Fully rested, Omar and I headed north over the Columbia River across the Bridge of the Gods into the forests and mountains of southern Washington. Having my good friend along with me for the last state was a big morale boost. By the time I finished Oregon I was starting to feel emotionally drained, wondering how I would muster the mental energy to complete my journey in search of the perfect Canadian beer. Omar’s good humor and enthusiasm kept me focused on my goal of reaching Canada before the first snowstorms blew into the Cascade range.
Before leaving Omar’s home we mapped the southern half of Washington into three sections with the goal of reaching Snoqualmie Pass by September 2nd. Along the way we would resupply in Trout Lake and at White Pass.
Our trek started out much as we expected. For several days we hiked through dense forests and over the mountains of southern Washington. These days were sunny and warm, perfect for hiking in shorts and teeshirts. Four days later the PCT crossed the road leading to the small hamlet of Trout Lake. Fortunately we were able to get a ride from a trail angel who drove us to the general store where our resupply boxes were waiting for us.
The following morning another trail angel gave us a ride back to the PCT. Upon exiting the vehicle we noticed the weather had abruptly changed. It was cold, windy and overcast. Later that day light rain began to fall. This section of Washington was reported to have some of the most spectacular sights in the state, passing through the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Unfortunately the Goat Rocks were covered with dense fog and rain clouds most of the time. Luckily the clouds opened up during our last day hiking through the Wilderness to expose the Goat Rocks in all their glory. A long 22 mile hike got us to the highway where we again hitched a ride with a trail angel to White Pass and our lodging and resupply boxes.
The last section to Snoqualmie Pass was almost 100 miles long. This portion of the PCT featured spectacular views of Mount Rainier and mile upon mile of lush green forests.
During this time I heard some of the worst news and then some of the best I had received in months. We were first told that the PCT was closed in northern Washington due to a fire and not expected to reopen this season. That would have cut our trek short 60 miles south of the border. After a day or so of depression, I finally got my head wrapped around the idea of a shortened version of the PCT. A couple days later we stopped where a trail angel was serving hotdogs and cold drinks. As we were chatting it up with the other hikers, one through hiker mentioned that the Forest Service had reopened the trail and it was clear all the way to Canada. At first, I couldn’t believe my ears. Then it dawned on me. We were once again heading to the border and cold Canadian beer. Yahoo!
Another day of hiking and we made it to Snoqualmie Pass where we met Phurba, our Bhutanese friend, who will join us for the remaining 260 miles through Washington to the border.