July 2 (Zero day) & July 3 (~05:50 – ~19:30)
Next to dirt road before Bear Creek Trail – Snoqualmie Pass (38.9 mi / Total: 2393.6 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1293.6
Weather: Rain, mist. Everything is wet. Towards the very end of the day the sun peeks out a little.
I wake up to rain aggressively plummeting down on my tent. Rain, I haven’t had that in quite some time. The few times I’ve had rain it was usually during the night, so I turn around and hope it’ll go away. It doesn’t. A few hours later I look outside again, everything grey, the views gone in a mist, a steady downpour soaking everything. I know this kind of rain. It’s the sort that drenches you and all your gear within minutes, the sort that drains the warmth out of you, the sort I dread.
I check the weather with the limited signal and it’s supposed to clear a little in the evening. I really need to walk today. The day after tomorrow is the 4th of July, a major holiday, and I’m supposed to be in Snoqualmie Pass before this, so I can do my resupply. I’m assuming the shops are likely closed on the 4th, and I can’t risk losing another day waiting for shops to open.
And so I wait, unsure of what to do. I wonder if there are any other hikers in the area who are walking today, and if the weather improves away from this mountain, or if it’s just as bad everywhere. Whenever I look outside it’s still pouring down, it just won’t change. I know if I left I’d be soaked through and cold too soon and I’d have a miserable night ahead of me, and it just won’t be worth it. So I wait for better weather in the evening, but it never comes. Instead, puddles develop in the mud around my tent and the upsplash causes not only my rain fly, but also the inner netting to get covered in dirt. Everything is damp and dirty.
I look at the route ahead. It’s 38.9 miles to Snoqualmie Pass, to my next resupply options, and I only have one day left to get there. That’s almost 40 miles. I’ve never hiked that much in a day. Can I even do that? Some people do it all the time. It’s possible. I consider it. Apart from the gas station, the shops close at 8. What if I set my alarm for 3 am, and then just try. Try to hike the 40 miles before 8.
When I open my eyes, it’s already getting light outside. It’s light before 3? That can’t be right. I immediately rise and check my phone – it’s 04:45. My alarm has been going off for almost two hours and I haven’t heard it because of the incessant rain pounding down on my tent. I get up immediately – folding everything damp into stuff sacks, the muddy, soaking tent into a big plastic bag. I have no idea if I’ll make it now, I’ll be cutting it very close. But I’m not giving up. I’m going to get there, today.
Once I go, the rain that still fell when I packed up the tent, disappears. The mist is still thick, it’s cold, and everything is wet. Within minutes I am soaked through from the plants lining the path. I feel my failing waterproof socks absorbing all the water, and soon they have become lukewarm puddles inside my shoes. It doesn’t matter – I’m on a mission. I need to get to town before the shops close tonight.
And so I run. The forest is bouncy and the ups and downs are easy to follow. I try and keep a pace on the ups and run every time I go down. It helps that there are no views to speak off, as everything is shrouded in fog, and there’s nothing to take pictures of.
For the first time I see more PCT hikers. I pass a couple going northbound, and during the day I pass about seven southbounders. I stop quickly for a southbounding girl who I chat with for a short while. The weather wasn’t too bad for her yesterday, and I feel stupid for staying in my tent, although it doesn’t mean anything – it could’ve still been a shitty day for me. She reckons the shops at Snoqualmie Pass will all be open tomorrow, but I’m determined to hike the 40 miles now, I’m determined to get into town. I’m curious if my body will be able to do it, or if it will just stop, and refuse to walk on after some time. I know some people manage the odd 50 mile day. If they can do that, surely I could hike 40?
I don’t stop until I’m almost halfway, and my GPS tells me I have 20 miles left to walk. I break, sit on a log and eat some bread. After 20 minutes I’m off again. I’m thrilled I’m still going.
When I’m 12 miles from Snoqualmie Pass, it begins to get tough. I take another break and eat some rehydrated rice, my very last food, and once I get going again I’m in pain. The pain I feel in the back of my heels usually dissipates after walking for a while, but this time it doesn’t. I can’t lose my pace so I bite through it, up the hill and down the windy paths, feeling increasingly beat. I hardly notice when I walk up to one of the most beautiful lakes, trails leading in all directions and no idea which one to take and right there are two locals camping, Tanner and his granddad, who find me all dazed and confused and relieve me temporarily with the nicest little chat. And then it’s time to run on again.
Now the trail gets a little rockier and more difficult to hike. Everything feels like it’s slowing down just a little bit. The last few miles are the worst. Short but increasingly steep up and downs, the trail made entirely of rocks and uncooperative tree roots. Everything hurts and wants to take it easier but I don’t let myself. I’m exhausted but I also feel fit. I sprint the final section, past the ski lifts and the small forest and past those dayhikers and through the parking lot to the shops.
It’s a quarter past 7 and I’ve made it.
It’s still a short walk down a sealed road before I make it to the general store, which I walk into immediately. I quickly see they have a disappointing selection of food. They have nothing fresh. I pick up some ice cream instead, and ask if they’re open tomorrow, on the 4th of July. Of course, they are. Then I hurry to Aardvark, the food truck in the parking lot everyone raves about, before it closes at 8. I’m so dazed I can hardly read the menu and order a hot dog and a curry and sit in the chairs outside. The food is amazing and it’s way too much which is perfect, because I’m out of food and I’m starving.
I’m joined by two girls from Belgium who have just returned to the trail after a three week break, after one of them got a concussion from a falling tree branch when they tried to hang their food on their first day in the Sierras. I chat with them until I get too cold and decide to stay at the hotel. It’s an expensive joke bring on my own, as it’s over $100 for a room, but after the 40 mile day I’m dying for a rest, to do my laundry, and clean all my wet and muddy gear. While the hotel isn’t known for being the friendliest, once I’m in my room, it’s heaven. A luxury home for the night.