Autumn is coming!

During the second or third week of our hike, in a particularly long and tough uphill section (at least that was what it seemed to be back then, I’ve got the suspicion that we wouldn’t think that now…😉), Andy started saying “A Washington, ratita, a Washington!” in different Spanish dialects. It was meant to distract me from the climb by making me laugh, and it worked. Not only did it sound very funny, it also seemed so absurd that we were on a path that would lead to a place so far away. Soon, it became a running gag for us that kept us going. But now, seemingly suddenly, we’re almost there – only the Columbia River separates us from Washington! It feels totally surreal!

But before we can set foot into our third and last state, we have some homework to do. The pct in Washington is quite remote and the trail “towns” often have little or no resupply options. We therefore decide to buy all the food for Washington here in Oregon and to ship packages ahead. Doing this huge resupply, repackaging and sending requires a lot of time and energy. It’s logistically quite complicated and stressful. When we finally have shipped the last box after more than a day of work, we are both exhausted.

All our food for Washington! Amongst all the dinners, lunches and breakfasts around 200 energy bars!

A quick lunch, and we are ready to enter Washington. To reach it, we have to walk over the famous Bridge of the Gods, a milestone for thru-hikers. This huge bridge crosses the majestic Columbia River. I didn’t expect it, but the experience is very emotional. While I walk and try not to loose my balance in the strong wind, I can’t stop thinking “We really reached Washington, we really did it!”. Of course I wanted to make it, but somehow it has always felt unrealistic, too far away to be possible that we could walk there. And now, as we’re here, it slowly starts to sink in what a huge distance we’ve walked – and that we actually have chances to make it to Canada!

The Bridge of the Gods!

Walking over the Columbia River – it’s a bit scary to look down!

We’re in Washington!!

But to reach Canada, we have to cross Washington. In my euphoric state, that seems easy now, but Andy is more cautious and says “We still have a long way to go.” We don’t know it yet, but he is very right, it will be long and hard…

For now, we climb out of the valley of the Columbia River. Washington is much steeper than “flat” Oregon, lush and green. We hike through the forest, constantly up and down. It’s warm, hot even, and we sweat a lot in the humid climate as we cross ridge after ridge.

Green, green forest…

Like we’ve done for a long time now, we don’t put the fly over the tent at night to enjoy the stars and cooler temperatures. The first night, this goes well, but during the second night, I wake up at 2 am, hearing a strange noise. It takes full three seconds and a few drops on my face to make me realise what’s going on. Rain! In a blink, I’m wide awake and on my feet, shaking Andy awake to help me put the tentfly into place. Thankfully, we’re very fast now with that, so we manage to keep our gear and especially our sleepingbags dry!

It’s still warm the next day, but it doesn’t stop raining and slowly, the temperature drops and it gets chilly. Mushrooms start to appear and we notice many plants with ripe berries and sometimes already colourful leaves. There is no doubt now that autumn is coming!

That one is huge!

I’m amazed how diverse all these mushrooms are!

Autumn leaves and berries – so beautiful!

We’re quite happy to get one last summer evening in Trout lake, a little town that seems to be full of amazing trailangels. We have dinner inclusively blueberry-milkshakes outside with Logic and other pct-hikers, enjoying the still warmish evening…

In Trout lake, we also get very sad news: Just three days ago, a thru-hiker was killed by a falling tree. It was not even windy, he was just very, very unlucky and in the wrong place at the wrong time. We cross the place of the accident the next day – the tree is still laying across the bridge where it happened. Although we haven’t known him (we later learn that we met him briefly and chatted a little, which somehow makes us feeling worse), it troubles us both deeply. It reminds us in a brutal way that nothing is granted and everything can be over in an instant. It’s so important to live the moment! We have a long and deep conversation that helps a little. But for days after, Andy doesn’t feel safe in the forest anymore while I fight attacks of panik that someone I love could be ripped out of my life in such a way – a big fear I thought I had under control but that has come back now.

We are so very sorry and wish his family and friends a lot of strenght and courage in this sad time!

Over the next days, being on the trail becomes mentally very hard. We really want to enjoy the moment – especially after having had the brutal reminder how important that is – but at the same time we feel the pressure of the miles we have to hike each day to make it to Canada on time. It doesn’t feel like we want it to be anymore. I think we’ve walked enough now and it starts to be too much. Yes, it’s freedom, being in nature and doing something we chose, but too much of something good is still too much. After being more and more grumpy, we finally realise what is going on and have a long talk about it which makes us feel a little better.

Meeting friendly and kind people like here in the “rainbow cafe” also helps a lot! Thank you so much for the awesome trailmagic!

Meanwhile, the trail surprises us again. We hike into the beautiful goat rocks and get through the spectacular and feared knife’s edge (it is not so scary as some wanted us to believe), an area we both really enjoy! We camp by a beautiful lake where we hear elks roar eeriely and I take my last swim on trail. We enjoy a spectacular sunset in the forest and finally reach Snoqualmie pass.

View of Mt Adams, a volcano we walked around, from goat rocks.

The last time we have to walk over snow is actually in Washington! I almost can’t believe it!

The knife’s edge with glacier peak in the background!

There, we have a good and fun dinner with other hikers which lifts our spirits. In the hiker box, we find a pair of trail-runners. Ever since not getting my new shoes I sent to White pass (I don’t like to speak ill of something, but with USPS we really have had many bad experiences), I’ve seen my old ones fall apart more and more with growing unease, worrying that my shoes might not make it and leave me somewhere in the wild with no shoes. Taking the (although too big) trail-runners eases my mind, at least I have a back-up now… And then, we realise that from here, it’s only 260 miles to Canada. In other words, we’ve only got one tenth of the pct left! Canada, we’re coming!

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