Today's miles: 0
Total miles: 2580
Today was the strangest zero we've taken on trail, and also the most chaotic. We were planning for the unknown, but determined to do so.
Sansei and Rotisserie left early today with a friend of Sansei's to drive down to Eugene and pick up winter gear. They were planning to meet us again tomorrow to go back to the trail. Sansei was anxious about getting all his stuff in time, but the rest of us insisted that if we could do it, he could do it.
Sunshine had some friends in the Portland area, so between bumming gear from them as well as borrowing gear from my friends Jason and Elizabeth, he was able to cobble together enough stuff to add to his pack. I dug through my bins of winter clothing and gear, and together we added the following items to our supplies:
- Waterproof boots
- Heavy winter socks
- Waterproof gaiters
- Warmer sleeping bag (I switched back to my 20 degree bag)
- Waterproof stuff sacks for my sleeping bag and clothes
- Another layer of wool clothing
- Warm hat and balaclava
- Heavier rain jacket and waterproof pants
- Waterproof gloves
- Micro spikes (traction for the bottoms of our boots)
- Extra food (in case the snow slowed our mileage)
With all the added gear, my pack weighed a lot more than it ever had on trail. I was more confident about my chances in the weather, though. The only thing I worried about was how my lightweight tent would fare in such cold, snowy conditions.
Since Treekiller and Vince didn't have to prepare for returning to the trail, they were more laid back and enjoyed their time in town. Treekiller made us two more of his specialty cheesecakes, one Key Lime and one Peanut Butter Oreo while they watched movies.
He and Vince both had trains to catch today, so Sunshine, Tanner and I drove them to the nearest metro station later in the afternoon. It was hard saying goodbye, knowing it might be a long time before I would get the chance to see them again. Vince, after all, was going to India soon, and Treekiller lived in the midwest, too far away for a casual roadtrip.
After big hugs, we let them go and quietly drove home through the pouring rain. Now Sunshine and I were the only two left.
We kept in touch with our hiker friends, trying to figure out the best time to meet. We decided we would get together at Rainy Pass tomorrow evening - Watson was going to drive Wocka, Giddyup, Kazu and Sneaks there after work. We had initially planned on meeting in Stehekin again so we could hike out from where we left off, but Stehekin is a difficult town to get to. The only way in or out is by foot or ferry, so it was inconvenient to try to hike out from there. Instead, we opted to skip twenty miles of trail and start from Rainy Pass, which was the next closest road crossing.
Sunshine checked in with Rotisserie, Sansei and Katie before the day was out. Katie was still worried about the weather and decided she didn't want to go back to the trail, and Rotisserie and Sansei were in the process of securing a ride to Rainy Pass from Eugene. They thought about taking the train up to Seattle, but didn't have a good way to get from Seattle to the trail. We were only taking one car back up to Washington, so with Tanner, mom, Courtney, Sunshine and I in the car, there wasn't room for two more. It was a mess, overall.
Our friends Toots, Tears, Fun Size, Cuddles, Lighthouse and a few others were currently in the small town of Winthrop, near Rainy Pass, and also planned on hiking north from there on Tuesday. We hoped by meeting up with all of us together that we could plow through the snow and the weather no problem. We felt more secure about our decision knowing others would be traveling the trail with us.
News was still circulating around the web from the rest of this year's hikers. We kept in touch with each other via a Facebook page for 2013 hikers, and had been giving each other trail updates and tips throughout our journey. In the past few days, the Facebook page had become a jumbled mess of news and weather updates from frantic hikers, all of us trying to finish the trail in time. It sounded like no one had reached the border since the storm began, and everyone was trying to figure out the best way to get there. The rain and snow had frozen everyone in place. We were part of a big group stuck in Stehekin, and there was an even bigger group stuck in Steven's Pass at the Dinsmore's, including Sweet Tooth, Hot Tub, Dance Party, and Focus. They were unable to hike north because of the large amounts of snow dropping on the 100 miles from Steven's Pass to Stehekin. Remembering my soggy, foggy journey through those same 100 miles, it was strange thinking about hiking that entirely in snow. I was glad we had gotten through it in time.
Reading the updates from my stranded friends online, I was reminded of what a tenacious group of people thru-hikers are. Despite worsening weather and crazy conditions, everyone was determined to keep hiking. No one wanted to admit defeat; no one wanted to give up after 2500 miles. Weather and warnings from locals didn't deter us; we were going to hike until we physically couldn't anymore, and even then, we would still be looking for a way North.
With bags packed and our courage summoned, we went to bed one last night in Portland before returning, for better or worse, to the trail tomorrow.
Today's miles: 0