Sunday, November 2, 2008

Photos Finally

Click each photo below to be taken to a Picasa album of the respectave trails:

Pacific Northwest Trail:

Pacific Crest Trail (part of it!!!):

Monday, October 6, 2008

Photo Onslaught

Port Townsend madrona tree:

Sunrise in Pt Townsend:

Memorable ferry sunrise near Vancouver Island:

Typical SE Alaskan views thru the fog:

Sun cooking the fog in Haines:

Haines Junction, Yukon:

Dayhike view just outside of Anchorage:

Mission Complete

After 3 days of hitching, I arrived in Anchorage a day later than I had anticipated, completely happy to be finished with 700 miles of hitchhiking.

Back in Haines, I had planned to wait for 2 friends I'd made on the ferry ride who got off in Juneau for a cup of coffee or something. Instead, I got a bit antsy, and encouraged by the sunny day, I left Haines in the middle of the afternoon headed toward the Canadian border. Even though there were loads of friendly folk in the town of Haines, it took me well over 1.5 hrs to get out of that town. I grew impatient while waiting and started walking toward the 'airport', hoping to maybe find an extra car or two. In the middle of my walking, a man picked me up while listening to some honky tonk in the car. This guy, name naturally forgotten, was working in the middle of nowhere as part of some mining exploration where they'd found Alaskan gold, silver, copper, and bronze. Although he was planning on leaving me 6 miles from the border (easily walkable), he decided to drive me all the way to the border to help me out. Again, an other guy who went out of his way to help me out, a standard on this trip.

And again, border patroll didn't like me. Is it the beard? Is it the fact that I'm walking with a backpack? Do I seem like a total vagrant/bum? After 5 minutes of insane verbal grilling, they let me through, but of course they wouldn't let me stand under the awning in case of rain, and made me walk 1/4 of a mile down the road away from the stopping point. And stop, no one did. I sat on the street, read a bit of my book, and waited while not a single car passed for over an hour. This would become a bit commong while hitching through the Yukon, although technically at the time I was in British Columbia. Finally, 2 girls from Whitehorse, YK, came through and picked me up, even though they had sworn years back that they'd never pick up another hitchhiker. Of course, like a few other drivers, they felt sorry for me since there was no traffic but an abundance of chilly weather.

Just after leaving from the border, a bald eagle swooped really close to our car. She even hit the brakes a bit to avoid hitting this eagle, a massive massive bird! I'd seen eagles in the sky before, but it was amazing how ginormous this beast was. It would have done some serious damage to the windshield. Next another enormous bird, a Canadian goose, flew in front of the car. We crossed borders into the Yukon Territory and the scenery turned spectacular. Not to say that the scenery in Southeastern Alaska and the sliver of BC I went through weren't amazing, but the Yukon managed to top them in this section. Loads of rolling hills, all painted by the hand of autumn, unfolded to meet gigantic mountains in the distance. There was nothing to interupt the view of wilderness around except for the road we were driving on. I kept thinking to myself how I would love to come back out here and do some hiking back in the backcountry. At one point we saw a mountain pass that must have been 500 ft deep and shaped like a perfect 'U'. Not the typical small notch in the mountains that I'd grown used to seeing. It was surreal to see, and I couldn't take my eyes off of it since it just didn't seem real.

They dropped me in Haines Junction, YK just before total darkness, and in the middle of falling snow. There was a couple of inches of snow on either side of the street as I wandered around looking for a place to camp. There seem to be nothing but asphalt and no trees to camp in for miles. How this was possible in the Yukon was beyond me, but was a complete eyesore. After looking for the abandonded cabins I'd read about that exist in the town and not finding them, I settled for the heathen option: camping inside of a church. This wasn't just any church. It was a Catholic church that looked like it was made out of an enormous aluminum tube, allowing maybe 30 people inside, complete with a sign on the outside that said 'Come in and rest a while'. Don't mind if I do! It wasn't all that warm inside, but at least it was out of the falling snow and wind.

I woke up early in case anyone wanted to use the church for morning prayer and began hitching. One hour passed, no ride. Soon my toes started to go numb from the sub-freezing temps braved while wearing tennis shoes. I began pacing around to get the blood flowing, something I would have to do constantly for the remainder of the hitching trip. Another 2 and a half hours of pacing passed before I finally got a lift. My dropped me in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Well, there was a closed mining camp behind me where he was headed to clean things out. Cloud cover was a bit too heavy for me to enjoy the snow-capped mountains around me, and I was becoming worried about my chances of getting strated 60 miles from town. 2 minutes later a guy driving a huge truck full of gravel picked me up and said he'd give me a lift 10 miles out of the construction zone up ahead. He offered me a joint which i declined, but also tons of great info on the territory, state of the roads, etc while I soaked up.

Dropped 10 miles ahead, next to the MASSIVE Kluane Lake, I waited for a while for a ride. With not much traffic on this part of the Alaskan Hwy, my thru-hiker instincts kicked in and I decided to hike it. The lake was absolutely beautiful, the sky primarily blue, and the feeling of untouched wilderness created a desire to walk through it all to view it without a windshield in my way. After walking about 2 miles I roadworker picked me up and said he'd take me to Destruction Bay, the first 'town' in over 100 miles! Well, there were 42 residents in Destruction Bay, one gas station, one motel, and one bar. A bit more traffic though, and a truck that took me another 16 km to Burwash Landing.

Burwash Landing had nothing. My map told me that this town had a gas station, but it had long since closed after tourist season ended. This became a common sight, closed gas stations, museums, and gift shops since not many RV's were out on the road anymore. Burwash Landing is famous for its massive wildfire and it's burned evidence which is still in view to this date. No one was driving through Burwash Landing, causing me 4 hours later to set up camp. Darkness fell and I set up my bivy and quilt under the awning of a closed gold mining museum. I woke up at 4:30 to find my bivy soaked, quilt starting to get wet, and a snow/rain mix being blown under my protective awning and onto me. I reacted quickly to salvage my down sleeping bag, which I knew I needed dry to survive while hitching in these parts. I set up my tent quickly, and crawled inside. My quilt stayed dry, I slept fine, and woke up at 8:00 am, surprised to find it still dark, but at least there were a couple of cars driving by.

Pacing commenced, and an hour later I found myself inside of a truck headed for Alaska. The guy who gaved me a lift was a native american from the coast of Oregon, making the 2700 mile drive up to Fairbanks for a new gold-mining job. He tried to talk me into working for the company, which paid amazingly well since they have trouble keeping people working through -50 temps and midnight sun and/or winter darkness. He got me to the border, and beyond to Tok, Alaska.

Tok was another visual headache, ugly, asphalt everywhere, with low clouds covering any scenic beauty that saved the place. There was however a grocery store, with goods that weren't insanely priced like I saw all in the Yukon. At Destruction Bay a can of Pringles was $4. Luckily I had packed enough food to live off of for 3 days. In Tok, I got some bananas, a cup of coffee, then stood out in the soft rain and snow covered streets to try to get to the next town of Glennallen. There were quite a bit of traffic buzzing past, but I think it was all locals going to their houses a tad past me. I was too lazy and cold to walk another 5 miles to get to the edge of town, so I just stood at the main junction where cars could either go to Glennallen or Fairbanks.

I stood in that place for 8 hrs, met another crazy hitchhiker who was headed to Fairbanks from the eden that is Homer, AK. I watched him get a ride in 30 minutes headed to Fairbanks and started considering going to Fairbanks instead, a 300 mile detour, then going to Anchorage from there. At least Fairbanks would be a larger city (80,000 compared to 1,300 in Tok). Just as I had figured this out during a bout of pacing, a guy saw me while he was standing around smoking a cig. I explained what I was doing, that I wasn't crazy and homeless, and he offered a ride to Fairbanks if I was still on the road at 9:00. I didn't think I would be waiting for another couple of hours, but I did. Ronn rolled by at 9:00, moved his photography equipment around, and I hopped in for the LONG ride to Fairbanks.

Road crews had long since stopped maintaining the icy/snowy road since not many idiots travel that this late hour, providing us with a road that we couldn't travel over 45 mph on. There were a few fishtailing sessions that accmpanied lots of great converstion on both of our excitement of Alaska, photography, and other subjects. We passed the town of North Pole, complete with Santa Claus house, candy striped telephone poles, and business that had to fit into the Christmas theme, even during the summer.

Finally we got to Fairbanks around 3 am, and I had a couch to crash on! Ron welcomed me into his beautiful log cabin, gave me some Alaska magazine issues to read, and we slept and slept. A pot of Starbucks coffee was brewed, cereal eaten, and I was given a lift to the best spot to hitch out of town. For the first time since leaving Haines, things would go my way out on the road. Everyone was suddenly friendly at the gas station I was hitching from, and within 10 minutes a couple picked me up headed for Wasilla, 40 mi from Anchorage, and home of the creepy Sarah Palin. A college couple, Eric and his girl Genene were hilarious and great company for the 6 hr drive. Things were STILL cloudy, a fall/winter/spring Alaskan standard, but great views would occassionally poke through the clouds. We drove through Denali National Park, full of huge mountains, bigger rivers, and massive bridged gorges.

In Wasilla I got a very very quick ride without even trying to the next town, Eagle River, halfway to Anchorage. This guy was full of crazy stories of how tough you need to be to survive in AK. He told me his old lady had a whole checklist of psychological issues, was locked up, had tried to kill him with a knife, and could beat any man in fisticuffs. The dude giving me a ride claimed he even burned down another mans house when he discovered the guy had stolen his car. Weird stories, but at least he got me closer to my destination.

Fall colors painted the mountains and I could finally see the ocean. In Eagle River I got another ride without even trying by a guy going all the way into downtown. He knew exactly where the address was where I was headed, gave me advice on the best chai tea and breakfast in town, and left me right at Truants doorstep.

Finally gave Truant a hug when I caught up to her, and also Sweetfish who hiked with us was in Alaska, another hug. It was so so so so good to finally get into Anchorage, see a couple of good friends. 5 minutes after getting reaquainted, we headed to a party with Truants cowokers. Not only did I need to the company of friends again, but I needed pizza, and more importantly, beer. I got all of these things at the party. Relaxed party, a little bit of good beer and a little bit of fantastic pizza. A great ending to a great trip.

I had been seriously considering a cycling trip to get from Colorado to ATL after leaving AK, but now I don't think I'm going to do that. I'll probably just stay in Alaska longer than expected, seeing all that is within a 5 mile radius now that I have access to a car, and return to ATL in time for my sisters wedding. So, I managed to complete all of my dreams that I had before starting this adventure at the end of April: make it to Canada, make it to the Pacific, and make the ferry ride up to Haines. Becoming great friends with Truant added a 700 mi hitch to Anchorage into the mix, and all of that is now done. The cycling trip can happen in the years to come.

Thanks for reading my blog. This is probably the last entry, other than the possible addition of photos if I can get any uploaded. Bye!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Into the fjords

Well, finally I have achieved another recent dream of mine: making it to Alaska via the state ferry system.

After 5 different bus connections in WA, I found myself at the Bellingham ferry terminal and shelling out $358 to take the ferry through the fjords of British Columbia and Southeastern Alaska to wind up in Haines. As soon as I boarded, set up my gear on the heated upper deck, and met everyone up there, I knew it was going to be a memorable experience. There were 25-30 yr old fisherman returning to Kethican to start a new fishin season, expecting to round up a few grand per week, then take a few months off of work and living on that cash. A few other people were just traveling through Alaska like myself. Tom, a Brit, is heading up to Anchorage to train dogs for mushing. Kim is just taking the ferry to Skagway, and returning on the ferry, without stepping into Skagway, just to spend a week out on these mystical waters. Within an hour we were into great conversation and the ferry was leaving the dock in Bellingham.

Vancouver Island on the Port side of the boat emitted lights at night that drowned out stars that we should have seen. When I awoke, there was what may have been the best sunrise I've seen on this entire trip. Next to the boat's wake, i couldn't believe that there were Dall Porpoises leaping through the sun-tinted red water. 30 minutes later after the sun finally reared its head over the mountains to the East, an enormous pod of at least 30 dolphins was swimming right next to the ferry. They were close enough that I could even hear them making their high pitched sounds. Very very cool. A few hours later there was an announcement on the PA telling us that whales were spotted at the front of the boat. Sure enough, we saw 2 whales, and throughout the day saw a few more. The wildlife out here is dense.

Bethany and Tom wound up turning into really good friends, and we spent time together walking into the first port town, Ketchican. The weather was typical Southeast Alaska fare: cold, cloudy, windy, rainy. We made it toward Creek Street, which was a fantastic boardwalk perched upon pilings to keep the 'street' out of the creek below. There were business and a boardwalk for pedestrians all elevated above a large creek. In the creek we couldn't believe that we saw hundreds, no THOUSANDS of salmon. The air reeked of death, and we later found out that many fish were now dying since they finished their runs for spawning. There were a few fish floating on the top of the water, hundreds and hundreds below swimming, and soon a seal came into view and snagged a fish! We'd see this seal later in the day swimming around the creek, not seeking fish, but seemingly having a good time. What a scene! After wandering around the 'street' checking out toursity shops and native art, we walked the boardwalk over some rapids in the creek. There were salmon flying through the air, trying to fight their way upstream, but we didn't see any of the make it.

I glanced at my watch and realized that we only had 40 minutes to get back to the ferry before it left again, and the ferry was 2.5 miles away. We walked casually, then had to run the last mile to make it back just in the knick of time. The further we headed north from this point, the thicker the fog would become, and the less we could see.

Nearly all of the rest of yesterday was spent inside of the ferry. Conversations. Book reading. Naps. Nothing exciting. Today, it was a bit sad to tell Bethany and Tom goodbye when they got off the boat in Juneau. 2 hours later the scenery got fantastic. I happened to spot a waterfall coming out downhill from a glacier so I stepped out into the intense wind and rain to check it out. Hidden in a calm doorway, I was amazed that finally we have entered the signs of autumn in Alaska. Half of the hillsides were covered in yellow trees, growing on what appeared to be sheer cliffs that dropped into the ocean. No beach. Finally this was the Coast Range of alaska, and these mountains were huge and impressive. Lots of snow on peaks. More glaciers. More waterfalls. And many more photographs taken.

I stepped off the boat finally in Haines, got a quick lift from a local who claimed the security onboard had torn his van apart, and was surprised that the town is even smaller than I expected. Great setting and I can't wait to explore it even more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Details of a Dead Whale

I'm going to try to do more justice to the end of my journey now.

Leaving Forks I had to do a 9 milish roadwalk to get out to the scam that was and is Oil City. I got a lift from an Indian man out of town and began walking on the busiest section of active logging that I've seen yet. At least 50 dumptrucks and logging trucks flew by me as I walked along, but it didn't bother me since I knew the ocean was drawing closer with each step. When I was nearly to the end of this roadwalk, I was blown away with an unexpected advantage of all of these trucks flying by: odd natural sepia tones. The road was primarily dirt and gravel, and when the trucks flew by creating clouds of dust of this material, it would settle on the surrounding foliage. This made for fantastic photography as I tried to get the odd brown look of all of the plants that should have been green, and oftentimes a bright yellow flower would be transposed over top to give a truly surreal appearance to the scene.

Finally I got to the ocean. I've already written about what an experience seeing the ocean was for the first time. What I forgot to include was how odd the sound of the ocean was. The sea was at low tide, which I was unaware of at the time, and emmited a constant low rumble. I couldn't really make out the sound of each individual wave, but instead there was just the steady sound of brown noise that the sea churned out. Very odd when coupled with the monotone visuals of the area and unreal amount of driftwood brought out by the river. Later I found out that this area gets psychotic storms in December, oftentimes with winds over 100 mph! That knocks down absurd amnts of old trees, evidenced by the washouts I saw in many valleys, the rivers bring them out to sea, and the sea brings them back to the beach. It was also fun to hear about how much the beach changes each year near the river areas as the sand is always shifting. This environment is truly alive.

The first 3 days were very fun while getting used to the seastacks out at sea. Sometimes the walking would be on sand freshly packed by a retreated high-tide, the other times would be on very very slippery rocks that covered the beach. A few days into the trip, I had to do a 3 mile roadwalk into the town of La Push to pick up care packages that a few friend sent to me. On the way into town I met two guys finishing a cycling trip from Seattle to La Push, and it was really inspiring to see them doing it 'outlaw style' with mountain bikes and huge army backpacks, obviously doing it on a shoestring budget. They were also having a great time.

Although I had planned to try to offer someone $20 at the marina for a ride across the unfordable river, I instead took the .75 bus and then a 5 mile roadwalk to get to the coast on the other side. This is when high tide was in full form and I saw how massive the waves could get out here, which isn't something I had seen before. I was actually a bit scared by how large the waves were, and could finally understand how surfers were able to surf out here on these dangerous seas littered with underwater seastacks. The tide was high enough to force me onto driftwood to stay out of the water. After doing this painfully slow hiking on driftwood, balancing above a few creeks draining into the sea, I decided to hike on the ocean side of the driftwood. This meant hiking when the waves would receed into the ocean, hopping up onto a log as a waved crashed in to stay dry, and repeat. This took me to a large cliff where water was lapping right up to the side of the cliff, a few feet deep. I could have waited and stared at the seastacks, rare blue sky, and waves, or I could try to dash around the cliff when the water was right. Naturally I chose the latter. It was fun getting around that headland without slipping on the descent from the partial climb of the cliff, and not getting soaked by the waves. A trip highlight for sure.

Next I got to a headland that was impossible to get around until the tide dropped another 2 feet, an hour later. I waited with 4 guys from Seattle and 3 others from Vancouver. Fun times. Finally the water was shallow enough to wade through a foot of water around the cliff and made it to camp with an hour of daylight. Keep in mind that i was hiking 10 to 12 mile days, so things were relaxed nearly all day.

The next 2 days were all cloudy, with not much social interaction. The next to last day I camped in the woods since pitching a tarp was very very tricky in the loose sand. I drank my 22 oz budweiser, slept under a slight drizzle, and hiked my last day to the little island. There was the dead whale on the island and the sea lions at sea as I described before. A couple of deer stalking campsites for food, and my photo taken by two guys returning from Shi Shi Beach.

Yesterday I spent the day primarily bouncing from bus to bus to get a package shipped from my parents of normal clothing to wear on the AK ferry, in AK, and any future travels before returning to ATL. I met a woman who just finished a cycling trip on the peninsula, again more inspiration for a cycling trip! Sleeping in the bunker was surprisingly warm last night, and I know that I've found a great spot to sleep in for the next 3 nights. It was a really nice 40 minute walk during surnise through sleepy P.T. streets to grab some coffee at the record store slash espresso joint and pick up a couple of used books to read while I'm here. I'm really starting to feel at home in this small town.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Land's End

Well, yesterday around noon I finally finished my hiking. It put a cap on about 5 days of spectacular hiking along the Washington coast. All of those days were grey except for one full of blue skies. That day was also probably the most fun since there were 2 headland sections that saw me waiting for waves to recede before rushing around the cliff, all instead of waiting for high tide to go back.

I'm a bit lazy right now to do a proper write-up, but it's easy to say that the coast was more amazing than I had expected. The moment I walked out onto the beach at Oil City, I was completely mesmerized by the odd black and white of the coast. The sky was blanketed with white clouds, the ocean had no real color since the sky had none, and there was nothing but thousands of driftwood logs around as well as seagulls bathing in the water where river met sea. That first hour was completely perplexing, but soon the feeling faded (sadly) and I got used to the way that the WA coast is. I met well over 20 incredible people. Camped with quite a few. Had a great stew with a group of retired guys from Orcas Island who had caught Black Bass, Mussels, and seaweed (not a tough catch) that morning and treated me to some. So delish. Other highlights were having a cup of chai tea with a couple from Seattle, and having a conversation with a Russian woman about their situation with Georgia and the way the US media is misrepresenting what is going on over there.

Somehow I managed to get not a drop of rain in my 10 days of Olympic National Park hiking. I got to what I assumed was Cape Alava, which really is just a stretch of beach with no definable characterististics other than maps show it as the furthest point west on land in the lower 48. At lowtide, turns out there is an island that the locals call 'cannonball island' that has an exposed sandbar which allows you to hike further west on it. I hiked out onto this island, but not before nearly tripping over a beached sea lion! What a massive creature, and its laziness somehow made me sad. Out on that island, I had the place to myself, took some pictures, and ate a celebratory apple since my celebratory beer had been drank the night before. Of course it was cloudy and I could hear waves crashing, but there was also the cacophony of hundreds of sea lions moaning out on another island a mile or so out to sea.

Walked 3 miles back inland, and within an hour had a lift back to Port Townsend with a fascinating man who actually has a house in the park on the beach, hidden behind trees, that he refused to sell to the govt when they tried to take all of this land to build the coastal addition to the park. Great conversation with a cool man to end the trip.

Last night I actually took a real shower, did real laundry, and slept on a real bed, all things I hadn't done since Skykomish. Even had a towel! Tonight and the next few nights I plan on sleeping in the WWII bunkers in a state park just outside of town. It's right next to the beach, so I can wake up and stare at the waves as I munch on a bagel. Come Friday at 6:00 pm, I'll be loading onto a ferry headed for Haines, which is some 3 days away at sea. Getting excited.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Autumn in the Olympics

For the first time in my life I considered the following: Maybe I should turn back, there are more important things than hiking straight to the ocean like family, friends, and future adventures. Here I was, doing the most intense bushwack of my life up what was surely the steepest slope I've hiked along in my life, with no trail other than what I assumed was ROUGH mountain goat trail to follow.

Everything was going so well before this. I had even begun to think about how I couldn't believe that I was going to make it. All trail would be ahead of me, no nonsense logging roads or 'scratch trails' made by the PNT. The ranger on the phone talked me into a reroute through the Buckhorn Wilderness by roadwalking an unplanned 15 miles down to the town of Quilcene. I had to hike FAST...had 3.5 hrs to hike 14 miles. I didn't think I'd make it, but I made it with time to spare, and felt like I could easily justify my pizza, fries, and strawberry shake. I hiked east a bit and entered the fantastic Buckhorn Wilderness. I followed the Quilcene river upstream until I hit Marmot Pass. Quite a few others had the same idea, and at the top one girl gave me her yogurt pretzls after we exchanged stories. Hers was of travels in South America and how I needed to go, and I told her stories of hiking from Mexico to Canada and now here.

One thing I did not anticipate about this hike is that I would see the seasons changing again. I got to experience beautiful cacti flowering in SoCal, and now at the top of the passes east of the Olympic rainshadow, I was seeing ginormous patches of red and oranges in meadows. I'd hike right next to this low-lying red brush, and when seen across a valley, the sides of each mountain were splashed with red and orange and yellow. Beautiful.

The eastern side of the Olympics were quite dry, which I'm discovering is how I tend to prefer my mountains these days. Very rocky above treeline. Not much undergrowth when actually under trees. The next pass, Constance, was even better. This pass I had entirely to myself to nap on. The view was even better than Marmot Pass, with deep deep valleys below me, and of courses more flourishes of autumn color. The descent was a different story. I had to drop 4,000 feet in about 4 miles. This was definitely the steepest trail I've hiked since the descent to Ross Lake. I ran at least half of it since it was such a pain to hike such a steep slope. That night after getting to the bottom at the Dosewallips River, I camped at a beautiful spot at Lillian Camp.

The next day was the day of Appleton Pass. Things began innocently enough with a gorgeous rainforest walk through the Elwah River Valley. Then I started the approach to Appleton. I was warned by two guys going downhill that there was some avalanche damage, and to look for the trail uphill. Finally I got to the avalanche area, which consisted of TONS of flattened trees all over the mountain. People had mashed down tree branches and such from this mess to walk upon, forming somewhat of a trail. I got to the 'cairn' the guys told me about, and saw this 'path' heading uphill, to the left as they said. So I followed. For the first 1/4 of a mile, I had to scootch along a log, rested a foot on a snow bridge (in september!) that broke under my foot, and then that trail disappeared. There were a few tiny trails in all directions where I assumed that people had branched their own way. I decided to make my own way as well. I had to pull myself up using the bottom of trees uphill, constantly scrambling and climbing with my hands, utilizing them as often as my foot. I slid a couple of times downhill 10 feet or so before managing to stop the fall by latching onto a root or tree. If I would have slid further, it would have resulted in me toppling over a 15 foot cliff that was carved out by the creek I was paralleling. At this point I though maybe I should turn around, but just couldn't make myself do it, especially since I was only a mile or so away. I kept following the creek uphill which the crappy map seemed to indicate the trail did. Finally after over an hour spent climbing 1 mile, I reached a meadow area, no trail. I wandered all around for at least an hour above treeline hoping to cross the trail. Never did. I decided to give up for the night, and go back downhill for the night.

After sleeping in the middle of what I was told was bear country (scat EVERYWHERE) and in the middle of a mountain goat trail, I was awoken by the trotting of mountain goats. I made sure to make lots of noise so they wouldn't trample me since I was hidden by tall grass. After a scary descent back down that same steep drainage area, I found a trail! It was down at the bottom by the cairn, but in a totally different direction from where I came. I probably would have discovered this a bit earlier, but I lost my map 1/4 way up the climb when it got caught in a tree unbeknownst to me. I was so so so so so so so happy to find that trail, and not give up the section or do some goofy reroute via roads.

I climbed the Pass, walked the High Divide...beautiful valleys everywhere. View of the massive glacier on Mt Olympus. Great convo and view on Bogachiel Peak of the ocean with a couple from Seattle. Then walked thru idyllic Hoh Rainforest, complete with some of the biggest trees I've seen on the hike, and lots of really impressive nursing trees.

18 roadwalking miles later, I got to the intensely hot Hwy 101. 15 minutes later I was inside an SUV getting a ride from Jessica, an 07 PCT thruhiker. Next year she plans to kayak the Yukon River all the way to the Arctic Ocean with her boyfriend! As soon as I got to town I gorged on tacos like she told me, got a great pizza and ice cream, then stealthed in a spot on the south side of town. Since I didn't pay for lodging in this town, that makes me successful at not paying for lodging since South Lake Tahoe, about 2,000 miles ago! Sweetness.

I'm about to head out of town for about 11 miles of roadwalking along Oil City Rd to get out to the ocean where I'll camp next to the mouth of an unfordable river. This will set me up nicely for a headland that can only be rounded at a 2 ft tide, perfect for the morning. Next update I should be finished, hopefully celebrating in that town I loved so much, Port Townsend. Then the blog will turn into v2: the ferry and hitch to Anchorage.