Day 107: Sleeping under the brightest stars…

Day: Tuesday, 13th September 2016
Miles: 2174.1 – 2194.1 (20)
Stabler, Washington 2174.1 – Volcanic flow at 2194.1
Starting the day with a shower really is one of those luxuries you miss on the trail. Add to that a cooked breakfast and you’re set up to take on the miles! I had a nice shower and a breakfast of eggs and Chantarelle mushrooms with Walt before we hit the trail at 10AM. A motley crew, Walt and Sally the Malamute walked as far as the Wind River bridge before I bade farewell. Walt and Mary-Jane had been so generous to me over the last two days and it was such a relaxing place to spend some time. I was feeling great this morning, my blister was taken care of, and my knee was feeling great. I’d obviously aggravated something small, and just some simple stretches seemed to be enough to get me back on track. How much of my “pains” were psychosomatic, I’ll never know, but I was really happy to have taken that unexpected days rest in Stabler! No more Zero Day breaks were planned until Stevens Pass, roughly 11 days north.
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The Elk and Deer literally walk up to Walt and Mary-Janes door…

 

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Rejoining the PCT at Walt and Mary-Janes back yard was a fun way to start the day.

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The Wind River, where my hiking buddies Walt and Sally finally bade farewell.

I crossed the busy highway after saying goodbye to Walt and Sally the Malamute, and immediately started another long and unrelenting climb. This would position me on the ridge we drove across last night, but it would take me nearly 20 trail miles to get back there. The day was sunny and warm with a cool breeze, a great combination for a long slog uphill.

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The forest was beautiful in this area, I had missed it on arrival on Sunday given I descended to the Wind River valley in darkness. Today I would see the full forest canopy and all of the mosses and colors in vivid HD!
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After a few hours, and bumping into the familiar face of Anmei at a water source, I finally reached the top of the ridge, with some expansive views back towards Mt.Hood. By now I could sense the changing of the guard was imminent. Mt.Adams was now the biggest mountain in regular view, and its imposing peak to the northeast was quite incredible (if only occasionally in view thanks to the thick forest!).
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Passing the experimental forest, I finally crossed the second of three roads we drove last night. Progress!
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I had planned to reach the camp area around the third road crossing we drove past yesterday as I noticed it had a vault toilet close by (the little luxuries!), however I did not expect to reach an incredible area of moss-covered volcanic outflow a little before the trail head. This area of crumpled black rock was so distinctly different as to force a double take when I saw it. It appeared the rock had oozed out in the same fashion as a squished toothpaste tube, the shapes were unique, not to mention the odd number of trees that had managed to eek out an existence among the debris. This was around sundown, and as the brightest most vivid moon rose in the sky behind, I decided that stopping a mile shy of the road in this area might be a nice idea.
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The beginning of the moss covered volcanic outflow.

I found a tiny little corner off-trail that was big enough to fit my tent, and set up camp under a surreal light, the moons rays bouncing off the rocks. As I ate my pasta-side in a wrap under a crisp, bright night sky, I could not help but feel more content than ever right now. Sitting under the brightest stars. My life on my back, my world in a bubble.

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The moon was so bright that my phone could not even focus on it

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