Day 81 - August 3 - end at mile 2113.1. Woke up at 5 and was barely able to see in the pre-dawn hour, but I wanted to make it to Timberline Lodge by 7:30 am. Clouds were overhead and it felt like what I heard the Pacific Northwest was like. I heard Varied Thrush before light. We got great views of Mt Hood as we approached the lodge. The lodge has the best breakfast buffet on trail. After three plates and many smoothies and coffees, Kibs, Sprout and I paid our bills. We hung out in the lodge and drank a beer before heading out around noon. We descended down to the awesome Ramona waterfall. In the evening we heard peeping mice. I think they may be Pikas.
Day 82 - August 4 - end at mile 2144.6
Didn't sleep great the night before. Some roots and lumps underneath. The first 12 or so miles my rightside neck and shoulder started hurting. My pack doesn't have a hip belt and up until now it had been fine but the weight pulling down bothered me today. I stopped for lunch at a junction and Kibs and Sprout passed by. After lunch, there was a steep descent down to Tunnel Falls and Eagle Creek. The pain I felt in the morning was gone now. The Eagle Creek Trail we were on was really cool as it followed a canyon wall with the creek below. After we walked behind Tunnel Falls we saw a bazillion people on our way to the trail head. Soon we were in Cascade Locks. We got pizza, fries, and beer at the Ale House and met the great trail angel there. My first pizza in 1200 miles. Sprout and Kibs headed off for Portland and I stayed behind. I'll miss hanging out with them but I wanted to keep going forward. Roadrunner came in for dinner and sat down. It was good to hang with him, last saw him at the Etna Hostel. I wasn't sure where I'd spend the night but then he offered to let me stay in his hotel room which gladly accepted. Thanks Roadrunner!
Day 83 - August 5 - end at mile 2179.7. I left the motel at 6:30am and headed over the Bridge of the Gods. Only a few cars by as I crossed the Columbia River. I looked down through the grating to the water far below. I entered Washington alone. This is my first day hiking alone since meeting Sprout and Kibs ten days ago. The day's hike was in deep forest with thick canopy. No sunscreen needed. My pack was heavy with 150 miles of food and my neck and shoulder hurt. I plodded along for a quiet day. As sun was setting I struggled to find a campsite due to the ferns covering the forest floor. I had to use my phone's flashlight to find a spot to pitch my tent. At 9:30pm, I found a nice spot at the junction of two trails by Panther Creek. I was tired and the sound of the creek lulled me to sleep.
Day 84 - August 6 - end at mile 2213.4. Another quiet day. Slept in till 7am. Lux was outside my tent getting water from the creek when I woke up. We chatted as I packed up and leapfrogged all day, as we have been doing since Crater Lake. My neck and shoulder continued hurting today. The up and down felt a little easier today. Mostly in dense forest again today with good shade. A couple of ponds and a few views of what I believe is nearby Mt. Adams. Camping off trail in a flat dark forest. Had to clear out all the fallen branches because I couldn't find any clear spots along the trail.
Day 85 - August 7 - end at mile 2248.5. Walked out of my camp just as Lux was passing by. It was a gray morning and we leapfrogged for the first 15 miles of the day. The sun never came out for more than a few seconds today and it was the chilliest so far. It may have been wise to ship myself my warm clothes back for Washington afterall. I walked around the base of Mt. Adams and looked up at the giant glacier when the clouds weren't covering it. My neck and shoulders hurt off and on. In the evening it started to rain lightly. Because I was chilly and had a break in the rain I pitched camp a little early. The rains been off and on since. My latest forecast calls for rain tomorrow but clear the rest of the week.
Day 86 - August 8 - end at mile 2284.2. Today was the hardest day on trail so far due to the weather but one of the most rewarding. My tent was wet when I woke up in a cloud. I packed up and headed north wearing all my clothes. It was raining and cold... maybe in the 40's. I was one notch warmer than shivering. My bare legs brushed against wet brush and I wished for rain pants. My shirt was not sufficient under my rain coat to keep me warm. My hands lost fine motor skills as they got colder. I walked as fast as I could to gain body heat but it didn't work. At one point I stopped to put on my spare socks as gloves and my hands were so stiff I could hardly get them on. I kept going as fast as I could and reached the gorgeous Cispus Pass. The clouds move and I got a few seconds of sunlight before they returned. By now it was 1pm and warm enough that I wasn't in pain but my hands were still hard to move. Next I climbed up to the knife's edge which was a very cool traverse of a narrow. On the approach was a ton of snow and the fog made me feel like I was somewhere super remote like Antarctica. On the back side the clouds finally cleared and I took my first brake at 5pm. Two more hours of dry hiking ended in drizzle and I pitched my tent. My hands are sore from the cold. Tomorrow is a store, I hope they sell gloves. If not... plastic bags.
Day 87 - August 9 - end at mile 2314.7. Light rain fell throughout the night. I slept in till 6:30 to avoid the cold, wet outside. Once I got up and moving, I had a nice three hour walk into the store at White Pass.The clouds were thick but occasionally would blow open views to the nearby scenary, otherwise I could see maybe thirty feet only. I took a shortcut down to the store which was essentially going down the White Pass Ski slope. This was steep and mostly off trial. The fog and overgrown plants made for an interesting was down. At the store I was lucky to find gloves, a winter hat, and a space blanket to add to my pack. This will help me stay comfortable through Washington. I ate breakfast and hung out with other hikes. I packed up my resupply and headed out into the partly sunny, partly foggy afternoon. I was in a good mood this afternoon and on two occasions overlooked a field with what I believe are Elk. I saw maybe ten in all and watched them as they grazed and then ran off upon noticing me. It's very quiet here in these misty mountains. Just the occasional plane far overhead or chip of a Junco. When I stop walking, am quiet, and listen, I mostly just hear the own ringing in my head. A grouse or some other bird just flapped for one second nearby. Now its quiet again. It's dark now. Goodnight.
Day 88 - August 10 - end at mile 2344.5 - Slept in a bit again today due to the cold mist outside. I slept cool last night. The space blanket below my legs didn't help much as I conducted through it. Having it on top may have been better. The morning cool cleared quickly and the sun came out. It never did get hot today and the sun was a welcome change of pace after the past few days. I did walk off and on through misty clouds. I caught a few glimpses of Mt. Rainer through the clouds as I walked through its national park. Until today the mountain had been shrouded in thick mist. In the evening I got to Mike Urich cabin. I was hoping to find a thermal top layer inside to take with me. To my delight there was a grey soft-shell jacket in my size inside up for the taking. I've got everything I need now to stay warm in Washington, except maybe rain pants. The trail provides. I spent the evening over dinner with four other hikers. A nice day.
Day 89 - August 11 - end at mile 2374.5. I started off a little late today. The meadow I camped next to was still full of mist but the sky above was blue. After an hour of hiking the sun reminded me of what it was like just three days ago on the PCT: hot and sunny. I crossed paths with at least six sobos this morning, and a bunch of older AT thru hiker gents out doing Washington. In the evening, I leapfrogged with a local who told me a bunch of neat natural history of the upcoming trail. Earlier in the day I saw what looked like a huge skunk cross the trail. I bushwacked a wide arc around it. Got good views of Mt. Rainer through the clear sky today. Otherwise the section of trail was rather dull today. Full of PUDs, forest road crossings, and powerlines. Just walking through conifers, which nice in its own right.