Hey blog readers!
I realize it's been a bit over 3 years since I wrote these journals, and by this point in the trail, a lot of them were very concise notes that I hoped to expound on later. Well, with the hopes of finishing out this trail journal, I may just post what I have alongside some of my favorite photos from those days. So some days may be more detailed, while others are more like bullet points. But either way, I hope you enjoy the written conclusion to my hike journals, if you choose to read on.
Day 146 // 10.9 miles
PCT mile 2404.3
Total miles: 1883.2
This morning, I slept in at the hostel and then headed down for breakfast. Coffee and pancakes were already waiting for me! We talked in the dining hall area about our plans for a little while.
TW was still feeling kind of under the weather - we realized he'd somehow gotten food poisoning from his curry 😔 So we took our time packing up and hung out a little longer at the cabin, using the wifi. There's a lot to remember in town when you know you probably won't have service ahead. We usually have to make sure our bills are paid, download music/podcasts, share photos with each other, and of course, update friends and family.
Cheer and I headed out in the afternoon, a little bit before Stevie and TW. I couldn't wait for this section! I had heard several people say that everything north of here is unbelievably beautiful.
The afternoon was cloudy, but nice, and we met a good number of locals/Seattle natives out on the trail. Snoqualmie Pass is probably the closest spot on the PCT to Seattle - what I would give to live close to a spot this awesome! (Note from future Steph: foreshadowing because I ended up moving to Colorado.)
One gal I met from Seattle cracked a smile when I mentioned being from South Bend. " Hey, we love Mayor Pete!" she said. Most people I meet don't know anything about Indiana, so it's always sweet when someone does.
Cheer and I made our way up the climb, excited to reach the legendary "Kendall Catwalk" at the top. I was getting really hungry though, so I decided to break for some lunch while Cheer kept going.
After a wrap and some Scandinavian Swimmer gummies (Trader Joe's candy for the win!), I hiked up past the treeline. The views opened up as I traversed and I could tell I was in for some beautiful views!
And soon, I reached the catwalk! The mountain views to my left were briefly joined by open views to my right, and it felt like I was really on a catwalk surrounded by mountains on either side.
The views this whole day were spectacular. After passing the catwalk, the trail wound down to a beautiful alpine lake where I caught up with Cheer. And as we filtered our water, Stevie and TW caught up with us too!
Cheer and I continued on up a climb, and boy, we really got a taste of why this section is a favorite of many PCT hikers. The alpine lakes surrounded by the cascades are simply majestic.
We weren't entirely sure how far we wanted to hike this day, but the guys were definitely up for finishing earlier. The trail was pretty tough, with lots of loose shale, and the water situation was a bit iffy too.
We decided on a pretty area near a small pond for camp. It was a bit chilly and foggy out, but we circled up for dinner and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
A few folks we were camped near pointed out a white dot on the mountainside, pretty sure it was a mountain goat. I hope we get to see some tomorrow!
Because of our low mileage today, we might have to hike a bit further on our last day out this stretch, but we're thru-hikers. We can do that.
Day 147 // 20.6 miles
PCT mile 2424.9
Total miles: 1903.8
I awoke to a foggy and misty morning - we all slept in a bit, not really wanting to get out of our warm sleeping bags.
Cheer and I headed out of camp around 8am and began up the climb. Through the fog, I could see the faint outline of some mountains, and the ethereal mist reminded me of those Japanese scroll paintings.
The trail flattened out into a traverse, and I heard a hiker behind me. To my delight, it was my friend Jan from the Czech Republic!
Suddenly, I saw a flash of white off to the side of the trail! It was a mountain goat! I asked Jan if he could go first to try to nudge the goat off the trail so we could continue.
He walked forward slowly, and sure enough, the goat moved down the hill a bit so we could pass by. SO COOL.
Jan was super happy to see me! The last time we'd met was at the sketchy White Fork river crossing in the Sierra. He and his gang had pushed through, and he seemed exhausted and ready to be done with the trail.
Rounding the other side of the mountain, I caught up with Stevie and TW. I couldn't resist making a dumb movie poster out of this pic of Stevie 😂
On this side of the mountain, the clouds cleared and we saw incredible views the rest of the day.
Spectacle lake was amazing, and one of my favorite views of the whole trail. I kinda regret not hiking the side trail to it.
Lunch a bit past the falls, we dried out our condensated tents.
We started up a big climb, and partway up, wouldn't you know it - we bumped into 3 Bean and Foxtail! This was turning into a great day.
Trudged uphill while admiring the mountains.
Pretty little lake at the top of the climb. Must've forgotten to take photos, but it was rocky and beautiful!
Afterwards we started looking out for camp. Jokingly called this one the "Medium-huge View Camp" in my journal since it was marked on Guthooks as "View".
Stayed with Cheer, the guys took the next campsite since there wasn't space for all 4 of our tents.
Sang down to them "Do you wanna build a snowman?" That's basically TW's calling card :)
Day 148 // 22.1 miles
PCT mile 2447.0
Total miles: 1925.9
Woke up late, so I hiked alone today
Taped up my blister and it felt pretty good
Descended to Waptus River, met some nice section hikers - one was a former AT hiker who had lots of PCT questions for me.
Climbed up to Deep Lake and had lunch there
Saw quite a few weekenders today - probably because of Labor Day weekend.
Made it to the top of the climb and headed back down a few miles to a river crossing - it seemed a bit more intense.
Wasn't too tough after all. Stopped to get water and met nice British guys.
Last climb up to the lake was pretty steep!
But I ate my Snickers and powered up the hill. I even passed the British guys!
Got to Deception Lakes and saw my friends! I set up tent and then Steve, Cheer and I jumped in! Super cold but refreshing.
Dried off and got ready for dinner and bed. Glad to have caught my friends after a slow morning.
Day 149 // 17.7 miles
PCT mile 2464.7
Total miles: 1943.6
Got going around 7:20, nice morning at Deception lake.
Lots of up and down today, but also lots of beauty! Amazing views of the mountains on the first climb.
Cheer and I stuck pretty close to the guys today.
Sweet lake views on the other side of that climb!
Glacier lake, Surprise lake, Trap lake were all amazing today.
2nd climb was super steep. We all got kinda mad at it 😂 Trekking poles may have been thrown at the top.
Lunch at Migas lake. We were all lacking motivation but knew town was close.
Powered through the last two climbs and headed down. Spotted the ski lifts still running - this lift takes up mountain bikers in the summer.
Met dayhiker Barb, said she could give us a ride to Leavenworth! And during our brief stop at Stevens Pass ski area, we ran into our buddy Snickers who was just heading back to trail!
Leavenworth is an adorable and kitschy "Bavarian" town that was renovated to boost the dying town in 1965. After the railroad left, townspeople needed a way to keep people coming to town. Taking advantage of the beautiful mountain setting, the whole town turned itself into a Bavarian tourist destination. Gotta love that creativity, even if it's a little cheesy.
We made it to town and got some German food at the Baren Haus, followed by some strudel at another little bar. So excited for tomorrow's zero day.
Day 150 // Zero in Leavenworth
PCT mile 2464.7
Total miles: 1943.6
Labor Day! Post office was closed so we had a glorious zero in town.
Cheer and I enjoyed walking around the historic center of Leavenworth early in the morning.
I have some distant memories of this town from when my parents and I visited Washington when I was in the 8th grade. I know we visited when I was a little girl too.
The town was bustling with Labor Day tourists. I took the shuttle bus to the grocery store to resupply, and on my way back, I caught a ride to our motel with two ladies about my age who were enjoying their long weekend here.
Much of this day was spent horizontal in bed, as a good zero day should. Cheer was even able to find us a ride back to trail for the morning.
All in all, I can confidently say that Section J lived up to the hype.