I woke up early and made my way to the porta potties across the street. The Miriam Fire is south of here and there is a camp set up for the fire fighters. The PCT is closed for the next 20 miles so there is an alternate trail that we need to hike to get around the fire. The rumors have been that the alternate is really tough so we decide to bring 4 days of food for the next stretch.
The fire alternate is 3 miles down the road so after we get packed up we try to get a ride there but because it’s so early we have no luck and decide to road walk to the trailhead. It was sketchy walking the narrow two lane mountain road and we try to be as careful as possible. Even when there was a wide shoulder it was unnerving when a big rig would go flying by. The 3 miles couldn’t end fast enough.
My feet are feeling much better today and once we get to the trail I change my socks out and we head off into the wilderness.
The trail is in really poor condition and the map we have for the alternate is a picture we took of one provided by the park service. There is no legend, scale or water information so we have to rely on the info we get from the NoBo hikers. The only problem is everyone had a different description and story to share about the trail. We decide to take it easy and we slowly navigate the rough overgrown trail. After about 2 miles we come to a large stream crossing and we decide to take off our shoes and cross barefoot. The cold water and sharp rocks didn’t feel the best on our soft feet.
Once across the river we continued down the trail. It was tough going and seemed to be going strait up or strait down. At about 3pm we came upon a beautiful lake with really good campsites and decided to camp here. Other hikers told us there was a steep climb back up to the PCT tomorrow and we decided starting fresh in the morning sounded like a good plan.
We woke up at about 7am and I took a look at my feet. They were drying up but beginning to form deep cracks in the skin. I headed to the market to see if I could find something to help the cracking. The selection was really limited but they did have a lotion designed for cracks in the skin called “Working Hands”. I figured if it works with cracking on hands it would work for feet. I also picked up an emery board, the kind women use for finger nails.
When I got back to the room I used the emery board to smooth out the rough callous on my heals. I then applied the lotion to my feet. They were still in rough shape and need some healing time so we decided to hitch back to the trail at White Pass.
We checked out of our room and headed to the Main Street and stuck our thumbs out as cars drove by. A motor home stopped and offered us a ride . They were a couple with their young son and daughter on vacation in the United States. They were from Uruguay and had decent English so we exchanged stories. They have been on vacation for a few months and were headed to Canada to see the Canadian Rockies. They drove us most of the way to the Pass but their turn off was before we got there so they dropped us on the side of the road. It was a bad spot to hitch hike as the cars were just finishing up a turn on the windy mountain road so we walked a bit until it straightened out and there was a shoulder when cars could pull over. Once again we stuck our thumbs out and almost immediately we got a ride from a couple pulling a trailer. They were out camping for the week and took us to White Pass.
We had a resupply package here so we made our way into the only store here and picked up our package. We also checked out the deli in the store and ordered a pizza and sandwich. There was free camping behind the store so we grabbed a spot and spent the day eating and talking with other hikers.
I wore the flip flops after we got here and my feet were starting to feel better. With luck tomorrow I will be good to go.
We set the alarm for 5:30 and once again we were hiking by 6:30. It gets light at 5:30 and seems like a natural time to get moving. We have been going to sleep and waking up with the sun. I have not used a headlamp in over a month.
My feet were unusually sore this morning. I think I must have trench foot as my feet have been so wet. My heels both have new blisters and I have a lot of redness by my toes. Every step hurts but we must keep hiking or we will get nowhere.
As the morning progresses we start to run into lots of day hikers and most of them have dogs. We make our way to Sheep Lake and there were about 20 people there. Along with the people there were 6 or 7 dogs swimming in the small lake. We laughed as yesterday we met a thru hiker named Coconut. He shared with us that he was at this lake yesterday and there were a lot of dogs swimming. It’s the only water for 8 miles so he reluctantly filled up his water bottles with the water and he felt like he was drinking dog bath water. We felt the same way about the water but like Coconut we needed the water so we filled up.
When we stopped at the lake I took a look at my sore feet and decided I better get to town to get my socks dry and let my feet heal up. Chinook Pass was only 2 miles from the lake and we would try to get to town from there.
I hobbled the last 2 miles and made it to the trail head. There were lots of cars here so we figured getting a hitch shouldn’t be too tough. There was a troop of Boy Scouts here getting a resupply from a few of their moms. They called us over and shared some fresh beef soup, sandwiches and ice cream with us. We thanked them and started looking for a ride. In about 10 minutes two ladies that were day hiking offered us a ride half way to Packwood where we planned on staying. Per our electronic guide book there was an outfitter there and maybe some new socks and trail shoes for my sore feet.
After a short drive they dropped us off and we started looking for a ride the rest of the way to town. In less than 5 minutes we got a ride from a young couple from Los Angeles. They were on vacation and heading through the town we were trying to get to.
We finally got dropped off at a gas station in town and I hobbled to the hotel down the street. We got a room and I then headed to the outfitter to get some new socks and shoes to wear in town. They were closed and only opened on the weekend. Bummer.
I headed to the hotel and we got showered and got our laundry done. We then headed to the market in town and picked up some drinks and snacks but they had no type of shoes or socks. We dropped the food off at the room and headed to the pizza place for dinner. We saw a small camping store across the street and I checked it out. They had flip flops and I picked up a pair. I figure I can wear them in town and when we are in camp to help keep my feet dry. We headed back across the street and ate dinner. We then headed back to our room for the night.
We woke up at 5:30 this am and got moving by 6:15. It was cool this morning and it made the hiking much easier. The trail was soft and wide most of the morning which always helps with our feet. Both of my socks were still damp from the recent storm and I wore the ones that seemed the driest and hung the other pair on my pack.
We were both quiet this am and hiked while listening to our books on tape to help pass the time. At about 11 am the trail led us to a section of the forest that burned last year. It was depressing to see all the dead trees. Most of them were still standing but enough had fallen across the trail to make it a obstacle course. Some areas of the burn were barren of all life. Other spots had small shoots of green pushing up from the black ash. The forest is already starting over, by next year I bet the forest floor is covered with a blanket of green.
As we hiked on we passed a lot of NoBo hikers. We seem to have met the beginning of the first bubble. As we passed 2 hikers I recognized one of them. It was Carrot Quinn. She wrote a book about the PCT and Kimberly and I had followed her blog as she hiked the PCT and CDT over the last few years. We introduced ourselves and it was fun talking with her. Carrot had written a post about how she run out of water hiking over Fuller Ridge during her first thru hike of the PCT and after Kimberly read the post she now has a fear of running out of water on the trail. Thank you for the inspiring journals of your adventures over the years!
We continued on for a few miles until we came to a spring which was the last water for 8 miles and decided to camp here for the night. About an hour after we got to camp we were joined by Rockslide. We had camped at the same spot last night and she was section hiking Washington and Oregon.
Rockslide shared with us her story. She has a strong background in Forestry and after college worked for the forest service. She then joined the peace corps and returned during the recession in 2007. She took a job with the Pacific Crest Trail Association and maintained trails as part of a trail crew for a year and a half. She now lives in Portland. It was awesome hearing her story and she sure has spent a lot of time in the wilderness.
We called it a night at 8 pm and enjoyed a cool evening as we drifted to sleep.
We woke up about 6 am and it was not raining anymore. I unzipped the tent to take a look outside and it was still misty and wet outside. Everything was drenched except our sleeping bags, food and some of our clothes. We did our best to wring out our socks and got dressed. We were cold and the only way to warm up was to hike.
My pack felt like it was double the weight due to the wet gear. We hiked all morning in light drizzle. We had internet when we were on a ridge and it called for clear skies and sunshine this afternoon.
At 11:00 am we stopped for lunch and there was a small amount of sunshine so we took off our rain gear and let the sunshine dry off our clothes. The sun’s rays felt great. We ate our lunch of spam and tortillas. As I ate I looked down and noticed wild strawberries growing around us. The fruit was small but they were ripe. I ate a few handfuls and they tasted delicious. We still had a long walk so we got back on the trail by noon.
The afternoon was uneventful as we hiked through the mature fir trees. The sky remained overcast but the thick mist was gone. About a mile from camp the trail guided us to a old burn area that was overgrown with blueberries. They were ripe and we spent the next hour picking and eating as many of them as we could. Our fingers were stained dark purple and we finally headed to camp.
Our camp for the night was next to a spring and the water was excellent. We set up our tent at a slanted spot under some trees as the other campsites were takes by other hikers.