Friday, September 26, 2014

Final Spurt

Today marks my five month anniversary on the PCT. I've hiked through the desert and the High Sierras. I've seen devastating forest fires and enormous volcanoes. Through the Californian drought into alpine mountains and back into desert again. Through lava fields in Oregon into the evergreen woods of Washington. I've met friends and Trail Angels who made this trip an unforgettable experience of a lifetime. I've hiked almost 2,500 miles. With less than 200 miles left on this journey I'm in the final stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. I'm about to leave Skykomish now; there's only one more town stop left before I walk into Canada: Stehekin, Washington. I'm well prepared and ready to end this. The next time you'll hear from me I'll be a PCT thru-hiker. But before I do so, let me tell you what the last couple of weeks have been like.

From Bend, Oregon, I set out towards Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. The architecture and craftsmanship of this historic building, erected during the Great Depression, is as impressive as the volcano that it was built on. It truly is an important landmark along the trail; but I guess for thru-hikers the most remarkable thing there is the All-You-Can-Eat buffet. After making sure that I ate enough to be unable to hike out on the same day without seeing my guts exploding all over the trail, I decided to spend a night in this fine establishment, which served as the location for the outside shots of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining". Unfortunately the hallways were not flooded with blood during my stay there. Apparently they only do that in the winter, when only the caretaker and his family are around ;-)

The next day I dragged my body out of there to put an end to the state of Oregon. I hiked through Tunnel Falls and headed to Cascade Locks to spend some time at PCT Days, an annual event where vendors get a chance to present their newest products geared towards thru-hikers. After enjoying my last Zero in Oregon there, I walked across the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River and thereby into Washington, the Evergreen State.

When I walked into that last state of my long journey I was prepared to hike in the rain for the most part. However, I got lucky and the weather turned out to be all sunny for pretty much the first half of the state. I celebrated my birthday in Trout Lake and headed on to White Pass. The trail went through Goat Rocks Wilderness, likely to be one of the most scenic stretches of the PCT. While parts of Oregon were very flat and easy to hike, Washington is quite the opposite of that. By now we're back to climbing thousands of feet in elevation every day. Some of the ascents are similar to the passes in the High Sierras, although they're below 7,000 foot instead of more than 12,000 foot, so we don't really have to deal with altitude sickness anymore. Also, the rain finally caught up to us. But let's be honest: the idea of walking through all of Washington in the fall without being dumped on seemed a bit too unrealistic, aye? After all, the Appalachian Trail taught me what that feels like, so the concept of hiking in wet gear for several days is not all new to me. At least we're awarded with amazing views out here every day.

So, to bring this to an end: I'm 193 miles away from the northern terminus of a trail that led me from Mexico to Canada. The next time you'll hear from me I'll be done with this hike. A total of 2,668.8 (4,295 km) miles shall be enough for this year. My legs are starting to get tired.

So I bid you farewell for now! Happy Trails to you all; and stay tuned for more details after I finished this enormous hike!



  1. Cheeseburger, with your permission I would love to post some of your recent photos on a website I maintain that features stories and images from the PCT . . . it is a labor of love. I would include a little background on you and your hike. The website is . . . you can let me know if that would be OK with you. Best wishes on finishing the home stretch!

    1. Hey Rees,
      feel free to use any of my pictures on your website, but please include the source (e.g. a link to my blog).
      Regards and Happy Trails,

  2. Cheeseburger, I will post the first photos on October 21st. And, periodically, I will post some photos over the coming month or two. I will always give you credit and link with your blog. Thanks.