Leavenworth to Packwood

By the numbers
Total Miles hiked: 1060.0
Completion percentage: 40.0%
Hiking days: 64
Zero days: 26
Total Ascent: 195563
Total descent:195609
Notable injury count: 2
Toenails count: 9

I have spent the majority of my trail time hiking with other people. While I have loved the people I met along the way, I have decided to hike the remainder of the trail by myself. One of the original reasons I decided to do a long trail was because I wanted complete agency over my life and how I spent my time. Unfortunately, hiking with other people forces you to comply in ways that you might not want to, and removes some optionality in your decision making process. Hiking by myself is going to allow me to put in a few extra miles each day, and gives me an outside shot at finishing by mid September which means I would be able to attend my good friend’s wedding. For most of Washington, Carjack and I have been hiking together, but in Snoqualmie Pass I left early and am now roughly a day ahead.

During this stretch I feel like I have really hit my stride and am putting in great miles. Over the last 6 full days of hiking I have averaged 24.4 miles, which puts me in a great position. I finally have my hiker legs under me (it only took 1000 miles, grumble) and am prepping myself for Oregon. Because Oregon is very flat compared to the rest of the trail, it’s expected that you increase your daily milage by a significant amount. Many successful hikers average about 30 miles a day in Oregon, and I plan to do the same. In addition, there is a tradition on the PCT called ‘The Oregon Challenge’. It’s a pretty straightforward endeavor where you set the goal of going through all of the roughly 450 miles in Oregon in two weeks. I am toying with the idea of attempting it, but it requires a ~33 mile a day average, with no zero days. I’m not sure I’ll be capable of doing that and will make a game time decision when I reach the Oregon border in roughly 10 days.

The relatively minor increase in daily milage has also had an unexpected effect on me. Since I hit Washington, my weight has been plummeting. I have been tracking my daily calorie intake over the whole hike and managed to remain very close to the same weight over the first 700 miles. I don’t have access to a scale so I can’t find out my actual weight, but the weight loss is quite apparent when looking in the mirror. I’ll be increasing my daily calorie intake by about 500 calories for the remainder of Washington. The daily elevation gain in Washington is likely causing me to burn additional calories as well. My weight is something I am going to have to monitor closely when I get to Oregon because the hiking is going to be quite different. It’s possible that the increase in miles and decrease in elevation changes may end up being a wash. Only time will tell.

Calories. Calories. Calories.

I wish I could say that the last stretch of hiking was as beautiful and inviting as the rest of Washington, but I can’t. Save a single afternoon, the weather has been severely overcast and I have been rained on most days. Very few nice views were had and I have been unable to get a clear shot of Mt. Rainer, which I am hoping to see. In addition, the trail has been overrun by mosquitoes. When you are moving, the mosquitoes don’t bother you too much, but when you stop for longer than 30 seconds, a cloud of them will quickly be surrounding you. I have responded to this by wearing additional clothing that they can’t bite through and using bug spray, but it only does so much. One night I did the disservice to myself of counting the mosquito bites I had, and counted 38 (not including my back).

The next stretch of the trail is going to be a long one for me. Rather than stopping in Trout Lake for a full day, I’m only going to do a quick resupply and move on. Getting from Packwood to Stevenson will take me roughly a week and I will cover a little over 150 miles. It will be my longest stretch on the trail, and I am eager to tackle it and push myself a little bit further.

The view out of my tent one morning when I camped in a burn area. Most of the time It feels like I am hiking in a cloud.

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