Manning Park

Day 33 – 8/8/16
Manning Park
Miles – 8.6
Total Miles – 519.3 (PCT 2650.1)
It rained over night and the sky was filled with dark clouds when we got up.  It is not a long hike to Manning Park and we knew that we would get there this morning.  Even though we would have a room tonight, we still packed for rain.  It is always better to err on the side of safety.  We started hiking in a light rain.  The trail to Manning Park is a lot different from the PCT.  It is much steeper and less cleared.  The PCT has been designed with horses and hikers in mind so it rarely gets very steep.  The plants have not been cut back for some time so we got very wet walking through them after the mornings rain.
After several hours hiking, we crested a ridge and had our last view of the U.S. shrouded in rain clouds. We took a short break to eat something. Short because to was just too cold to sit for very long. The trail climbed up through a small gap and then started down toward the resort on dirt roads.  The hiking was easy and we made good time. However, Mama Raven slowed us down to take photographs of the mushrooms that lined the path.  Down deep, she does not want the trip to end, so by taking time to take photographs,  the trip lasted a little bit longer.  As we hiked up to the lodge, it started to rain.  We had been lucky to hike the whole way to Manning Park under threatening dark clouds with very little rain.  It was considerate of them to hold off till we reached the resort.  Our task was to get a room.  This did not turn out how we had hoped.  The resort was full.  The receptionist told us that there was camping about a mile back up the road.  The thought of walking to a camp site in the rain with our soggy gear,  was utterly unappealing.   The Ravens had been so looking forward to a warm shower and soft beds with clean dry sheets; the last thing we wanted to do was to head back out into the rain and find a wet campsite.  Papa Raven also checked with the receptionist about our box.  She could not find it and had no record of it arriving.  Lastly, we checked about the outbound buses.  We needed to go from here to Osoyoos to cross back into the U.S. The receptionist informed us that 2 months ago the bus service changed its hours and the bus to Osoyoos would leave the lodge at 3:15 am.  Definitely not a convenient time, especially having to pack the gear in the rain, and walk a mile in the dark to catch the bus.  Postponing the dismal walk to the camp ground,  we settled down in the lodge’s lobby while Papa Raven got on-line to buy bus tickets for the morning’s bus.  While we were sitting there, another hiker came in and inquired about a room.  Mama Raven overheard the receptionist tell him that there were full but there was a hostel he could stay at.  Hostel!  That was our answer.  Mama Raven immediately went and talked to her about it.  She had forgotten about it when she first talked with us.  A short time later, we had two rooms and we headed across the highway to settle into our cozy, dry rooms!  Winning the lottery, could not make us more happy than we were at that moment knowing we did not have to spend another night in the rain. The hostel had showers and a kitchen.  We took turns showering and tried to dry our clothes as best as we could.  The Olympics started a few days ago and we sat by the TV in the kitchen watching them.  Being in Canada,  all the coverage was Canadian specific.  So we rooted for the Canadians.  We consumed a very big dinner at the lodge restaurant.  Little Crow and Bling both ordered nachos separately.   When they arrived to the table, we were shocked at the mountain of nachos that were set before both of them.  Neither of them could finish them.  Mama Raven and I had burgers.  Finally, we headed back to our rooms and to bed because 3:00 will come very fast tomorrow morning.

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Oh Canada!

Day 32 – 8/7/16
Castle Creek camp
Miles – 19.8
Total Miles – 510.7 (PCT 2650.1)
It was a cold night. By early morning it was getting hard to stay warm. The only good thing about our campsite is that it would get early sun. It was weak sun, but sun light nonetheless. We packed up, but The Ravens kept standing in any patch of morning sun to warm up. Finally, we got out of camp, with only 19.5 miles to reach Canada. Our first obstacle of the day was a big up, however it was the only one for the day. As we traveled up,  we noticed that foggy clouds were rolling over the ridge. We would go into clouds and out again. We came to Holman Pass quickly and then we contoured up toward Rock Pass. The trail passed through green fields of wildflowers with clumps of trees. Gently, the clouds were rolling over the ridge above Rock Pass but we were luckily in sun most of the time. The moving clouds made things even more beautiful. As we crossed Rock Pass, we could see our next goal of Woody Pass. There was a very thick cloud pushing its way through the pass. We worked our way over toward Woody and as we got closer to it, the wind picked up. Bitterly cold wind and fog whipped through. It was not pleasant hiking. At least it did not last long. About a quarter of a mile beyond the pass, the wind thank goodness, let up. All around us was a thick cloud, but it was far more comfortable without the biting wind.
We were working our way up onto a ridge when a hiker came toward us. We stopped a moment to say hi and recognized him. There was a pause and Papa Raven asked “Scott?” It was Scott Williams (Bink) one for the PCT’s legends. Incredibly, he has hiked the PCT 13 times. He was the first to yo-yo it (to hike North and South in the same trip) and he has done that twice. In all our years of hiking the PCT, we have bumped in to him several times including our first PCT thru-hike in1996. Back then, he was hiking with a young man named Psycho Ken who had a hard time dealing with the real world and shortly afterwards committed suicide.  Scott remembered us, including our real names of Tim and Ann. We talked a bit before parting company. It was good to see him again.
From this point to the border, the trail is easy, mostly down hill. We hiked to Castle Pass and then started the long descent to the border. The clouds around us no longer looked like fog but were dark rain clouds holding lots of water just waiting for the right moment to dump their heavy load of water on us.  We could hear the distant bursts of thunder around us. We were hiking for more than an hour when Little Crow and Bling were bitten by Yellow Jackets. Usually the first person who walks by, in this case it was Mama Raven, disturbs the yellow jackets nest and the ones behind get attacked. You do not want to stand around or many more Yellow Jackets will get you. Thus, Little Crow and I quickly run away from the area.  We ran out into a clearing and we then noticed that it had started to sprinkle. We hiked quickly to the next stand of trees and changed our clothes: down jackets off, rain jackets on. We knew the border is close so we hiked quickly in a hard rain. About 15 minutes later, we came upon Bling and Mama Raven. They had waited for us so we could hike to the border together.  Little Crow and Papa Raven repacked for rain then we all headed to Canada.  We began this adventure four weeks ago in the rain, and The Ravens will end the trip in rain too. The rain was coming down hard and the monument was before us. We stayed long enough to take a photo and quickly found a camp not far away on the Canadian side of the border.
An hour or so later the rain stopped.  The Ravens had a dinner of Vodka Pasta Sauce and drinks we carried out from Stehekin to toast Bling’s completion of the PCT.

What! Rain! Who ordered that?

Day 27 – 8/2/16
Cedar camp
Miles – 25.1
Total Miles 420.2 (PCT 2559.8)
It was a warm night and everyone slept well. We poked or heads out of the tents to see the sky and we could not tell what the weather was through the tall trees.  Was it the blue gray of clouds or of pre-dawn light?  Quickly we packed up and got ready to hike. The weather reports we have gotten said there is no rain in the forecast,  thus we did not take the time to pack for rain. Just as we headed out, we came to the conclusion that the sky was covered with clouds. The down to Suiattle bridge went by fast because the trail was almost level as it meanders through forest of cedar, fir, ferns and plush moss.  In one area, we walked through an area of ancient, and beautiful old growth trees. It was a privilege to walk amongst such old souls. The Suiattle (Indian word for Seattle) bridge is long and connected the two river sides via an island. The bridge was built here 5 years ago after the last one washed away further up stream. After a short break, we started hiking toward Suiattle Pass. This was a very big climb, about 3300′, and it took a good part of the day. The trail is well graded and we were able to hike many miles without stopping. During the only break we took on the climb, it started to mist. We decided it was best to repack the backpacks for rain, just in case the mist turned into rain. We hiked the rest of the way to the pass without any problems, then we started down. It was not long before the sprinkles started. We got out our umbrellas and rain skirts. As we descended, it started to rain. The temperature dropped quickly as the rain came down hard. The trail down went into two big bowls each devoid of trees but covered in thick flowers and ferns. The plants were our biggest problem. They had grown thick and tall over the trail. In some places, they towered over our heads and we needed to push our way through. It felt like we were swimming through the plants. Everyone’s feet got soaked. The rain lasted for 3 of 4 hours and it made the hiking very hard. We stopped only once for a quick tortilla with peanut butter which we ate while we hiked. It was too cold for anything longer.  Finally, about an hour after the rain stopped, we reached the bottom. Since we lost so much time with the rain, we decided to continue hiking down the valley as long as light permitted. We came to Crater Camp about 8:30 and had just enough light to pitch our tents. It is not the best camp but we are only 9.6 miles from High Bridge and the bus to Stehekin.

Snoqualmie

Day 15 and 16
7/21/16
Snoqualmie
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!

7/22/16
Snoqualmie
Zero
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 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!

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.

Into Washington… Again

Day 1 – 7/7/16
PCT Trail Camp
Miles – 13.3
Total miles – 13.3 (PCT 2157.5)

After a nine month hiatus from hiking the PCT, The Ravens are back on the trail.  We made a promise to Bling that we would come back and get him to Canada after he broke his femur just three weeks away from completing the entire PCT.  Mama and Papa Raven, and Little Crow had to finish without Bling. Over the winter, his leg healed.  Papa and  Mama Ravens biggest concern was if Papa Raven got a job, we would not have the vacation time needed to re-hike Washington. Papa Raven was diligent about looking for a new job, however nothing ever came about.  Being unemployed for so long, has been terribly nerve-racking for us.  Despite our concerns, we are thankful for the opportunity to be back out on the trail and helping Bling complete the PCT.

This morning Cindy and Joe meet us at Cascade Locks to pick up or car.  We need a place to store it while Bling finished the PCT.  Cindy and Joe who were involved with Bling’s rescue last year.  Being back on the PCT feels mighty good.  She was terribly missed these past few months but we are now reunited with our dear friend, the trail.

We began are hike at 9:30 this morning by crossing the Bridge of the Gods into Washington. It is very ironic that with all the rain we encountered last September in Washington, we would begin this year’s trip with rain!  Tempting as it was to hold up in hotel in Cascade Locks to wait out the incoming weather front, we decided to hike out.  The rain will be with us for a couple of days and staying that long in a hotel becomes very costly.  Besides, we were antsy to be back on the trail. The trail quickly climbed, passing through abundance of poison oak which has overgrown the trail.  Whenever we crossed a stream, we would have to wash our arms and legs off to get the poison oak oils off our skin. As the day progressed, the clouds got thicker and darker. Of course it rained the hardest and longest when we had to swim through the plants that had overgrown the trail. We quickly became soaked from head to toe.  Yes, The Ravens our still happy to be out on the trail.  All the rain is what makes Washington so mind-boggling green. We ended the day a little early when we came across a large tarp protecting a PCT trail crew’s equipment. There was no sign of anybody and it looked like it was recently dropped off then they left.  Perhaps the trail crew wanted to wait out the bad weather and left their tools.  The tarp provided a dry place to set up our tents. We could not pass it up even though we had lots of day light left.  Our tents and gear will be dry tonight and, with luck, our wet gear will dry.

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

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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Another Day of Rain

Day 144 – 9/2/15
Near Killen trailhead
Miles – 15.0
Total Miles – 2309.4 (PCT on fire detour)

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We got up at 6:30 and went over to the cafe by 7:00. After another breakfast of pancakes, french toast, hash browns, sausage, and eggs we returned to our room to finish packing. Bruce picked us up at 8:30 and drove us back to the trailhead. Just as we were putting on our packs it started to rain. We hiked out slowly. Bling’s leg was given him a lot of problems. It was very tight and had to be rubbed out several times before he could get moving. With Bling’s bad leg, it is very difficult to get very far. He is experiencing a lot of pain when he walks. He is terribly frustrated as well as we are. Today’s trail is a 21 mile road walk that detours around the Mt Adams fire. We are not fond of road walks because they really hurt the feet. This one has about 7 or 8 miles of asphalt and the rest is dirt roads. As we hiked, it rained most of the morning and then, for the first time in days, the sun came out. The Ravens were really excited to see the sun! Sadly, it was not long before the rain returned which continued on and off the rest of the day. Sometimes it was really hard. We hiked until just after the sun set and then found a place to pitch the tents just off the side of the dirt road. We passed by Jugs tent in a small meadow. Jugs is from Tuscon Arizona and is having a hard time dealing with the day after day of rain, just like The Ravens are. As the evening came,  the clouds pulled back so right now most of the sky is clear. That also means that the temperature has dropped. We are happy all our sleeping bags are dry tonight.

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