7/15 16.9 miles
As usual, 6 days of food is heavy, especially on the sun exposed switchbacks after the not unpleasant road walk along highway then through the flat farm valley gravel roads. A little girl came running out to the edge of her driveway, barefooted, to tell about her sore toe. She was maybe 5, wearing bright girl colors but told me her favorite color was black, that made me laugh. Her final comment was that her family was selling puppies—good thing I didn’t see them because a puppy would really weigh down my pack.
We got water at a spring on the uphill, needed enough for camping and quite a ways tomorrow. Our campsite was marginal but at least it was flattish and all the standing dead trees were cleared. Later, Brennan walked in and camped too, I had no idea he had zeroed in Bonner’s too, so that was nice. Plus, in the morning he makes real coffee, how cool is that? I’m pretty sick of instant Starbucks Via doctored with protein powder and Instamix. Yuck.
7/16 12 miles
Positioning for the dreaded bushwhack tomorrow. It was a beautiful ridge walk most of the day, although it was quite the long haul to water. I was ecstatic to find pools of water after 9 miles this morning. There’s a trailhead that gives access to Pyramid Lake, then Upper and Lower Ball Lakes which all have campsites. Quite a few locals are camped nearby. Poppy was ahead and met a group of women on a girlfriends’ weekend. “We all hunt and fish,” said the friendly one. All 6 had sidearms “for people, not bears.” Guns don’t bother me, but stupid attitudes do so I did my best not to show my contempt for these chicken shits. At least their dogs will be an early warning system for bear when they enter the girlfriends’ messy camp.
7/17 8 miles or longer
Brennan caught up to us in the morning so we all did the hellish bushwhack together. Turns out one of those women pulled her gun when he turned up at the lake, a totally not scary, harmless guy. I wish I could go all Mama Bear on them, I’m outraged. But I’m not hiking back!
Anyway after about 8 hours, we emerged on an actual trail, bleeding from scratches and punctures. I rolled my ankle, which I’ve done before too many times to count. It hurts for a few minutes, will swell and stabilize, and I’ll continue hiking. So it goes.
We three camped soon after, right near another trailhead that many families were using to hike a short ways to a waterfall.
All of a sudden a helicopter was circling overhead, obviously Search and Rescue (SAR). We all checked to make sure we hadn’t set off our inReach SOS by accident. Then there was another helo with a guy hanging outside on the skids outside looking. Pretty soon a volunteer SAR crew came down the trail from the parking lot with a stretcher. A minute later they came back. I went to talk to them.
After mobilizing 2 helicopters and 2 ambulance crews, it turned out the injured person (head injury in the Falls) was being carried out to the road by a parent.
The Bonner’s Ferry SAR woman told me they’d successfully lifted a PNT hiker with a broken leg the day before. We wondered who it was, just a day ahead of us.
7/18 12.7 miles for me, 20 for Poppy, LOL!
I started first and immediately made a mistake looking for the trail along the river. I backtracked and Poppy was gone, ahead of me. A few miles later on the road walk, I made another mistake. I missed a switchback 1.5 miles behind me. I checked my maps and stayed on the perfectly excellent gravel road that led downhill mostly to the Priest Lakes and the campsite location we’d talked about. I got there by noon and relaxed at a picnic table, watching the boaters and sunbathers. I went for a swim and rinsed out my clothes. Poppy arrived later and also swam after her much longer, arduous day and we settled in near the privies for a quiet night.
7/19 22 miles
A lovely day! Walked from Upper Priest Lake into old growth cedar forest then onto gravel road.
I was dreading coming off the road and onto trail and the heat and smoke made me worry about having to evacuate possibly. Our Guthook app had recent comments about a very long road walk alternate that would put us into Metalline Falls on schedule, rather than having to spend an unplanned extra night on trail. I got ahold of Poppy, ahead, on the inReach, and we decided to do the road walk.
My day was made better when a Sheriff’s K-9 unit came screeching to a halt in front of me. Deputy Darren leaped out of the driver’s seat, grabbed a cooler snd offered me fresh cherries! And I got to pet K-9 Leo! We had a great conversation and I walked on. I knew Brennan was behind and hoped he got the same experience, but Poppy missed it, bummer.
We all 3 wound up camping on the road just downhill from the Pass
7/20 18 miles
Pretty nice gravel road walk this morning turned into a quite painful paved downhill in the heat into Metalline Falls. Like my feet are killing me as I eat a fantastic meal at the Farmhouse Cafe with a tall glass of huckleberry lemonade. Life is great! Met Tix and Nick. The discussion was about Washington DNR closing all recreation on their lands to the west of us and east of North Cascades in 2 days due to worsening fires and heat.
Slide Rule rolled into town in our ‘97 4WD Ford Sportsmobile and took Poppy and I to a motel.
We loaded the van with Ken, Honey Sticks, Best Western, Poppy, Beans (née Brennan) and drove to Spokane. We’re going to bounce a little ahead of what we’d planned, due to the threatening conditions. Brainstorming logistics, resupply, and routes for a few days. I think we’re going to get a ride to Chelan, take the ferry to Stehekin, walk up the PCT to Highway 20, and walk up that and rejoin the PNT on the west facing side of the North Cascades. Should be cooler and less smoky. I hope. Got to figure out resupply and send some boxes.