Pacific Crest Trail (2018) 80: So Much Smoke

Sunday, August 19, 2018 – 5.50 miles

The smoke was even worse than yesterday’s when I woke up. I bid farewell to the mountain goats, which were still in the same area, and started down the trail.

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The reroute is marked well, but near a campsite I ended up on a user trail leading to a steep slope. I considered briefly whether there was a semblance of trail there, since I had already encountered a few iffy parts along the reroute, but a path down would have been extreme and I couldn’t see any trail in the valley. I retraced my steps and found stone arrows marking the proper route.

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Other than a few nice lakes, walking in the smoky forest had limited appeal. My first N95 mask died a gruesome death beneath my backpack and I’m trying hard to preserve #2. The obstructed views have been frustrating. Generally I don’t care for repeating trails (so many places to go, things to see…) and I question the value of continuing along the PCT this year when I’m missing so much of what the scenery has to offer.

The detour felt interminable. Eventually I reached the Cowlitz River, which probably had a similar depth and current to the west fork of Mt. Adams River but was a piece of delicious cake because of its clarity.

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Cowlitz River
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Wearily I climbed a set of switchbacks to the highway, where another hiker was waiting for a shuttle that he had called after trying to hitch for 40 minutes. I had been planning to do the highway walk, but it looked like there wasn’t much of a shoulder, and with the lack of views there seemed little point in subjecting my body to those extra miles. I joined him on the shuttle and we rode to White Pass, where a tent encampment for the firefighters battling the nearby fires was set up.

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Firefighters’ camp

The Kracker Barrel at White Pass makes amazing deli sandwiches! I’ve never had a better sandwich in the deli sandwich genre. They also have a shower that hikers can use ($2, according to a sign) and laundry for $7. That seemed expensive, but maybe it’s not much more than a laundromat if you count wash, dry and soap. Professor was lounging at the tables, taking a zero. He had found the detour difficult and is planning to take another zero tomorrow.

I got a room at the motel and collapsed there for the rest of the day. A tiring leg. I was planning to leave early tomorrow but probably won’t.

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