Mile reached: 2551.8 (+11.2 + 15.5 alternate)
High: Winning the bet and not feeling particularly tired doing so.
Low: Realizing on the big climb up that I had forgotten my hat.
Fortunately, I heard my alarm go off over the roar of the river just feet away from my tent, and reluctantly I dragged myself out of my quilt. Within 45 minutes I had eaten breakfast, packed my pack, and was ready to go. I sauntered over toward where “Gandalf” had pitched his tent and gloated in being ready with a full 20 minutes to spare. Further, I mentioned that I’d think of him when I sat down for lunch, which elicited an “I’ll think of you in an hour when I’m still in my warm bag.” Stumbling around in the dark, I made my way back to the trail and was off.
The challenge for the morning was a 4,000 foot climb up to the pass. However, compared to the previous day the grade was consistently moderate and the quality of the tread was higher. In just a few hours I stood on top and was treated to views of smoke in all directions. A ranger an hour later would explain that there was an enormous fire to the south as well as a few closer to the border. There was also a fire just to the north of the pass across the PCT forcing me to take a detour. This detour required that I climb even higher and exit toward the tiny retreat of Holden.
The descent to Holden was uneventful. Infuriatingly, the trail ran between some of the tallest mountains in the state, but I could barely see then through the smoke. Dayhikers started to appear as I got closer, and by lunchtime I was in the village. This wasn’t the first time that the PCT had been routed through Holden, and the staff were exceptionally friendly. I proceeded to stuff myself on a buffet lunch and even ate two servings of salad! Afterwards, I waited on a couch in the shade for the others to arrive.
A few hours later, “Stay Puft” arrived and the rest just a few minutes after him.Tragically, I had forgot my hat in the dark in the morning, but “Gandalf” saw it and carried it all the way to Holden for me! The snack bar was only open for another 30 minutes, so we all ran over there and ate lots of ice cream. A few of us did laundry, but we otherwise loitered about until dinner. It’s hard to complain about food as a thru-hiker, but it was rather unsatisfying. They made Sloppy Joe’s that had too much raw onion in them. Oh well.
“Gandalf” had decided to spend the night and would take the ferry to Stehekin the following day. I on the other hand needed to walk to maintain my continuous footpath. So, we briefly said goodbye and I continued on the detour. But, not before the “Super Siblings” talked me into barking, which may have startled an older gentleman. The evening climb was exceptionally steep, and there were almost no campsites. It appeared that a fire had gone through a few years back leaving debris everywhere. Just 1,000 feet short of the pass I found a large meadow with an acceptably flat spot for cowboy camping.