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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 1 of the PCT

Today is the first day of the PCT.

It's been a great trip with my dad, we had a nice drive through British Columbia and then to Eastern Washington. It was very hot and there was sagebrush. We were in the desert! The east slope of Washington's rugged cascades were dry desert just like the eastern slopes the Sierras in California.

We came upon the town of Okanogan, a dusty old western town and we pulled into a gas station parking lot. It was move out day! I've been living out of my truck for over a year, but for many years I've kept most of my stuff in my car. We tore the truck apart and laid everything out on the ground. I pack my bag for the PCT and threw a lot of stuff away and reorganized the rest. I sat there on the lawn of the car wash for hours in the scorching 94 degree heat surrounded by the last of my meager possessions and said goodbye to them. Finally it was done, the truck was clean for dads cross country trip. We went grocery shopping and to the post office,  then we continued on the road, ready now, and drove towards the North Cascades.

We got showers and a swim at a beach and then went to the town of Twisp where Dad bought us a celebration dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was amazing food, shrimp salad and excellent chicken burritos, then homemade cheesecake and ice cream with strawberries for dessert.

Now we were ready to drive to the PCT, or so we thought. We made it through Mazama and up the slopes of the Cascades, but at some point I realized what we were missing- the map. I didn't have a map for day one, I had lost it and meant to download it in town. I forgot to and now we were out of cell service. We drove up the road and one mountain in particular jumped out at us from around the corner. It looked like a huge castle with spires and turrets, covered with snow.

 Immense waterfalls poured down next to the road and the bugs were so thick they coated the windshield. These mountains were extreme, we hadn't seen mountains like this in a long time. They were daunting and snowy and we were missing our map. We made it to the trail right as darkness set in at Rainy Pass. We all discussed the situation. We eventually decided to drive down the mountain and 35 miles back to town so we could download the map. There were so many deer crossing the dark road it became rather nerve-wracking having to constantly slam on the brakes.

We made it to Winthrop at 11 and were all very tired. We were going to set up a tent right in this parking lot until we saw the no overnight parking sign. The map wouldn't download, it was taking 1% per minute. We were stressed. We were supposed to start the PCT in the morning, clearly we would get a late start. There was nothing to do but wait for the download. After tossing and turning and dreaming of vivid snow-covered peak in the North Cascades, I realized I had fallen asleep in the driver's seat and woke up to Maggie telling me the download didn't work at 1:30 in the morning. It was upsetting but then we got it to work.

We drove back towards the Cascades, my dad was in and out of sleep in the back. We drove up a road looking for somewhere to camp to no avail. We continued searching around Mazama. We stopped for gas there, I could tell it was a very wonderful town. At 3 a.m. We pulled into a campground but didn't pay. We couldn't sleep and soon the Sun begins to rise. We did fall asleep but were awoken by the heat at 8. We packed our bags one last time and drove up to the PCT.

We procrastinated until 11. Finally we stood with my dad and prayed over our trips. It brought us to tears and we had a very touching goodbye. He was planning to drive to Crater lake that day, San Francisco the next. We took some pictures and he walked us a few steps down the trail. Goodbye dad! A goodbye to remember. Then we were off!

It felt good to be out and finally on the trail. The truck was gone and we were glad to be rid of the stress of the road. Maggie said she felt more relief than she had in 2 months. It rained on us a little, just one quick shower and that was all for the day. It rained when we left Death Valley, and Iowa. We are starting to take rain as a good omen.

We started at 11 and finished at 6:30, did 19 miles, we hiked fast. We are fresh and ready. It was an easy day. There was a twisted bridge we had to cross and a suspension bridge hanging over a turbulent waterfall. The flowing rivers were so beautiful and snowy mountain peaks towered high above us. At the end of the day we arrived at Highbridge campground. It felt good to take our packs off.

 There were picnic tables and a fire pit, a bear box and logs to sit on, & a bathroom. We felt spoiled. It was a great night. In the morning a bus came to pick us up at the end of this dirt road. It was kind of magical, a bus showing up way out in the mountains for us. We hadn't seen a single person yet. It took us to this incredible bakery with cheesecake blueberry cobbler and sticky buns and cookies and coffee. There was a huge organic garden with a dirty bare foot man giving us free goat cheese samples. We made friends with everyone and then found ourselves wandering Stehekin. A small resort on a huge turquoise lake, surrounded with the jagged peaks of the North Cascades.

The Sun is out and the breeze is fresh, whipping up waves on the lake where I sit writing this. We got our first resupply box full of food and are now set to hike 8 days through these crazy looking mountains. We feel very refreshed and ready to keep hiking but we missed the bus back to the trail! Oh well, just relaxing, so far the PCT has been very relaxing!


  1. Yeah. A blog post and a phone call in the same day!! I'm so glad to see these pictures...and glad you had the opportunity to post. Thinking about both of you...sending love and well wishes and you begin this journey.

  2. Yeah! And I got another blog post done too but its not quite as happy as this one. But don't worry!! We're staying safe even if it doesn't sound like it! :) and we won't do anything that's too scary even if we have to detour all of washington. But ive been looking at a snow depth map and the next segment, J, only has a little and there's side trails we can take to detour the snow if we must. The following segment, I, has more snow that one goes by Rainier, it will have some time to melt but we'll detour that too if we must and after whites pass we should have all smooth sailing until we hit the droughts in the south