Day 109, august 11th
Start: Stevens pass, mile 2476
End: camp at mile 2498
Miles hiked: 22
Everyone complains about the trains that went by last night. I heard a few, as the tracks were right next to us, and they crank their horns even in the night. Yet I only woke up once or twice, falling back asleep quickly both times. Guthrie tells me he didn’t sleep more than an hour due to six to eight trains going by and the loud cars on the hi way hitting the rumble strips. I definitely consider myself a light sleeper, but maybe not as light as I used to be. Or maybe I was just very exhausted.
People split up in the morning, half going to the diner, half to Skykomish, 8 miles east. I decide to hitch, even though the Dinsmores have enough room and leave in two hours. Not long after getting on the road and Dave picks me up. He’s only going to Skykomish, but I’ll take it. He tells me of his wilder times when he lived in Colorado. He’s an older guy now, living half in downtown Seattle, and half the time in his cabin near Skykomish.
“I’ve got the best of both worlds,” he tells me “big city life with all of the entertainment, and a cabin secluded in the woods. I’ll go fly fishing, do some skiing at Stevens pass. I couldn’t be happier.”
He lives my dream, half in the big city, half in the woods. Splitting his time however he feels. I want that some day. A condo in downtown Denver, and a cabin out near the gore range in Colorado.
We have great conversation, and he ends up taking me all of the way to Stevens pass, another 18 miles each way from where he was going to take me originally. Really great guy, refusing any money and just asking that I pay it forward next time I’m driving and see a hiker.
At Stevens pass are coughee, crispies, woody, and homeless guy. Soon the rest of the gang, save not a chance and Mac (who are zeroing) all get up to the pass. T-Rex, a thru hiker from 2013 shows up hiking in as well, along with Rocky, smiles, and another guy. T-Rex helps out the pacific crest trail assosiation, running their Instagram and helping with many other things. We’ve been in contact from this, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about her from carrot, so it’s nice to meet her. She carries a large slr camera, and gets amazing pictures.
10:30 rolls around and everyone starts getting antsy to hit the trail. We all take off around 11, soon passing Valhalla lake. Just after this, we go through onion gap and see some smoke from fires across the valley on the opposing ridge. They’re still small, but the smoke is definitely building. We all take a look and carry on. A few hours later we get another view, and this time it’s got a lot of flames, and the area of smoke has increased significantly. Another few hours and we’re right up against it, not more than a half mile away. Ash falls from the sky, and the smoke is now billowing and has a big plume up high. None of us have service, so there is literally nothing we can do. We all check our phones consistently throughout the day, but no one gets enough service to call it in.
As we hike north and can no longer see the actual fire, we start to see just how large the smoke is getting. In just a few hours this fire has voted very large. It makes us a bit uneasy. I feel helpless, as there is nothing I can do. I hear some small planes flying nearby, and that helps me feel better. It’ll surely be known that it’s out here, and hopefully it can be taken care of before it spreads to far.
We all get to camp around 7 and everyone sets up their shelter due to the Mosquitos. But I don’t have a bug net, I sent that home. It’s not a big deal right now at night, but surely I’ll wake up to them in the morning. I keep thinking about the fire. Homeless guy and crispies kept hiking past us late tonight – they’re too uneasy about the fire, thinking that the 4 miles we’re camping from it may not be enough. I’m not worried about myself getting caught in it. If it comes this far, I think I could out run it. But how quickly do fires spread? I guess I’ll find out.