Day 112: To White Pass and beyond…

Day: Sunday 18th September

Miles: 2292.4 -2312.0 (20)

White Pass 2292.4 – Remote Camp 2312.0

Waking refreshed and ready to go was pretty sweet this morning, even better was the fact that a pristine and magnificent Mt.Rainier was holding court over Packwood, Washington this morning. I’m deeply, madly in love with Mt.Rainier, I have been for years, and I simply could not help but stare at it this morning, as the lower clouds drifted by, weightlessly between the lower green hills and its gleaming white flanks. It was a magnificent sight, something that it appears Packwood has done little to capitalize on. This sleepy burgh seemed content to serve the passersby with gas and groceries than any tourist amenities, but thats their thing. Regardless, FlyBy did decide the Packwood Pizza was worth carrying on-trail with him!

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I had an unspectacular breakfast in the local bar with SecondBreakfast, and after packing up, managed to organize a ride with him and his wife back to White Pass. I was really sad that SecondBreakfast had decided to call time on his thru-hike here at White Pass. The rain yesterday and the physicality of the past few weeks had allowed him to introspect on the pros and cons of continuing, and finishing was the right decision for him. Still, I enjoyed the three days we hiked together and really hope we’ll have a reunion. Today, Im thankful he generously offered a ride as I saw all of my fellow hiker-trashies hitching on the road!

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Finally at White Pass and its time to say goodbye to SecondBreakfast!

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As a big gang of us set off at the same time, I held back for a while and called home. Opportunities with cell service are likely to be few and far between in the next week or two, so it was overdue for me to check-in. After a great chat with Mum, I entered the next wilderness (W.O. Douglas) in our list, although this entry sign was looking pretty sad (Rebo, quit writing on stuff!). As one person had pointed out in their note below.

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Walking further and I passed a heavily packed horse-train coming back from a hunting camp. They had a pretty amazing gear setup and some beautiful horses.

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Walking further and the pleasant cool breeze and blue skies gave some wonderful images of high meadows and mountain lakes. Washington truly provides, sometimes in the most simple and unexpected ways. Those rainy hours of yesterday are a distant memory already.

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At one point we passed some bow hunters. It seems like the PCT has straddled the entire gamut of hunting seasons as we’ve paced through Oregon and into Washington. Its bow hunting season now, and apparently mountain goats are fair game in these parts. I spoke for a while with the bow hunters about their armaments, some impressive skills.

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As the trail climbed higher, I caught up to Schrocket, Blue, Sprinkles, Homegrown and Energizer-Bunny and we had a really enjoyable hike. The joy of the Pacific Crest Trail is not only in the solitude, but in the joy of togetherness that can be shared without any plans and without any expectations. The trail included some beautiful terrain including river crossings through pristine creeks.

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As the sun began to set, we received the unexpected delight of a huge Elk crossing one of the trailside meadows. These animals are truly magnificent and hugely imposing.

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As night began to fall, the shadows grew long, and the trail rose to some heights giving a view of Mt.Rainer’s silhouette to the west. I was hopeful tomorrow would provide some great views, although the weather forecast once again was less than appealing.

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At this point, EnergizerBunny and myself decided to hike further than the main crew. We were now night-hiking, not so much due to desire of making miles so much as getting to a point where we could not find a solid space to camp on. As we turned one corner, Washington provided once again – an oddity on the trail that would delay us somewhat on our journey, a porcupine in no particular rush, using the PCT to head north (presumably on his way to Canada). This little guy was not moving very fast, and there was no way we could pass him out, as we sped up, we sensed we scared him and held back. When we tried to pass on the inside, we worried we might force him off the edge on the other side. Our hands tied, we wandered along barely able to contain the hilarity of being stuck behind a porcupine traveling at roughly 0.001mph. After 20 minutes of slow pace, we finally got our opportunity and managed to pass him out, bye-bye little guy, see you in Canada!

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A little while later and we heard a loud noise billowing across the valley, a close by Elk was making an enormous sound, presumably wooing some ladies. Sure enough there was an enormous billowing sound in the distance, he got a reply! and another! And another! Before long there was sounds booming down the valley in an incredible night song. About a mile further on and we found a big gang of hikers camped by a trail junction – Meerkat, Six, Outro, all familiar faces! We decided to make camp under a tree close-by and called it on a great afternoons hiking, with some animal additions we had never experienced before!

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