PCT: Day 160

North Cascades

Miles today: 28.4

Trail miles sum: 1782.2

Trail location: 2464.5

Elevation: 4075

Spinning on the turntable: Podcast: Freakonics

Washington is certainly providing spectacular, panoramic, jaw dropping, in your face nature scenes. Washington is also making us pay for each and every view. Nothing is free. The trail is just brutal.

I’m doing an unofficial survey of thru-hikers about Washington. Most of us just want it to end. There are certainly those that are existing in a blissful state of trail-gasm, but that seems to be the exception. It’s an interesting juxtaposition compared to what I’m seeing on social media.

Today I received a message from Flapjack that he twisted an ankle and was done for the year. There aren’t any other older males in my current hiking bubble so I’m pretty depressed that he’s down for the count.

Guthook Screenshot

Guthook Sep 18

This was today’s trek. Five mountains to trek over. FIVE.

I started hiking at 5:40 AM in the dark with my headlamp.

The sunlight just beginning to touch the mountain tops is beautiful.

North Cascades

North Cascades

After two hours of climbing I reached the first trail summit of the day.

PCT Washington

Hyas Lake

There are so many lakes. This is Hyas lake. There’s literally a lake in almost every valley. The water is beyond blue.

PCT Washington

Rocky trail

The picture doesn’t do justice for how big this section actually is, it’s huge. I managed to make my way across a fifteen foot water crossing without getting my feet wet. I can’t imagine the scope of this water in the winter.

PCT Washington

Logs and rocks

Lots of water in this section so my water carries are light today!

North Cascades

Trail views

I really like pictures where I can include the trail. You see what I see. Truthfully though, I spend a lot of time watching the ground for rocks that I’ll trip on. Speaking of which…

PCT Washington

Really rocky trail

It’s amazing to look at, but this kind of loose rocks butchers my hiking speed. I carried exactly enough food and snacks to last up until dinner tonight. If I want to eat dinner today I need to pull big miles and reach the van.

PCT Washington

Back to the dirt trail!

I was happy to exit the rock zone and return to a more dirt based trail.

PCT Washington

Glacial lake

Glacial lake looks amazing! I see lots of fishing rods on day hikers backpacks.

I wrapped the day up by hiking until 9:45pm to reach Noelle and the van. This was a very long day of hiking.

We’ll zero in Leavenworth tomorrow and prepare for the final push into Canada. I’m celebrating the zero by breaking out a new pair of shoes. Seems like I just replaced them but it was actually about 450 miles ago. The toe caps are shot and the sides are tearing out. I believe this will be my fourth pair on the trail.


  1. Heidi L Halverson

    You rock so bad. OMG. So jealous and happy for you. I know in the moment it is hard, but “We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” You are testing yourself, improving your mettle, and even what you have accomplished so far is enough to propel you into the stratosphere. You are stronger than you know. It is mental and you have to believe it. You have to define yourself as capable.

    I have so much to say because I usually read your blog post on my phone daily but don’t want to bother to log in and type a kudos on my phone. I know first world problems. I’m so lazy. Anyhow. You are so awesome. It all sounds hard, but Washington state is spectacular. The slogging through the desert was so hard, just to read about. OMG. But, this, this seems so worth it. Is the plan to head to the John Muir portion after you get to Canada? Now seems like the perfect time to tackle Washington because you are beating the everpresent rainy season. Northern California will be ready for you soon.

    I’m curious how you blog. I know stupid question, but do you dictate a narrative as you go, or do you type on your phone at night – that would suck. How does it post at 8a every morning? The blog is very professional, well presented and great storytelling. You probably just use like a wordpress app that does it all for you.

    Your food sucks. Seriously bring apples and bananas, even powdered eggs and cheese. I just started eating muesli with pumpkin seeds and 3 Tbs chia seeds for breakfast and it’s OK in flavor. I tend to add blueberries and toasted unsweetened coconut, which helps. But it’s not bad and the chia seeds are awesome for energy. All in all very digestible with lots of iron. Pumpkin seeds are very high in iron, better than caffeine like eating energy pills. I know when we backpacked like for 3 days I got so sick of Clif bars that I stopped eating and still don’t really like them. I much prefer salted peanuts mixed with pumpkin seeds – protein and iron. But eat what you want. This is your hike, yet food is fuel for your body and mind.

    I read freakonomics years ago – it’s good. Right now I’m reading the Impossible climb by Mark Synnott. He’s this world traveller that has tried to climb the most rad mountains and walls worldwide. Anyhow, the book is supposed to be about Alex Honnold’s free solo of El Cap and background on Alex, which it is, but there is a lot of background of rock climbing in Yosemite and Mark’s memoirs of rad things he has done. Spoiler alert, he’s an asshole, they all are, but he’s growing on me. Assholes are people too. He has a sense of humor and enough experience to have a bit of wisdom. But the stories he tells are great. He has blogged about his experiences. OK that different than a podcast. I guess I’m mixed up. Anyhow if you could get the book in spoken form, whatever that is, I totally recommend it. I think I bring it up because on every expedition he wants to quit in the middle and/or he reaches the summit and it is underwhelming and not quite worth it. Which begs they question why? But just like getting rad drunk, puking, and becoming hungover (which is more realistically an and/or) and thus resolving to never drink again, with time our resolve weakens and opinions change. Not to promote radical drinking binges, which is bad. But I think living in the moment and suffering is not a time to make important decisions. Time and perspective make all the difference. This is a long winded way to say – keep on truckin’. Some days are the worst days, and on those days I crave sleep as a bridge to a fresh new day to reset with a fresh new start. Enjoy your rest day(s). Zero is a misnomer because resting is not doing nothing, it is purposeful and important to recharge your batteries. And you are not just resting, you are restocking, etc.

    Um, yeah, you know why you feel down because some of you music sucks. You need upbeat rockabilly. I’m talking early Johnny Cash, Essential Disk 1: Hey Porter, Luther Played the Boogie, Get Rhythm, I Walk the Line (so appropriate), Rock Island Line. Please, please do not complete this trip without listening to some Johnny Cash. If that’s not your cup of tea, Elvis was pretty good, but maybe before your time. If you can’t handle a real man singing, god help you out there.

    Oh, and I leave you with this: The number one reason to hike with your mate is tent sex. HELLO. I feel like I am so missing out. Nothing goes together better than wild sex in an wild place.

    Rock on.

    – Heidi

  2. Anonymous

    Again the pictures of the Mountain View’s are beautiful ❤️ Thanks for sharing. I just can’t get over the beauty.

    Liz from FresnoRetro

    • mcgarveysan

      The Mountain View’s are incredible when it’s not raining.

  3. VFat

    I think these are the best pictures of the Washington section that you’ve taken. Not many people get to take the “sunrise hitting the mountain-top” shot in September in Washington. They are beautiful.


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