Stevens Pass

Day 20 – 7/26/16
Just beyond Stevens Pass
Miles – 15.4
Total Miles 322.3 (PCT 2461.8)
We woke with condensation inside of the tents dripping on us. For some reason the condensation was very bad over night. As we packed up, we dried the tents with our bandannas. The sun rose to another glorious rain free day. We decided to take the time to dry the tents in the morning sun before we packed them.  While the tents dried in the sun, the kids played games running through and scrambling up the rock piles behind our camp.  Our camp site was high up a mountain side just below a jagged spire of rock. We had dramatic views of snow-covered Glacier Peak to the north.  Beyond it was another range of mountains. We were wondering if those far off mountains were in Canada or not?  We suspect they were because we only have ten more hiking days till the Canadian border.  It was a perfect spot to camp except for the hundreds of pesky mosquitoes buzzing around us. A short time later, with all of our gear dry, we started to hike. The trail dropped to the valley floor and passed by Glacier Lake. As we rounded the lake, Papa Raven spotted a large spring coming out of the side of a cliff. Little Crow took her pack off to run ahead to tell Mama Raven and Bling about the spring. They were only a quarter of a mile ahead. They returned to Papa Raven and we all replenished their empty water bottles. After reaching the far end of the valley, we began climbing up Trapper Pass. This was a bit of a pull. As we got closer to the top, there were countless number of small switchbacks.  At the end of each switch back, we kept thinking that had to be the last one. But no it was not!  Eventually, we made it to the top. On the way down the other side, we passed through fields of plants which raised the humidity dramatically. After Trapper Pass, the trail traversed downwards toward Hope Lake and then to Mig Lake. There we took our shoes off and soaked our feet. Mama Raven has been having more and more trouble with an ingrown toenail. Each step she took, was terribly painful especially when going down hill.  Her speed had slowed way down. We have decided to head out at Stevens Pass to have it taken care of.  After cooling our feet off in Mig Lake we pushed on. The trail had one last big climb for the day and then it headed down into the Stevens Pass Ski Resort. It was getting late when we topped the last hill and we could see Hwy 2 way below us. The store with our box closes at 5:00 according to our guide-book. We had 40 minutes to get down there. Bling and Papa Raven headed out as fast as they could, reaching the store a few minutes before five. Unfortunately,  everything was already closed up. We guessed they closed early. When Mama Raven and Little Crow showed up, we sat down at an outside table and tried to figure out our plans. We called Andrea Dinsmore for some information. Our two choices are a clinic in Monroe or in the opposite direction to Leavenworth. There is a bus that can take us to Leavenworth, or we hitch a ride to Andrea’s, where she could drive us to the health clinic in Monroe. For tonight, we decided to camp near Stevens Pass, then, tomorrow morning, get our box and sort it. Leavenworth won out because we have always heard about it and were curious about it. It is a Bavarian tourist town next to the Wenatchee River. All the stores and streets make you feel like you are actually in Austria or Germany. The town has a reputation of being expensive so we hope we can find a hotel that is affordable and a medical clinic that will see us right away. Meanwhile, we are going to enjoy being tourists of Leavenworth.

A hard day

Day 19 – 7/25/16
Small camp after Piper Pass
Miles 18.8
Total Miles 306.9 (PCT 2446.4)
It was the warmest night we have had on the trail. We had all the vestibules open and we were still too hot. We got up and packed quickly. We wanted to climb as much of the valley before the sun hit us. We made a good distance. The trail worked its way up a low valley toward a meadow with a lake in it below Cathedral Pass, which was our next goal. We crossed the meadow and headed up the pass. The last of the climb was not long, just a few switch backs that carried us up quickly. We took a break at the top of the pass. We ate and enjoyed the views around us. The next obstacle was a river crossing that has a  dangerous reputation depending on snow melt and the time of the year.  Back in 2011, which was a record snow year up here, Bling was nine and Little Crow was six, we tried to cross it in mid July. It was too dangerous for them so we had to find another way around it. We had to crawl and bushwhack our way through devil’s club to reach the bottom of the valley where the river mellowed out. There is a reason devil’s club is called what it is. The plant as thorns completely covering every micro centimeter of its stem. Also the underside of its leaves are covered with painful thorns. We were all bloody after that adventure. Nonetheless we found a safe way to cross the river with two tiny kids. On last year hike, we were so late in the season that the water was low and not a problem.  Any ways, that was then and today as we approached the river with apprehension, we wondered what the crossing would be like.  The trail traversed in and out of valleys for about 3 miles until it came to the large river crossing. We stopped 100′ above it to take a look. To our relief, there were some logs crossing about half of it, which was the deepest part. If they were not there, we would have a scary time crossing the river. We went down to the river’s edge and Papa Raven dropped his pack and walked up-stream to where a down log was. It took him about 5 minutes to work the log loose from the rocks. He then added it to the other two logs crossing the river. As he was doing this, two south-bounders were working their way across. We watched their path and they made it without a problem. Papa Raven unbuckled his hip belt on his pack and went across first. On river crossings, the hip belt and sternum straps should be left unbuckled. This way, if you should happen to fall in, you will be able to easily and quickly get the pack off. Wet, heavy backpacks have been known to hold people under water and drown them. Papa Raven made it to an island in the middle of the river, dropped his pack and went back to help everyone else across. Bling came next without any problems. Then Little Crow, she did need a helping hand in a few places. As Mama Raven crossed,  Bling had found a way across the rest of the river and he was helping Little Crow through it. Finally, Mama Raven crossed the last part of the river and then we worked our way down to the trail. We had made it across with only a few wet feet. Since we were stopped, we ate and filtered water. The next part of the trail is a long traversing climb over Deception Pass and then on to Piper Pass. This took the rest of the day. We then hiked down below the pass, about. 5 miles, to the first camp we could find and stopped for the night.
Current problems: on the way up to Piper Pass, Bling became very tired and came down with a bad sore throat. Mama Raven has been fighting an infection with her ingrown toe nail since the beginning of the trip. Now it is green with infection.  Papa Raven is still fighting blisters, infact many blisters! The new shoes have helped but the feet need to heal. Little Crow is the only one without any problems!
Way to go Little Crow!!!

A beautiful sunny day

Day 18 – 7/24/16
Creekside camps
Miles – 18.9
Total Miles – 288.1 (PCT 2427.6)
To great joy, we woke to sun on our tents. We asked Bling how he felt and he said that his stomach was OK. We had breakfast and started to pack up. Little Crow and Papa Raven got out of the tents at about the same time. Papa Raven poked his head in to see how Bling was doing. After eating, he was not feeling well again. We got him out of the tent and told him to go sit on a rock in the sun. We all slowly packed up as we wondered what is wrong with Bling. Should we not hike today? When we were finished we went over to see Bling. He said that he was getting a little better and that he would like to try to hike. We were relieved a bit, but still concerned about Bling’s health.
The trail started by passing a large waterfall and then it headed down toward the valley floor. There were a number of downed trees we had to climb over. By the time we were hiking up the valley Bling was feeling good again.  He said he was tired but his stomach felt better. Both Mama and Papa Raven agreed we would take it easy today.
Bling thinks that his upset stomach was related to what he ate for breakfast in Snoqualmie. He had the same thing for breakfast both days and in the afternoon he felt sick. The only problem was that other people ate the same things and did not have the same reaction. So it is still a mystery to us.
As we hiked up the valley, we had to maneuver around and over many down trees. In one location, there were 10 fallen trees in a single group. Finally we started our big up of the day, 2000′ in 4 miles under the hot sun. It took us the rest of the morning to get to the top. Once there we had to stop to filter water. On the way up, we had another small world moment! A couple coming down stopped to talk to us. Something we said made them ask us if we were The Ravens?  She told us that her brother-in-law is Bush Wacker. We got all excited! We meet Bush Wacker in Oregon and were regularly bumping into him along the way. He kept telling his family about this family hiking the PCT also. Anyways, they took a picture of us to send to Bush Wacker to prove that they actually ran into The Ravens.  At the top of the ridge we had a good view of Mt. Rainier way to the south. What goes with a good big up? A big down, and that is what came next. The only problem was by the time we reached the down, everyone’s feet hurt and a big down was not going to help. We headed down, slow and steady. And yes, by the time we reached the bottom we were done, but the only problem was finding a campsite. We hiked to the first trail junction and it’s camp.  We decided to go another 1.5 miles to the next camp. When we got there,  other hikers were already there. So we had to go on.  Mama Raven found a semi-flat place down the embankment and we made it work.  Oh, and Bling stomach did not bother him any more today to everyone’s relief.

We’re on our way to better weather

Day 17 – 7/23/16
Delayed Creek
Miles – 18.0
Total Miles – 269.2 (PCT 2408.7)
We woke to very low clouds and it had rained overnight. I checked the weather, it says that it should be cleaning today and then we’ll have several days of sunshine. Looking out the window it was pretty hard to believe. We all went down for another breakfast of pancakes, French toast, eggs, sausage, and hash browns. We had more food then we could eat, so we took two pancakes and four pieces of French toast with us for a snack on the trail. We found out last year that cold pancakes for a snack on the trail was very good. Jeremy, who now has the trail name of barking spider was also having breakfast.  He too is leaving this morning.
After eating, we packed the last of the gear and hit the trail about 9:20. The hike out of Snoqualmie was not fun. It is miles of steady up, topping out at the cat walk, a narrow edge we need to cross over. On the way up, two women were coming down the trail who were out day hiking. One of them, asked us if we were hiking the PCT last year.  Papa Raven answered yes. She said she ran into us three days out of Campo at Laguna Mts. She was out for a three-day backpack trip then. It’s a small world!  The whole way up, the clouds kept blowing over us. In a way this was good for us, it kept us cool. The trail next dropped down to Ridge Lake and then contoured around a basin which held Alaska Lake.  As we left the basin, heading for the next basin, we could see the clouds breaking up to the east. The land is absolutely beautiful. Each basin, with its craggily ridges, has a hanging lake in them that has one edge like an infinity swimming pool. The land is covered with Moss and ferns and wild flowers. There is no way to put in words the beauty we are surrounded by. The next basin held Joe Lake. Upon leaving that basin, we entered the last basin. A small one. The only problem with this basin was that the clouds were pushed right up against its edge and a very cold wind was pushing the clouds into us. It was not comfortable.  As we reached the far side, we saw two mountain goats standing across a little valley. They did not seem to be afraid of us. They just stood there calmly, watching us. We traversed across the canyon wall toward a pass and the best part was that it was all sunny. As we headed down the other side, we looked back and there was a massive wall of clouds that simply stopped on the jagged ridge.  We headed down until we got to the first bridge and that is where we set up camp for the night.
All day Bling felt fine until just before dinner, then he had another relapse. We will see how he feels tomorrow.


Day 15 and 16
Miles – 5.5
Total Miles 251.2 (PCT 2390.7)
We had sunshine first thing this morning. That has not happened very often this trip. Since it is a short five miles to town, we were a bit slow getting out of camp.  That is at least Mama and Papa Raven were. Little Crow and Bling were so excited for town day they were up and ready at record speed!  The hike to town started with a simple traverse. The only problem was with the dew. Washington is the only place were you can hike on a clear day and still get totally soaked. The trail is often overgrown and dew collects on the leaves. As we hiked through them we got wet.  The vegetation up here is green and beautiful with lush ferns, mosses, clover and grasses. There are wildflowers of every color.  One of our favorite has been there Bear Grass.  A tall stock grows out from the center of a clump of dark green grass. The stock ends in a explosion of hundreds of tiny white flowers. When we came through here last September, the Bear Grass was long gone. Vast variety of mushrooms are up here too.  The local residents know which ones are edible and they come up and gather them. We are clueless about them so we are not about to try any of them.  There are also berry bushes galore:  huckleberries, blueberries, black berries, salmon berries, thimble berries, and ones we do not even know their names. This is how today’s trail went until we crossed over to the eastern side of the mountain. Once over to the sunny side, our paced picked up and we passed under the Summit Ski lifts. By 10:00 we dropped down the mountain and hiked into Snoqualmie Pass.
First thing we did was to stop by the gas station to pick up some drinks and something to eat. Papa Raven went over to the hotel to see when our room would be ready. It will not be ready at 12:30. He picked up our re-supply box and we sat at a picnic table and sorted through it. This did not take long, so we spent a lot of time just sitting and waiting. Finally 12:30 came, and we got into our room. Showers and laundry were the most urgent tasks completed. Bling and Papa Raven got their new shoes. The old ones were eagerly thrown in the trash. We had dinner at a restaurant across the street called the Commonwealth. It was excellent and we plan on eating there tomorrow night as well. The sunshine we woke up to this morning disappeared to dark gray cloud cover. It did not rain. That comes tomorrow, while we will be dry inside the hotel room!

We did our best to do nothing. We ate. We did some repair on the  equipment. We sat and rested the feet. We watched TV. We watched Discovery Channel’s Alone, Deadliest Catch and Alaskan Bush People.  Mama Raven worked on photographs for the blog. That’s about it!
We did pick a good day to take a zero. We woke to rain. The clouds stayed very low all day and it rained several more times throughout the day. We were glad that we were not hiking in this wet weather.
Around 1:00, Bling started to feel sick (nauseated). He took a nap and stayed in bed and by 6:00, he felt better and wanted dinner. It was kind of weird, not feeling well for 5 hours. We hope that is the end of that ailment for Bling. We ate at the Commonwealth restaurant again for another awesome dinner. The Raven’s favorite part was the carmel apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.

A beautiful day

Day 14 – 7/20/16
Stream camp
Miles – 16.9
Total Miles – 245.7 (PCT 2385.2)
It was a restful night. We woke at 6:00 to a very foggy layer which burned off as soon as the sun hit it. The remainder of the day we had blue sky with a cloud every now and then. Since we are not trying to get to Snoqualmie today, we could take long breaks without pushing ourselves. Today’s trail was not difficult. We started out with a small up and then traversed around hill tops. We crossed under 8  huge electrical delivery lines. The area under them is kept clear of trees, so this gives the huckleberries a chance to grow under full sun. Under the last set of power lines, we found our first fully ripe berries.  They were some of the biggest huckleberries we have ever seen. Perhaps the electric currents from the wires produced big berries? Of course, we all stopped to pick hand fulls to eat. In the mid afternoon, we stopped to filter several bottles of water. We did not do all of them because we are so close to town. While we filtered, Papa Raven checked to see if we had a phone connection, he had only one bar, but it was enough to call the hotel in Snoqualmie and reserve a room for tomorrow night. They also confirmed that two of our the boxes are there. Those two came in today, a new water bottle and new shoes for Bling and Papa Raven. We will see about our food box when we get there. In the late afternoon, we came to Yakama Pass, this was the start of our one big climb. We climbed until we reached the midway point, Mirror Lake, and stopped for a break.  There were a number of people camping here and we are concerned that out intended campsite would be filled so we pushed on. An hour or so later, we finished the climb and traversed over to the campsite. It was still empty and we moved in. This was the earliest we have stopped the whole trip, about 7:00. With only 5.5 miles to go to Snoqualmie Pass, we will get there and have a nero and a zero.  We are all looking forward to a little time off.

A Little Sunshine

Day 13 – 7/19/16
Campsite on an abandoned road
Miles – 19.1
Total Miles – 228.8 (PCT 2368.3)
It sprinkled on and off throughout the night.  When we poked our heads out of the tents in the morning to see what type of weather we would have, we reconciled ourselves to another gloomy, wet day.  A drizzling gray cloud had engulfed us. Consequently, we were in no hurry to get up. Instead we fell back asleep. However short time later, Papa Raven woke up and saw sun shinning on our tent.  He spoke loudly about the glorious affair, and Mama Raven popped awake instantly.  Even Bling and Little Crow woke up suddenly.  We all peeked again outside and found that the sky was a mixture of clouds and blue sky. Hallelujahs!!!  Our spirits soared high at that moment.  Hiking in so much rain over the past two weeks has dampened our spirits (pun intended). Our joy faded as we watched a very thick cloud move over us as we ate breakfast. By the time we got out of the tents to finish packing, we could not see more than 50 yards in front of us. It was drizzling also. The days hiking started out through an old clear cut that was slowly growing back. We hiked right on a ridge with a foggy, cloud blowing around us. The drizzle had stopped. However, we were getting very wet from the over grown bushes we walked through. Our socks, shoes and feet were quickly saturated with water.  As a general rule, we always carry three pairs of socks each. That usually allows time to get a pair washed which we hang off our packs to dry. With the wet weather we have had, there has not been enough sunshine to dry them.  All socks we have are wet. At one point, we tried to put the days pair of wet, dirty socks in a zip lock bag and tucked them away in the pack to keep everything around them dry.  We would open them that night to the most obnoxious smell. The smell made us gag it was so bad.  We now just hang the dirty socks on the outside of the pack, rain or shine. The other problem was the water dropping from the trees got us as wet as if it really were raining. It took us hours to cross the ridges and start up Blowout Mt. As we hiked down the other side, we noticed a thinning of the clouds. By noon, we were heading down the mountain towards Tacoma Pass, and to all our joy, full sun shined on us. We just stood there facing the sun and bathed in all its warmth.  We did not want to leave. Finally we went down to our low point for the day, Tacoma Pass. The drop was very hard on our feet so we took a long rest at the bottom. The 1200′ up on the other side went by faster then we thought. Hiking up does not hurt the feet as much as going down. The rest of the day was taken up traversing the tops of the mountains as we headed northeast.
Our original plan was to get into Snoqualmie late tomorrow. We are about 22 miles out. We have decided to shorten tomorrows hike to about 18-19 miles and come into town early Thursday. This will give us a nero on Thursday and a zero on Friday. Our feet deserve a rest.

More rain

Day 12 – 7/18/16
Small spring
Miles – 19.0
Total Miles – 209.7 (PCT 2349.2)
It was a rough night. The angle of the campsite had us sliding into the side of the tent. It was hard to get comfortable. Also, we camped at 6100′ and it was cold. When we got up, we had a beautiful view of Mt Rainier with a cloud wrapped around is summit and low clouds blanketing the valleys below us. We packed up, started hiking toward Scott Pass and the morning sun. As we descended from the pass, we came to a nice spring in Big Crow Basin. We filled all of our bottles from it. We do not filter spring water so this makes our water collecting much faster than when we have to filter. The trail left the basin and wrapped into Little Crow Basin. Little Crow liked this name, of course. We had a long contour out of the basin and took a short break at Martinson Gap. All morning, as we hiked, the clouds were thickening.  After leaving the gap, we heard thunder very close to us and then it quickly began to rain. We are on the edge of a big thunderhead but we could not tell for sure because the sky was a uniform drab gray. The rain varied from light to heavy and it lasted for hours. Needless to say, our packs got soaked and of course our feet did too.  Our upper bodies stayed pretty dry thanks to our rain skirts, coats, and umbrellas. Our only problem was staying warm. As the day went on, we dropped in elevation and about mid-afternoon we came to Urich Cabin. By this time the rain had stopped, all the plants were wet, which made walking a very soggy endeavor.  We walked past areas that had several inches of  hail. The cabin was a dry refuge. We decided to take a lunch break in it.  Little Crow wanted us to light a fire but that would take too much time. Finally, we left the cabin and hiked toward an old burn area. This section was burned back in 1988.  Most of the old burned trees are still standing after all these years and have turned to a weathered grey color.  Forest like this are referred to as a grey forest.  For many miles leading up to the cabin and through the burned area, we had many, many fallen trees we had to find away around, over or under.  Because the logs were wet, they were very slippery. Many of them were a large pile up of multiple trees.  Being on such a steep mountain side, finding away around them became tricky at times. Both Bling and Mama Raven sled down the muddy hillside resulting in their legs being completely covered in mud. This section has not had anybody come in and cut the down logs. The PCT association depends on volunteers to clear trails and volunteers are hard to come by. The few crew teams we have talked too, said that strong wind storm come through last November over the entire length of Oregon and Washington resulting in five times more blow downs than normal to clear. The unlogged trees make hiking very hard. Despite Bling and Mama Raven’s difficulties, Little Crow had the hardest time because  of her short legs which made climbing over hard.  Late in the day, we came across a spring with a good campsite we decided to stop early. The Ravens were cold, soggy, muddy, and tired! The sun also came out this afternoon but low foggy clouds kept rolling in. Right now we are in a thick cloud and it has been sprinkling on and off. We are going to have wet tents tomorrow morning. The Ravens are officially tired of the wet weather!

Around Mt Rainier

Day 11 – 7/17/16
Before Scott Pass
Miles – 22.0
Total Miles – 190.7 (PCT 2330.3)
Last night was the warmest night yet. Everyone slept very soundly and did not get up till 6:30.  We were on the trail by 7:30. The sky was mostly blue with a few puffy grey clouds.  First thing this morning was a 800′ climb around a lake and up onto a ridge. The vistas and craggy peaks were beautiful.  The blue sky was quickly disappearing and being replaced with dark thunder heads. We contoured along and we were approached Dewey Lake when we stopped to pump water. This can take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. As we were filtering the water, we heard the first booms of thunder. There were two thunder heads around us, one to the north and the other to the south. Little Crow does not like thunder one bit and she was not enjoying it. She would hide her head inside Papa Raven’s jacket. She is convinced that we are going to be struck by the lightning. Bling tenderly tried to comfort her. After about 15 minutes of loud thunder, it started to rain big, fat, drops, then the hail started. We sat under a thicket of trees with our umbrellas overhead. We waited through the worst of the storm as we filled bottle after bottle of water.  Finally, when we had filled all the bottles, we hiked out. After crossing a small ridge, we hiked down to Dewey Lake then around it and on to the eastern entrance to Mt Rainier National Park. There is a large wooden bridge over the road and we stopped for pictures. The trail from there is a long gentil climb up to Sheep Lake. This is the second Sheep Lake on this trip. By this time, the rain had stopped and we pushed on. We climbed up to another ridge and hiked from gap to gap and pass to pass. The weather report says that there will be larger thunderstorms that will last most of the day tomorrow thus we wanted to cross the high exposed rides before the thunder comes tomorrow. We almost made it, Scott Pass is the last one before we drop back down. It was a long day. Right at the end of the day, Mama Raven and Bling saw a large herd of elk that ran off as soon as they spotted them.  In the evening, the sky cleared up high where we where, although below us the peaks and valleys were socked in with clouds. The low clouds looked like they went on forever with an occasional mountain peak, rising above the clouds. It was extraordinarily beautiful and ethereal.
We got into camp after the sun had set and it is getting very cold now.

Leaving White Pass

Day 10 – 7/16/16
Small camp at a creek
Miles – 16.4
Total Miles – 168.7 (PCT 2308.3)
Last night we decided to not leave early and have breakfast at the Kracker Barrel store which does not open till 8:00. Before breakfast we packed most of our gear and ordered new shoes for Papa Raven and Bling.  Bling’s shoes fit him before we left on this trip however now they are too small and given him all kinds of feet problems. Papa Raven’s shoes are just plain horrible! He currently has 6 blisters and the balls of his feet hurt when he walks. These were a new pair of shoes before we started and ever since the first day of the hike they have given him problems. A new water bag was also ordered for Bling because his started leaking a few days ago. We finally made it over to breakfast around 9:00 and had a crescent roll breakfast sandwich, three eggs muffins, and four chocolate milks. Mr. Z was there along with Jeremy, Tea Time and Gandalf the Grey. Once breakfast was done we said goodbye and returned to our room to finish packing.
We set out for the trail at 10:00, a good late start. The trail climbed out of White Pass, it is not a hard climb but it is several miles long. When it leveled off, we entered an area of thick trees and little ponds everywhere. All these ponds brought out the mosquitoes. They were not bad while we walked, but when we stopped, we were swarmed. Bling has the record of 8 mosquitoes in one hit. Hitting 3 and 4 at a time, was not uncommon. Toward the late afternoon, we came to our only real climb of the day. We made good time climbing up out of the valley. We did camp a little early because there was nowhere to camp for the next 3.5 miles and we did want to get in after dark. So we are in a nice flat area on the side of a steep valley wall. Not a bad location. The day ended with sprinkles of rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be the worse with heavy thunder storms.  Little Crow will not be happy!

White Pass

Day 9 – 7/15/16
White Pass
Miles – 10.4
Total Miles – 152.3 (PCT 2292.4)
We had another dry night. Two dry nights in a row!  We can get use to that. Quickly we got out of camp because we were looking forward to getting to town as fast as possible. Town days are exciting for hikers.  The main reason is food!  The visions of pizza, hamburgers, French fries, sodas, and ice cream were dancing in our heads. The trail led up a ridge past Shoe Lake.  After that it crossed a bowl with few snow patches.  When we entered the bowl we saw nine mountain goats near the trail. They noticed us right away and ran up the cliffs above.  They perched themselves on the craggily knife-edge, watching us as we marched by them far below on the trail. Next, the trail went near several ski lifts.  We took one break at an open area where we had views north and east. We noticed that a fire is burning out in the Washington desert. After eating, we set off to town. As we were going toward the White Pass, we saw Joe, who helped with Bling’s rescue last September, riding his horse toward us. He was a bringing gear for a PCTA trail crew. He told us that we could camp with him and Cindy, his wife if we liked. He also said we could come by for dinner. We parted company, hoping to meet later and walked the last few miles to White Pass. Shortly after Joe we ran into some more horseman who greeted us with a big “hello Ravens!” It was Doc and Matt, who also helped in Bling’s rescue. It was good to see them. We talked a few minutes before we continued on. At White Pass is the Kracker Barrel store which has food, groceries, and our re-supply box. Since it was around noon we picked up sandwiches and drinks. We sat at one of the tables inside and ate. There is a lodge just above the store and Little Crow and I went to see if we could get a room. All The Ravens need a bath and we also need a place to spread our gear out. There was one available and we took it. Soon we were all in the room, emptying packs, getting showers, and sorting out the food box. This took longer than it should because we just wanted to sit and get off our sore feet. We hand washed the most important things in the sink and dried them the at the store. If we had done a full load of laundry at the store, it would have been seven dollars.  Around 6:00, we walked the short half mile over to Joe’s camp. We stayed for several hours and talked with all the horseman that had come up for the weekend. We had a delicious feast of baked beans, pork chops, salad, and Jello side dishes. The dinner wrapped up with a homemade blackberry pie. It will be a meal we dream about and long for while we are hiking. We all had a great time. Finally we walked back to our room and settled in for the night.

Fun in the snow fields

Day 8 – 7/14/16
Before Hidden Spring Trail
Miles – 19.1
Total Miles 141.9 (PCT 2284.0)
After eight days on the trail, we had our first dry night. There was no drizzle, rain, not even condensation. Hurray!!!!  We were up at 6:00, had our usual breakfast of chocolate Carnation Instant breakfast and Bevita biscuits. We packed up and got out around 7:00, a good time to start hiking. The trail started off in an area that gets late sun, thus it was cold.  As we were hiking, we saw a huge mountain lion paw print in the mud.  Each claw made a perfect indent.  The Ravens looked around and wondered if it was still around or possibly even watching us at that moment.  We decided it was time to move on.  Shortly, we came out into the sun on the top of a ridge. We stopped for a few minutes and Little Crow and Bling slid down a snow bank on the their insolite pads.  We were now in the Goat Rocks, and the views of the tall, spiral peaks surrounding us were beautiful.  Next, we crossed several snow fields to reach the top of Cispus Pass were we waited a few minutes to take in the scenery before we headed down to the basin below. We also started to reminisce about Bling’s leg last year. The basin we hiked into was the one where Bling fully broke his femur last fall. We hiked around the basin re-living every detail of that difficult day. . . twisting his good ankle and jamming his bad leg in the ground to catch himself, trying to cross the out flow of the waterfall on the rocks with his leg broken, large clusters of snow flakes falling while Little Crow tried to catch them in her mouth.  We stopped for something to eat at the same location we camped at where we waited to have Bling rescued by the horseman. The remainder of our hike will be new for Bling. Little Crow keeps telling him what to expect around each corner.  In the next section, the trail climbed up above most of the trees and we had stunning views of all the surrounding mountains: Mt Adams to the south, Mt Saint Helens to the west, and Mt Rainer to the north.  With the climb in elevation, we encountered many snow fields. The main ones were on the side of Old Snowy and the Packard Glacier. Our hiking slowed down a lot as we crossed them.  We needed to be careful because slipping in the snow would result in a several hundred feet fall straight down. Bling wanted to led the way across the snow fields with Little Crow right behind him. Finally we made it over to the spine of the Goat Rocks, a ridge of rocks that drops down several thousand feet on both sides. It was a relief to see that they were clear of snow. We worked our way down to the ridge. At the bottom there were more snow fields. We made it through them easily.  Looking down below us we could see the trail.  All four Ravens decided we could reach the trail below us faster if we sled down the hills instead of walking up and over the ridges. It certainly would be fun!  First the kids tried to slide down on their insolite pads. This did not work well because the snow was too soft. Then Bling and Papa Raven boot skied all the way down. Mama Raven and Little Crow came up behind. Little Crow had never boot skied before. She giggled and laughed all the way down.  We worked our way from snow field to snow field dropping altitude fast. Finally the fun ended because we were out of snow fields. We looked back up where we sled and the pristine snow fields were riddled with our tracks going every which way.  Today’s hiking was slow so we pushed on as far as we could with the remainder the days light. We have only 8 more miles to go to get to White Pass, our next food drop.
We found a place to camp just off the trail. As we were setting up camp, I realized that my umbrella was missing. I though that it might have fallen out when I removed my coat a little while ago. So I grabbed a flashlight and started to hike back. I ended up hiking back much farther, about 2 miles, to a small pond we had stopped at to see if we could camp there. I found the missing umbrella near there. I quickly hiked back. The sun had set by this time and I was using my headlamp in the dusk light. When I was about a mile from camp I saw a light heading my way. Then I realized there were three lights. Everyone had come looking for me. They had become concerned with how long I had been gone.  Little Crow scolded me for hiking alone. Mama Raven said she kept imaging a mountain lion attacking me. We all hiked back to camp and had a late dinner.
Tomorrow we hike to White Pass.

What is that big orange thing in the sky?

Day 7 – 7/13/16
Near Sheep Lake
Miles – 22.4
Total Miles – 122.8 (PCT 2267.0)
We only had a light sprinkle just before bed last night, after that it did not rain. The morning had broken clouds that cleared away to blue sky. Even though we had to put on wet socks and shoes, there were smiles on everybody’s faces with the prospect of a sunny day and dry feet.  We had only hiked 2.5 miles before our first stop at Lava Springs. This is a large spring flowing out of the bottom of a lava field. It has some of the best tasting water on the whole trail. We missed this spring last year because this part of the trail was closed due to a fire on the east side of Mt Adams. We filled all of our bottles, ate, and then hiked out. The next 4-5 miles was very level and straight and we made good time across it. We were revealing in joy of blue sky. Next, the trail started to climb. After a few miles, it rounded into a valley of trees and ponds and we walked into the worst mosquitoes we have had on this trip. When we stopped,  they would swarm around us, growing in numbers every passing second. We were surrounded with a black cloud of mosquitoes. When the mosquitoes get this bad, care must be taken not to inhale one which is never pleasant. Mama Raven frantically looked for her deet with no luck!  Deet is the best mosquito repellent there is. Higher the deet content, the better it works.  Ours is 100% deet. It is very toxic and melts some plastic.  We did not stay long even though we were tired and hungry. We left the spot, swatting the horribly annoying bugs. The farther away from the area we went, less and less mosquitoes followed. We knew that about a mile up further, everything opened up and we would have great views and hopefully no bugs. Shortly we got to the open rock field and took a break, once again mosquitoes rudely attacked us. Mama Raven frantically took apart her pack looking for the deet. Finally after emptying every item in her pack on to the ground, the deet was found at the very bottom of her pack. We immediately put it on. This small bottle of toxic juice instantly changed our misery to euphoria.  We LOVE deet!!!  The mosquitoes were immediately pushed back. We now could cure our hunger pains and eat in peace. The next section was down and then across a wide valley. On the far side of the valley, we started a big up. It went on for miles and we were very tired. We literally dragged ourselves up the last bit of the up. We took a break and sat on the side of a mountain looking into the valley below and views of Mt. Adams, we decided to cut the day short and hike only two miles more to Sheep Lake. If our endurance was stronger, we could have done 3-4 more miles, given how much daylight we had left. Despite the mosquitoes, today was a great day because we were blessed with blue sky and we went to bed with dry feet!

Mt Adams

Day 6 – 7/12/16
Muddy Meadows Trail
Miles – 18.2
Total Miles – 100.4 (PCT 2244.6)
It sprinkled last night but we were dry inside of our room.  We ate breakfast at the same cafe we had dinner at; everyone ordered pancakes except for Little Crow who had French Toast. After breakfast, we headed to the room to finish the last bit of packing. Bling and Little Crow petted Mikey one last time.  Gary was returning at 8:30 to drive as back to the trail head. The swelling in Papa Ravens ankle had gone down but it was not gone. We decided to hike out anyways. Gray arrived and took us back to the trail head. We were hiking by 9:00. The weather in Trout Lake was mostly clear with a few clouds.  We were all relieved to see the blue sky. Unfortunately, the weather did not stay that way.  Fourteen miles north, when we got close to Mt. Adams, the sky was completely packed in with dark and heavy gray clouds.
The first thing the trail did was a 2000′ climb up the southwest side of Mt. Adams and then across the west face and finally turned north. Climbing up 2000′ was very tiring.  Since Mt. Adams is a really big mountain, actually it is a volcano, it has a big effect on weather.  Any unstable air pushed up against it, rises, causing rain. It could be clear and sunny several miles away from it, but close to the mountain it rains. As we hiked around Mt Adams the clouds got thicker and thicker. Finally around 5:00, the dreaded rain came. Just a light sprinkle at first and then it grew to a solid hard downpour. The rain continued for several hours. It was the hardest stretch of rain we have had this trip. When we woke this morning in the room, to blue sky, The Ravens were excited about hiking with no rain today. We knew we were going to go to bed with dry feet tonight. We did not even bother to pack for rain. Well, we were wrong! When it started, we had to quickly repack the packs in order to keep the sleeping bags and essential items dry. Discouragingly, it did not take long for our feet to be saturated with water. The weather reports we keep reading say that the weather will be clearing but it never actually does. We stopped a little early. We hope the weather will clear for tomorrow.
Just before it started to rain today we met up with Jeremy who decided to hike with us for a little ways. He is from Arlington, Washington and just graduated from college as an electrical engineer. Before he joins into the real world of work, he wanted to hike the length of his home state. We enjoyed his company today.

Trout Lake

Day 5 – 7/11/16
Trout Lake
Miles – 10.1
Total Miles – 82.2 (PCT 2226.4)
With only ten miles to go to get to Road that leads to Trout Lake we did not need to get moving too early. Nonetheless, we did anyways, at least earlier than the last four days. Every morning so far, we have woken up to rain and had to stay in the tent until it stopped. Once again, we had rain over night.  A light drizzle.  Enough to get the tents all wet. Despite the condensation falling on us, we packed up early and headed for our ride to Trout Lake.
The trail was easy. We had a medium size up and a really big down. The sun was coming out every now and then as we hiked.  We took a short break underneath an old growth pine tree whose girth was enormous.  There are not too many trees left like him.  Last year, we stopped for a break underneath it also. It was good to see him again.  We got to the trail head just before 1:00. That gave us a two-hour wait. I did try to get a phone connection but it was not strong enough to make a call. Since our gear was saturated with water, we pulled it out and dried it in the sun. Our back packs even had a chance to dry. The time passed quickly. Gary arrived at 3:00 and we put our packs in his truck, then it was off to Trout Lake. On the way to town we had a good conversation with Gary, the gentleman that picked us up.  He had been a forest fire fighter for thirty years, but now he is retired .  When the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Texas, he was called in to search for shuttle debris. He also worked in the evacuation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.  He has fought forest fires all over the country, including San Diego. He now spends his time during the summer shuttling hikers back and forth. We tried to pay him for the gas, but Gary would not accept any thing. As we walked in the store, Bev, the owner, gave us the same room we had last year, it is at the back of the grocery store. Actually, the room belongs to “Mikey” the cat.  He just lets us borrow it from him. The kids loved his company last year, and this year was no difference. We dropped our packs and started to make a laundry pile as everyone cycled through the shower. Just before 7:00 we walked over to the cafe for cheese burgers and huckleberry pie. After dinner we worked on our re-supply box and then it was off to bed. Just what you need for a re-supply stop food, a shower, and a warm dry bed.
The only problem for the day was Papa Ravens foot. We think that one of his heel blisters got infected and his ankle has swollen up a bit. We will look at it tomorrow. Mama Raven also noticed she has some Poison Oak from the first day of our hike. Despite all the rain we have had since we began our hiking trip five days ago, we are thankful to be here. The Ravens are happiest, when they are hiking.  It is amazing how content we are out here. We simply are walking in peace and beauty. Concerns and problems melt away. I (Mama Raven) dread the day we have to go home.

A very cloudy day

Day 4 – 7/10/16
Large camp just after a foot bridge
Miles – 21
Total Miles – 72.1 ( PCT 2216.3)
Another rainy night.  Another morning of soggy socks and shoes to put on. Another morning of packing wet gear. This scenario has gotten very old, very quickly.  The rain let up as we were having breakfast, although the trees keep dripping on us as we packed up as quickly as we could. Today’s hike went through an area called Indian Heaven which is famous for its huckleberries. Pickers from all over Washington come to pick the berries in late July and August. Sadly, we are too early and last year we were too late to enjoy these treats. We climbed up out of the valley and headed up into a cloud. The wind came up and it got very cold. The one bright spot was when we saw the sun. We had gained enough altitude that the sun was starting to break through the clouds . This lifted our spirits immensely. Unfortunately, this did not last.  We reached the far side of the mountain and headed down where everything went back to cloud gray. As we traversed down the ridges and out into flatter country, all we could see were dark gray clouds. Every now and then it would sprinkle but not enough to worry about. In the late afternoon, we stopped for a break and discovered that we had enough of a signal to make a phone call out.
Our first food drop is Trout Lake which is 14 miles off the PCT. Having stopped there last fall, we knew the grocery store had a list of trail angels who would pick up hikers at the trail head and drive them to town. Since we had phone reception, which is rare out here, Papa Raven called the general store to ask someone about getting a few names and phone numbers. She said to hold on as she asked someone in the store if he could pick us up tomorrow. He said yes, so we have our ride all lined up for 3:00 in the afternoon. We also reserved a room. Bev said right now they are completely filled with hikers because of the rain and she is uncertain who will be leaving tomorrow.  Nonetheless, she said if one opens up, it is ours.  We told her who we were and she said she remembered us from last year. She said “you’re the family with the boy who had a broken leg.” We said “yes that is us.”
After arranging a ride, we decided to put in as many miles as we could to make tomorrow easier. We past one of the locations we camped at last year and pushed on several more hours. About an hour before dark, we came across a large camp where another tent was. After hearing voices from inside the tent, Mama Raven went over to it and yelled “hello.” A woman greeted her as she stuck her head out of the tent. Mama Raven asked if she minded having company tonight.  She said not at all!  We talked with her a few minutes before we found level spots for our tents.  We learned that there were three women in the tent and they were as soggy as we were and looking forward to Trout Lake to dry out.  The Ravens are very tired tonight. After a dinner of quasidillas, we all went to sleep quickly.

Such a happy blistery day

Day 3 – 7/9/16
Crest Horse Camp
Miles – 20.3
Total Miles – 51.1 (PCT 2195.3)
It rained on and off all night. It was a lucky thing we camped in an open area because the trees did not drip on us all night.  The sky was breaking up as we packed the tents. The plants in Washington hold a great amounts of water.  When walking through them, you get very wet. We put on our rain gear and started to push our way through the wet overgrown plants covering the trail.  We love this area. Thick moss grows and hangs off of everything around.  The moss is dripping off the trees.  We crossed a wide valley and then hiked up to Panther Creek Campground were we stopped by the bathroom, dumped our trash, and filled up our water bottles. We talked with a camper from San Diego for a few minutes. He asked him if we needed anything? We said the only thing we could use is zip lock bags to put our soggy items in, to separate them from the things we do not want to get wet. He said he had plenty and gave us some. The next part of the trail was not fun.  A 3100′ foot climb awaited us which took nearly all day.  Luckily, other than a short sprinkle at the beginning of the climb, we had no other rain, just a mix of clouds and sun. By the time we got to the top of the climb Papa Raven’s feet were hurting. Yesterday he had developed a blister on his left heel and that was really hurting.  Now his right heel began to hurt.  We stopped at a spring to fill our water bottles and he doctored his sore feet. The blister on his left foot was inflamed and a new one developed on the right heel. Once fixed, we headed toward a remote campground several miles away for our nights camp. We stopped near the campground and pitched our tents. After the tents were set up, Papa Raven took a closer look at his feet. Not only was the blisters hurting but also the balls of his feet as well as the middle of the feet. He did not see anything wrong in those locations other than two more blisters under his big toes. While he was looking at his feet, Bling came in our tent and said his the bottom of his feet were hurting.  Mama Raven found two blisters on his feet. She doctored him up. Hopefully this will be the end of our blisters. Six in a day is a little much. Our feet are soaked all day inside our shoes as we hike.  In the evening when we shoes off, our feet are completely white with huge wrinkles at the bottom.  They look strange. During the night they have a chance to dry out.  We have the morning to look forward to putting on wet socks and shoes.  It is raining again as this is being written.

Not a bad second day

Day 2 – 7/8/16
End of a dirt road
Miles – 17.5
Total Miles – 30.8 (PCT 2175.0)
It rained all night. We were glad to have the tents pitched under the large tarp. To our surprise, the tents still got wet. The wind blew water on us, however we were not as wet as we would have been without the tarp. Despite the noise of the rain throughout the night, we slept long and hard.  We were tired after our first of hiking. We took our time getting packed because there was a lot of water dripping on the tarp. It was nearly 8:30 when we were ready to go. Just before we hiked out, a truck pulled up with five PCT trail crew members. After we told them that we camped under their tarp the said they were happy that their tarp was useful for us. They said they were going to cleanup the over grown trail that we went through yesterday.
The first part of the day was a 1600’ down. This dropped us off at beautiful Rock Creek were we got water. The environment looked very prehistoric with ferns and moss everywhere. The only thing missing were the dinosaurs.  All we saw were lots of huge 4 inch slugs, snails and salamanders. Of course if you hike down into a deep valley,  you have to hike up to get out.  In this case, a very long 1800’ climb.  We found this climb to be very hard, mainly because this was only our second day.  Usually it takes about three to four days for our bodies to get adjusted to carrying weight and walking all day.  The second and the third being the hardest.  We had no endurance on the climb. We took a much-needed rest at the top and then started down.  Next came a 1800’ down which took the last of our energy reserves. When we reached the bottom we were tired and feet sore.  The Ravens were done for the day.  Down in the bottoms of these valleys there is very little open ground to camp on because vegetation covers all the open ground. We had to hike a bit farther to find a piece of land for our two tents which ended up being a dirt road. Today’s weather was cloudy with drizzles threw out the day. The sun did break through several times in the late morning.  Yet, as we were setting up our tents, it started to rain. It lasted long enough to get everything wet.  As the sun set, the clouds broke up, but there are still cloud cells coming in behind the brief clearing. As I’m writing, it is raining. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a clear day.  The Ravens are extremely tired.  It is one of those nights our heads hit the pillows and we are sound asleep.