We can stay the night at Andy’s place in Seattle. I get to sleep in the guest bed, Felix sleeps on the sofa.
It feels great to be in a real home, after almost five months in my tent or the occasional hotel room.
The guys take me to the Cafe Flora, their favourite breakfast place in town, and we eat an amazingly healthy and delicious breakfast!
We drive in Andy’s car. So funny that the three of us are now in Seattle, sitting in Andy’s car! Such a different world all of a sudden!
We decide to definitely take a full zero in Seattle before we get back to the trailhead at Snoqualmie Pass.
Now this is amazing: as both Felix and Andy live here in Seattle, I get to see this town with my two local friends!
How lucky am I!
I get to see lots of Seattle, without even having to walk much, as Andy drives us around!
Super awesome! Thank you Andy!
We drive up to a little park and I get to see the whole skyline! It’s a bit grey and overcast today but I don’t mind at all! It’s much better than this heat we were having again in the last few days.
We drive around a bit more, I get to see where the rich and beautiful life, and we also drive through downtown.
And what I see is great! Seattle is a city with style. The combination of old buildings with a modern, fresh touch is very pleasing to my eye.
What’s also really cool is this art museum right by the seafront. They have both a beautiful Calder and a Serra here! It is amazing!
We decide to take advantage of being in the city and go to the movie theater. But not before we have another bite to eat. In fact, we eat in a coffee which is also a bookstore. Or rather, the bookstore has also a coffee.
I can say: this is the most amazing bookstore with the best selection of books I have ever come across! This store alone would be a reason to move to Seattle.
The movie is great too! So good to dive into a completely different world!
So but enough town pleasures now! We have some more hiking to do, if we ever want to make it to Canada!
Apparently, there is another (!) fire on the PCT, North of Seattle. The PCT is still open, but it is smoky and the PCT path marks the border of the closure.
Hmmm, not good!
Luckily, there is an alternative path which we can take and which is further west, so there should not be any smoke. (Thank you Felix for figuring this out!)
Andy drives us up to the trailhead in his car. His partner comes with us and drives the car back home.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
It’s dark already so we pull out our head torches and start hiking. We put up camp in the dark two hours later. I can’t see a thing were we are.
In the morning I can see:
What a beauty!
We set out hiking and it soon turns out that this trail is much harder terrain than the PCT.
The PCT is well trimmed and trampled (we sometimes call it “the highway”, but this path here is clearly more adventurous, or “interactive” as the guys call it.
But oh so beautiful!
There are natural hotsprings up here in the woods.
Outdoors! In complete nature!
The hot water comes right out of a cave and runs into two pools. We fall in love with the springs, soak ourselves two (!) hours in the hot water and decide to stay here tonight.
[Image taken by Felix].
We set up our alarm clocks to 10 pm, so that we can have another session later tonight. As the springs are up in the woods, it will be pitch black dark at night.
We wake up at 10 pm, crawl out of our tents, grab our headtorches, nighthike up half a mile to the pools, half asleep still, soak in the hot water again, look at the stars, and feel great.
So good to relax my poor abused calf muscles which are now one big hard lump.
Well, time to hike on in the morning.
Up a beautiful forest into a gorgeous high alpine valley.
We seem to be the only tru hikers on this detour. We just see a couple of section hikers.
Apparently, there is another bear here (we hear from other hikers) so we make noises with our hiking poles to make him be aware of us.
Later in the day, after some rather exhausting hiking, we come over a ridge into the valley where the alternate trail meets the PCT again. I see a lake and two big fire smoke clouds. One on the left side and one to the right.
Hmmm, both exits of this valley have each a fire.
I feel quite trapped I have to say. After this super exhausting day we more or less hobble down to this lake to camp, only to find out that the lake and all its surrounding trails are closed down due to fires (only the PCT remains open).
Oh man, we need water and a place to sleep. It’s getting dark already and we are all so exhausted.
The guys figure that it is save to camp at the lake anyway, as the fires are further away. Alright, guess I have to break the law and camp at the closed lake.
Feels a little awkward… I am too Swiss for this sort of thing.
But I am way too tired now to worry about any rules of any kind. And it is dark, and I NEED to go to sleep NOW, so I can not care less.
We agree that we all deserve a few more hours of sleep, so we treat ourselves and set the alarm clock to 8 am.
We get up and hike up towards the smoke.
Up on the ridge we see this:
[Image taken by Felix]
I say to Felix:
“Guess we are lucky that the wind blows in the other direction, otherwise we would be fucked”.
Beautiful hiking today though, despite the fire in our neck. The colors are turning, it is is the beginning of autumn, or fall as they say here.
I am hiking since Spring and now it gets Autumn.
My shirt, which I wear every single day since April 10, is slowly decaying though.
We set camp, go to sleep, and I wake up in smoke.
“Oh my God!”
Did the fire spread? Did the wind change? I don’t know? I just know that I want to get the hell out of here.
It is somewhat 20 miles to the next highway, this means a full day hiking.
I am anxious to leave and hike fast. But we have to get over this pass first.
I breath heavily while hiking fast uphill, and say to myself:
“You must hike slower, you breath in the smoke too hard. Try not to breath in too much unhealthy smoke!”
I am scared. Everything is full of smoke, we can’t see very far.
[Image taken by Felix]
Felix is once again amazing: he stays calm, checks the map and suggests:
“If we leave the PCT in about five miles from here, we can shortcut through another valley and reach the highway ten miles earlier than we would if we stayed on the PCT. Do you guys wanna do that?”
“YES! YES! BLOODY YES!”
We make it to the pass, the smoke is a little less thick up here, and I can see a mountain range on the other side.
I feel better, but far away from OK.
The guys are taking this mess much easier than me. They even want to sit down, have a break and eat something!!
But OK, it is actually good for me to see them so calm. They are locals and apparently used to fires and smoke.
After a break which seems to take forever, we make it down the steep oh so beautiful valley.
The smoke is much less down here now, but still very present. There is an amazing golden light in the forest, as if it were early evening, but it is 2pm. The sun is filtered through the smoke.
We finally reach the highway (Yes! We made it!) and hitchhike to Leavenworth.
Now Leavenworth is something!!
Felix and Andy had talked about this town for weeks! It is an old logging town which lost its purpose in life. So apparently someone had the idea to turn it into a German look-alike town and sell Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, and Pretzel. This place is INCREDIBLE! Great fun and stunning (and also very very smoked out. It’s hard to breath down here as well).
Again! What a wild, wild day!
The contrast between waking up in the woods surrounded by smoke and now being here in this funny German town could hardly be bigger!
My brain needs to process all this!
We sit in a beer garden, listed to German music and eat a vegy Bratwurst and a Prezel!
PCT, you are amazing!
Now we have to think what’s next. Can we go on? There are more fires up North…
It is now just 200 miles to Canada! Just 200 bloody tiny miles left! I really want to make it there! It’s oh so close now!
But what about all these fires? Do we have to give up or do we find a way around them?
I am sure Felix will come up with a brilliant plan, as he always had done so far!