Today's miles: 0
Total miles: 2600
Today we had another long day of driving ahead of us. Poor Tanner manned the whole seven hours himself once again, putting his running tally to 23 hours of driving in two days and winning him the Best Fiancee Ever Award.
Sunshine and I reminisced about the trail as we drove, telling stories to my mom, Courtney and Tanner as we went. They asked us questions about the trail, fascinated by our mileage, our adventures, and our eating habits.
"How long do you think it'll take to get over our 'hiker hunger' once we're off the trail?" I asked Sunshine.
"Hopefully not too long," he said. "When I was in Portland letting my feet rest, I visited a bunch of friends, and they tried to feed me the whole time. But I started to lose my appetite."
"What!" I laughed. "This from the boy who eats seven plates of food at buffets??"
"Yeah...." he agreed musingly. "Portland was a weird time in my life where I was full."
As we drove into Northern Washington and entered the Cascade range, we began losing cell service. But we managed to check in with our friends one last time. Wocka, Giddyup, Sneaks, and Kazu expected to be near Rainy Pass around 7:00pm. Rotisserie and Sansei hadn't been able to secure a ride back to Washington, so they were back in Portland staying with Katie for a few days while we tried to finish the trail without them. Alphabet Soup and Kudu ultimately decided that they were done with the trail and were making arrangements to go home. Toots and Tears were still in the town of Winthop; Aloha was planning to drop them off at Rainy Pass early tomorrow morning to meet up with the rest of us.
As far as we knew, we were the first group attempting to hike this stretch after the storm.
The weather reports looked promising. Snow was still expected for today and tomorrow, but it would taper off by tomorrow evening and hopefully be clear the next few days after that. It was snowing as our car climbed higher in elevation, but the views of the mountains in white were stunning. I felt like I was going up for a weekend ski trip rather than a week-long backpack that would cap a 2,650 mile journey.
We got to Rainy Pass late in the afternoon. It was at a high enough elevation that there was a layer of snow everywhere. Our original plan was to camp here tonight so that we could get an early start tomorrow, but I wasn't looking forward to getting my gear cold and wet so early in the trip. My mom was the one who came up with the best plan:
"Let's go to Winthrop tonight," she suggested. "We can get a hotel room and drop you off at the trail tomorrow. That way we can spend another night with you, we don't have to drive home in the dark, and you don't have to camp in the snow."
It was a burden lifted to not have to worry about tonight's weather, and so we continued driving the extra 20 miles to Winthop for the night.
It turned out to be a great decision. Winthop was adorable; it was an entire town made to look like the Old West, with little wooden shops and buildings and the Cascades looming right behind. We found a nice hotel on the main road and then went out for dinner.
Wocka called Sunshine later in the evening; they were getting dropped off at Rainy Pass by Watson, who had to immediately drive back to Seattle so he could get to bed in time for work tomorrow. We tried to talk them into coming to Winthop, and eventually Sunshine drove back out to Rainy Pass to pick them up. But when he returned a few hours later, he was alone.
"Where is everyone?" I asked.
"They decided they didn't want to spend the night in a hotel," Sunshine said. "So I drove them down the mountain a little ways to an elevation that didn't have any snow. They're staying at a campsite a few miles from here."
So it was decided we would just see them at Rainy Pass early tomorrow.
It was all coming together, piece by piece, and now all we could hope for was good weather and a little bit of luck to shine on us tomorrow.