Sunday, October 12, 2014

My Six Day Hike

I knew I was behind on my "schedule" of increasing my backpack days by one day per year. Last year was supposed to be the 5 day (fail) so that this year I could do 6 days. If you're trying to figure out the math of how I'm going to get to 50 days of hiking in just the four years until I turn 50...don't. I came up with the "50 days when I turn 50" before I had backpacked a day of my life. So I started with a one night backpack, and every year I try to make it one day longer. I figured if I got to my 49th birthday and could backpack 9 days; then I'd be "prepared" to go for the 50 days the following year.

I was trying to be okay with being behind; I was doing the best I could, after all. It's not easy to carve out that much time to be away from life...and for heaven's sake it's already October. But not being able to accomplish the simple goal of one extra day a year was really making me doubt the whole plan. 

And then, a miracle. A forecast of incredible weather for a whole week. (In October, don't forget) I was wrestling, though, with not only guilt for leaving my family yet again, and taking off work yet again; but also the very real fear and anxiety that always goes along with thinking about being out there alone, yet again. (and even "incredible" weather in October is going to be awfully chilly at night) 

An article I read by a thru hiker of the PNT (Pacific NW Scenic Trail; not to be confused with the much longer and more traveled PCT) Jeff Kish gave me the courage to just go for it. In his story he describes a conversation he was having with an elderly gentleman while "refueling" in town half way through his journey. The older man (Bob) was so excited to hear about this hike, and started sharing his own stories of outdoor glory days. Before leaving, Bob tells Jeff, "this is a good thing you're doing...while you're still young"; then, while choking back tears, leaves saying, "I wish I could be young again." I cried after I read it, and determined I needed to do what scares me while I still could. (I know, I really didn't do the tale justice--you should read it yourself

Though, just because I was set on doing 6 days didn't mean I knew where the heck I was going. That is always the hardest part; "the plan". I go round and round, ask lots of annoying questions on the NWhikers forum, come up with something, change my mind, ask more questions, and so on and so forth.

Almost there!
As I was scouring through trip reports, I came across Erik Antonelli's (better known as "Sir-hikes-a-lot") report for the same spot I had my eye on. Coincidentally, Erik also thru hiked the PNT (for charity), and since I had donated I figured I could guilt him into answering some of my annoying questions.Turns out no guilt was needed; he was quick to reply with a cheerful eagerness to help. Erik's passion is to help kids experience the healing power of nature, so if you're so inclined to donate to the WTA's youth program in his name, I'm sure it'd be much appreciated. 
Sassy pants is ready to roll!
The biggest obstacle in this epic plan of mine was recruiting someone to drop me off at point A on day one, and another to pick me up at point B on day 6. It was a grueling 4 hour drive to point A, with 20 miles of it on a very sketchy forest road. I had no guilt bargaining chip big enough for that one...though I did have a couple ladies who said they'd really like to hike with me. Just how serious were they?
A sweaty palms drive
A serious hiker, AND football fan
Turns out, pretty damn serious. Two days notice serious, missing a Seahawks game serious, and "I'll do all the cooking for us" serious. So the glorious plan was born... Melodie (veteran hiker and camp chef extraordinaire) would drive myself and Leigh (eager backpacking virgin) past Mazama on the road from hell to the top of the world drop off of Hart's Pass. There we would go north just a mile and a half to set up camp, then hike a little farther to get us as close to Windy Pass as daylight would allow. (Had to get back in time to make dinner; I was not going to miss out on that gourmet meal!)
Now this is serious! Beats my Top Ramen for sure.
Then, a leisurely hike out the next day, where they would drive me four miles down the road to Meadows Campground (I'm not opposed to cheating a little...I needed to cut a few miles to make it to Grasshopper Pass before dark) where I could reconnect to the trail (the legendary PCT in fact) and continue south all the way down to Rainy Pass on day 5 where I would meet my husband and we would hike the Maple Pass loop hike together on day 6. Whew, that's a whole lot a plan, right? Too much plan for one little post, (okay, not so little) so I'll have to continue next time. 

part two:


  1. Your hike looks so wonderful! I"m hoping to do a modified version of this hike (we've only got three days). I'm with a group of four on day one and we arrive at the trailhead later in the afternoon. We have another group meeting up with us on day 2 and I was wondering if you had any advice on a good meeting spot? Thanks so much!!!

  2. Hi Katelin! I hope I'm not too late in responding. Three days is tough. You could do what we did and go north the first night, then meet up with your group at Meadows Campground. (you wouldn't have to cheat; leave your car, then have them drive you back up to it when your done) Go in as far as you can on day two, then hike back out to Meadows Campground and your cars. I LOVED my spot just before Grasshopper pass, but it's not that far from Meadows Campground. But if you get there early, you could set up camp and keep going without a pack until you were ready to go back. Then it would be an easy out the third day; you may even have time to get the Maple Pass Loop in as a day hike on your way out? I hope this helps. Have fun!!!