Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 13, 2013: End of PCT in Canada!!!

It was an easy wake up for my last full day on the PCT. I got up, put my food bag in my pack, and got going leaving my tent and everything behind. All the miles were downhill and with about 3 miles left, I started to get pretty excited. I hit the last turns and there it was. 2700 miles of walking from Mexico to Canada. It was a very great moment knowing that I had what it took to make it happen. What a journey it was, too. I took my 30 minutes to soak it in and sign the register, then turned around and headed back to pick up my stuff. I got to see all the people who were right behind me. They warned me that Meander wants to leave ASAP since all the hunters are coming out for the first weekend of hunting. So, I actually ended up doing a pretty big day for my last full day. 30-35 miles or thereabouts. I'm within 10 miles of Harts Pass, so I'll wake up early and be done hiking for a bit tomorrow morning. So what now. First thing first: Make arrangements for getting to the Bay Area where I will take a good relax and eating session for a day or two at my parent's house, then I'll be off on more journeys. I have some cash stowed away and hiking is cheap. And yes, I am addicted so I have plans of hiking all over the southwest (Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Sedona, and numerous other places around there along with, hopefully, Utah), and maybe a month or two in Hawaii if the budget fits it in. Then, next March 2014, I will be departing to the east coast to make my way on the Appalachian Trail. I figure why not, live life to the fullest and soak it all in. One might say this was the trip of a lifetime, but I plan on living a life where this is just another trip in a lifetime of trips of a lifetime. Also, this was not my last meeting with the PCT. I will be back to do sections, day hikes, and if my body permits, another thru hike a few years down the road. For everyone out there that is reading this and enjoying it, go out and hike, anywhere. Hiking is amazing and I'm glad I'm addicted. And for all the people who say I'm young and can do things like this, hiking is for anyone. I met people of all ages out here. The youngest thru hiker was 12. I personally hiked with an incredible man, Opa, who was 73. My advice to future PCT thru hikers: Be careful with that metal monument at the end. It's pretty heavy and after 2700 miles of walking your upper body gets a little weak. The thing almost took me out and I could barely get it back on. And last but not least, thanks to everyone on the trail, people I hiked with, trail angels, and of course my family and friends for being such a great support all the way, from my brother aiding me in the desert, to Pacmom and all her great visits, and to Pops and Uncle Mark for logging some hard miles with me.

Peace out.
Pacman aka Doug Murray.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

9 Miles From Canada!


9 miles from Canada!

It was about 6 miles of hiking to Harts Pass where I saw signs saying trail magic. I wandered around looking for a bit then saw Meander! What a great surprise. He had goodies so I stuck around catching up and chit chatting. He is going to take me to Bellingham in three days. First it's 30 to the border then 30 miles back to here. I got going and since there would be more catching up and stories to be told when I return to Harts Pass in three days, I will be done hiking then. I did some fast hiking, as the earlier I get to the monument the longer I can hang out tomorrow. That's if anyone is there. And then the quicker I can get back to Harts Pass, the more hang out time I can have while watching hikers roll through in their efforts to get finished. The views were amazing again and all I saw were a few day hikers until Operator, Moses, and Band Leader came by when I was in my tent. They and a big group finished today and said they were at the monument for a couple hours. I'm excited for tomorrow.

Canada and a finished PCT thru hike tomorrow!!! 

North Cascade Ridge, WA

    Up on the ridge all day with amazing views

40 miles to Canada!
The morning climb up the hill wasn't all that bad. And good thing Back Up and I stopped early last night because the campsite we were planning on going to was jam packed with local hikers. Maybe 30 people. The views are amazing as we get up on the high ridges of the North Cascades. The miles seem to be easy to count down from here on out. I saw Super, who owns a hiker store in Mt. Laguna (40 miles from the Mexican border). He confirmed that Meander is doing trail magic at Harts Pass, so it should be nice to see him tomorrow. We wound up at a great campsite at about 6:30pm, so I had some time to soak it all in. What a journey. It's starting to hit me about the last 5 months I have been on this amazing journey! Good times.

Rainy Pass, WA

I believe this is an old growth cedar. I could be wrong though. It sure is big.

Rainy Pass, Hwy 20, WA
The bus took off at 8am and made a necessary stop at the bakery where I loaded up on supplies. I got a sticky bun, cinnamon roll, mushroom pesto bake, and a bacon wrap. Those lasted me just about all day. I got hungry for a dinner but that was about it. Delicious! It was just Back Up and me that left today, compared to the 20 or so hikers that left yesterday. So, we don't have to compete for the good campsites. It got pretty hot going through North Cascades National Park. There was one apple left in a magic box at Rainy Pass. Just my luck. 60 miles to the border from here!

Stehekin, WA and North Cascades National Park

Last NP which should be about all of tomorrow
Stehekin WA
I had about 3 or so miles of downhill to the bus stop that takes me into Stehekin which went by in a flash. I didn't notice the old growth cedars, I think, that seemed to be just larger than normal trees in the area. First thing was first though, and I hit up the bakery that had some amazing stuff. When I got into town I decided might as well go back to the bakery for lunch since it was so good. It seems like all the hikers were in town waiting for the post office to open to get their packages. Then it was just me, Back Up, and another guy who was section hiking after all 20 or so of the other hikers left to get back on trail. What a great spot, too. It turned out to be a very clear and relaxing day sitting on the porch drinking beers and BS'ing. Next thing I knew there was an amazing sunset over the lake. Last town stop! I'm going to be getting to the border monument and instead of going 10 miles past into Canada, I'll turn around and go back to Harts Pass since word on the street is that there is trail magic going on there all of September, so I should be able to get a ride to the coast where I can get on the bus from there. All in all, it sounds like it'll be a hundred dollars of so cheaper to do that, so I'll take it. It adds on a day but I scrounged enough food to make it happen. Great last town stop!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

100 Miles To Go


100 miles to Canada!
No rain last night and no rain today! Awesome. I got up on the later side again and got going up the hill with a full stomach. That made the 3000 foot climb over 9 miles seem not so bad. I got to the top and dried out my stuff. Another day of mushrooms all over the place. I found out one of them is one that is in Alice and Wonderland. It's the red one with white dots on it. It's a crazy beautiful mushroom that just looks mystical. It turns out that it is a mystical mushroom and is in all sorts of legends since it ranges all over the northern part of the world. Flyagarics, or something like that. It's a psychedelic but certain individual ones have more poison in them than others so they are still dangerous to eat! Not that I'd eat any of these mushrooms out here anyways. There's way too many to take chances eating any of them even though some look delicious. I think the magical red one is in one of my pictures from aboot a week earlier. Less than 100 miles to Canada!!!

Hazards on the PCT

Trail landslide. There was an orange rope so I Indiana Jonesed it across. No giant boulders chased me though.


It rained pretty much all night until about 10am when I finally got out of the tent. I woke up and rolled over a few times and just kept sleeping. I'm not gonna get out and going when it's raining, haha. It rained pretty much all day. There wasn't an opening to dry my stuff out so I just kept walking... Slowly. It's very slippery going downhill and the uphill is steep, so I just took my sweet time. Everything is an hour when it rains like this so I can't remember the timeframe of the day. One significant event that happened was when a squirrel threw two pine cones from one of the big trees and one landed about a foot in front of my head and the other a bit behind me. That could have been a KO. I was a little shocked by that, thinking, man... That could have been bad, and about a minute later, wham!!! There was a tree sticking out on the trail. I had my poncho on so I couldn't see it. Good thing I have a hard dome. Set up on the earlier side again while it wasn't raining. Hopefully this weather clears up a bit.

Wet, Wet Washington

The funkiest of the day's mushrooms. This is a melted pancake mushroom. It looks like the blob.

Last night it absolutely poured and thundered and lightninged all over the place. I thought I had a good spot but a creek flowed below me and made a puddle at my feet, so I had to sleep in the fetal position. I still slept great because of the thunder, and I was dry, but it rained so hard. The morning was still rainy and I made it a bit before it started to hail going over the first pass of the day. Dropping down into the valley I wondered: If it doesn't clear up, I might have a rough night. A little sunshine poked through so I sprawled out to get dry, and it got even sunnier. After that it turned out to be a great day, one of the best. The mushrooms at the bottom of the valley were out of Alice and Wonderland. I was in mushroom overload. Every half a second there was another funky looking mushroom. I got over the second pass with Profit and decided to stop early. I got set up and started to gather kindling to get a fire going and the rain came, so I just hopped in my dry tent and called it early. Fine by me. Right when I crawled in it began to rain a little harder. Great day, and time to feast in the tent.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mile 2500

                       There are some crazy mushrooms out here.

Mile 2500
There was a good thunder and lightning show last night. I stayed nice and dry in my tent and enjoyed it. Apparently I ate all my doughnuts in the middle of the night too, I don't remember doing it but I woke up and they were gone. I was lookin forward to that breakfast too, haha. On the trail, the blueberries were all over the place, and they were big and juicy. It takes a few seconds to get a solid handful. The miles took forever today. It seemed like I was going nowhere fast. At the end of the day though some fog rolled in and I had a chance to book it and make up time. I got in about 25 miles today so the next three days I have to average 20. So, I'll have a good sleep in tomorrow and some easy and relaxing days. Unless it pours, then I just walk till it stops.
My favorite pic. Steamy morning in WA.

Mile 2480


Mile 2480

It was a normal town morning, breakfast burrito with a side of gravy and a few cups of coffee followed by about 5 hours of lounging around and doing pretty much nothing. I got dropped off at the town to get some food and a sammich, then got a hitch back to the trail. It took a bit to find the trail but when we did it was smooth sailing. 10 miles in there was a lake so I parked it there with 2 New Englanders, Profit and Green Leaf. And I've got plenty of food for this section so I won't have to be doing any pushing, just sleeping in and going slow. Slow and steady wins the race, or finishes the trail at least. 180 miles left to go.

Stevens Pass, WA


Stevens Pass, WA
I got up early knowing I was going to be in town later today. The miles flew by as I drained my battery listening to my talk show and music. All the people doing local loops or weekend hikes are so nice up here. It's very easy to get lost in a conversation for a while with people in passing. That's the way to get all the good info for the upcoming trail conditions. I got to the pass and it took about an hour to get a hitch to the Dinsmores Hiker Haven. I had a great burger and Cornish gamecock hen soup!!! Very good. The Dinsmores are trail angels in a town called Baring. It was a good time with lots of hikers. And I got to see Spitfire, which was a great surprise. He is going for the record for most zero days. Haha. What a funny guy. Good times at the hiker haven.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 2013 on the PCT, Cascades


Got going in the not too early morning knowing I had to do a bigger-than-I-wanted-to-do day. I was getting low on food so I knew I had to push it. After dropping down the hill, I went on the lower of the two PCT routes that followed along a river. On the alternate PCT route I made a wrong turn and wound back up on the non-alternate PCT. Oh well. At least I'm on the PCT. At the end of the day I had done about 28 miles, and it felt like my biggest day yet. There are a lot of up and downs here in the Cascades. It's some of the most amazing terrain though. Very comparable to the beauty of the high Sierras. Lots of mushrooms too.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Where is Pacman? Answer:Snoqualmie Pass

       Clean hiker trash

8-30 and 31

It was pretty wet out when I got going this morning. I hit a bit of rain, not too much though since I knew I was going to be dry in a couple hours. There was a big descent going into town that was slow walking since it was so wet out. I didn't want to slip and have a spill this late in the game. The night was at the Mostly Mostel Hostel. Plenty of beds, full kitchen, and and a shower, so I can't complain. Although right when I pulled into the town/ski resort area, it cleared up and was nice for the first time in a few days. Oh well. The next day we lounged around for a while, then went to the Chevron station and lounged for a bit more. There were quite a few hikers there. We hit the hill and saw plenty of day and weekend hikers since it is Saturday of the Labor Day weekend. Or some sort of holiday, so I got stuck in a few traffic jams going up. It made me think of how much I hate traffic jams too. That's one of the main reasons I wanted to do the PCT, so I wouldn't have to sit in traffic. The views at the top were amazing though. I stopped at the lake at the top at about 4pm where we did some more lounging around. 

Monday, September 2, 2013


Mushrooms are all over the place here. I wish I knew which one I could eat. My guess is that this one is a no-go. 


I woke up at about 7am and it was raining, not hard, but enough for me to roll over and keep sleeping. It stopped at about 9am when I woke up again, so I got all ready inside my tent and doing that part since it was sprinkling. Just when I was about to get out it started pouring. So.... At noon when I finally got going I was well rested. It was pretty foggy and rainy all day, but there was a window where I laid my stuff out to dry and got it dry for the most part. I saw the mom and her son with 3 horses again. They had a fire going so I decided to dry my socks while they fed me Bree cheese, the good stuff. It was so good I forgot about my socks and one of em got a little toasted. I'm camped on an old, unused OHV road. 

300 miles to Canada!

Government camp? Maybe.


I slept in till about 9am today, so I was well rested. The morning, or not so much morning, miles were up and down with cool weather. I didn't see any hikers until I came upon a building that was a shelter for people. I guess it was one of the first routes in WA going to the coast used by sheep herders. I met another father-son combo who picked up an unfinished thru hike in Northern California. Also a section hiker. Before I knew it, it was 7pm and time to start looking for a spot. There was a mom and her son with three horses at the spring, so I chatted with them for a bit, then found a good spot under a tree a bit down the road. 300 miles to Canada!