Washington has breathtaking landscape after breathtaking landscape. Sometimes we’ll spend a few days in dense thick forest, unable to see anything more than 500 feet in front of us because of all the trees. So imagine my surprise when we had been going through one of the dense forest sections and I turned a corner to see Mt.Raniers massive silhouette staring back at me in the evening light. Mountains signify more than just a beautiful view on trail, they signify progress. Especially with these giant mountains, I can look back for weeks at times at the same mountain and visualize how far my skinny little chicken legs have carried me.
Mt. Ranier was a much needed encouragement of seeing our progress. As we walked through the national park of Mt.Ranier I was greeted by many day hikers and tourists going out for a quick hike. They all smell of fresh detergent that reminds me of my past self. In my imagination my intense ‘outdoorsy’ smell reminds them of the play they enjoyed as a child running through fields, not carrying about the grime cracked under their fingernails. That’s probably not their immediate thought when they see/smell me, but a gal can dream.
In the last blog I briefly talked about getting a bit bored with the trail, but then I entered the land of wild Berries. Picking wild hucklberries, salmon Berries, blueberries, and thimble Berries became a norm. Often I’d have to drag myself away from patches of Berries so I would keep walking. After craving nothing but fresh fruit for 4 months, this has been exactly the motivation I need to keep hiking.
A Typical Day
Over the months, myself and my tramily have developed a rhythm for getting in big miles. I find people Re often curious about the day to day of thru hiking, so here’s a quick recap of an average day’s food and miles.
5:30am- Wake up and pack up
6:00am- Begin the morning walk. Each morning I have two bars and one poptart package.
10am- By 10am I normally meet up with friends to have ‘2nd breakfast’. For me this is bagel with nutella/peanut butter. We’ve typically walked 9-10 miles before 2nd breakfast and will sit for 30 min or so before continuing.
12:30(ish)- After putting in 5-6 more miles of the day, it’s time for the biggest rest of the day: siesta. Afternoon siesta always include lunch and generally some midday stretching. This break can last anywhere from one hour to one hour and a half.
6:30pm(ish)- After pushing about 10 more miles we get to camp and have dinner together (usually dinner consists of some sort of ramen).
We don’t really keep a true schedule and of course I take small breaks in between to get water or enjoy a view, but that’s the general gist of each day (on a day without crazy elevation gains/losses).
I’m still pretty young and have had such a rich life of enjoying stunning views and scenery. With all my experience, nothing could have prepared me for the town of Steheiken, nestled in the Northern Cascades along Lake Chelan.
The high, magnificent mountains of Washington bring you down into an aqua lake that could rival Caribbean beaches. If I could go back to one place on trail and stay there for another week, it would easily be Steheiken.
I refuse to post a picture of it, purely because I want you to go look it up (and hopefully visit it one day).
Past my Breaking Point
Part of embarking on a 6 month long adventure is accepting you won’t be able to expect and anticipate everything. I knew this trip would be challenging physically and mentally, but I don’t think I was able to understand just how exhausting some days would be.
I’ll be honest, in the last week many days I was just so tired and/or hungry that I would burst into tears. I don’t think of myself as an emotional person and I tend to pride myself on not crying often, so the spontaneous bursting into tears was especially difficult. I love this trip for all of its highs and its lows. It’s pushed me to be the best version of myself and also pushed me to be the weakest version of myself. Tired, exhausted, hungry, with little to no motivation to walk the last 3 miles into camp.
Still something keeps pushing me (or pulling me?). I think it’s a lot of stubbornness (once I’ve decided something it’s quite hard to change my mind) but I also think it’s a lot of support from my friends. Folks have sat with me, walked with me, and made me laugh while I’m at my weakest. It’s because of these friendships that I can continue pushing past my breaking points.
The day we reached the northern terminus couldn’t have been more perfect. The foggy days we had been experiencing cleared to a glorious warm sunshine that lit up the trail and the mountains. During the descent, the blueberry fields were so ripe their smell followed me for miles. Normally when you pass someone on trail you’ll exchange a quick ‘Enjoy!’ or ‘Have a great day!’. However, just 10 miles from the Terminus these quick exchanges were replaced with a ‘Congrats!’ and a warm smile.
Pineapple Boy, Lab Rat and I reminisced on the last 2000 or so miles we’ve walked together. This has been the adventure of a lifetime, and it’s not even over! We’re headed back to do the Sierras next and Mt.Whitney will be around our true end point.
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