It was just a quote I had read the night before in an article with Josh Homme about their new Queens of the Stone Age album. But it was also the mantra that ran through my head as I was slowly coming down Rock’s Pass. Without any doubt the most treacherous bit of trail I had to overcome in the last seven days. A steep decent – probably a 60% angle – covered in snow that had been softened by the harsh sun. It had been a while since I did something that put me right on the edge. A miscalculated step or just a slip-up, would see me skidding down the slope at neck-breaking speed. Life is tough. But that’s why it’s worth it.
The last seven days have been absolutely fantastic. I have seen amazing landscapes, experienced feats of human kindness and had blissful weather along the way. Let me bring you quickly up-to-date.
I spent the last night in “society” couchsurfing with Erin and her five daughters in West Burlington. A home away from home. It felt nice to be around a family for once. The next morning I started hitchhiking out. I had some 130 miles to cover to get to the trailhead. I was lucky, after two shorter rides I got picked up by Sue, a fellow backpacker herself. Charmed by my story she decided to drop me off at the trailhead which was a little bit out of her way (Trail magic #1).
At Hart’s Pass, the last camp before the Canadian border, I was met by Meander/Ed. A refugee from the Netherlands who had been hiking the trail himself this year. After the leaving the trail for bureaucratic reasons, he was acting as a trail angel for starting Southbounders. He lend me his micro-spikes to make my future snow-hiking adventures safer and sent me off on my way (Trail magic #2).
Leaving camp I felt all of the sudden a little bit unsure. Was I really ready for this? Would I be able to pull this off? All these doubts running trough my mind actually made me miss my first turn-off. Reading the map a mile down the road made me realise my mistake and back up it went. I ended up hiking 8 miles (13km) that afternoon before I settled on a ridge for the night. The weather had been fine and I had successfully managed to hike most snowy patches. I felt confident about myself.
Next day was when I hit Rock’s Pass and I needed all my confidence to make it down. After slowly scrambling down the snowed-down slope and crossing the snowpacked crest Devils Stairway, I made it down to Hopkins Lake where I camped down for the night.
Following morning I made it to the Canadian border. Registered with the trail register and was ready to backtrack 30 miles back to Hart’s Pass where it all started. I got there the next evening and was welcomed by a committee of Meander and five more Southbounders ready to get going. We spent the night over pizza, beer, hobo‘s, bourbon and wine. It all went down fine after four days on the trail (Trail magic #3)
The next day it felt harder to get going on the trail. Was it the lingering hang-over from last night, a feeling of solitude after that much camaraderie or a body weary of hiking after those first days. Probably a combination of all three factors. Somewhere along the trail I found a package addressed to myself. When seeing Meander I had talked about my sunglasses I had lost on the trail and how I would have to hitch into town to buy a new pair. Turns out he bought them for me and hid them somewhere along the road (Trail magic #4)
And on I went, three more days to make it to Stehekin where I would pick up my first package. And that’s where I am at now. I met some great people just before getting of the trail, they offered me a ride into town, a great lunch and the chance to use their laptop for a while (Trail Magic #5).
It’s been a great hike till now and I’m looking forward to the rest of this trip.
Distance hiked: 110 miles / 178 kilometres
Days hiked: 7 days
Altitude climbed: 25450 ft / 7757 metres
Books read: The Book of Basketball – How to make your thru-hike a success – Not Taco Bell Material
Days of hiking with wet feet: 7 days
Days of good weather : 7 days