Day 108: The Start of the Smoke

August 18, 2018


Last night the wind picked up and came gusting through my campsite all night long, sending a fine layer of dust and sand under my rainfly and into my tent, coating everything. Oh well. I shook my things out as well as I could and prepared to hike.  

There’s more smoke in the air today than there was yesterday. At first, I could only smell it, but as the day wore on the air became thicker and the horizon has started to disappear.

Early morning dew.
The smoke early in the day.
Taking a break on top of a pass.
The smoke got progressively worse throughout the day.

Today was marked by a lot of steep climbs and descents. They came in rapid succession, which is very different from the Sierra. I know I’m comparing the two sections a lot, but I can’t help it. The Sierra Nevada is the only truly mountainous hiking I’ve ever done.

I’ve been playing a little game the last few days to keep myself entertained. Sparky and Ghosthiker hiked out of Snoqualmie Pass the same day I started hiking out of Stevens Pass, and Ghosthiker said via text that they’d been averaging about 20 miles a day. I’d been doing the math every once in a while trying to guesstimate their progress alongside my own, so at this point, Sparky and Ghosthiker should be about 57 miles behind me, give or take. I want to see if I can get to Stehekin either before them or right around the same time. It was like a race or a math game. It kept my mind busy in the silence.

I don’t want to be camping alone again, but whatever. I can’t go any further today. I managed to cover a little under 17 miles and I feel pretty good about that. My plantar fascia is bad in my left foot and I just needed to stop. I’m sitting in my tent and it’s only 4:45pm, but it’s very dark. I’m deep in the woods here near a large creek. Thankfully, there was a bridge to get across, but the river is so loud I won’t be able to hear anybody or any bears approaching. I honestly hope some other hikers decide to camp here. It’s creepy being alone.

I hung my food bag in a tree a safe distance from my tent, but it took a while. The only good branches were really high up and it took several failed throws before I could get the line over a decent branch. I was also being harassed by an enormous black fly the whole time, so that was fun. I kept having to stop and brandish my flip flop to try and swat him away from me. He was huge!! I shudder to think what the bite from that fly would have looked like! But I’m pretty good at swatting flies out of mid-air so I eventually got him. Little bastard.

Later, two hikers passed by my camp. I watched them come and go, hoping for a greeting of some kind or at least a wave, but I got nothing. They continued on and now I feel really alone. This is so completely different from what it was like before. Where are all the friendly, excited hikers? I want to go home.

Day 109: Milk Creek

Published by rogerssj23

I'm a long-distance hiker, an audiobook producer, and an amateur writer. I live in the woods in a renovated 1972 Airstream with my Golden Retriever Zoe. Read more about my hiking adventures at

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