PCT Section 23 – Washington border to White Pass. Wilderness, lakes and mountains.

Crossing the Bridge of Gods is supposed to be an emotional moment. This is where the movie Wild ended and the bridge takes you into the last state and 500 miles away from the Canadian border. Unfortunately for Joal this was just terrifying. The bridge didn’t have a solid road and was very high over the river. This meant you looked through the thin wired bridge straight down to the water rushing below you. On top of this there was lots of wind and no place for pedestrians. The result was that Joal held on to the guard rail the whole way across as cars passed us.

After we had made it safely across there was a sign for Washington. It was here we could get emotional about our journey without fear of impending doom. After a few moments with the sign we were reminded we were no longer in Oregon by means of a steep climb. We’d get several of these reminders a day in this section.

The terrain had changed almost immediately and we were plunged into lush forest with ferns and moss everywhere. We also saw our first mice on trail. We’d been warned about these by our hitch so made sure every scrap of food and wrappers were in our bear bags before we went to sleep. We also spotted a black snake with orange sides which turned out to be a grass snake.

Our first camping spot was above the clouds with a great view of Mounts Adams, Rainier and Hood. On the downside sleeping this high meant a lot of dew on our tents in the morning. After a few more miles the next day the yellow nightmares of Jenny’s childhood decided to strike again, this time impaling itself into Joal’s leg. That’s the 5th wasp sting of the trail for Joal. He must have odd blood or a bad habit for touching nests with his trekking poles.

As we continued we saw lots of mushrooms and even a sign saying that it was illegal to collect them. We passed numerous lakes, all with their own character, and camped at an outcrop at Blue Lake which made for a scenic sunset and sunrise. Both sunrise and sunset seem to be moving closer together making it harder to get out of bed in the morning. Sun doesn’t come up till gone 6.30 am so coupled with the cold means we are not getting out of camp till about 7.30. This means we have less hours in the day to hike.

The next day was spent walking through Indian Heaven Wilderness. It’s pretty evident now that we are walking along a ridge line, but this does make for some spectacular vistas. We decided to make a pit stop in a town called Trout Lake after realising they ran a shuttle to and from the trail. Unfortunately for us we forgot to factor in a steep climb which meant having to run 2.5 miles downhill to make it! We did these two miles in record time only taking us half an hour which with our pack weight and steep terrain considered was a great effort. Unfortunately this meant we were very sweaty getting into the car.

When we got to Trout Lake we used the list of trail angels in the grocery store to find ourselves a room. It was then we realised it has been since Big Bear Lake (Mile 266) that we had our own room, as we’ve shared every time we got a hotel. We ended up staying at Cyndra’s house in town which was amazing. She owned 5 horses, 1 mule and 2 huskies so she and Jen had plenty to talk about. In the morning we had farm eggs and locally sourced bacon on sourdough bread which was a great treat. We even ground our own coffee beans for a brew. Overall this was one of our most enjoyable stays on trail and allowed us to get some well deserved R&R.

The hills reminded us that our packs had gotten very heavy so in town we did a pack shakedown and ditched some stuff we’d been carrying unnecessary. This included some shorts Joal had and an extra thermal Jenny had.

In the afternoon we took the community run shuttle and walked 6 miles to the base of Mount Adams. The next day the trail took us from the south side of Mount Adams round the base to the north side. The day was very relaxed as we’ve tuned the miles down to about 21 a day. This is due to the gradient but also because we are meeting Joal’s friend Tim in two weeks and can’t get there too early.

The views as we circled mount Adams were incredible. It was a brilliant blue sky with views stretching to Mount St. Helens and back to Mount Hood. We passed a lot of day hikers here including two on horseback.

The next day we entered Goat Rocks Wilderness for one of our best days on trail. The views were spectacular and coupled with lower miles we could stop and appreciate the natural beauty we were walking through. The day ended camping at the top of a ridge which overlooked the valleys and lakes that surrounded us. We were camping well and truly in the clouds.

In the morning we awoke to an even better view. In the night the clouds had lifted and we could see Mounts Adams, St. Helens and Rainier even more clearly. It was also freezing which meant we stayed in our tents till about 7.30. The morning was one of the most beautiful we’ve had on trail. We crossed snow patches and walked what is called The Knife’s Edge as it is a very thin ridge high in the clouds. We kept getting great views of Mount Rainier all day, which looked very impressive.

By 11 we’d hit a fire detour which took us off the PCT for 16 miles. This trail wasn’t graded the same way the PCT is so there was a lot of steep up and down. By lunchtime we hit a lake and Joal and Kaleb decided to go for a swim to make the ride into town less smelly. After a hard afternoon where we must have done at least 6000 feet of elevation change, we ended up at a highway where we hitched into the town of Packwood.

We stayed at Hotel Packwood which was run by a stern but lovely lady.  She even did our laundry for us. A large pizza later we went to sleep with the thought that there is only 400 miles left of our journey.

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4 thoughts on “PCT Section 23 – Washington border to White Pass. Wilderness, lakes and mountains.

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  1. The Boomtown Rats were wrong “I DO like Mondays” It’s Trail Blog day!!! Our postie was little late today I think he’s beginning to suffer fatigue after all this time on the trail.

    Photography tip top again, lovely shots and as ever very scenic. Using your words, the vista, mountain tops in the clouds, ridges, sunsets, etc spectacular. Nice ones of you Jenny but please stop smiling, look as though it’s tough.

    You’er at it again, trying to impress. 2.5 miles covered in 30 mins despite carrying heavy packs and “The day was very relaxed as we’ve tuned the miles down to about 21 a day”. Because you are meeting a friend 250+ miles away and you don’t want to arrive too early!

    Bad habits creeping in, stopping in bed because it’s cold and dark in the mornings. Sounds like Derbyshire about 3C this morning and ice on the car. Cyndra’s sounded a much better bet and the breakfast certainly caught my attention.

    Joal hopefully you’ve got over the Brigde of Gods but to think some pay good money at Alton Tower for such an experience.

    Jenny delighted to receive your recent text messages.

    Reformed characters? No mention of any celebratory beers or burgers in this blog.

    I’ve run out of words to describe you achievements, astounding, unbelievable, staggering I’ve probably used them all before. You are nearing the end of your amazing trek and still in such high spirits. Keep moving on but not too quick you don’t want to arrive early??

    Fantastic

    Xx

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  2. Hello my lovelies, what can I add to grandads reply, not much, just hopefully no more bee stings, joal. You brought a smile to my face as usual, going to sleeping thinking only 400 miles left to walk!! You look so happy the pair of you, so lovely, all that you have overcome, still smiling. An example and inspiration to everyone, well done. Lots of love xxxxx

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  3. I do like to try and get in before Gran and Grandad because they always says everything so beautifully and I can only agree with every word. I’ve failed to do that again this week (I’m in Uzbekistan now). Photos are fantastic, so great to see all the brilliant clear skies and stunning views. I too love the bit where you say you’ve “tuned down to 21 miles a day”. I’m chuffed that I did over 5 yesterday! Missed you in London last week but we talked about your brilliant achievements a lot! Not far to go now -Monday’s just won’t be the same. You do always look so happy, and you never even look tired at the top of a mountain. xxxx

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  4. Another fantastic blog! If the photos were paintings, you’d think that the real thing could never look like that.
    You are doing so well and we are so proud of your resilience.
    Enjoy these final days and hurry back (once you’ve got acclimatised to getting clean and being around people).
    Love you xxx

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