July 7 (~06:45 – ~10:20 / ~20:15 – ~21:25)
Hope Lakes – before Nason Creek (10.7 mi / Total: 2467.1 mi)
Total PCT miles: 1367.1
Weather: Foggy and cold. Very hot in town!
I wake to a forest covered in fog. I put on all my layers and leave as early as I manage – which isn’t quite early enough. I have another 8 miles to walk to Stevens Pass, where I plan to hitch into Leavenworth. I intended to start hitching at 9 am, but to make that I should’ve left a lot earlier. Nevertheless, I’m excited to get into town as this will be the first, and only, decent resupply in Washington I’ll be able to do. I can visit a real grocery store and get all the things I so badly want. I won’t have time to stay in town, though. I’ll be hitching back to the trail again tonight, and I’ll keep on walking.
This morning’s trail is an easy walk with gentle ups and downs through the forest, passing some rivers, mountainsides of rock and grassy meadows. I pass some southbounders, and see another hiker from a distance as he packs up in the fog. Even though I do the same every day, it’s odd to watch from an outsider’s point of view – there’s such a feeling of determination attached to this thruhiking thing, both sensations of intense freedom and misery in that moment of starting your day in these conditions. I can’t believe we thruhikers go through this all the time. Every day we pack up all our belonging to walk through the mountains in all conditions, over and over again.
Along the way I force myself to eat my very last food: my emergency packet of spicy beef ramen. I sit on a log next to the trail and eat it cold out of a ziplock bag, and then I’m off again, definitely hoping I’ll find some better food in town.
As I head downhill suddenly there’s some commotion and I hear my name yelled out loud, ‘Cosmo!’ and it’s the South African I met earlier in Washington. I’m excited – someone I actually know! I realise he was also the person I watched packing up earlier, I just hadn’t recognised him. We walk and talk. We exchange stories – he arrived in Trout Lake just as I left, and met everyone I was with as well. He did the Knife’s Edge despite RonForNow worrying about it so much, and he skipped the section after White Pass, which is how he caught up with me again.
We’re both headed into Leavenworth so we hitch together, and we get there in two rides. He gets dropped off in the center of town, planning a day off, and I go straight to the grocery store, to get my resupply. I head for the health store first, and spend a fortune on jam and dried fruit and two pounds of couscous and electrolytes, and I’m so excited to be resupplying somewhere that isn’t a gas station, that has healthy options. I tell the shop attendant about my nails and he can’t advise much but he is suitably shocked about it, which makes me feel a little better, and I pick up some probiotics anyways.
Then I visit the grocery store, where I spend hours looking at everything and picking up all the fruit I’ve been craving. I sit outside and put everything in my pack, and it’s the heaviest it’s been so far. I’ve got everything, even olives, sauerkraut and carrots. I’ve gone a little overboard. But it’s going to be worth it. I carry an additional plastic bag with all the fruit I’ll have eat before I get back to the trail and then I head into town.
It’s already after 3 by now, so I check out the gear shop where they don’t have any sun gloves but I do buy some socks, and then I end up at Starbucks because all the other coffee places are closing, and I really need to charge my batteries. By the time I’m done it’s already 6 pm. This is when I wanted to hitch out, but I can’t resist going into Yodelin, a beer and food place where I order the most expensive meal on the menu and it’s everything I ever wanted: brown rice, salmon, avocado, tomatoes and egg. It’s dreamy. Once I’m out on the road I get a hitch from a lovely woman within 5 minutes, all the way back to Stevens Pass.
My hiking day isn’t over yet. Once I get to Stevens Pass I sit everything down and get all the fruit out of the plastic bag I’ve been lugging around. I scoop the fruit into ziplock bags and get everything inside my pack. Done. I keep a bag with strawberries in my hand and walk across the pedestrian bridge, over the highway. I get to the end of the parking lot and find the PCT continuing through a long green corridor, into the forest.
It doesn’t take long for it to get dark. I take out my headlight and try not to get spooked walking along the darker sections. I guess I won’t make it very far today after all, it’ll be a half day. I stop at the first creek which has a tentsite, and set up as fast as I can.