Hiking Dude Blog
2018 - Sep Jul Jun May Apr
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I walked 29626 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 11 miles today.
9/15/17 We did it! We're camping at the end of the trail tonight with a huge fog bank rolling in from the ocean.
We've been waking to an alarm every morning so we can hike early in the cooler temps. Today we slept in for the first time in trail because we have to wait for the tide to go out to cross a headland a couple miles north. We started hiking around 10am with our first task to take an overland trail above the headland right by our campsite. After that was 3 miles of easy beach before the next headland. Here, we ran into a couple guys that were camping and drinking so we chatted with them and waited awhile for the tide. Actually, we mostly listened as they rambled on.
The second day hiking on the coast was much like the first - some rocky, some sandy, some slippery - all of it wonderful. We got to climb a couple overland trails and even squeeze through some holes through the rock cliffs. The weather was perfect and we had no problem finding water from small streams falling down the cliffs along the way.
On one remote beach, we found a full grown seal that could barely move - pretty sad but nothing we could do. At another spot, near the end of our hike, there was a black bear on the beach! So, we saw a bear at the very start of our trek and at the very end. We were really hoping to get to use our bear spray that we carried all this way but no luck.
The strangest coincidence also happened today. We were hiking along and someone came hiking down the beach toward us. As he got closer, we saw it was a NPS ranger so we waved and said hello. He said 'Didn't I see you by Cameron Pass?' It was the same ranger that checked on us when we were recovering from the storm up in the Olympics a week ago. Ranger Dave Turner - a great NPS guy!
Tomorrow, we hike 4 miles out to Ozette to get picked up before the rain hits.
Having reached the end of the Pacific Northwest Trail on Friday afternoon, we had a leisurely 4-mile walk east to the Ozette Ranger Station on Saturday. Our friend wouldn't be picking us up until 3pm, so we lounged around camp on the coast enjoying the calm, misty view of the tide working its way in and eating our extra food.
We finally packed up and headed inland. The trail was easy, well maintained, and very crowded with folks hiking to the coast for the day or weekend. Long sections of the trail are a cedar boardwalk, so that was fun but a bit slick in spots.
We got bored at the ranger station and decided to walk another 1/2 mile or so down the road to the Lost Resort. As we discovered, they have a well-stocked convenience store and eatery at resort prices. Plus, they have WiFi which we were allowed to use. Eating ice cream and drinking my first soda in a long time, we passed the time.
Our ride arrived around 3:45 and we were off. A quick stop in Forks to return the bear can we had rented from Forks Outfitters. Another 3+ hours to Hoaquim where we stopped for a Subway dinner. Finally arriving in Puyallup around 9pm. Bethany was a real trail angel, driving a long round trip to help get us home.
In Puyallup, we met Josh's friends and went to a hotdog bar - a restaurant that sells high-priced, fancy-named hotdogs. It was fun to meet them and visit awhile. As it was getting late, we made it to Karin's place where we'd spend the night. We got to sleep in a clean, dry shed in her backyard after taking showers.
Sunday was spent in airports and on planes. My wife picked us up at 6:30pm in Minneapolis and we had pizza at home for dinner. That was the end of the trip!
I lost about 17 pounds on our trek. Josh lost a lot, but less than that.
Our gear took a beating, but most of it had already seen many days and miles on trail. Both backpacks have rips and tears so they'll be replaced. My inflatable sleeping pad and pillow from ExPed both had internal baffles separate so they are unusable. My two pair of Darn Tough socks wore holes through them so I've returned them for free replacements - we'll see how that works out. Two of our four hiking poles broke, one snapping and one losing the tip. And, I threw my two t-shirts away - they weren't worn out, I was just tired of wearing them after 5 years. :-)
If you'd like more info about our trek and the Pacific Northwest Trail, I've updated my PNT Page with our trail journal, map track, gear, expenses, and other info.
Please feel free to ask about our trek, especially if you are planning a PNT thru-hike and have questions.
Just in time for cooler fall hikes and Christmas gifts, you can get Hiking Dude hand warmers!
Unlike iron powder hand warmers that get used once and tossed, you use these over and over for years. They get reset by sitting in a pot of hot water for a few minutes.
Watch the video below to see how fun they are to activate, watch the chemical reaction, and feel the heat. They heat to 130 degrees and last about 45 minutes to an hour. The best thing is that they contain sodium acetate and water - non-toxic stuff.
Buy handwarmers and get some free stickers, too.
Guess what all my relatives are getting in their stockings for Christmas this year. :-)
I bought two pair of Darn Tough Vermont socks for my AT section hike. They were pretty expensive ($17) but have a warranty that states they can be returned for free replacement whenever they wear out.
I'm tough on socks. Hiking 20-30 miles a day for two months in dust, dirt, sand, and rock tends to wear everything out. Sure enough, I wore holes through the bottom of all four socks this summer - but not until I'd worn them for over 1,500 miles. They lasted longer than three pairs of shoes!
For perspective, when the Darn Toughs wore out, I bought a pack of 4 pair of other socks and wore through all of them in the last 500 miles of my PNT trek.
When I returned from my PNT thru-hike, I sent back the Darn Tough socks and crossed my fingers, hoping the warranty was legit. The return postage was a couple dollars.
Well, sure enough, this week I just got a small package with two brand new pair of Darn Toughs and my feet have been skipping in comfort on my morning walks the last couple days! Nice padding on the bottom and no extra weight up the ankle.
If you are looking for durable, comfortable, light hiking socks with a great warranty that is fulfilled with no hassle, give Darn Tough Vermont a look. I like the 1/4 length ankle socks, but they've got a bunch of styles.
(I bought these socks and have received no compensation for posting my thoughts. I just really do like them.)
On the Pacific Northwest Trail this summer, I tried some different foods - some good, some not. Here's a few tidbits that might make your next trek more successful...
We did no cooking. This meant there was no stove, cook kit, fuel, or cleaning items to carry. Eating was much faster and easier and we could eat whenever wherever we wanted. This simplicity was a much bigger benefit to us than the cost of having no hot food. And, with the severe fire season, it was good to not have fire of any kind.
I historically have eaten a lot of chocolatey food on trail. At the start of this trek, chocolate just did not sound good to me so I wasn't eating enough. At our first resupply, I picked up some alternatives and here are some that worked great for me:
Tart and sour chewy candies were a huge hit! A bag of Sourpatch Kids was always in my sidepocket and we would each eat a few at most rest breaks. Again, that fruity, citrus taste was what I craved this trip.
- Jerky - I very seldom take jerky along but it tasted good this time around.
Little Debbie - We ate waaaaay too many Little Debbie desserts but I'm now quite an expert. Their cakes, muffins, and doughnuts squish too much, so don't take them. The brownies are dense and perfect for packing. The peanut cluster cookies are great, but the oatmeal cookies fall apart. Honey buns squish flat but taste good. Nutty Buddy bars are awesome! My favorite was the Cosmic Brownies and I still long for them off trail. :-)
Peanut Butter and Jelly - mixed in a plastic jar, this saved weight and the fruity jelly taste was just what I wanted.
- Fig Bars - Newtons are very expensive but off brands taste just as good. They are dense and once again have a fruit rather than chocolate flavor.
- Spicey Trail Mix - This was new to me. I found an off brand hot trail mix that was hot rather than sweet. I loved it!
- Summer Sausage - As a change from tuna, we split a small sausage on tortillas. They are heavy but have a lot of calories and packed just fine for days on end.
- Tortillas - In the past, I've used ritz-style crackers because they have a lot more calories per ounce than tortillas. But, tortillas pack a lot better, hold food better, and taste good.
If you have an ALDI store near you, or find one along the trail, I've found they are a perfect place to find backpacking food. Much of it is inexpensive and calorie-dense. Wal-mart is the next best place for this type of food.
To figure out how much food you need for a long trek,
I've got a food needs calculator that comes pretty close.
I've also loved Weird Al Jankovic's parodies for as long as I can remember. The lyrics are so creative! So, a throwback 18 years to 1999 and Al's 'The Saga Begins' song seems fitting today. (I just listened to it twice :-) )
The movie is supposed to release on December 15 (that's THIS Friday) - maybe I'll see you in line.
Until then, Hike On!
When you're hiking for two months, you're bound to encounter some strange things.
In eastern Washington, we had to take a very long (like 50 miles) detour due to wildfires. Along this reroute, while looking for a place to camp at the end of the day, we found this crazy tree. Yes, it's covered in hundreds of shoes, boots, slippers, all sorts of footwear.
For the next few days, we asked folks if they knew of it. Only a couple knew what we were talking about and they just said 'folks nail their old shoes to it', but they didn't know why.
Another strange thing we found were rocks painted yellow scattered in an alpine meadow on the very top of a mountain. The mountain is Bunker Hill in the Pasayten Wilderness in Washington. We found some old structure foundations on the hilltop also.
The meadow was dry, dead grass so I walked around the rocks and finally figured out what they were.
If you click the link below, I think you'll figure it out also.
Yes, they weren't actually scattered around. They were arranged.
One last strange thing I recall. For some reason, a person with a chainsaw cut a hole through this tree somewhere in Montana. The tree is still alive and seemingly healthy, but we could figure out no reason for this.
Do you have any explanation for that cut?
Or, what strange things have you seen on trail?
Josh and I will be presenting about our Pacific Northwest Trail hike at the upcoming Spring Outdoor Expo in Minneapolis, MN on April 28 at 11:45am.
See details HERE.
There are lots of other interesting talks to attend at the Expo. If you're in the area, it's a great way to spend the day.
Yesterday, we had a fun time talking about our PNT thru-hike to a standing room only crowd of about 70+ folks at the Midwest Mountaineering Expo. It was entertaining to remember and joke about things that happened along the trail.
One of the things that continues to pop into my mind often is the first day in Glacier when Josh fell off the trail. It makes for a great story now, but was about the scariest moment I can recall from all my miles on trail so far.
Traversing a steep snowfield, he slipped and slid for more than 50 feet to the rocks at the bottom. From my view above him, I only saw a cloud of ice crystals as he tried to dig in with his feet and hiking pole handles to slow down. Pretty helpless feeling, just standing there and watching him hurtle towards the end of the snow where it turned to rock.
When he hit the rocks at the bottom, the cloud of ice turned into a cloud of dust. I've hit rocks at the bottom of a glissade before, and it is very dangerous! Luckily, it was all smaller shale and not solid rocks and boulders so he skidded on it to a quick stop.
As you can see, he took a beating with lots of cuts on hands and legs, but nothing deep. I checked him out and all his joints and muscles still worked, and there was little bleeding, so we climbed back up to the trail past the snowfield.
A few weeks later, all the cuts were healed and scarred (which he still has) and they are a reminder of how a split-second can change a fun time into an emergency. Even being trained, cautious, and aware, accidents can still happen so you should have some wilderness first aid skills before going into the wilds.
Oh yeah, we're presenting about our PNT hike this Wednesday at our home church so that should be fun to see what our friends ask us about. :-)
Hey, last night we talked to a couple dozen people at our church about our PNT thru-hike, and it got recorded. So, if you have 45 minutes (or more) to spend, you can have a look.
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