*Part two of our hike out of Oroville to Ross Lake, Highway 20 at East Bank Trailhead where we hitched 54 miles into Winthrop*
We were exhausted this morning like usual after a long section and heavy carry. Our morning started out with a bushwhack again. We had to find our way back to the trail. It took over half an hour and some big steps, but we made it back to the newly maintained trail. Thank you to the trail maintainers for all the hard work you do. We cruised along admiring all the recently cut trees. We laughed because in four days the section that was a nightmare yesterday will be cleared too. It’s all about timing! We were a bit off this time.
We took a morning at Soda Creek before rock skipping across it. The trail climbing uphill a bit and passed through the Pasayten Airstrip. We both zoned out to our Podcasts and I ate so many thimbleberries, blueberries, and huckleberries! We were in the forest most of the early afternoon and only had to jump a few down trees. We walked past Deadmans Lake which I thought was a funny name.
We followed many nicely graded switchbacks up to Frosty Pass. I love Washington! The trail climbed up to the ridge and rewarded us with huge views that I had been so close to on the PCT, but had never seen. As we looked at a mountain, we saw two bears munching away on berries. One was a black bear for sure and the other was more blonde. The second bear was farther away as we tried to see if it had a hump on its bad. We couldn’t tell, but it might of just been a sun bleached black bear. This makes 6 bears for me and 7 for him!
Two bears in the photo above…
We crossed the pass and took a quick break. I noticed my fanny pack was wet and smelled like Deet. I had a small bottle of it in my pack and it had leaked. I forget to change the zippy bag out. It had leaked through the fanny pant and was eating away my spandex shorts. It was a mess! So I spent this break cleaning up everything in my fanny pack and trying to get the Deet off my leg. Yuck!
The rest of the afternoon was better as we dipped down from Frosty Pass heading to the PCT. We hike 13.5 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail on the PNT. We connect at Castle Pass which is just a little over 3 miles from the Canadian border. I had so many emotions running through my body and mind. Tears rolled down my eyes as I was so happy to be on a trail that brought me so much joy and personal growth. I’m so happy to share a small piece of this trail with Paperweight. He still has to hike this trail someday and I think I might just have to join him. I ate my first PCT Washington blueberries. I hiked this part of the trail on October 2nd 2015 as fall was beginning. The views were breathtaking as always. We loved the graded, groomed, and well maintained trail. I had so many flashbacks of memories and people today. I felt at home! It was a indescribable feeling. I tried to convince him to just continue Sobo on the PCT, but we have unfinished business on the PNT.
We came to the junction to Hopkins Lake. I requested that we camp here since this was my last campsite on the PCT. It was even more beautiful than I remembered. We camped in a spot I didn’t know existed. There were over 8 tents already at this campsite when we arrived and most people were already inside around 7. After we were done eating, Sogood joined us. He is a 19 year old college student on his first thru hike. A wonderful person and we enjoyed his company. We took a late stroll to the lake to grab some more water as I couldn’t stop smiling. Our time on the PCT this year is short, but I’m so happy to be out here again.
It was a chilly and rainy morning on the PCT/PNT. It’s strange hiking southbound on the PCT. It is a different perspective for sure. Unfortunately, the rain clouds blocked some of the views. I wore my rain jacket for the first time on this trail. We climbed up the tight switchbacks named the Devils Staircase. Last time I flew down them. It was a morning full of emotions. We met over 15 hikers headed North most doing a section or jumping around due to the high snow year and fires. We saw dozens of huge marmots and little pikas all over the trail. Sogood joined us for a nice break where we admired Washington and watched the clouds begin to break up. We conquered Woody Pass and Rock Pass along the way as the sun came out thankfully. We will be back here again someday!
Holman Pass is where we turned right leaving my favorite trail for good. So it was back to PNT hiking and the 700 mile mark. It didn’t take long before we were climbing logs and getting beat up by the overgrown trail. The three of us just laughed saying “welcome back to the PNT!” Sogood had to part ways with us at our lunch break since he does much larger miles. We hope to cross paths again.
It was time to climb Pilot Pass which was steep with many berries to much on. We then found ourself at Deception Pass with lots of old bridges over a swampy area. We climbed back up to be rewarded with snow covered mountains and eye popping views! Wow!! We ridge walked together in search of water and a campsite. It was chilly at 6,200 feet as we found a spot protected by the trees. We ate dinner in all our layers watching marmots playing on the rocks and screeching at each other. We were sure we would have a visitor tonight, but they never arrived.
It was a cold night and morning. I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag at all. It’s funny though because within 10 minutes of hiking I’m warm and delayering. Our trail did not disappoint! We passed Devil’s Pass and began climbing towards Devil’s Dome. This is one of my favorite sections so far on the PNT. We climbed to the top to see Nohokomeen Glacier on Jack Mountain! There is a Loop hike here that we plan to come back to hike. Washington and the North Cascades is some of the best hiking out West!
The rest of the day was downhill towards Ross Lake. My knees felt the burn and my body craved more berries. Hiker hunger has hit hard now! The hike downhill was pleasant with views for half of the way before entering the trees. The trail brought us down to Devil’s Creek campsite. We began a nice walk along the banks of the lake. I loved the bridge over Devils Creek where we had a snack break and watched people boating below us. It was pleasant walking with views of new snow covered peaks. We were in awe!
It was a lovely day of hiking as we headed towards our reserved campsite at Ruby Pasture. We had walked along the East side of the lake all afternoon and walked off trail to camp near Ruby Creek. Tonight marks eight nights out of town. We have hiked 160 miles complete of epic trail. Such an enjoyable section. I have three granola bars left for the 3 mile walk to the road. Not bad! We love being out in the wilderness for long periods of time, but it makes us appreciate town even more. We are craving pizza, ice cream, vegetables, and meat! The best part is that more of the North Cascades await us.
We slept in a little bit today being only about 3 miles to Highway 20. The hiking was easy as we could hear the highway since our campsite it seemed to be right there. We crossed an old wooden bridge that swayed a bit too much. We climbed the last 200 feet to the highway where we dumped our trash and began to hitch. We hiked 158 and haven’t been in town for 8 days. We made it!
Well we made it to the highway with hopes of a 52 mile hitch into Winthrop. We got discouraged for the first two hours as cars zipped by and one guy shook his hand at us. Everyone seems to be a tourist in fancy rental cars exploring the scenic drive. As I always say, it only takes one. Finally, a woman stopped to rescue us. She works for the forest service doing trail maintenance in the summer. So she knew about the PNT and we shared stories. She was heading to do a few nights on the PCT so she only could drive us to Rainy Pass. At rainy Pass we ran into a section hiker the PCT who is heading opposite direction towards Seattle. We chatted to and from across the highway as we are both trying to hitch in different directions. Luckily we got picked up first. I kind a man instead he drove us all the way into Winthrop and shared some stories with us.he was quite the character and also works as an Uber driver in Seattle. So when we get to Seattle we might just call him for a ride.
We were dropped off at the grocery store where we checked out hotels online. We have Newtown math or any guide information on the tourist town of Winthrop. We lucked out because right next to the grocery store was the Virginia resort. We checked in a bit before 11. After eight days on trail our first priority was not a shower but food. We went back to the grocery store and I would soon devour a orange marmalade chicken skewer, a container of potato salad, a cold fruit punch Gatorade, a Cobb salad, a few pieces of a chocolate Carmel bar, and began munching on a bag of potato chips. Then I decided to shower. The rest of her day was spent lounging in bed and going back to the store to grab some beer and dinner. The downtown areas where all the good restaurants are but we were too lazy to walk the mile into town today. You forget how much you love pillows, blanket, and a firm mattress. We really deserved this hotel after 160 miles. It was a perfect day.
We caved and took a zero day in Winthrop. The trail is waiting for us, but we do not have a deadline so we can take our time. We spent some time downtown. We did our laundry then walked around past all the stores on the wooden boardwalk. The town is a busy place with lots of tourists. It was a gold mining town in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. It’s a fun place to visit. Paperweight was able to buy a new hiking shirt and trade in a pair of Darn Tough socks. Lifetime guarantee! Some businesses allow you to trade them in. We both like this little town and the feel of it. We checkout the the real estate in most towns and here it is about 60,000$ for .2 acres. It’s a little too expensive for our taste.
We walked back to the hotel where we spent the rest of the day relaxing after resupplying at the grocery store. I have a new pair of Salomon shoes for the next section. I also switched out the frame of my pack. When I sent my Osprey in to be repaired last year, they sent me a brand new frame for free. I love Osprey’s customer service and their packs. I’m a lifetime customer!
We also spent at least an hour looking over our maps and town guides. This trail has so many options and it is tricky to decide what to do. For example, you can walk a rail trail and cut about 100 miles total of trail. You can also skip walking around Baker Lake by doing a short road walk. Like I said, we don’t have a deadline. Neither of us enjoy being on roads or next to a main highway. We will stick to the trail for now and see when we finish our hike. I’m excited to explore more of the North Cascades. Life is good!
Two more photos of me on the PCT/PNT!