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.
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.