Saturday, September 23, 2017

Finally Finishing Section J

I am a hiking cheater, and proud of it. Sometimes it makes sense to sneak in a "back door" trail and make your life easier--and who needs to brag about the fact they did an "entire" section of the PCT anyway? Except, I do like to finish things. It may be messy and take me forever, but there is satisfaction in the feeling of completion, right? Someday I want to say I've done every mile of the PCT in Washington; and so the 8 miles I skipped on Section J needed to get done. So after 2 years of pining, it was time to cross them off my list.
Of course, I still wanted to do them the easiest way possible! Work smarter, not harder, right? Plus I wanted my friend Jamie to have a more leisurely experience for her second backpack; because her first time was a brutal 26 mile round trip grind to spend one night with me on the PCT last year. I promised her that helping me finish these piddly 8 miles would be easy peasy. Hindsight tells me she'll never trust me again.
Though the first night lived up to all expectations. We dropped her car off at Steven's Pass and took mine up to the cheater Tunnel Creek trail. (Though this cheat will cost you 1300' elevation in just a mile and half; so it's short, but steep. It sure beats doing a 16 mile in and out from Steven's Pass though!) Only about an hour and a half of hiking, and bam, Hope Lake! And we had it all to ourselves for the night! Easy peasy, just as promised.
Our Hope Lake home. Stunning!
I'll confess, I didn't really look at the maps before we left like I usually do. I already knew that in the morning, instead of going south like I did the first time, we would instead go north back to Steven's Pass. Easy...and following the trail was certainly not difficult. Where I messed up was thinking that just because we were going "down" to Steven's Pass, there would not be much elevation gain. I may have even suggested the 8 miles for the day would be "mostly downhill". Oops.
This is how to start your day! Ha ha!
(You know I'm posing, the lid is down people!)
FYI, the PCT going from Hope Lake to Steven's Pass has several up's and down's....three pushes up, to be exact, and they are not that easy. Actually, the last one is quite awful--especially when you are in direct sun. Honestly, it felt endless. I yelled up to Jamie (because she was ahead; surprise, surprise) if she wanted to take a break. She replied that if she stopped she didn't think she'd be able to get going again. I didn't bother saying that once we got to the top it was "all downhill", because I'd already said that several times. 

Finally, at the top, we knew the only thing separating us from a burger and beer was the final ACTUAL downhill mile and a half to the resort, so that gave us the push we needed. We passed many wonderful volunteer workers busting their butts in the hot sun to clean up the trail (yes, it made me feel guilty about complaining how tired I was!) and one of them cheerfully let us know we only had another 15 minutes to the lodge--30 minutes max. We both thought that was impossible (which was took us over an hour...maybe she wanted to punish us for not working on the trail like her?) but even the suggestion of 15 minutes made that last hour feel like an eternity. 
Are we ever going to get there?
We crawled into the Bull's Tooth Eatery looking, feeling, and smelling like hell. But after you've enjoyed your burger and fries, and looked through your beautiful scenery pics--suddenly it doesn't seem so bad. And after a few days, when your feet stop hurting, you may even think, "I want to backpack again...even though Kelly is a big fat liar."  At least that's what I'm hoping. :)
Worth it??...
...worth it!!! Love you, Jamie!

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