My friend Sam is thru-hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail this summer, a 1,200 mile trek from the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park to the Pacific Ocean. I mentioned Sam on this blog once before, when he thru-hiked Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail back in 2005.
This trip is a serious undertaking. Sam started walking on June 21 and doesn’t expect to finish until late August or early September. So far, he’s been traveling up to 20 miles a day. He’s sent two e-mail updates so far, and it sounds like it’s been a great hike, though not without its challenges. He gave me the go-ahead to repost some of his thoughts here, so I’ll let him speak for himself:
The snow that plagued my weary ankles in the high country of Western Montana and into Idaho is gone in all but the smallest little patches now. With the disappearance of the snow will also come the disappearance of some of the small snow-melt creeks which made stocking up on water so easy. I’ll have to pay close attention to “tanking up” with water when the chance arises and have made notes in my trail guides as to where the best water resources are in the upcoming miles.
I’m now in the sere brown hills of Eastern Washington which albeit not the tremendous peaks and valleys of Montana’s Rocky Mountains or Idaho’s Selkirks still hold their own in elevation gain/loss (especially compared with my homeland of Minnesota). The area I am about to embark into is not as highly developed from a recreational standpoint so more of my immediate travels will be on Forest Service roads than on trails. The roads provide good grade and level walking and typically are closed to vehicular traffic so they still provide for quality walking.
I’ve seen some diverse landscapes, from the rocky balds and snow packed heights of Boulder Pass in Glacier National Park to the old growth cedar forests, complete with trees in excess of eight feet in diameter of the Salmo Priest Wilderness. Next is the drier hills of Easter Washington’s Kettle Crest with the deep canyons of the Paysaten Wilderness and the lush expanses of North Cascades National Park to follow. Alas, I get ahead of myself. I’ve much country to explore in Colville and Okanagan National Forests first and you’ll hear from me again mid-exploration of those lands.
Tomorrow morning I set off with eight days of food in search of Bonaparte Lake Resort (NE of Tonasket, WA) where I’ll pick up three more days supplies for a quick jaunt up to Oroville, WA.
A note on his method: Sam is a subscriber to the ultralight-hiking philosophy and counts every gram he carries and wears. For nine days of hiking (his standard interval between food resupplies) his entire “skin out” weight (everything) is a scant 36 lbs, 15.92 oz. As an example of the lengths he goes to to cut weight, rather than a tent, Sam uses a simple homemade tarp that uses his two trekking poles for support.