 miles to town! It was nice talking to him though.

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After I left him, I booked it down to the pass. It started raining again, and I just wanted to get to the hotel and eat some food.

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Luckily, when I got to the hotel, I was able to check in right away, and they had all my packages, including my new shoes! Thank goodness. I checked in, immediately emptied my backpack of all my wet things and draped things to dry. I got some change for the wash and did my laundry, taking a shower in between. Then I got some food from the aardvark Express, which was sooo good. I had a yummy curry bowl. I also ran to the gas station to buy the rest of my resupply. After relaxing for a bit, I went and got pizza with sprinkles for dinner, then went back to my hotel & FaceTimed with the fam, and waited for Jazmin, my friend from school, to come! She’s staying the night with me and then hiking a little bit of the trail before turning around tmrrw morning. It will be fun!

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Day 149: mile 2355.4 to mile 2379.8

9.11.18. 24.4 miles.

I got to sleep pretty early last night, definitely before 9. I was incredibly warm and comfortable in my quilt, socks, balaclava, and thin liner gloves. It was a cold night, so I put on the extra layers, and shoved my other clothes into the foot box of my quilt to keep them warm and dry. I did ditch the gloves halfway through the night as it was getting a little too warm, but otherwise I was very cozy. I had to get up first thing though as I really needed to go to the bathroom. It was barely light out, even though I knew the sun was rising, because of the clouds. After finishing business, I hopped back into my tent and got ready carefully, trying not to shake off any of the condensation inside onto my things.

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When I got back out of my tent, I saw some blue sky in the distance and light pink clouds. My tent was also much drier on the outside than I anticipated. It must have stopped raining well before the sun rose. I packed the tent up, and walked back to the trail. I was hiking in most of my layers, like I had been the last 2 days. My shirt, thermal layer with my hood pulled up, rain jacket, shorts, and rain pants on top of those. Plus, my liner gloves and waterproof mitts over them. Even though the sun was starting to come out, the foliage lining the trail was dripping wet, and the rain pants and jacket kept me from getting wet when I brushed up against them. I got pretty warm though as the morning went on since the sun was out and I was climbing. At one point, I shed all my layers except for shirt & thermal top. It felt freeing to finally have my legs move normally and not hear the swishing noise of the rain pants with every step.

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The weather was pretty erratic however, and eventually I needed to put my rain layers back on because it started raining again. Of course, the rain came to a halt when I reached a wide open area, and found 2 other hikers there: McGuyver (different than the desert one), and Windy. I briefly met them when I arrived at the cabin yesterday, but they left shortly after I got there. We chatted for a bit, and I seized on the opportunity of intermittent sun to pull my tent out and let it dry completely, and took off my shoes & socks to see if they could dry at all too. I cooked up a packet of ramen for lunch and sat enjoying the warmth of the sun, and glowering every time the clouds moved back over it. Once my tent was fully dry, I packed up again and got moving, which was a good idea too, since it started raining again within 10 minutes of me leaving my lunch spot. I donned all of my rain gear again and went off.

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I reached a spring and filtered some water, only what I needed though, as it was raining pretty hard at this point. It’s not exactly fun sitting in the rain while filtering water. The whole experience is just very wet. It didn’t help that the place the spring was in was a muddy, trampled meadow. My feet got even more wet. After some more steep up & downs and a few more miles of hiking, I came upon a large gravel road and saw Windy on the other side. I went over to take cover from the weirdly sunny drizzle to check guthooks to see where I was and how far I needed to keep going to camp, when a truck with huge UW stickers on it rolled up. 2 people hopped out and asked us if we’d seen Moses, another hiker. I’d never met him, but they told us they were going to do trail magic! And to think I almost walked away.

Little Rabbit and Codex were their names. They’d been hiking on the trail this year, but had to get off due to injuries. They’d been hiking with Moses, and wanted to do some trail magic for him. The more hikers that showed up in the meantime, the better! They were incredible. I chatted with Little Rabbit about UW (she’s an alumnae as well) in the warm truck, while Codex cooked up grilled cheeses and coffee in the back. It was raining pretty hard during this time, and Windy & McGuyver sat in the car w me and Little Rabbit. All of us were talking about the trail, getting warm and dry while eating grilled cheese and drinking coffee. This was a pretty incredible surprise!

 Windy &amp; Codex

Windy & Codex

After an hour of hanging out, the clouds seemed to part and the rain stopped. I seized this clearing as an opportunity to start hiking again, but not before trying to ascertain whether my shoes had been delivered. Knowing I had done all I could with REI, I called the hotel I’ll be staying at, where they were supposed to be delivered to, to see if they could look for me. I was met with a very unhelpful man, who claimed to have “800 hiker boxes” in their back room, and who would not look to see if my package was there. I explained that I believed the package was lost, and was trying to check, but he firmly stated he wouldn’t look until I arrived tomorrow. I asked if he could tell me which post office was the local one so I could call to see if the package had been delivered to their P.O. Box, and he said “there is no local post office. The hotel is the P.O. box”. Realizing I was not going to be getting anywhere with this unhelpful man, who was now flat out lying to me, I thanked him and told him I’d see him tomorrow. I’d heard this hotel has mixed reviews about friendliness towards hikers, but I knew that when I got there tomorrow, I’d have to “kill them with kindness” so to speak. I also knew that my package from REI had no more scans today, so hoped they’d keep to their word and overnight shoes like they said they would. If not, I can probably squeeze a few more miles out of them and have them sent to Steven’s Pass, where things seem a bit more organized and helpful.

After thanking my wonderful trail angels, I left the road at 5, with 5 more miles to hike to my hopeful campsite. I had a bit of a climb after leaving the road, but after that, it was mostly flat and downhill to the creek where I’d be camping by. It started raining lightly again during my hike, and I hustled to get to camp before it really started raining. Luckily, I was successful, and got my tent set up within minutes, carefully pulling things inside, making sure to keep essentials dry. I made my dinner from the tent, and got ready for bed. It doesn’t sound like it’s raining anymore. It doesn’t really matter if it does or not, because I’ll be getting to the pass tomorrow, and will be able to dry out all of my things when I get into my room. Hopefully, all of my packages will be there and I’ll be able to check in early, but I won’t be holding my breath!

Day 148: mile 2334.1 to mile 2355.4

9.10.18. 21.3 miles.

Not going to lie, today was a rough day. I woke to my alarm and turned it off immediately. I didn’t get much sleep last night thanks to the loudly snoring section hiker next to me, plus the wind and rain. I went back to sleep, too tired and not wanting to deal with a wet tent. I woke up again at 6:20 and figured I should get going. To my greatest displeasure, there was a puddle of water inside my tent in the corner that sloped down the most. I’m not sure if the sloping is the reason for the puddle or there’s a leak. I got ready moderately quickly, trying to make sure everything else stayed dry. My sleeping quilt was damp from the humidity.

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I was the first to leave camp, a little after 7. I knew there was a wood cabin 13 miles into the day, and I was dead set on getting there for lunch, hoping there was room to hang/ lay out my wet things to dry. Not much exciting happened in the morning. It was windy, cold, and rainy, and most of the hike was in a recent burn area, which was pretty spooky. The trail was relatively flat or downhill with small spurts of up. Finally, the last few miles were in the living forest, and I coasted down to the cabin. I arrived just before noon, and recognized a few hikers. The one I didn’t know had previously hiked the trail and was hanging out at the cabin, going to meet up with friends. He kept a fire going in the wood burning stove, which warmed the cabin and me so much. I was able to hang my tent, pad, quilt, and down jacket from rafters and hooks and lay out my shoes & socks to dry. It was pretty glorious. And I even made hot mashed potatoes for lunch. Much better than cold soaked ones. I am definitely happy to have my stove for Washington. Occasional hot lunches are nice.

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Many hikers showed up, and even some trail magic arrived! Toast, a previous thru-hiker and her friend Turtle came with lots of food! Bread, cheese, arugula, cookie dough, cinnamon bread, all kinds of goodies! They were great conversation as well. Toast told us that it was very rainy for her this whole section too (White to Snoqualmie Pass), and empathized with us. I hung out at the cabin for 2.5 hours, chatting, eating, and waiting for everything to dry. The longest lunch break I’ve had since the desert, probably.

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I finally packed up and left, making it about a quarter of a mile when I realized I left a pair of socks drying above the fire. I hustled back to grab the pair before setting off again. The afternoon was not as easy as the morning. Much more climbing, and the rain and wind picked up again. After 5 miles that felt like forever, I reached a spring and filtered more water, the next not being for another 12 miles. After getting water, everything was just harder. I’ve had an area on my mid-upper back on my right side that just sometimes goes numb when I’m going uphill with more weight on my back, and that was starting to hurt. I made it about 2 miles before reaching a road with service: I needed to deal with my REI package still. In the cold, I got on the phone with them to see where it was. They still didn’t get any scan updates, and the very nice woman on the phone told me if they didn’t see any scans tomorrow, they would overnight me the shoes directly via UPS instead of ups/surepost where it goes through the post office. I’m still hesitant they’ll be coming, but I’ll just need to have some faith! I only went another mile further for the day, stopping about 5 miles short of where I roughly planned to make it to. I stayed at the cabin too long, and I really don’t like getting to camp after 7 now, and it was cold and rainy and I’d rather sit in my tent than continue hiking into the evening. So I am camped next to a dirt road, made my dinner from my tent and and hoping for a more peaceful night tonight.