Hopkins Lake to Oregon Creek

Cascade Mornings

Mornings in the northern Cascade Mountains have been starting later these days. Late starts are fine, enjoyable even, when you do not have to worry about sweltering midday heat waves. We have not set an alarm for many weeks.

To anyone thinking about hiking from Harts Pass to the border and back, to them I say – do it.  Hiking in 30 miles and hiking back out those same 30 miles gave Brianna and I the rare opportunity to know what we would be seeing on the way out. If you do the 60 miles in 2 days like a northbounder might, sure, it’s an expert-rated hike. If you act like a normal person and take your time, over 4 or 5 days, it’s very intermediate. The key is to split the 3 big inclines into a couple of different days.

Uphill Battles

If you have problems hiking uphill for long periods, here are some pro tips –

1.) Shorten your hiking sticks by a few centimeters. It reduces the amount you have to lift the stick and helps distribute your weight more evenly.

2.) Resist the urge to hunch over while hiking uphill. Sure, lean into the climb a little, but for the love you bare your mama, keep your back straight and let your pack distribute the weight as it was designed to do. You might see folks hunched over and white-knuckling it up a hill at great speeds…  if that is your goal, consider carrying a super light pack and getting into 1,000-mile shape before heading out.

Perfectly Strange Encounters

Hiking around so many people has been a wild change for us! We continue to cheer on the northbounders every chance we get. In return, everyone always asks us if we are about to finish or have already finished the trail. We have told our SOBO flip-flop story about a hundred times already. It’s not bothersome though, talking with all of these people is fun, particularly if we are in the middle of a big incline and in need of a breather break anyway :-).

Some of our encounters with people today have been really weird. I watched a day hiker attempt to take a drink from his water bottle while walking on a very rocky mountain ledge. The bottle slipped from his hands and plummeted down the side of the mountain. He was looking down and beginning to remove his pack as if to climb down the mountain for his water bottle. “Don’t do it!” I yelled in both a serious and halfhearted tone. No pair of microspikes would save this piece of equipment. “It might make for a good story, but it would not be good for your health,” I said as I passed behind him on the ledge.

Later in the evening, a delirious man ran up to Brianna and I, asking if we had seen a short red-headed girl on the trail. A pretty vague description, but we had actually met a red-headed girl by the name of Red Riding Hood much earlier that day, maybe 15 miles back. The man was elated when Brianna passed this news along to him. “Yes!” He said nearly crying, “I can eat when I finish! She has my food!” The man ran off before we could offer him any of our food, making us feel both concerned for him and guilty for not helping.

We would later come to find out that the delirious man was just 20 miles away from setting the fastest known time for an unsupported northbound hike of the PCT. Josh was acting crazy because he was in fact crazy from a lack of sleep and general exhaustion. Now that I know who he was, the encounter seems less weird and more cool to have chanced upon him.  Just goes to show that not everything on the PCT is what it seems to be.

We learned the above information after meeting up with Red Riding Hood the following day – more on this tomorrow.

Our home for the night is a flat ashy campsite next to a solid flowing creek. Tomorrow is our first day out of harts pass and back to the southbound life!