Methow River to Porcupine Creek

Trail Signs

Fresh horse poop on the trail is always a good sign. If horses have recently passed through the same way we are going, it means that we shouldn’t have to go over, under, or around anything too extreme. The theory proved correct for today, the trail maintenance was pristinely done.

Every living thing in the area pretty much uses the trail. It’s simple survival 101 – why stomp or scramble through the thickets when you can save calories taking the path more traveled? Bears and deer have been actively using the trail to devour huckleberries. We have seen large piles of bear poop riddled with the tasty fruits. Even when there isn’t poop evidence, it’s easy to tell when creatures have been feasting on the berries. It’s not as if they are picking them off one at a time like we are.

What we have not seen a lot in the past couple of days has been northbounders, and I’m not talking about their poop either. Traffic coming towards us has slowed down since leaving the Harts Pass area. Back in southern Oregon, we would pass over two dozen hikers a day. Since leaving Harts Pass, we’re lucky to see a half-dozen. It makes sense, we saw some of the faster hikers here in Washington, many we had already met back in northern Oregon about a month ago.

It’s hard telling where the big bubble of hikers is with all the fire closures. I suspect it will be another couple of weeks before we run into our friends from Shelter Cove again.

Heart Beats

I have a new method for measuring how difficult a climb is. If I stop for a break and I can see my pulse in my eyeballs, that means it’s a very difficult climb. For a lot of moderate inclines, I’m able to turtle up the hill slowly and never have to take a breather. Every once in a while the PCT will throw something super steep at us and it has our entire bodies pulsing. One of these happened today. Sometimes you have to earn that view, that water, that break, that dinner.

Our legs and hearts are ready for the challenging climbs Washington has in store for us. Seeing all of the elevation gains that are ahead makes me wonder how long it would have taken us to do these same miles in bodies that were not yet in hiker shape, had we been able to start in northern Washington. Even with the occasional pulse-in-the-eyeballs, I think the better shape we are in now will help us appreciate the experience a little more and hate life a little less.

Tonight’s camp is just up the hill from porcupine creek. Our site is flat with a log bench and we can hear the creek off in the distance.