Miles hiked: 19.5
Cumulative PCT Miles: 1603.2
Camped at: ridge campsite with Maniac and ?
The stars last night were brilliant, the sunrise this morning stunning. Even though chilly, there are perks to camping up high on a ridge! Today I cruised, for me at least, nothing else to call it! Granted, the elevation change was negligible (only compared to yesterday!) 5000 up and 5000 down, all very gradual where I could keep up a nice steady pace except when the inevitable blowdown occurred, happily many more this morning than this afternoon. I also got to walk on some obviously newer trail near the Suiattle River – a bridge was completed in 2011 which necessitated 4+ miles of new trail on either side of the river. The trail on the south side was so nicely groomed and flat I almost thought I was in the Metroparks back home! I was SO happy I no longer had to cross that churning milk-white opaque river on the large log that past hikers had to use, just thinking about it makes my fear of heights shudder. I took a long “first lunch” break on the bridge with Contrail, both of us sprawled out, drying out after a long descent through cold and clammy wet brush.
Very few views today except in the early morning and at the end of the day – camping both nights on ridges also helps with that! The forest walk except for stopping to climb up and over (and sometimes under) blown down trees and the bushwacking, was easy and rather mindless, allowing me to contemplate much. Hiking wise, I made a decision I’ve been vacillating back and forth with for weeks now.
Unless all of the wildfire closures miraculously open again in Northern CA and OR (very few of which have alternates) in a week once I reach Canada, I’ve decided to change my hike yet again, to a section hike. I’ll come back when everything is open again, or as much as possible if there is long-lasting damage. As I talked over with Contrail, not seeing these closed portions of the PCT is not how I want my PCT hike to be. I don’t need the cache of saying I thru hiked the trail, I’d rather see and enjoy all of it, even if it takes me several trips over several years to do so. I’d rather hike some this autumn in the east, revisiting favorite parts of the AT in my favorite season :). While I’m somewhat disappointed in not hiking all of the PCT this year, I know I’ll be happier with this decision in the long run, and hey ~1700 PCT miles this year is nothing to sneeze at! I’m frankly relieved that I don’t need to try to plan out how to get around all the closures, and that I don’t need to worry about smoke affecting my poor lungs in the other still open sections. So, I just need to decide how to get home! Long car trip across the country, which I’ve never done?? Train or airplane?? It seems so very strange and unreal to think I now have less than 100 miles of hiking on the west coast in 2014…..but the trail will be here.