Up, down, up, down, up - this pretty much sums up this section, in which we climbed about 13,000+ feet total in elevation over the course of 75 miles. For more detail, read below.
After a lovely breakfast at the Pancake House, we left Snoqualmie around 11:30 with hopes of doing 15-18 miles. The terrain was tough with lots of loose rocks and as MoonPie says, "PUDs" (pointless ups and downs). Around 6:30 we decided we were at 15 miles and called it a night. MoonPie, Clearwater and Jesse joined us at mosquito camp (yes, we still deal with mosquitoes, they just haven't been as bad lately). About an hour later, we saw a headlight coming down the mountain, and it was Don't Panic. Hoffa, Dangerprone and Hawkeye were ahead, but it was nice to be together with this little group.
An exciting day indeed. During the middle of a nice big climb, we heard jet sounds in the canyon. We look over and a fighter jet was actually below us in the canyon, flying toward the mountain - he pulled up at the last minute. It was awesome.
After a lunch with MoonPie, Jesse and Clearwater, we were going to hike another mile and fill up on water. I let LandShark go ahead with the boys and I waited for MoonPie. When the boys arrived at the water, there was a bear in the field - our first one we have actually seen on the trail. Unfortunately, by the time MoonPie and I got there, he had disappeared into the woods. I was sad, to say the least. I have a feeling I will hike all the way to Canada without a bear sighting.
We camped at a lovely site by a river and built a fire and roasted hot dogs MoonPie had packed out. We had a campfire discussion of what we have learned on this hike - one of those discussions that is meaningful and insightful.
Unfortunately, we had to deal with something we haven't had to yet - mice. At 2 am, I was rudely awoken by LandShark shining a bright light in my face saying "we have a mouse in our tent." The little guy had chewed a hole in the mesh and welcomed himself in. It took several minutes of chasing the mouse around our tent to finally build a ramp out the door with my sleeping pad and chase him out. I'm pretty sure he came back, but when I told LandShark about it, he said, "it's fine, we can just sleep with him in here." Needless to say, it wasn't a good night's sleep for anyone.
We had planned on a 26 mile day from the start. More of the same - big climbs, big up and downs. When we descended from our last climb looking for the campsite, we never found it, so we kept going. After a bit, we ran into a couple camping who didn't have room at their site, but said Hope Lake was only another mile and there was lots of camping there. MoonPie, Jesse and ourselves hiked into the dark to reach Hope Lake. We set up camp, cooked and went to bed. Fortunately we didn't have any more mice that evening, but both MoonPie and Jesse said they were wandering all around their tents until about 11, when the mice decided it was their bedtime as well.
Only 8 miles to go to Stevens Pass, and from there we would hitch into the Dinsmores - a trail angel family that invites hikers into their home. We had a couple climbs up and out, but the terrain was steady and it was over with quickly enough. We met up with MoonPie and Jesse at the top of the last climb before descending down to the road, and we enjoyed a nice conversation of religion, stereotypes and life in general.
At the road, it took approximately 16 minutes to hitch a ride before a VW van pulled over and we hopped in. This particular hitch acted as a bookend of sorts for LandShark and I, as the first hitch we ever got was from a VW van back in Julian, CA, and now our last hitch into town is a VW van as well. Maybe we haven't come so far after all.
The Dinsmore's are great, and they have built a whole hiker cabin above their garage, which you can see from the picture. There were many familiar faces here, and we have enjoyed our stay. Eleven hikers total loaded into the back of Mr. Dinsmore's truck and we went to dinner at the Cascadia Inn, where the special was chicken fried steak, which most of us ordered.
We also met a couple old friends here, Splash, who hiked southbound a few years ago and we met just outside of Warner Springs at mile 100 when she was section hiking back to the kick-off, and Eric D, who we met just before the Pines to Palms Highway at mile 142 - he finished on Aug. 16 and hiked back here to hang out for a few weeks. Last year he became the second person to yo-yo (hike from Mexico to Canada and back again).
Only one more trail town to go - and we can barely believe it's almost over!