PCT Day 35: A hop, skip and 4 hitches away from the fire danger

Friday, 10 August 2018

White Pass (357.7) – Trout Lake (423.7): 0 miles / 389.5 total miles walked

I didn’t sleep at all last night. Partly due to the smoke and fire smell, partly due to noisy neighbors. So I woke up cranky. But the beautiful sky made up for any fatigue….and the nice guy working at the lodge who let me use the pool bathroom.

I gathered all my clothes (the pathetic pile that there was) and waited for the store to open at 7. Sink and I started our laundry and got some breakfast muffins, waiting for the long line of (partly soot-covered) firefighters to be served first.

Since the fire close to White Pass was still raging and expanding, the PCTA issued a new detour, adding even more useless miles. Also, another fire was now burning on the other side of the trail, basically boxing it in.

Sink and I got to talking and made the decision to skip the next section and pick up the trail at Trout Lake. That would mean some logistical rearrangements and a long day of hitching, but it’s a better alternative to possible respiratory damage and burning to death….ūüėā

Decision made, I approached a guy with a van, TwoTaps, who is a PCT alumni and he agreed to give us a ride to Ramble, a town along Highway 12 where we would turn off south towards Trout Lake.

Riding in the back of a van at speed down a mountain without any safety measures….oh well. We made it safely and headed straight for food. Which was oh so good….

After inhaling my burger I walked across the street to the Ranger Station to figure out which roads we’d need to take to get to Trout Lake. Turns out that there was a washout on the direct road and we needed to go the long way around. So we started walking towards the turnoff for Road 131.

About a half mile into the roadwalk a nice couple picked us up. They were out visiting friends and took us about 4 miles to the turnoff for Forest Road 25, our next hitching spot.

It was pretty warm, but thankfully we found some shade and only had to walk into the sun when we saw a car coming. I wasn’t very optimistic, but about 15 minutes after we got there a nice guy (escaping from a family get-together in Seattle) picked us up and we were able to get another 20 miles closer to our destination.

He dropped us off at the turnoff for Forest Road 99, since he was going to Mt. St. Helen’s, and we needed to stay on 25 a bit longer.

No sooner had we crossed the road did I stick my thumb out for the next car, and he actually stopped. It was a guy in his 40’s (Ted) with a teenage boy in the passenger seat. At first I was apprehensive, because of the shovel and ace he had in the trunk, but Ted turned out to be a true trail angel.

He was out on an adventure, exploring caves with Gavin (the boy) and we chatted for a long time. He works in Alaska and told us a lot of stories about bears, including pictures and when it came to the point where we needed to head in a different direction than him, he actually decided to drive us all the way to Trout Lake, going a long way out of his way, even stopping at a waterfall en route.

We were able to see not only Mt. St. Helen’s, but also Mt. Adams, and sang along to the awesome soundtrack Ted played in his car. He even stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and bought us snacks. I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am to him. It was a perfect moment, cruising through the forest with the windows down, wind in your face and great music blasting.

Thank you so much Ted!

When we got to Trout Lake we made our way to the General Store, where hikers are welcome to hang out in the backyard, with a power outlet to charge stuff, and picknick tables.

We met up with OnePiece, who I hadn’t seen since Skykomish and the Dinsmore’s.

I bought an avocado (pricey and not as good as the gifted one from Mirror Lake) and then we just hung out until dark.

Some NOBO chick showed up, not really saying hi or anything and when I start talking to her, mentioning I’m going SOBO, she says: ‘Oh yeah, I can always tell…..all you SOBOs look so fat, happy and unperturbed, not like us NOBOs’.

WHAT THE HELL!?!?!!!

We spent the night at the campground with actual toilets and water spigots, sharing an $18 site among 5 people.

Tomorrow I get back on trail, only a few days to go until Oregon. ūüėĀ

Keeping you posted…

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