Scott and Rachel's Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike journal: Snoqualmie Pass, Mile 2396, Sep 4

With friends in Redmond - Knowing that we had a leisurely day of only 15 miles to cover to where we would be meeting up with Jim Humbard and his friends (Jess and Paula, Tony and Molly), we weren't in any great hurry to get up and moving in the morning. We slept in until 6:30 AM and then pulled our re-supply box into the tent and started about going through it. Surprisingly enough, the task went very quickly and we had our box sorted and the food stuffs packed into our Ursacks within about 30 minutes. With that chore done it was time to pack up camp and hit the trail.

As we walked back along the gravel path towards the forest service access road we saw and smelt the signs of a new day breaking at the campground. There were people paddling around the lake trying their hand at fly fishing and there were others still in their camps just beginning to start their day. We walked by one camper parked at the side of the road and we were overwhelmed by the smell of freshly cooking bacon and pancakes; what we wouldn't have done to have worked ourselves an invite at that breakfast table.

We started up the trail, expecting to have a stiff climb in front of us (after all, we had just passed a road and we always seem to have climbs after towns and roads), but as we walked along, making very minor elevation gains, we kept waiting for the climb to start. It never really did. We made our way along the trail and quickly found ourselves passing by Deer Lake and Sand Lake, the shores of both littered with long weekend campers looking for a little wilderness. We stopped for breakfast at one of the little unnamed ponds a few miles in and then continued on with our trek. Half an hour after getting going again we passed by a group of three bow hunters making the trek into Buesch Lake so that they would be ready for the start of the deer and elk hunting season early the next morning. We stopped and chatted with them for a while and then resumed our walk and soon passing by their destination lake.

We passed by more lakes and meadows as we made our way deeper into the wilderness. The numbers of backpackers camps at each lake was significantly diminishing with each mile we hiked, but it seemed that the further we went the more equestrians we saw. We commented to each other that the William O Douglas Wilderness seemed ideal for equestrians as there were so many trails leading through lush meadows and by lovely lakes. The popularity of the area for equestrians was evidenced by the abundance of manure piles on the trail.

After hiking only about 10 miles we stopped for lunch on an peninsula overlooking Snow Lake. We took longer about our dining that usual as we stopped to linger and digest before moving along. It was so nice to know that we only had about 5 miles left to go before reaching our evenings host's camp location and even with our later start and long lunch we figured we would still make it there by 3 PM. Back on the trail again we caught up to three forest service workers doing trail maintenance, one of them leading a horse - Danny Boy, and we stopped to chat for a while and thank them for the great work that they do on the trails.

Another couple of miles further and we came around a bend in the trail to see a blue sign tied to a tree which read "Scott and Rachel - PCT Here". We had arrived at our evenings destination where we were going to be wined and dined by five wonderful people, but when we arrived they were nowhere to be seen. As it turns out, it was actually ideal to have a little time to ourselves before everyone else arrived on horseback an hour or so later. We took the time to rinse out our stinking and dusty socks, wash Rachel's shirt, set up the tent and then just as we were thinking about taking our sponge bath everyone arrived.

We met Jess and Paula who had been camped in the meadow for a day already, and then Tony, Molly and Jim had just ridded in that afternoon to meet us. Jim was the individual who had contacted us by email to invite us to join them for a meal in the wilderness and he was quite a character. With a six shooter on his hip, a Calvary hat on and his Australian Shepherd "Sydney" close on his heels, Jim kept us all entertained with his stories of wild times out in the wilderness. He was quick to offer us each a beer, which we readily accepted and then drained with enthusiasm. For dinner we feasted on Elk steaks, baked potatoes with sour cream and chives, and salad and then Tony surprised us by making dessert, a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles, cooked in a Dutch oven with the briquette coals. To top it all off, there were two bottles of nice white wine to be enjoyed with the meal. What a feast to have 15 miles out in the wilderness. Packers really know how to do it! We thoroughly enjoyed our evening with the 5 equestrians. The conversations were always animated and interesting and the food was great. After we all finished eating it was time to gather around the campfire for a little more conversation before darkness settled in around us and we headed off to bed shortly after 9 PM.

The following morning we woke up at our usual time, but when we climbed out of the tent we found that Jim was already up with the camp fire going and water on to heat. He was making each of us a hot chocolate before we set off on the road. It wasn't long before Jess was up and out of his tent to join us around the campfire and then wish us well on the remainder of our journey. By 7 AM we were heading out of camp, after saying good bye to Jess and Jim, under misty gray skies.

As we started down the trail we looked up at the sky above us and where a little leery about what was to come. The cloud cover was low and heavy and the air was filled with moisture and mist. We stopped after doing a mile to put our sleeping bags and thermarests into the waterproof stuff sacs, pull out our rain gear and then put garbage bags over our packs; rain hadn't really started yet, but the mist was getting thicker and things were getting damp so we figured it was better to be prepared than sorry. As we were about to begin a the first major climb of the section, (1500 feet) we strapped our rain jacket and pants onto the outside of our packs to be accessed later if need be, but as we found out later, Rachel didn't do a very good job of lashing down her rain pants. It was about 5 miles later, as we reached the crest after our 1500 feet of climbing that we stopped to put our gear on only to find that Rachel no longer had rain pants. We briefly thought about going back for them, but then we figured that in all likelihood they were right back at Fish Lake where we had stopped to pull the gear out. As the rain was still only misting (although heavier now), and they were inexpensive pants we decided to venture on and hope that we would make it though the next few days to Snoqualmie Pass without encountering any harder rainfalls.

We were moving slowly that morning. It may have been partly due to the rain, partly due to the climb, and undoubtedly due in part to our mental frame of mind. We were not thrilled to be hiking in those conditions, but we were thankful that it was not a solid downpour. As we made our way up the hill we encountered a hiker going in the opposite direction who warned us that he had rustled a bear off the trail a little ways up and that the bear might still be seen on the steep slope below the trail, feasting on blueberries. When we reached the spot that he had spoken of a couple of minutes later, the bear was nowhere to be seen. While we were feeling blue and moving slow we did, however, find something that lifted our spirits: a whole stash of "fun sized" chocolate bars. It would seem that a bag of them must have fallen out of somebody's saddlebag so we got to pick up as many Butterfingers, Crunch, 100 Grand, and Baby Ruth bars as we could stuff into our pockets. Needless to say, we didn't stop for our usual breakfast of granola and oatmeal that day but rather we snacked on chocolate bars all morning.

We stopped for lunch at about 1:30 PM. We found a dry, sheltered spot in amongst the trees at a campsite by Dewey Lake. We ate quickly because the misty fog was still hanging low around us and we got cold as soon as we stopped moving. As we sat there eating lunch we reviewed the map to see where we would be likely to find a good camp spot for the evening, and what we found was that water was going to be a deciding factor for us. We had two options: Sheep Lake, another 5 miles away, giving us a total of 18 miles for the day; or pushing on another 14 miles to a trail side spring. 14 more miles seemed like a long way to press on, especially considering the lateness of the day, but to only do another 5 would leave us a little strapped to make Snoqualmie Pass in time to meet our friends three more days hence. After thinking about it for a while we decided to strive for the spring but to re-evaluate once we reached Sheep Lake.

Feeling the pressure of the mileage that we needed to do we left our lunch spot at Dewey Lake and hastened up the trail. We were excited about reaching Chinook Pass in another couple of miles as we had stopped at the pass last year as we were preparing to do the Wonderland Trail, and we had thought to ourselves that one day we would come hiking over that pass. Well, that day had arrived and we were eager to see the familiar location again. We made our way up the trail, passing many day hikers venturing into the lake despite the lack of views and the horrible weather, and as we were nearing the pass we came across one more hiker, but this one was someone we knew. It was Rex, whom we had not seen since before we headed into the High Sierra back in late May. He had section hiked about 550 miles of the desert section and now he was doing Snoqualmie to Cascade Locks southbound. We stood there in the mist, delighted to see him again, and we tried to catch up on all the news that there was to tell about everything that had happened between now and then. We exchanged news on who was ahead and who was behind and then we bid him a sad farewell before we parted and went in our separate directions.

It wasn't much further along before we reached Chinook Pass and the flood of memories came back. We pointed to the spot where we had seen the deer and where we had had to stop and wait for the road crews to finish their work so that we could continue on our drive to Sunrise. We walked down the meadow and across the foot bridge and then started north east along the trail as it followed the highway.

As we started along the trail towards Sheep Lake we passed many day hikers coming down in the mist, and one lady informed us that the weather improves the higher we climb. She was right. As we neared Sheep Lake we could see small patches of blue sky above us. We reached the lake shore and then took a moment to re-evaluate our options. To go on meant another 10.5 miles and it was nearing 4 PM. While Sheep Lake looked like a nice spot to stay, we didn't want to leave ourselves that strapped to make mileage over the next few days. The only other option was to carry extra water with us, but we had a 1000 foot climb up to the ridge from the lake. At last we decided to just go for it; it might make for a late night of hiking but it was all mileage that would count.

We switch-backed up out of the lake basin and made our way to the crest. Once we reached it we proceeded to hike from one pass to another, through gaps and saddles. The clouds were lifting and for the first time that day we began to be able to see more of the terrain around us. The valleys dropped steeply below us, and at times we thought that it was better when we couldn't see how steep the hillsides were. The miles passed as the afternoon wore on into evening and we became progressively more tired with each mile as we climbed and dropped our way along the ridgeline. At one point we came across a group of equestrians and Scott greeted them with a friendly "hello". The leader of the pack gruffly replied with a barked order to get on the downhill side of the trail. Considering the steepness of the terrain, coupled with the manner in which the guide had made his request, Scott replied that he was uneasy about being downhill as he stepped back onto a ledge slightly to the uphill side. The guide was a little put off but nonetheless rode his horse on by us and was then followed by three of the remaining four riders. The last rider tried to direct his horse on past us, but it was a little spooked, either by us being uphill from it or by the noise of the garbage bags over our packs rustling in the wind. We stepped back a little further and Scott took another step down so that he was no long higher than the horse, but by then it was too late, the horse wasn't moving past us. The guide dismounted from his horse, marched on past us and led the last horse and rider, by the reins, past us. The whole exchange was rather unpleasant for all parties involved and could have been avoided so easily; all it would have taken from the guide would have been a kinder word and an explanations as to how and why the horses get spooked.

We continued on along the crest, climbing to Scout Pass, the last pass of the day. From there we looked down into Lake Basin and knew that we were within a mile of making camp. The guidebook spoke of two water sources: the first was 1/2 mile off trail at Basin Lake, and the second was another 0.4 mile further along the trail at a spring. The difficulty was that we had no idea if there was camping at the spring, but we knew that there was "excellent" camping at Basin Lake, a significant drop down from the trail. At last we decided to do neither, but we did drop off the trail toward Basin Lake in search of a level spot nearer the trail. We dropped steeply from the trail about a hundred feet or so and then headed off the trail looking for somewhere to pitch. The ground was lumpy and bumpy and we searched around in the waning light for a few minutes before we finally settled on a spot on the ledge overlooking Basin Lake below. Scott went down a little further into the meadow to collect water while Rachel set up the tent and got the gear organized. As soon as he returned with two bladders of water we dove into the tent to get warm, clean, fed and get a good nights sleep.

The following morning we woke to clear blue skies all around. it was going to be a beautiful day, and what a relief after being in the fog and mist all of the previous day. We watched the sun rise over the ridge to the east as we loaded our gear back into our packs and prepared for the scramble back up to the trail. We took a cross country route back to avoid the loose dust up the steep trail and by the time we reached the PCT path we were sweating and hot. We started on along the PCT, soon reached the spring in Big Crow Basin, and were dismayed to see that there was great camping to be had right there alongside the trail. Oh well, hindsight is always clear.

Continuing on, we traversed over to Barnard Saddle and then dropped down and around Little Crow Basin. As we were moving along we heard hoof foot falls taking off down the hill and we stopped to see if we could catch a glimpse of what was making the noise. Sure enough, through the trees, further down in the basin, emerged four or five elk, figuring that they were safe from harm. We watched them for a few minutes and then as we ventured on we called out a warning to them to be careful of the bow hunters who seemed to be lurking behind every tree, bush and knoll.

After a couple of hours we reached the turn off to Arch Rock Shelter and we decided to take the spur trail the 200 yards down to the spring and shelter. We followed the path, and perhaps we didn't go far enough, but we didn't find either the shelter or the spring, but we did find a nice campsite where we stopped to have breakfast. After eating we returned to the trail and began the 5 mile hike to Government Meadows and Camp Urich. The Camp was a great log shelter, complete with four walls and a sleeping loft, built by a local snowmobile club. We went inside to check it out, but decided to eat out of doors, as strangely we always feel a little cleaner in the woods. We settled on a spot just on the edge of the meadows not too far from the trail and while we ate a couple of day hikers passed by calling out their greeting.

We finished lunch and then quickly repacked to hit the trail again as we were going to encounter more water problems in the stretch ahead and we needed to go another 11 miles and it was already 2 PM. We hiked the 0.2 mile from the meadow to a jeep track parking lot and found the day hikers having lunch and a number of jeep enthusiasts revving their engines. We stopped to talk for a minute and answer the usual battery of questions and the jeep enthusiasts were truly amazed that we had walked all the way from Mexico.

Pressing on we started into landscape that was to take us the remaining 50 miles of the section, to Snoqualmie Pass. We were alternating between forested areas and clear cuts choked. While many hikers complain about the clear cuts, we found them quite beautiful in their own way. They were covered with blueberry bushes all heavily laden with plump, ripe berries and leaves that were changing from green to a fiery red. Fireweed was also abundant across the hillside with it's bright purple flowers standing tall above the berry bushes. Other wild flowers adorned the hillsides and choked parts of the trail providing color and scent. What we didn't find so attractive was the stark contrast of the forested areas and then the clear cuts across the hillsides as far as the eye could see. Looking at the clear cuts from afar one couldn't see all of that color and beauty that was within.

We hiked along and then encountered a detour. Plum Creek Logging company was actively logging one section of the hillside that the trail passed through and we were being rerouted around via the nearby roads. Fortunately the road walk did not take us too far out of the way, but as we passed by, above the freshly logged area we realized that there really would have been no passing through the area on the trail. Every tree and bush had been fallen, but they had not yet begun the process of hauling the logs out of the area. Tree lay upon tree complete with all of their branches and still green leaves and needles. The result was a crisscrossing miss-mass that would have presented a formidable barrier to any hiker attempting to stick to the official route. The detour was a little over a mile in length and reconnected us with the trail at a saddle.

As the afternoon had progressed we noticed that the clouds had been building around us. They looked light in color so as not to pose an immediate threat, but there was no denying that they were getting thicker and more plentiful. As we hiked along the road through that detoured section, we noticed that the clouds were getting so abundant that they were obscuring our views of the adjacent ridges and valleys below. Before long we were seeing the misty clouds blow across the road in front of us and we were reminded of the conditions that we had endured the previous day. We hastened our pace, hoping to make it the remaining few miles to camp before the weather turned for the worse.

We followed the trail along the ridge, pushing our way past the berry bushes that were choking the trail, and Scott, who was in the lead, began to get wet from the moisture clinging to the leaves. We knew that we had to make camp soon to avoid getting really wet should the heavens open up upon us. We climbed around Blowout Mountain and finally came across the spur trail that was going to lead us down to our water source off trail. The guidebook warned us that the trail would be both obscure and steep as it lead us down to the small pond and spring, but we had no idea on either account of just how accurate of a description that was going to be. The trail started off flat and clear as we passed through the trees towards the lip from which we dropped quickly. We stared down the knee jarring descent slipping with every other step as we tried to safely navigate the hill. As we were taking our last few steps down into a small clearing and flat meadow, the mist that had been surrounding us turned into a rain. Drops began to fall around us and we bee-lined over towards a couple tall trees that provided us a little, momentary protection from the rain. At that point Scott suggested that we set up camp there before the rain intensified and got everything all wet and he would go off in search of the spring and pond.

Scott grabbed the bladder bags from our packs and a Nalgene bottle and he was then ready to go off in search of water. He headed off down the trail, passed a couple of nearby bushes and then came to a stop. The trail faded into nothing; probably a game trail. Returning to the camp location he ventured off in another direction, and this time the trail remained a little easier to follow although he never came across the secondary trail which he was supposed to follow to the pond and spring. The secondary trail was supposed to branch off 0.4 of a mile from where we had left the PCT, but there was no sign of it even though Scott had hiked more than that distance. Giving up hope on finding the spring and pond, but knowing that we needed water for the night Scott began to apply a little intuition and began to follow the nearby drainage in search of water. Fortunately he came across a seeping spring in the drainage and was able to return to camp with full bags of water despite that he had not found the sp ring or pond.

Warm and dry inside the tent we began our evening routine. As we settled down for the evening to rub feet and go to sleep we listened to the pitter patter of the rain hitting the outside of the tent, intensified by the drumming effect of the fly. We both got a poor nights sleep that night, as the drumming continued on pounding thoughts into our brains about what was to come the following day. Scott was nervous about finding our way out of the basin and back to the PCT: finding the secondary trail that leads past the pond and back to the PCT was going to prove difficult and he had visions of us trying to make our way back up the steep switchbacks slipping and sliding through the mud caused by the rain. Rachel had visions of hiking along the trail getting absolutely soaked and cold as she didn't have rain pants to keep her dry. Needless to say, as we tossed and turned all night long we were hounded by our fears and worries.

It was hard to get moving the following morning as there was still rain drops drumming on the fly. We lay there until 6:30 AM before we finally muster up the will power to face the day. We did as much as we could do inside the tent, loading the contents into our pack before climbing out into the elements, but once we did expose ourselves to the world outdoors we found that it wasn't really raining at all, we had just been hearing the drumming of moisture falling from the trees above and hitting the fly. Although it wasn't actually raining, the mist was hanging heavily around us and we prepared for a day of rain by putting our sleeping bags in their waterproof sacs and placing the garbage bags over our packs. With camp broken down we were ready to return to the PCT.

We decided to spend a little time seeking out the second spur trail that would lead past the pond and back to the PCT as doing so would save us the very steep scramble back up the trail. We explored a couple of faint tracks leading out of the meadow but within a hundred feet or so each and everyone of them petered out. All that we were actually managing to achieve was to get our feet soaking wet from the moisture off the bushes. At last we decided that we would have to face the climb back out the way we had come in. We ventured off in the direction of the switchbacks and then realized that we had missed that trail even. It took us a few minutes to relocate the trail out and then we soon found ourselves confronted by the steep climb. While Scott had been fearful that we would face a mucky slippery mess back up the trail, we actually found it much easier to navigate that it had been the previous day on the descent. The moisture had absorbed into the duff, doing away with the loose dust that we had bee n slipping on coming down, and we were now able to get some good purchase on the ground. While it was a steep climb, we made it up and over the lip with relative ease. What a relief. As we walked back along the flat to where we rejoined the PCT Rachel commented that perhaps it was a sign of good things to come.

The good things started almost immediately. Once we joined up with the PCT we found that the path was nice and wide, clear of brush and other growth hanging into the trail getting our feet soaked. We hiked along appreciating the good quality of trail and being thankful that the rain had been absorbed into the ground when it could have been a real muddy mess. We made our way down to a major saddle at Tacoma Pass and then up and around a knoll to the next one at Sheets Pass. As we hiked we looked above us and saw a small patch of blue breaking through the clouds. Could it be? We hoped but were afraid to get our hopes up too high. In time, however, our hopes were fulfilled and we were rewarded with larger and larger patches of blue. Off came the rain jackets and Scott's rain pants as we felt the warmth of the sun on our backs.

Like the previous afternoon we were hiking through landscape that alternated between forest and clear cut. We made reasonable progress despite the slow and late start of the day, but we were comforted to know that we only had 36 miles to cover in two hiking days to get us to Snoqualmie Pass to meet up with friends. That meant that we didn't need to do anything more than 18 miles that day so we could take it easier. We hiked along, from saddle to saddle, occasionally catching a glimpse of Interstate 90 on it's southeast course a ridgeline to the east of us. By mid afternoon we made it to the Stampede Pass weather station, 200 yards off trail where we could obtain well water. Scott went off to fill up the water bags while Rachel sat with the gear at the road crossing, and when he returned we ventured onward in search of a camp.

We hiked passed Lizard Lake, opting not to stop there as it was right beside a dirt road which obviously got frequent use and we pressed on up the hill back to the crest. We hiked for another couple of miles hoping to find a level spot at Dandy Pass where the trees were reported to be of the type that have made the Pacific Northwest famous. As we neared the pass we crossed two small creeks that had water flowing and we groaned with the hindsight that we could have avoided the trip off trail as well as carrying the extra weight back up to the crest. Shortly after the second creek we came across a dead-end road that was flat and didn't appear to be frequented often so we decided to make our camp there, just a few hundred yards shy of the pass.

It was before 6 PM that we stopped and it was really nice to have daylight in camp. Rachel went about putting up the tent and getting the gear organized while Scott went off to rid some of the berry bushes of their heavy burdens. By the time he returned to the camp he had a large cup full of plump, ripe, juicy blueberries that we were going to have with desert. The sun was still shining, although it was occasionally disappearing behind some puffy white clouds so we hoped that our tent fly would dry off before nightfall, but it wasn't to happen. As darkness did settle around us, the clouds had cleared away and there was a definite chill in the air. We were camped in a bit of a meadow and with all of the moisture that had fallen within the last couple of days the inside of our tent fly became dripping wet with condensation. Nonetheless, we were warm and dry inside preparing for a more restful nights sleep.

We woke up yesterday morning and lay there in our sleeping bags trying to avoid getting up. This time it wasn't because we were hearing rain pitter pattering on the tent, but it was because we could see that ice had formed on the inside of the fly. It was a cold morning and we knew that it would take us a while to get packed up and get hiking to generate some body heat. It was after 6:30 AM by the time that we finally broke out of our cocoons and began with the chore of collapsing the camp and then it was about 7:15 before we actually started hiking.

It was a town day and we only had about 17 miles to hike before we were going to make it town. We were supposed to meet Scott's college roommate at 5 PM, but we were hoping to get there early, have a burger at the cafe and take the time to catch up on journaling and such before meeting up. We started out through a forested area but soon enough we were back into the clear cuts dealing with moisture again. The cold night had put a heavy frost all over the bushes which was just starting to melt with the warming of the day. As we hiked through the clear cuts, pushing our way past overgrown bushes they all dropped their bounty of water onto us, soaking our feet and pants. To look at us from waist down one would have thought that we had just come out of a rain storm.

We stopped for breakfast at Stirrup Creek and enjoyed our oatmeal and granola with the fresh blueberries that Scott had picked the evening before. It sure did make for a great tasting breakfast. After refueling the machines we continued on along the trail, climbing gradually away from the drainage and over the crest to abut the Cedar River watershed to the west. We dropped back down into the next basin, along side of Twilight Lake, and then climbed up again towards the lovely Mirror Lake nestled into it own little basin surrounded by trees and rock face. Thinking to ourselves that Mirror Lake would be a lovely spot to weekend to we walked on past towards Snoqualmie Pass. We climbed some more, switch-backing around Tinkham Peak and then following the crest along through the trees for some time. When at last we emerged from the forest into another clear cut we encountered a road with a number of day hiker vehicles parked. We passed on by with the usual greetings and set our sights on making it the remaining 6 miles to Snoqualmie. We hiked through Olallie Meadows and then traversed across the plateau to where we could hear the roar of Interstate 90 far below us. At first we thought that it was a river cascading down a waterfall, but once we realized that it was the highway we were both excited as we were getting near and disgusted by the incredible noise pollution. After leaving Olallie Meadow we headed into forest cover again, but this time we weren't getting the usual nice clear forest duff path that we usually get. What we got instead was more overgrown bushes but we also had rubble underfoot making for tough hiking. The rubble stayed with us, off and on, much of the way into Snoqualmie and as we inched our way down the trail we hoped that it was no a sign of what is to come in the remaining 275 miles of trail. It was a frustrating segment of the section as we were excited to be finished and make it to the Pass, but the terrain was slowing us down and dampening Scott's spirits. We made it past Lodge Lake, then up over the hump to Beaver Lake and then at last over the knoll so that we were looking down the hill to see the Pass and all of the assorted ski resort buildings below. At that point we kind of lost the trail but didn't let it phase us as we bee-lined down the slopes towards a maintenance road and then down along that. At last we had made it. Snoqualmie Pass. We had hiked all the way from Mexico to Seattle; fancy that!

As we hadn't stopped for lunch in our enthusiasm to make it to town, we dropped our packs outside the Summit Inn and went inside to get ourselves a meal. We each ordered the Cheeseburger Deluxe and a beverage and then sat back to relax and enjoy while waiting for Kurt to come and pick us up. We took the extra time to catch up on a little journaling and then just before Kurt arrived we saw North walk across the parking lot. He waved to us through the window, dropped his pack and then walked off in the other direction. A little while later he came back and then T followed up close behind. What a treat it was to see them both again. Around the same time Kurt arrived to pick us up but as he was not in any great hurry we stopped to catch up a little with North and T before leaving for our day off in Seattle. As it turns out, we are all projecting to reach the monument at the Canadian border on the same day. T had his mileage itinerary all planned out and we quickly jotted down their dates and so on so t hat we might be able to coordinate things to share the moment with them when we get to the border.

After twenty minutes or so loaded our packs into the back of Kurt's mini van and we buzzed on down the interstate to their home in Redmond, a suburb of Seattle. So as not to be outdone, Kurt came prepared with a bag full of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and a cooler of ice and an assortment of beverages to be enjoyed on the ride down the highway. When we pulled up out front the rest of the family, Kim and the two kids Ali and Garret, were quick to appear out front to greet us and help us in with our gear. We dropped our dirty dusty gear in the garage and then changed out of 11 day old clothes threw them into the wash and then prepared for a nice hot shower and some good R+R. We spent the evening catching up on news and feasting on a delicious meal before retiring to bed for a good nights sleep shortly before 11 PM.

This morning has been nice and lazy. We were up early to see the kids through their morning routines and off to school and then we four adults sat around and chatted more while preparing a great breakfast. More conversation kept us around the breakfast table for some time before Kurt went off to work shortly before noon, Kim disappeared into her ceramics shop in the garage, and we busied ourselves catching up on the journal and other computer chores. Once that is all done and complete we will be heading off to REI to get Rachel another set of rain pants, then to a grocery store to pick up our lunch supplies, and then back to the house to sort through our re-supply box and prepare to return to the trail bright and early tomorrow morning. It is always good to visit with longtime friends, and this visit has been no different.