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PCT Days 163-172: Washington Part II, Larches and Lurches

It feels like we reach Washington-Washington, finally. The colors! The views! The COLORS!


Purples, reds, oranges, yellows… There’s actual sunshine casting actual shadows; there are valleys and mountains and views.


On the day we hit 2500 miles, we meet a guy who shot a bear. The bear pieces are sealed in a barrel to be safe from other bears until the guy can carry them out. So it goes.

September’s shorter days are definitely here, with lots of drizzle and the occasional sideways rain. The consolidating hiker herd creates competition for campsites at the end of long, grey days. Clouds descend and we walk all the way around Glacier Peak with barely a peek at the glaciers. We clamber over giant blowdowns and slide down muddy slopes.

The elevation gains and losses are intense. According to Halfmile’s app, on Day 166 we lose 7,052 feet in elevation while also climbing 5,404 feet. On Day 167, it’s -5,052’/+6,166′. My feet do still hurt, of course, but mostly I’m just tired, lurching forward because that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 2500 miles. So I can do it for another 150.

At Stehekin, the bakery is everything it is rumored to be, and more. A red shuttle bus picks up dirty hikers at the trailhead and stops at the bakery on the way to town. We buy All The Things and eat All The Things and it is good. On the way back out of town, we stop again and stock up on pastries and breads and amazing warm treats baked by the bakery employees, who are all lovely hippie girls.

And the larches! Let me tell you about the larches, because I didn’t know: larches are conifers that turn bright yellow and drop their needles. They’re a thing. And they’re beautiful.


We hit the last passes of the trail. They are beautiful. We stop at an overlook with epic views in every direction where it’s quiet enough to hear a bird’s wings flapping overhead. It’s beautiful.


Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful:








On our second-to-last day on the trail we hike through snow all afternoon and camp by a mountain-rimmed lake as the full moon rises over the snowy landscape. Tomorrow: Canada.

Day 163 / September 17 to Day 172 / September 26, 2015
Stevens Pass to Hopkins Lake
182.4 miles, PCT Mile 2461.3 to 2643.7

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