Day 148: Escape From the Rain

We woke up this morning to yet more rain. In fact, it rained literally all night long last night; I woke up often enough to attest to that. As you might imagine, this gets really, really old soon enough. The fact that it not only makes hiking (and camping) a whole lot less fun, but also prevents us from seeing any of the scenery around here — at least, anything beyond a short distance from where we are — makes it all the more of a bummer.

It didn’t really stop raining for very long more or less the whole time we were hiking today, either, but one big thing made this a lot easier to take: we were headed into Trout Lake, Washington for the evening, both to resupply and to spend a night at a hotel. Usually it’s the idea of showers and laundry that attracts us, but today it was just the idea of being warm and dry…sometimes it’s just the very simplest things that make the most difference.

Early-ish this morning, we did get our first trail magic in Washington, and quite some magic it was: an entire cooler next to the trail, full of ice and Rolling Rock beer. What do you do when you get offered a beer at 9:30 AM on the PCT? You drink it, of course! Normally I wouldn’t be such a big fan of Rolling Rock anyway, and certainly not at 9:30 AM on a Wednesday…but out here, it was pretty fun. (We’d have gone for hot chocolate even more, but that’s a lot harder to provide as trail magic.)

After most of a day’s worth of hiking — through pretty forests, although, again, we couldn’t see too far beyond where we were — we finally came to the paved road that heads into Trout Lake. This was also our first encounter with a closed section of trail because of fire, as the entrance to the PCT just across the road had big signs up telling you it was closed because of the fire…as well as giant orange tape up, blocking access to it. I suppose that’s one way to ensure nobody can use the excuse “I didn’t see the sign!”, and it also makes me feel good about the efforts the Forest Service goes to in order to protect people. Fortunately, today, it doesn’t affect us, but tomorrow we’ll have to use a detour to get around it.

We were a bit bummed to hear that the hikers we met at the road had already been waiting for almost an hour without getting a ride (or even seeing much traffic pass), but happy to see that it was Hedgehog and MC Hobo! We were even happier when, just coincidentally, a couple of hunters (and bow-hunters, at that) came out of the woods in an old pickup truck and offered us all a ride into town. It would turn out to be just the first of three rides we’d get that day, all in the back of pickup trucks, taking us into town — each one able to take us a bit more of the distance in.

On the way into town, we got to see something the rain had kept from us for the entire time we’d been in Washington so far — Mount Adams! Mount Adams is another huge volcanic peak, and, just like Mount Hood, sticks up way, way above everything else around here. The very storms we’ve been trudging through and which had prevented us from seeing it had also painted it with a fresh coat of snow, and, from down here, it looked incredible. I’m jealous of the people who live here for getting that view all day, every day.

Trout Lake has proved to be one of the single friendliest communities on the entire PCT. Not only was getting rides in town incredibly easy (one guy offered us a ride before we could even ask, and the bed of his pickup had a couch set up in it for our riding comfort), but everyone there genuinely seemed to want to make sure we had a great experience. We stopped at the local general store / supermarket to pick up our resupply boxes (including new shoes for me — what should be my last pair!), and get a few snacks to eat.

We soon headed to our hotel after making plans to meet up with everybody for dinner at the one restaurant in town. The Trout Lake Valley Inn may just be my favorite hotel of the entire PCT. It’s incredibly charming and run by a genuinely friendly family, but also a wonderful mix of cute (tic-tac-toe at the breakfast tables with bear and tree figurines for the X’s and O’s) and really well-appointed (towels much nicer than you’d expect, and a wonderful, hot hot tub). Settling in to our room felt incredible, as did getting our clothes clean. In the rain, it’s not so much that you get dirty as that everything just starts to smell awful after a few days from being wet all the time.

We had only a short while to relax before heading down to the restaurant in town for dinner. (Trout Lake is pretty spread out, but our hotel offers free loaner bikes to help you get around!) Dinner was great — the food was decent (although your choices were basically burgers and burgers), but the company was excellent. Treeman, Hedgehog, MC Hobo, and Rob Steady were all there. We all ate, of course, huge quantities of everything, and I had a huckleberry milkshake and huckleberry pie for dessert. Huckleberries are a local specialty, and apparently are all over the trail in some years — this year, we’ve seen a few, but none that were ripe enough to actually taste good.

Now that we’re back in our room in the hotel, it feels so good to be dry and warm. I know we’ll head back out tomorrow into the weather, but, for now, I’m just so grateful for being here, safe and warm, inside.

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