Section J Cliff Notes

Here’s the journal I kept through the hike. I’ll write a more detailed blog after a bit of processing and going through the pictures I took.

Day 1: Started a little before 2 pm. 7.3 miles. ~2535’ up, 1929 down. 1121 kCal – enough to burn off lunch & the snack I ate an hour later. Rain started about mile 5, got heavy enough at mile 6 I stopped and got out rain gear. Stayed pretty dry and warm enough. Camped at Mig Lake. Chiseling my way through 900 calories worth of tuna couscous. I don’t think I can eat all this but it won’t fit in my bear bag. There’s a little rodent running around that’s confused by my headlamp. I’m guessing it smells my dinner but I cannot share. Some nobos are camped here, too. None of us get to enjoy the full moon — it’s overcast with low clouds and intermittent rain.

Day 2: Neighbors were up at 5:45. They’re trying to get to Canada; I’m not. Even being quiet, they’re still kind of noisy. (Lightweight material is really crinkly, zippers are noisy, et cetra.) They were quietly talking between their tents, and I think one of the couple must have suggested to the other guy to keep his voice down. He did, but I also heard “If you’re not up by six, what are you doing with your life?” 😝

Morning: 1758 up, 654 down. Climb up Trap Pass was hard. Hope I have enough energy to get up and down Piper Pass.

Around noon, I saw a marmot. I declared it a sign of good luck as marmots are my favorite animal.

Climb up to Piper Pass was hard, but I covered the last half mile/ last 500’ of elevation gain in thirty minutes.

Too tired to write right now.

12:35 a.m:. And I’m wide awake.

I arrived at Deception Lakes as the sun was setting (7:21). The weather forecast gave the chance for rain at 8 p.m. as 60%, so getting my camp set up was my priority. I ate dinner under the tarp. The rain finally came at 10:45.

I could be getting rained on most of tomorrow. I’ll need to keep everything dry while I’m packing up. Things are going well, and I don’t want to end up with a repeat of last year.

My first night, I camped where I ate lunch on Day 2 last year. Today, I ate lunch where I spent my second night on the trail last year, and I’m camped where I spend my third night last year. It’s been a good confidence booster to be ahead of schedule. The worst of the climbing is behind me. I’m going to try for 15 miles tomorrow.

Day’s totals: 3133 up, 2683 down, 1300 kCal. I don’t trust the calories burned, though. I wasn’t wearing the HRM chest strap in the morning, and Garmin only gave me ~300 kCal for the first five miles – the climb up to Trap Pass. I’m guessing my calories burned is more like 2000.

Day 3: Rained almost all day. Shoes are soaked, socks are wet, but my hammock & sleeping bags are dry. 😺 The umbrella kept my upper torso dry, and I was warm enough as long as I kept moving. Just 12 miles today. Shooting for 14 tomorrow. 2633’ up, 3333 down. Chatted with some awesome people today – that’s part of what slowed me down. A hiker from Hamlin, Germany, was excited to hear about the Sausage Garten’s currywurst & cranberry mustard.

Got to camp too late to tend to some housekeeping issues; maybe tomorrow. I’m eating Italian Couscous and the added oil is wonderful. It’s already 9 p.m. and I am hopeful I’ll sleep better tonight.

Day 4: 1709’ down, 390’ up, 7-ish miles. Cumulative fatigue is taking its toll. Just 35 miles to Snoqualmie Pass, but leaving this spot I climb for 6 miles – ~2400’. I stopped here for lunch and decided to camp here, as it’s not clear many places I’d have found to camp in the next four miles and I’m climbing at about 60 minutes/mile. I hate climbing first thing in the morning, but I’ll be better rested and possibly faster. I’ve washed my feet & today’s socks, my shoes & feet are dry, and I’ve made some adjustments to my pack that’ll make things easier. This is what one does when they take an easy day. My cold-soak spaghetti is delicious. I’m having chocolate coconut pudding with Bacardi for dessert. (I brought an airline bottle. Maybe I’ll finally get some sleep.) I’ll be done with dinner early enough that I’ll have time to wash my soak containers and put tomorrow’s food at the top of my food bag. I plan to be in the hammock at sunset & I hope to be up early. It’s going to rain tomorrow, so the sooner I’m out of camp the better. (If I’m being rained on, I’d rather be moving.)

Day 5: ~13 miles, 3500’ up, 3300’ down. Taking a short day yesterday was the right thing to do! The first 6 miles were uphill, and I felt much better doing them today with the extra rest.

A total of four tents joined my camp area last night. I was the first person up & about this morning and the last one out of camp — I am unsurprised. I mentioned to the last person packing up that I’m amazed at how efficient thru hikers are at setting up & breaking camp, but I also recognize they’ve been doing the same thing everyday for months. He laughed and said “Yeah – we were not like this the first few weeks.

I didn’t get much sleep last night. I decided to skip my morning mocha and see how well I sleep tonight.

It was lightly sprinkling as I left camp. The heavier rain came later, and it rained most of the day.

I skipped lunch because I never found a place I wanted to stop and take off my pack. Lesson learned: on rainy days, lunch has to be something I can easily access. I ate trail mix all day, but I knew I needed to stop early today and eat as soon as I put up my tarp. I ate lunch at about six, and I’m eating dinner at 8. I earned it!

My trail clothes are all soaked. My camp clothes, hammock, and down bags are dry — that’s the important part.

Day 6: Skipping the coffee worked — I slept much better last night.

Today was the first day I didn’t see a grouse, and today was not great. Maybe I was wrong about the marmot and grouse are the good luck sign. I fell in Lemah Creek while trying to ford it. I should have swallowed my pride and taken the alternate route. I lost a water bottle and a trekking pole. The weather was better today, so I was able to enjoy the views & take lots of pictures. It started raining again around three. I encountered a sign warning horse packers they’re entering a 4 mile stretch with no stock turnouts & no room for pack trains to pass. I knew that meant there’d be no place for me to camp, and I’d be hiking in the dark. I turned around and headed back downhill. At least this time I was smart enough to swallow my pride.

I’m camped in a less-than-ideal spot, but I was tired of walking in the rain. I’m grateful my sleeping bags & camp clothes are still dry. I should sleep okay tonight.

Tomorrow starts with a lot of climbing. Just 14 miles left, but my confidence is shaken. I’m tempted to do it all tomorrow even if it means hiking the last section in the dark. I can spend the night at the motel and have Jim come get me in the morning.

Day 7: Finished!

My campsite last night was so-so in the hammock was hung with the head higher than the feet. I couldn’t adjust it. I slept okay though.

I woke up at 6:30. It took 90 minutes for me to get out of camp – slightly better.

The trail was largely rock most of the day. I didn’t see a grouse but I saw several marmots. I also saw some glorious sights today.

I arrived at the trailhead shortly after sunset.

I’m stinky. I’m achy. I’m looking forward to a shower, a beer, and sleeping on a mattress — although I will miss the breeze over my face as I lie in my hammock.

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