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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mosquitos and Mt. Adams

We woke up early for a big 25 mile day at Snowgrass flat.

 Connor is still with us and it looks like we're gonna keep him around for another week. I told Maggie it was 6:30 when it was really 5:30, hah! Got her going early. We only made it 21 miles. They were pretty harsh though.

The trail contoured a big grassy basin with waterfalls pouring down the sides to a stream at the bottom, big jagged mountains at the top.

 We crossed a waterfall and had to take our shoes off and I left Marvin there.

 Marvin is my walking stick, I found him last year in the Sequoia forest. It's a very majestic forest, Marvin came from one of the biggest trees.then he served to hold up my trailers awning in Death Valley for many months. So I decided he could come on the Pacific Crest Trail, but I have forgotten him places a few times. On the bus to Stehekin, but I got him back, and here I walked pretty far away from him but Maggie and Connor enouraged me to go back and get him. So I trail ran back but it was a really pretty area so it wasn't such a bad place to see three times!

So that was nice and then we got to the top of Cispus pass where there was a big snow cornice which was supposed to have given people problems.

There was one girl who witnessed an older man fall and break his back climbing up Cispus and she had to use her distress beacon to get him helicopter out. Cispus had given us some anxiety in the past but it clearly was fine because there was lots of people around. We've been pretty much alone out here and every person we meet we'd talk to for like 10 minutes. It was really nice, then all of a sudden just north of the goat rocks we started seeing people constantly. A lot of them coming from Mexico. They've arrived. We still don't see that many but like 10 or more groups of people a day instead of 2.

 We got to the dreaded snow and it was easy no problem. A cornice is a snow ledge. Might stick out 20 feet over the pass. We heard some advice, if the trail is snow covered that instead of climbing down the cornice, traversing the sideways snow and then climbing back up the cornice, just stay on top of the thing. It's got a flat top, and follow it to where you would meet the trail again. So anyway, we didn't have to, the trail was practically snow free, but it looked like a nice view to stay high up so that's what we did.

We left the trail and walked up the snow cornice.  It was pretty fun , Connor stayed on the trail, and we watched him quickly getting smaller below us. It was pretty silly though because then there was no more snow and now you're stuck scrambling across the scree field. Turned out to be a much more difficult way so we decided to head back to the trail but it was far below us at this point. I found a snowfield and told Maggie to follow me down it. It was just fun sledding, nothing to fear! So I skated down it standing up, skiing, and I fell a little but it was pretty awesome. She went down it with her snow pants on, on her butt and started going really fast! She had an amazing ride, her first ever glissade I was so proud of her. She was exhilarated. We had wasted a lot of time and lost Connor but we soon found him and got back on track and had a pretty decent downhill hike from there.

Now we were hiking ever closer toward Mount Adams. We arrived at a place called Coleman weed patch. People walking with shirts tied around their faces and mosquitoes clinging to their backpacks, all looking quite traumatized. Huh, there must be bugs ahead... Then we hit them like a wall. It was so horrible they were so vicious. I'd be killing three at a time landing on my arms. 5 flew in my face at one time, all aiming for my eyes and blinding me. They were so thick you could barely see through the fog of them. I'd kill 30 on my leg with one swipe, leaving a bloody mess. You couldn't stop moving, basically running. For about 7 miles. It was the worst hike of our lives. We had to take lunch at some point in this hellish place.

That evening we walked out on the other side of the mosquito hell and camped in a beautiful open spot. I gathered wild strawberries for nearly 2 hours, lots of them, and cooked them mixed with 2 packets of oatmeal and a nature valley bar ontop. The three of us had cobbler and it was an amazing dessert. We were exhausted from hiking so fast all day and we stayed a little worn out the entire next day.

That day we walked around Mount Adams, he was excellent I went swimming in the creek. We saw some nice lava fields and waterfalls and wild flowers.

 We got to the Lava spring which was beautiful crystal water flowing into a gorgeous lava rock pool of ashen grey stone. Supposedly the best water on the entire PCT and it tasted great. Adams was cool it had a huge glacier on it that looked like a frozen waterfall.

 Then unfortunately Maggies ankle started to hurt her badly. It was a little scary we stopped after 14 miles instead of doing 16. It was a bad spot the mosquitoes were insane again there.

The next day her ankle felt better and we had an easy hike to this road. It was probably just stress from the hard day we'd had. We found ourselves flying down the road in a pickup bed, cliff dropping away beneath us, a spectacular view of Adams before us. It was an amazing ride to the town of Trout Lake where we got a $20 room. There were two little rooms above the grocery store and Connor booked one and we got the other so we had the whole place to ourselves. The rooms were clean and beautiful, nice queen bed with fluffy pillows and no shower just the bathtub. I took two baths! It was very informal they didn't take our names, no key, just handed them 20$. The room is a PCT secret.

We all ate restaurant food and ice cream and then just hung out in the room and drank. I bought a little bottle of whiskey and that might have been a bad idea because we had beer too and Connor suddenly was belligerently drunk. I forgot that some people have problems with alcohol. He confessed of all his deepest insecurities, then got in a fight with some people outside. It was nothing physical and in the morning I learned that it probably wasn't his fault because these scummy "thru hikers" were seriously jerks. We like Connor, he's a nice young person, a music major in Milwaukee, who has plunged into this epic trip with very little research and preparation. This is his first exposure to the mountains, his first time away from home for more than two weeks, and he's alone. He has a lot to learn and I think Maggie and I have taught him a lot. Therefore, we think it appropriate for his safety that he stays with us for the next few days through the wilderness to Cascade Locks, so for now we've adopted a friend.

Anyway, I called a phone number and some trail angel came and drove us back to the PCT. We started hiking into a very pleasant woodland and camped in a berry patch. What a gorgeous spot. We then kept hiking into the Indian Heaven wilderness which had some beautiful lakes. We found so many huckleberries we couldn't keep hiking, we just had to stop and gorge ourselves! We swam in the blue lake here where we're camped. Next to Tombstone lake...

Then we learned why its called Indian Heaven... Maggie and I, just falling asleep, suddenly heard footsteps.

Loud footsteps somewhere around in the bushes. "Connor...?" We said quietly, no answer. Then walking right by Connor's tent. "Hey, Connor." Still no reply. We shine a flashlight on the noise and a pair of eyes glinted in the light. "CONNOR! THERE'S A BEAR BY YOUR TENT!" He woke up. We got out of the tent and looked around whistling and yelling and the animal had silently disappeared. Was it possibly Sasquatch, or a lion? Perhaps an Indian Bobcat. We still heard it later. Walking around.

"You know why they call it Tombstone lake right? There was a big Indian massacre here, this is the Indian Heaven wilderness for a reason. The ghosts still haunt the place of course, walking skeleton creatures with big feathery headdresses that just stand there in the woods... Breaking branches off the trees!" We kept hearing branches breaking in the woods. "The Indian Heaven is the white man's HELL!"

 Then the footsteps came back. Maggie and I sat bolt upright, she was terrified now. We stared transfixed and silent into the night our hearts beating fast as we listened intently to the loud stomping steps.  "Connor...?" He was asleep again. Again they walked right up to his tent.. We turned our flashlights on it didn't see the beast but heard epic crashing and smashing through the trees of it fleeing. "CONNOR WAKE UP!" We yelled.

This kept happening, little noises, ghosts all night, Maggie hated it. Guess that's what the Indian Heaven is all about, ghosts, and what happens when you camp on an Indian graveyard. Hey we're all still learning and having a great time doing it. Now its just 5 more days and we're done with Washington. We'll have hiked 380 out of the 507 miles of Washingtons PCT so I think that's pretty good! Looking forward to getting to Oregon!


  1. I love that I get to read stories I haven't yet been told (like sliding down the snow). There is always a surprise in your blog. These pictures, once again, are fantastic. Think about you two all the time. Stay well.

  2. I agree with all of Lynn's comments. I really enjoy reading your blog.

  3. Those bears / ghosts are so scary. I don't know how you stayed there the whole night.