Broken Femur

Day 167 – 9/24/15
Winthrop
Miles – 9.9
Total Miles – 2666.0 (PCT 2587.1)

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We got up at the 6:00 and had blackberry kuchen for breakfast.  What a breakfast it was!  We took our time this morning getting out of camp because we only had nine miles to reach Rainy Pass.  The warm sleeping bags made us want to linger in the tent. However, thinking about today was the day we get to see Bling, got us moving.  At Rainy Pass there would be a car waiting for us at a parking lot not far off the trail. Mama Ravens brother (Lew) dropped it off for us to make it easier to get down to Winthrop. The hiking up toward Rainy Pass was not hard.  We moved quickly and we made it to our car shortly after lunch.  We put our packs in the back and headed down the mountain.  Thirty minutes later we got a room at one of the hotels in town.  Getting a room in town instead of staying at Uncle Lew’s house gave us a chance to get ready for the last section and regroup as a family.   After dropping our gear off in the hotel room, we went to see Bling.  We had not seen him for three weeks and the excitement of seeing him was getting stronger and stronger the closer we got to Lew’s house.  It was a tearful reunion for all of us.   He was lying on the sofa, covered with his sleeping bag, reading a book.  He uncovered his hurt leg and there was a cast from his toes all the way up the top of his thigh. The definitive assessment is a stress fracture in his femur.  Bling will not be going to the Canadian border with us.  He is upset that he will not make it to the end of the PCT this year.  We told Bling that it is not such a bad thing because our family adventure gets to continue on next Summer!  We get to come back to the natural wonder of Washington.  We talked with Uncle Lew for a while and then took Bling with us to the hotel.  We spent most of the day sorting food and a little repacking and lots of talking.  Our hotel room has a balcony which is the perfect spot to dry and air out the tent and sleeping bags.  In the evening we went back to Uncle Lew’s for dinner and to try and figure out how we will be getting back from Manning Park, British Columbia (our ending destination point of the PCT) to Winthrop Washington, which is where Bling is.  We were all too tired to come up with any conclusions.  We will try again tomorrow.

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Stehekin

Day 166 – 9/23/15
North Fork Camp
Miles – 19.2
Total Miles – 2656.1 (PCT 2577.2)

Rabbit, Pandora, ?, Salt Lick at the Stehekin Bakery

Rabbit, Pandora, ?, Salt Lick at the Stehekin Bakery

We wanted to get to High Bridge for the 12:15 bus. We have 11.5 miles to get there. It is dueable, but we have to move quickly. We got up and started hiking by 7:00 am. The trail was easy and we made good time. As we turned into Agnes Gorge, Mama Raven asked what time it was and how far we had to go. The time was 10:00 and we had 5 miles to our destination. That means we had to do two hours at 2.5 miles an hour. We walked into the parking lot where the Stehekin bus would come, it was 11:50. Waiting there also was Rabbit, Limy, Pandora, and Salt Lick. They were two reasons we need to go to Stehekin. First was to pick up one days of food to get us to Rainy Pass. The second and most important reason is to go to the Stehekin bakery. The town of Stehekin is at the end of lake Chelan, which is forty miles long. The only way to reach Stehekin is by airplane, boat, or by foot. It is a tiny community that has an amazing bakery. All the thru-hikers have been dreaming about it ever since they arrived to Washington. For much of the summer, there was doubt by the hikers if any would make it up this far because of the trail closures due to all the fires in Washington. Many hikers gave up on Washington and left the trail at Cascade Locks at the Oregon\Washington border. For those that persevered are rewarded with not only the amazing natural beauty of this state (and its is stunningly beautiful) but also are treated with a trip to the Stehekin Bakery. The bus arrived on time and one by one the hikers boarded. Each hiker paid the bus driver for the ride and asked does the bus stop at the bakery. Each time the driver answered patiently, yes. Not long after we started off down the unpaved road, the bus stopped in the middle of the road. There was a moose clumsily walking along the road heading the same direction as the bus. Nobody on the bus, including the driver had ever seen a moose before so it was exciting for everyone. A little later, the bus pulled up to the bakery and with great excitement everyone got out and walked inside. The hikers looked wide eyed with awe at all the goodies before them: huge cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, raspberry twists, fruit kutchen, cheese rolls, brownies, cookies, chocolate coconut bars, strawberry and rhubarb pie, blackberry and apple pie, breads, quiches and filled croissants!  The excitement and joy on all the hikers faces as their eyes moved from one goody to the next was priceless. It was like little kids in a candy store. We wanted everything and we bought far more than we were capable of eating. Each hiker left the bakery with a large bag of priceless bliss to sink their taste buds into! Back on the bus, each listed off what their bags contained. As for The Ravens, we ended up with a cinnamon roll, a sticky buns, kutchen, pizza and a sandwich. We actually got the least because once arriving at Stehekin, we would quickly pick up food at the store and promptly catch the next bus back to the trail head. This means that very soon we will be stopping back by the bakery, on the way out, to pick up some more treats. The other hikers our planning on staying overnight. They will be doing laundry and showers and their re-supply boxes. We will do all those things tomorrow at Winthrop. We had only thirty minutes before the next return bus. We talked a few minutes to Haiku. We quickly emptied our trash from the backpacks and went to the store for a short one day re-supply. We packed what we purchased just in time for the arrival of the bus. We quickly talked to Vulture and told him to say hello to Chef for us. They are spending a night at the lodge. We boarded the bus and off we went. The return bus contained Mt. Parana and Haiku, Chickadee and Stonefly, Honest Abe and Moose-lee, The Ravens and another couple we did not know. On our return trip stop at the bakery we got two slices of quiche, a croissant sandwich, two blackberry kuchen, and three mountain bars filled with coconut, almonds, and chocolate. Once we were back at High Bridge, we put all the food away and started hiking. This area has designated camping only, so we were heading for the first one, only 5 miles out. But when we got there, we found that we still had two hours of day light left and only 3 miles to the next camp. So off we went. The next camp had a number of groups there, but we found a quite place to camp and this became home for the night. Tomorrow we will get to Rainy Pass and then go down to Winthrop and see Bling! We will find out what the outcome of last weekends visit to the ER was. In Stehekin, there was no cell phone service to call Bling, so we have to be patient and wait one more day for the news of his leg. We are counting on it to be nothing more than a soft tissue problem that has been healing during our separation from him. However, at the same time we are wondering if there is some indication to uncle Lew that there is something more wrong since they are taking him in to the ER. (our health care insurance does not cover out of state medical expenses unless it is an emergency room visit). We are looking forward to a family portrait at the Canadian monument. To visualize Will not being there, knowing how hard he worked to get as far as he did and the last ten days of it was in such discomfort, it is a painful jagged pill to swallow.DSC01122-9-23-15

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Devils of the Forest

Day 165 – 9/22/15
1 mile beyond Hemlock Camp
Miles – 25.3
Total Miles – 2636.9 (PCT 2558.0)

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Last night we were visited by the the devils of the forest . . .mice! We had at least two of them outside the tent. Several times I put cracker crumbs and trash bags out for them to occupy themselves with. Our poor tent has more holes in the netting from mice than swiss cheese as holes. Patches of duct tape spot the sides of our tent. In the hope to fill up their stomachs, we also tried powered mashed potatoes, but they did not eat them. We thought that we had made it through the night unscathed, but we found a couple of new holes in the tent where they chewed through making their way into one of our food bags. Luckily, they only got to a trash bags. Stonefly and Chickadee camped next to us, and they too were invaded by the annoying creatures! I guess this is why the locals who backpack regularly up here hang their food at night. We come in so late and are tired, hanging food is the last thing we want to deal with. Anyways, we packed up quickly in the morning and headed out. We really wanted to make good distance today. With the poor weather conditions we have had lately, our daily hiking milage has been as dismal as the weather. We first had an easy five miles of down to a bridge over the Suiattle river. This is a new bridge, just a few years old. The old one was washed away in a large flood several years ago. The replacement bridge was placed further down the river in a location that would not be destroyed when the river flooded. This added 3.5 new miles to the trail. We got to the bridge in under 2 hours, stopped for a bite to eat, then started a 4 mile traverse. Next came our big climb, a 3,000′ up. It was easier than we feared and thus we moved up it at a good pace. We reached the top of Suiattle Pass around 3:00. Crossing the pass, we started a very large down. We will finish it tomorrow at High Bridge. That is the end of the road up from Stehekin. We will catch a bus from there and go into Stehekin to pick up one day’s food. We originally planned a major re-supply at Stehekin, but because of the uncertainty of trail closures in this area, due to fires, we decided to send our box a day further to Winthrop.  Also this will give us a chance to see Bling who is with his Uncle Lew and Aunt Florence. Thanks to all the recent rain all trails are now opened. Even though it was a sunny day, it was cold. When we started down from Suiattle Pass, there was ice on the ground and on the plants that had not melted from last night. Winter is coming and we need to get this trip over before it hits us. However, we are more eager for news from Bling. We are counting on him healing enough to limp his way into Canada. He is missed beyond measure!

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Chickadee and Stonefly

Chickadee and Stonefly

Here comes the sun

Day 164 – 9/21/15
Vista Creek
Miles – 17.4
Total Miles – 2611.6 (PCT 2532.7)

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It rained for a good part of the night. At some point, it finally stopped. Mama Raven and I got up at 5:30. It was a cold night. We brought the stove into the tent (something that you are not suppose to do) so we could warm up and dry a few things, mainly the inside of the tent that was dripping water on the inside as much as it was outside. It worked pretty well. We ate breakfast later than normal. Next came the time consuming job of packing wet gear for more rain. When I crawled out of the tent, I was surprised and pleased to see no clouds in the sky. That was a huge monumental relief for The Ravens and for every other thru hiker around. We will be able to dry our gear!!! That would explain why it got so cold. Clouds lifted and the temperature dropped. We started to hike about 8:00 and we continued to climb up Fire Creek Pass. The high peaks around us blocked the sun from hitting us therefore it was very cold. The water drops on the plants were frozen. As we neared the top, we hiked into strong, warm sun light. The three of us just stood there soaking in the beautiful warmth from the sun. Just over the pass, we stopped and set all our dripping, soggy gear out to dry. This took about an hour. Having dry gear for the first time after several days of rain was pure joy!  We did not care how difficult the rest of today’s hiking was with over 12,000′ elevation change. Right after Fire Creek Pass, we dropped thousands of feet to Milk River, then, on the other side, we climbed up to almost the same amount, only to cross a ridge and drop even farther down. The trail around here either goes up or down. It was over grown and had many downed trees that we had to climb over or crawl under. There was one place where a mud slide had washed out the trail and we had to go down a steep muddy slope to get around it. The delays this morning cost us in miles. Right now it looks like we will be getting into Stehekin later than we wanted. I hope we can make up lost time tomorrow. If not, that is OK because we had sun today!!!

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Rain, Rain Go Away

Day 163 – 9/20/15
Fire Creek
Miles – 17.7
Total Miles 2594.2 (PCT 2515.3)

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The wind blew the clouds up the valley last night. The moisture in the clouds collected on the trees and they dropped on us all night. It also rained a couple of times while we tried to sleep. When we got out of the tent in the morning, we found that the clouds had lifted and we could see the mountains around us. We packed up as fast as we could but it still took us nearly 2 hours to get out of camp. As we hiked toward White Pass, we could see the sun shining down in the valleys. Sun had broken through the cloud cover. Our hopes were lifted with the thoughts that perhaps the weather is finally clearing. We crossed the pass and then climbed up to Red Pass. This Pass dropped us into a long valley that runs down the southwest side of Glacier Peak. We were right next to this huge mountain and we never saw it other than an occasional glimpse of a piece of it through a temporary small opening in the clouds. We spent hours going down the valley. The trail was muddy and slippery. Other hikers slide marks in the mud were visible when the trail got steep. We tried to be extra careful, but, at one spot, Mama Raven went down. When she got up, her legs, rain skirt, and back pack were coated with a thick layer of mud. The valley started high up in tundra then it dropped down following a stream which grew larger and eventually became a waterfall. Finally, we ended up walking through a deep valley forest with a thick bed of moss growing over everything. It was beautiful. Light sprinkles fell on us. When we got to the end of the valley we started up, the sprinkles turned into rain. Ooh joy! The rain fell for the rest of the afternoon and evening. It is still going on at 10:30 pm. The trail in this area is terribly overgrown. As we passed through, we became soaked from shoulders down. Our feet slushed with each foot step. Water crept underneath and through our rain gear. Many large trees have fallen down over the trail that had to be climbed over. Today’s hiking was dismal, miserable, terrible, horrible, abominable, discouraging and just not fun!  This was the first time since we separated with Bling, that we were glad he was not here because it was so unpleasant. We bumped into a few other hikers  (Chef, Vulture, Halftime and Doubletime) this afternoon and they too were feeling dismal. We camped early. It was time to stop, even Papa Raven was done for the day. As Mama Raven says, rain, rain go away!

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Are there any mountains around here?

Day 162 – 9/19/15
Reflection Pond
Miles – 20.0
Total Miles – 2576.6 (PCT 2497.7)

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It rained most of the night. It would come and go, but it did not really stop until about 3:00 am. Of course we had a very wet tent and our sleeping bags were damp. The back packs are so wet, water can be rung from them. Our socks and shoes are soaked. It is a great joy to put them on first thing in the morning. Nonetheless, we had to pack it all up and get moving. The tent gets folded in a special way to protect the inside of the tent from coming in contact with the soggy outside. We carefully packed all of our wet items separately from the dry ones. We carry an extra trash bag for the saturated tent to go in. Our backpacks are lined with a contractor trash bag (they are extra strong) to keep everything inside as dry as possible as it rains. The wet sleeping bags go into another trash bag to keep other things in our backpacks dry. We each have our own dry bag for misc. items such as head lamps, gloves, hats, and bandannas that we want to keep dry. Clothes have their own special dry bags. Mornings, when we are packing for rain, take twice as long as normal morning, especially when it is actually raining while we pack. There is definitely an art to backpacking in the rain. Coming from San Diego, we do not have a lot of practice at it. Inevitably, no matter how hard we try to stay dry, we still get wet. Our daily mileage plummets whenever it occurs, and in Washington, it occurs a lot. Mama Raven had what I thought was a good idea, take the large contractor bags and put them over the end of our sleeping bags so the condensation on the inside of the tent could not drip on the bags and get them wet. For some reason we woke up around 2:00 and found the part of the sleeping bags that was in the plastic bag was soaked. Much wetter than the part that was in the open. Apparently the moisture from our bodies went up through the sleeping bag and became trapped by the plastic bag, thereby soaking the sleeping bags. We removed the plastic bags and dried the bags as best as we could. Upon rising this morning, we apprehensively looked outside and found our selves in a cloud. It was very foggy and it stayed that way the whole day making it very difficult to see what was around us. We very rarely had more than 100 yards of visibility and much of the time it was less. For most of the day we had a light mist falling on us. That was not so bad, but when that mist fell hour after hour everything got wet, the trees start to drop large drops. It put us in a bad mood. Day after day of rain takes a mental toll on us. It is hard work. Our daily mileages goes down. It is miserable hiking!  We really our hoping to see the sun tomorrow. We need to dry the sleeping bags and the tent. According to the weather report tomorrow is supposed to be the worst day for the low that is moving through. My hope is that it is moving through today and that tomorrow will see some clearing. Well, it is time for bed and we get to listen to the trees above us dropping water on our tent.

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Bear Can

Bear Can

Rueben

Rueben

On to the next storm

Day 161 – 9/18/15
On the ridge above Wenatchee Pass
Miles – 16.1
Total Miles – 2556.6 (PCT 2477.7)

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We got up around 6:30. A little after 7:00 Mama Raven and I walked over to the gas station store to pick up some extra food for this section, then we headed back to the room. By 8:00, all of us were in the restaurant ordering up breakfast. Little Crow had her normal, french toast, Mama Raven had an egg sandwich and potatoes, and I had 3 pancakes. We enjoyed the breakfast. There were not many people in the restaurant when we first got there. However, when we left, the place was packed. While we were waiting for our breakfast, Mama Raven was making a hitch hiking sign that said “Stevens Pass” so we could get back to the trail. As she was finishing the sign, a local resident from Skykomish, walked up and asked if we needed a ride to the Pass. We enthusiastically said yes! She said that her husband Kevin, would take us. All she asked was if I could help her move a TV down stairs. We told Kevin that we would be ready to go shortly and we went back to the room to finish packing. It was 9:30 when we loaded our gear into Kevin’s truck. It was a pleasant drive back to the pass. Kevin told us about the town and the trains which run up and down the valley. He drove us by the seven mile tunnel that trains passes through the mountain instead of going over Stevens Pass. Kevin dropped us off at the PCT and we were hiking by 10:00.
As we started to hike, the sky had broken clouds with a good bit of sun. This was a good sign. Nonetheless, we are suppose to get more rain by Sunday but until then there was only a 20% chance of rain each day. Sunday is 80% chance of rain. The trail started out following an old train bed, then, after several miles, it cuts up the valley and climbs. We made good time up to Union Gap and then dropped down to Janus Lake. From there we had a 1,300′ climb to the top of Grizzly Peak. The clouds thickened and made a light mist. Off to the south and east, we could see blue sky, but to the west the clouds were rolling in. As we reached the top, the day was getting late so we headed down and stopped at a good looking camp on a ridge. Once we got the tent set and as I was cooking dinner, it started to rain. It has been raining on and off ever since. Maybe Sundays rain is coming in early.

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Pandora

Pandora

Skykomish

Day 160 – 9/17/15
Skykomish
Miles – 13.5
Total Miles – 2540.5 (PCT 2461.6)

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The rain storm that was suppose to come yesterday came early this morning, sometime after midnight. With that type of moisture in the air, condensation in the tent was great. Packing wet sleeping bags and tent this morning was unavoidable. We had thirteen miles of ups and downs to Stevens Pass, our next re-supply. The sky above us all morning was ominous looking. However it did not start to rain tell sometime after lunch. We held up for a while under some huge pine trees in front of a lake. The reflection of the blazing autumn foliage in the water was beautiful. It continued to rain the rest of the day. We arrived at Stevens Pass just before it closed. So did Bear Can, Honest Abe and Moose-lee. As we started to organize our gear, Mama Raven realized that her water bottle which had a liter and a half of water in it was now completely empty, it had leaked out. Despite every precaution we made to stay dry from the rain, this was useless because the now empty water bottle had soaked everything inside Mama Raven’s backpack. Our sleeping bag was so wet we could wring from it. With the wet weather we are having, it would have been impossible to dry it out. The only solution was to hitch hike fifteen miles west to Skykomish and get a room and dry out. This was our first hitch of our entire trail. Before we began Honest Abe made us a Skykomish sign and gave us some tips on the art of hitch hiking. Little Crow was so excited. The three Ravens stood in the cold rain for over an hour trying to get a ride. Little Crow quickly lost her thrill of the job at hand after the first fifteen minutes. Two other hikers joined us after an hour passed. They were Stone-fly and Chickadee. In our minds we thought this would make matters worse because now we were five soggy hikers needing a ride to town. Instead, shortly after they arrived, all at one time, three cars pulled over to give us all rides. When we got the town our first job was to put all the wet gear in two driers. Within an hour we were dry, yea! We had a good dinner at the restaurant in the hotel. Tonight we our out of the rain in Skykomish, tomorrow we will head back to the trail.

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Moose Lee and Honest Abe

Moose Lee and Honest Abe

The Rain That Never Came

Day 159 – 9/16/15
Near Suprised Lake trail
Miles – 21.6
Total Miles – 2527.0 (PCT 2448.1)DSC09607-9-15-15 It was quite all night not even the wind blew. We had neither rain or mice. The duff (pine needles) was thick under our tent. It made for a warmer night sleep and softer. Other than a little condensation, it was a great camp site. When we got out of the tent we found that there were no clouds in the sky. What had happened to the storm? We do not know, but we are not going to complain, in fact we were relieved and genuinely happy that we did not wake up to rain like it was suppose to. Ever since we entered the month of September, a sunny day has become all too rare. We packed up and headed for Cathedral Pass. It was about 10 miles away with a 2,000′, climb. For the first 5 miles, we went up a river valley and the climbing was not hard. The second 5 miles zig-zagged up the mounting side. As we were climbing toward the pass, clouds started to move in. We might get that rain that was predicted after all. Once we reached the top we dropped down a bit and traversed around to the head of the valley. We had one big river crossing. Back in 2011, we tried a small trip with the kids in this area. We could not cross this river back then. 2011 was a big snow year making for big rivers from the snow melt Little Crow was only seven and Bling was ten. The water was too strong and high for them. However, this time, the river could be easily crossed. At the head of the valley we crossed Deception Pass and the trial turned northward and headed along the mountain range and up. As we hiked along the ridge we could see that the clouds were breaking up, we also got great views of all the surrounding mountain ranges. The views were stunning. We stopped for a break at Deception Lakes which was a beautiful green with nearly no wind upon it, so it was carrying a great reflection of the huckleberry bushes all in reds, oranges, and yellows. The season of Fall is in full force up here. Being from San Diego, having traditional fall foliage does not happen. Up here nearly all the underbrush is some shade of yellow, orange or red. It is beautiful!  With a few more hours of day light, we headed to the top of Pipper Pass and then worked our way down. Pipper Pass is the location were we had to abort our 2011 trip. The hillside was very steep and completely covered in snow. Too steep to safely for Little Crow and Bling to get down it. This year it was clear and easy. We hiked down to the ledges above Glacier Lake and found a camp just beyond. The clouds have cleared out a bit more. With any luck we will not see any more rain from this storm. We will make it to Stevens Pass tomorrow. Tonight’s dinner again was provided by Karin Sims. It was Mountain House terriyaki chicken and rice. Again it was a huge success!DSC09624-9-16-15

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Thank You Karin!

Day 158 – 9/15/15
Just after the Waptus River
Miles – 20.6
Total Miles – 2505.4 (PCT 2426.5)

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It was lightly raining when I went to bed last night, however it did not last long. It got cold enough to rain down small balls of hail. Around 2:00 am water started to drip on my face. It was coming down the inside of the tent, hitting the mosquito netting, and dripping on me. I got up, dried the netting and went back to sleep. Sometime around 4:00 am, it rained and hailed again. When we got up in the morning, it was really cold. We discovered that the rain that was on the tent had frozen and we could easily knock it off. That is the easiest way to remove water from a tent. Looking at the sky, we could see broken clouds all around us. As we stated to hike down, we came to a bridge just about the same time as the sun broke through the clouds. We quickly pulled out the tent and two sleeping bags and hung them from the bridge to dry. Since the sunlight was weak, drying the gear took some time. As the gear dried, we ate our muffins we bought at Snoqualmie. Malibu stopped to talk to us. I dont think we will be seeing him again. He hikes big miles, even in Washington. Once on the trail again, we headed down into a valley and then up the other side. As we reached the bottom we run into a trail crew who were heading in to work on the trail just before the bridge we dried out on. It was a big crew with eight horses of gear and dinomite. They were going to be blasting the hillside to open it up so horses can get by. Today we met Vulture and Chef, a young couple from San Diego. We enjoyed stopping and talking with them. Our main climb of the day was a big one, over 2,000′. It took us hours to get up it. Just after we topped out, we heard a huge blast. It echoed down the valley for 15 to 20 seconds. It was loud, even as far away as we were from the blast site. As we crossed Escondido ridge, we had good views of Escondido Lake. Once we got to the other side, we dropped down toward Waptus Lake. Mama Ravens feet really started to hurt on the downhill. We had to stop and rub them out. For some reason, the huge up was mostly smooth trail but the down was all rock. Going down on the rock hurts a lot more since the feet twist into all sorts of different angles on the uneven surface. We were wondering where the rain is that was suppose to come today. The morning started off with broken clouds and sun. This lasted most of the day. It finally clouded over very late in the day. According to the trail crew, there is a 80% chance of rain tomorrow and Thursday. Right now it is cloudy. I hope we make it through the night without any rain so all of our gear will be dry when we pack it up the morning. We’ll see. For dinner tonight we had Mountain House, Lasagna with meat sauce. This was the first Mountain House meal we have had the whole trip and boy was it good! Our friend Karin Sim who is mailing a number of our re-supply boxes bought some for us for a surprise. Thank you Karin!!!

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Chef

Chef

Beautiful Country

Day 157 – 9/14/15
Camp above Spectacle Lake
Miles – 16.4
Total Miles – 2484.8 (PCT 2406.7)

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We went to breakfast when the restaurant opened at 7:00, the only problem was that the waitress never showed up. The cook was the only one there. He did come out and take out orders and served us. About the time we were finishing, the owner showed up and took over. We felt bad for the cook. He had to be waiter, bus boy, cook and cashier. He did the best he could with always a big smile. Therefore, we did not have a problem with everything being so slow. Little Crow had french toast, as usual. Mama and Papa Ravens had pancakes with bananas, strawberries, and blueberries on top. They were very good. After breakfast we did the last minute packing and closed the packs. We stopped by the gas station store for batteries and headphones because Little Crow’s were broken. They sadly did not have are favorite town snacks of snowballs, ding dongs, or fruit pies, however they did have lots of glazed doughnuts and muffins! Next, it was off to the trail. We started hiking at about 9:30, later than we wanted, but not as bad as it could have been. The trail out of Snoqualmie is not an easy one. The first thing we did was climb over 2,000′. The trail tops off at the cat walk, a narrow ridge between two big drops. Next we traverse for many more miles before dropping down into a deep valley. Tomorrow we will finish the drop into the valley. The mountains have changed since we left Snoqualmie Pass. They have become much more rugged and rocky. At the higher elevations, there is a lot more uneven rocks under foot. This makes for harder walking and sore feet at the end of the day. The weather forecast for the next few days calls for a chance of rain tomorrow and rain on Wednesday, then lessening. Today we had clouds all day, making for some beautiful sky’s. It is lightly raining right now. I can only hope that it will not get hard and let up during the night.

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Snoqualmie

Day 156 – 9/13/15
Snoqualmie
Miles – 6.7
Total Miles – 2468.4 (PCT 2390.6)

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No mice, good!  We woke to clouds which were hanging to the tops of the trees.  As we hiked, we soon crossed from the east side of the mountain to the west side and that is when we started to get wet.  The clouds on the west side were thick enough to have water dripping from the trees and we got some drizzle. We moved steadily forward taking only one break. Just as we were finishing off our break, we were past by 10 hikers, all trying to get to Snoqualmie Pass. One of the hikers was Malibu. He should have been way ahead of us but he had to get off the trail for a week for his sisters wedding back at Cascade Locks.  He told us that there would be trail magic at Snoqualmie Pass.  We followed him as best we could, however he is too fast for us. We got there in our own time, and there was trail magic! We had sodas, bratwurst hot dogs, chips and potato salad.  The trail angel was Malibu’s dad.  It was a feast fit for a king!  A short time later, we headed down to the hotel.  Mama Raven was antsy to get going.  She wanted to call Bling.  We got our room and our box and we did all those things we have to do at every food drop.  We talked with Bling twice.  He says that he can put a little weight on his leg but not a lot. We are a little disappointed with that news.  According to Aunt Florence, he cannot put any weight on his leg still.  We really want him to make it to Canada, but it is not looking like that will happen. Our good friend Smokey who is a head of us sent us an email saying it sounded like Bling ruptured or tore a tendon. Uncle Lew and aunt Florence’s plan for Bling is, if his problems are a simple soft tissue issue, like tendinitis, there should be improvements soon. If not, there is a more serious problem and they will take him to a larger town this week for an evaluation.  We are proceeding forward with our plans, but there is a lot of concern and doubt.  However there is no doubt that Bling is in the best of care with Uncle Lew and his family.  Bling is getting his long time wish to hang out with his cousins for a while.  We will be heading to Stevens Pass next which is our second to last re-supply in Washington.  We should be there Thursday.  Our only concern is the weather.  It is suppose to rain  Wednesday.  I (Mama Raven) keeps meaning to mention that I am sorry there has been so few photographs attached to the blogs.  There never is any time to accomplish that task anymore.  It takes hours to go through the hundreds of images and then work on them and get them posted.  It also takes a large quantity of battery power which we do not have the luxary of while we are hiking on the trail.   When we get home, I will make sure all posts will have images attached.DSC09045-9-13-15

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The Kid

The Kid

Mush

Mush

Maibu's dad

Maibu’s dad

Chef and Vulture

Chef and Vulture

Mice

Day 155 – 9/12/15
On the side of a ridge, in a simi-flat spot
Miles – 22.6
Total Miles – 2461.7 (PCT 2384.2)

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Mice!  I hate mice!  They were a constant problem all night.  We know that there were more than one because Mama Raven heard them fighting over food.  When we first heard them, we did what we always do, put a few crackers out for them to fill their stomachs up.  Usually there is only one mouse and a cracker or two is all that is needed. This time there was a herd of them and they kept bugging us all night and they never stopped eating.  Around midnight, I saw that one had chewed its way into the tent. Mama Raven and I spent several minutes trying to get it out.  It kept running from one side of the tent to the other and then racing to the other end of the tent.  We finally got it to run out the door.  Later I saw one jump off our food bags to the screen and climb out of the tent through a hole. The battle with the mice went on all night.  We got very little sleep except for Little Crow who slept through most of the chaos.  Tonight we will camp in a location that no one camps. This usually means we will not have any mice. I hope this is the case.  We stopped by trail angel Not Phils Dad before we headed up the trail. He gave us hot chocolate and we talked a bit.  We left him and started hiking at around 7:30.  We are wanting to get close to Snoqualmie Pass as possible which is our next re-supply point.  We want the day into Snoqualmie Pass as short as possible. Today’s trail had many small ups and downs, but they all added up to about 11,000′. That is a lot of elevation change!  At the end of the day, we were dragging and our feet were painfully sore when we finally made camp.  We had problems getting water today. Yes there were streams we past, but we like to get our water from springs so we do not have to filter the water.  The first two springs we came to were so low that we could not get any water from them.  We had to hike on many miles before we came to a spring that would work.  By this time, we were almost out of water.  Of course we filled all of our bottles.  We have 6 miles to hike and a 2,000′ drop to Snoqualmie Pass tomorrow. The first item of business when we get there is a phone call to Bling!

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Par 3

Par 3

Trail Magic at Tacoma Pass

Day 154 – 9/11/15
Tacoma Pass
Miles – 23.8
Total Miles – 2439.1 (PCT 2361.6)

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Since we are so far north now, we no longer get up at six because it is pitch black.   7:00 is are new normal time.  The sun was just rising.  That is a big difference from just a month ago.  With the days getting shorter, it will get harder and harder to make good miles.  We will have to cut back on our breaks to make up for the loss of daylight.  The trail dropped for several miles. It made an easy beginning for the day. We worked our way down until we got to Government Meadow and Ulrich Cabin. The cabin sits on the edge of a large meadow.  It is a one room cabin with a loft. There was a lot of junk in and around it.  Sadly, it is not the most appealing place to stay.  It is not how we remember it when we were here twenty years ago. There were two people doing some trail angeling there. They also were trying to clean the cabin up.  We took some chips that they gave us and went on our way. Once we left the cabin, the trail started to work its way up. Some of the climbs were quite steep although they were not long.  We were surprised how much climbing we did.  When we past through clear cuts, we were fully exposed to the sun and it was hot. This was not enjoyable.  It was much more comfortable when we hiked within the shade of the trees.  Most of the clear cuts had been been replanted.  Many of the young trees were only 15′ to 20′ high.  Not enough to shade us.  One area we hiked through was burned back in 1988 and it had almost no new trees, just the silver skeletons of the burned ones of long ago. The burned area had been left to grow back on its own.  We had bumped into Nightshift and his friends at a stream. His face was severely swollen. His eyes were barely visible through slits of his skin.  A yellow jacket bit him on the nose and this was the result.  Papa Raven was bitten three times on his leg earlier in the day and Mama Raven once the other day.  The bees have been bad for the past few weeks.  Someone said that the bees know winter is coming and are desperately looking for food before they die.  We finished the day with a big down. This was good except it hurt our feet.  Feet take a pounding on downs!  When we got down to Tacoma Pass, there was a trail angel. He cooked hot dogs for all of us.  Half Time and Double Time showed up for hot dogs too.  It was nice to sit in chairs and eat and drink “real food”.  It was a great way to end the day.  Thank you Not Phil’s Dad for the the unexpected trail magic.

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Raven Roost Trail

Day 152 – 9/10/15
Raven Roost Trail
Miles – 20.0
Total Miles – 2415.3 (PCT 2337.8)

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Elk bugled on and off all night.   A male elk was calling from the other side of the lake for a log time.  Just as I was going to sleep last night, a dreaded mouse came to visit.  It was trying to get into our empty cookie bag.  I pushed the bag out of the vestibule and let the mouse mess with it.  Sometimes later, it started to try and get into the tent. That is when I crumbled up a cracker and left it on the ground.  The mouse did not bother us the rest of the night.  In the morning, all the cracker crumbs were gone.  Since we were camped close to the lake, we had condensation.  We worry a lot less about condensation than we use to.  We use to get the tent out and dry it every time it was wet. For the last few weeks, we have left the tent wet, then set it up wet in the evening and it dries overnight. If we are in a rainy situation, we would take the time during the day to dry it because it would not have a chance to dry out in the rain.  We hiked around Dewey Lake and then climbed up the wall on the far side.  Next the trail took us down a set of lakes, some with small tarns in them.  At the bottom, we came to the bridge across the east road into Mt Rainer National Park.  The mountain stood big and bold just to the west,  its snow shining bright in the morning light.  As we got close to the park, we had seen several signs saying that trail magic was ahead.  We followed the trail to a cut off that lead to a parking area.  There in the packing lot was a camper and a bunch of chairs out front, hikers in all of them.  We knew none of them except for Shepard who we had seen several times in the past.  The woman who was handing out the trail magic, whose name was Happy Tutu, gave us English muffins with cream cheese and an egg quiche on top.  It was delicious.  She also made us hot chocolate.  I was able to fill most of our water bottles.  Little Crow had fun playing frisbee with Sketch who showed up after us. We met Paint Your Wagon who has been contributing on the pct-list for years.  I have never been able to put a face to the name.  He is south bounding Washington and then jumping down to the Sierras.  When we left the packing lot, we headed up to Sheep Lake and then on to a gap in the ridge.  For many miles, we would go from gap to gap.  It seems like we did a lot of up today.  As I think back on the day, all I remember was going up.  The only down of any length came late in the day . On one section, we bumped into Aquanaut and his girl friend Christin who were South bounding a small section together.  We have not seen him since Crater Lake.  He got off the trail at Cascade Locks for a job interview.  He says he will come back next year and hike Washington next summer.  We asked him if he knew what happened to Little Bear, and he did not. The two of them were the two deep sea divers we met a long time ago out of Tehachapi.  We sincerely liked these two young men. Perhaps we will bump into them next year when we bring Bling back to do the part of Washington he missed.

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Paint Your Wagon

Paint Your Wagon

Shepard

Shepard

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Sketch

Sketch

Sketch

Sketch

Dewey Lake

Day 151 – 9/9/15
Dewey Lake
Miles – 23.9
Total Miles – 2395.3 (PCT 2317.9)

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We got a good start this morning.  We were up with the sunrise. That is not hard this time of year, with the sun rising later and later in the mornings.  6:00 is still the same time we are shooting for morning wake up, however it is pretty dark outside compared what it was a few weeks ago at the same time.   We will have to get up before sunrise just to stay on time for the up coming weeks.  The trail was easy for most of the morning.  We started with an easy climb and then a long easy down.  Our big up came around lunch which was a 1,500′ climb.  It gave us great views of Mt Adams way to the south.  Fall is in full glory.  The huckleberry bushes are a deep red and the maple trees are changing to all shades of yellow, orange and red.  It is beautiful but it also is a warning sign to hurry up to Canada before the first snow hits.  As we topped off on the climb, we turned a corner and Mt Rainier was  before us . It was huge and so close. We felt like all we had to do was reach out and touch it.  Another hiker described it as a big ice cream sundae.  We agreed but added that it is an ice cream sundae that dominates the entire western sky!  After reaching the top of our climb we contoured along a set of peaks.  The trail stayed as high as it could as we moved north.  Toward evening we came over a small rise and arrived at Dewey Lake.  As we setup camp, we heard elk calling at the other end of the lake.  One elk is now outside of the tent walking around.  We only saw two other thru hikers today.  I believe that a lot of thru hikers left White Pass before we got there and others held up at Trout Lake during the rains.  We are in this little zone with very few hikers and it is nice.  We do not have to compete for campsites.  We had Dewy Lake all to ourselves.  Mama Raven had a difficult day.  She missed Bling.  I think tomorrow I will get her to listen to the Fellowship of the Rings. That should take her mind off  Bling.DSC08431-9-9-15

White Pass

Day 150 – 9/8/15
Beyond Dark Meadow Trail
Miles – 16.4
Total Miles – 2371.4 (PCT 2294.0)

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It looks like having all three of us in one tent will work.  It is a little cramped but we can sleep without to much bumping into each other.  It was a cold night and we woke up 40 minutes late.  So it was a bit of a slow start for our day.  Today’s hiking was relatively easy.  The trail dropped for a while and then climbed up above Shoe Lake (a lake shaped like a horse shoe).  As we rounded the top, we scared a mountain goat who went running across a tallis pile. The trail then passed through a wide open tundra area and very few, it any, trees. Finally we turned and headed down back into trees toward White Pass.  As we dropped, we hiked next to ski runs.  We could see the lifts above us. Around 3:00 we hit Hwy 12 and walked up to the store.  We picked up two packages, one with all our food and another from Suresh, a co-worker from Cymer.  He had been up here on vacation and was trying to meet us, but with all the rain and the problems with Bling’s leg it never happened.  So he drove over to White Pass and dropped off a package.  Suresh left us two packets, one with dried apples and strawberries, and the other with dried cherries.  Little Crow loves the dried apples, I go for the dried cherries, Mama Raven liked it all!  There was also a $25 gift card from Cymer.  Thanks to all of you.  There were a few hikers at White Pass we knew:   Whole Roll, Rabbit, Night Shift, and Rebo.  We met Sketch from Japan who likes to sketch for his journal instead of writing.  Mama and Papa Raven worked on the box and got ready for the next section.  We pulled out the food that was allotted for Bling. There was no reason to carry it.  We placed the extra food in the hiker box at the store and it was quickly grabbed by other thru hikers.  Our resupply box was a big one. It had all our cold weather gear, heavier rain coats, rain pants, and fleece jackets.  We put together a box of clothes we did not want and mailed it to uncle Lew’s house, just to have to close at hand if we need it. We finished sealing the box and were ready to hike out in two hours. That was one of our fastest resupply ever. However it took another hour before we left making phone calls and talking to other hikers. Oh well, still three hours is not too bad!

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Leaving Bling

Day 149 – 9/7/15
In the trees below the Goat Rocks
Miles – 12.1
Total Miles – 2355.0 (PCT 2278.6)DSC08107-9-7-15 Everyone had breakfast, the car was loaded, and we hit the road by 8:00. We drove up to White Pass so we could pick up several packages, mainly our box of new shoes and a new tent for Bling and Little Crow. Since Bling was going to stay with his cousins, we do not need the second tent right now. The re-supply box we left, we’ll pick it up tomorrow when we hike thru. At the store we saw Treeman and Hedgehog. They were surprised and happy to see us. We told them of our plans. They will be leaving White Pass today thus we will be a day behind them. Next we drove to where we met Randy who agreed to drive us to the trailhead, which is back up 17 miles of dirt roads. All this time my (Mama Raven) stomach had those annoying nervous butterflies that you get before major dental work, surgery or an oral report. However today, it was due to the fact I had to say good bye to Bling. Papa Raven felt the same way. When we tuned off of Hwy 12, Randy was waiting there. We moved our packs to the back of her car and said our good byes. We have never left Bling like this before and it was very difficult to say good bye to him. It just did not feel right going off without him. Already, it feels like a very important part of us has been taken away. There is simply an empty void. It was a teary eyed departure for all. We had a good ride to the trailhead with Randy.  Once at the trail head, we unloaded her car and started on the last minute packing. Off at one end of the packing lot only one horse trailer was left, from the group that was here when Bling was rescued. It was Joe, one of the horsemen who was there when we came down off the mountain. He was surprised to see us. We explained about Bling. Since it was noon, we had a small bit to eat before going out. We retraced the path we took several days ago when Bling was carried out by horse and worked our way back to the PCT. It did not feel right hiking without Bling. Mama Raven was especially unhappy and uncertain if we were doing the right thing. We are going to have to get use to having three in our group instead of four. The trail headed up above timberline. We had great views in all directions. To the south, was Adams with a ring of clouds about its middle. To the west, we could look down into the valley we had just hiked out of. To the east, was Old Snowy, a scraggly mountain shooting up above us. And to the north Mt Rainier our next objective. The trail soon climbed up to the Packwood Glacier. New trail had been built above the glacier so you do not have to hike across it any longer. Clouds came and went as we hiked. After the glacier, we came to the highlight of this section, the knife edge of the Goat Rocks. Bling was so looking forward to this part of the trail. This area is a favorite of thru hikers. It is several miles of narrow trail with 1000’+ drop offs on both sides. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the temperature dropped as we headed out onto the edge. Mount Rainer stood proudly in front of us. Mountain goats were grazing on the green, grassy hillsides below. The day was getting late as we got to the end of the knife edge, so we picked up the pace and headed for the trees. More mountain goats could be seen in the hill tops above. We found a good campsite between two big pine trees. For the first time ever, we will be trying to sleep three people in our tent. It’s a good thing that Little Crow is small. It will be a tight fit but it should work. Tomorrow we will make it to White Pass. Right now there are elk calling to each other near our tent. We wish Bling was with us to hear the bugling sounds of the elk! We miss you Bling!!!DSC08012-9-7-15

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Uncle Lew

Day 148 – 9/6/15
Chehalis
Miles – 0
Total Miles – 2342.9 (PCT 2271.5)
The Ravens have been in the dull drums for most of the day. We are having a hard time excepting the fact that our PCT hike is done. Mama and Papa Raven have been tossing around ideas as to what to do. It appears that Bling’s leg muscles are severely pulled. When he puts the slightest bit of weight on it, he experiences intense pain. Bling cannot hike right now. We are going to keep him off his leg for several weeks, icing it and lightly stretching it. To do this, his uncle Lew is driving down from Winthrop (a five hour drive) to pick him up and take him home with him. Lewis is Mama Raven’s brother and he is an acupuncturist. The remaining Ravens will get back on the trail were they left off. Meanwhile, hopefully Bling will heal enough under uncle Lew’s and aunt Florence’s care so that by the time we reach Rainy Pass, Bling can rejoin us and make it to the Canadian border. The Ravens will return next summer to hike the sections Bling missed. Thus, most of today we just sat in our room icing Bling’s leg and watching TV. Tomorrow Lewis will drive the remaining Ravens to Packwood, and drop us off with a trail angel who will take us back to were we got off the trail the other day. Lewis arrived about 7:00 pm. He brought his son Noah (age 11) with him as well as some crutches for Bling. Now Bling can move around a bit. We will be heading out tomorrow.
One piece of good news, the resent rains have dampened down the fires in northern Washington. Now the trail closures have been lifted and we can hike all the way to Canada on the trail.

Rescue

Day 147 – 9/5/25
Chehalis
Miles – 5.9
Total Miles – 2342.9 (PCT 2271.5)

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The thermometer read 32° inside the tent.  It was a cold night last night.  With great apprehension, we checked Bling’s knee first thing and it was hurting just as bad as yesterday. Mama and Papa Raven were hoping by some miracle his leg would be better so Bling could walk out on his own.  No such luck.  We tried to think of a solution. The ideas we came up with we knew were not realistic:  pulling him down the trail on a insulate pad and making a stretcher out of hiking poles and a sleeping bag.  We were avoiding the unavoidable. . . pushing the spot device.  We did not want to do it too early and make anybody get up out of bed too soon but we did not want to do it too late since it could take many hours to get someone here.  After all it was not a life threatening situation.  It is just a little boy with a bad leg who cannot get out on his own,  and parents who could not figure out how to get him out.  We agreed it was time to push the button.  Mama Raven did not want to push it, nether did Papa Raven. Therefore, we said it was Bling’s leg, so lets let him do it!  At 7:30 am, Bling hit the SOS on the Spot device.  That is something we never thought we would have to do.  We all settled down for a long wait.  Treeman, who was camped near us, stopped by to see how Bling was doing.  He said we did the right thing to call for help the way we did.  He made us feel a little better.  We said goodbye to Treeman.  It was a very sad, goodbye. The Ravens were getting off the trail.  Given where we are, Papa Raven figured that it would take 4 to 5 hours for anyone to reach us.  The whole morning, clouds lifted up out of the valley. It was beautiful!  In the late morning, we started to hear voices passing by our tent.  We would peek out, but they were just backpackers.  At about 11:30, we heard horses. The rescue party came. It was quickly decided to take Bling down on horseback thus one of the riders had to give up his horse and hike down with Bling’s pack.  Ray volunteered his horse, Nick. The horseman lifted Bling up onto Nicks back. It started to lightly sprinkle and they put a duster on him to keep him warm and dry. Mama and Papa Raven, Little Crow, and Ray quickly packed the rest of our gear and followed the path of the horses.  The hike down to the trailhead were Bling would be was all down hill.   We reached the bottom around 3:00.  Bling was sitting in a heated tent drinking hot chocolate and eating homemade oatmeal cookies.  He was warming his feet in front of a heater.  The sheriff, rescue coordinator had called for a transport vehicle. The truck arrived about an hour later, we loaded up and off we went on our way to somewhere, although we did not know where. The driver was Sue.  She first took us to a small town called Morton but there were no rooms available.  We kept working our way down going from town to town with the same scenario. . . no rooms available. We finally hit Hwy 5 were we finally were able to get a room in Chehalis. We are grateful for the effort Sue put in to find us a place to stay.  Thank you, Sue, for your help! Also thank you to everyone involved in helping us get Bling down off the mountain! You were all so good to Bling and really helped out some bewildered parents. THANK YOU! And that is one big, heart felt thank you!

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Hitting the SPOT rescue device

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Bling on Nick

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Ray

Ray

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Ray

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Treeman

Treeman