Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Kristen and I just came from a 4 mile walk with the dogs at her parent's place. Yes we still seem to be o.k. with walking to places, although we originally said to ourselves that after the hike we take either the car or our helicopter to get to places. We are not fed up with walking but if someone tells me that something is " within a walking distance", I might ask him or her to specify.
So, on September 29th 2011 we finished our Pacific Crest Trail thru hike, 2655 miles (4272 km)
of hiking is behind us. We started from the border of Mexico on April 29th and walked to Canada without skipping a mile of it. It took us 5 months to do it, I wish I could find the right words to describe how it was to walk those miles. I can only say, it is a lot of walking. When we humans have something on our mind that needs some digesting we usually go for a walk to clear our thoughts, well imagine how much you can digest and think about when you're walking for 5 months. Enough of that, let's go back in time to when we were getting back to trail after resting for a couple of days in Kristen's hometown Bend, Oregon.
Kristen's dad, Gary a.k.a Mango a.k.a Mr Magoo, gave us a ride back to the trail and we stopped at Sister's Bakery to do some more calories. We got a full bag of pastries that we ate before starting to hike again. It was weird getting back on the trail after 3 days of not hiking. We spent those 3 days eating and eating some more.
By that time we had only about 650 miles to go, It's a lot of miles but it feels like a walk in the park after walking for 2000 miles. Well it wasn't quite that. The day we got back on the trail was nasty, cold and small amount of rain. The rain wasn't too bad but the clouds prevented us from seeing Mt Jefferson. We decided to set us some small goals along the way, the first goal was to get to the Timberline Lodge's famous breakfast buffet. We had 100 miles to go to get there and we made it in 3 days and camped close to the lodge to hit the buffet in the morning. Oh boy did we do some damage there, there we met a lot of hikers we knew. Everyone timed their hiking pace to make it there for buffet, 10 hikers in a buffet equals to 200 rugby players. We can eat.
After stuffing ourselves with amazing food we started heading towards Cascade Locks to make it to annual PCT Trail Days in there. On our way there we camped on top of a small mountain and that night a lot of ash landed on our tent and we could smell smoke really bad. We slept bad and both of us were really nervous. We knew that there was a forest fire burning nearby but far enough from us, but the strong wind that night changed the situation. The next day we learned that we were the last ones to go through and that they had to close that section of the trail and the hikers behind us had to road walk that or figure out a different route. We got lucky. The Trail Days were a lot of fun, we got to see hikers that we've seen 4 months ago. It was really nice to run into Chris a.k.a Roadrunner a.k.a Robert Goulet. We also met our friend Cat Dog who's a trail angel from Bend, the 3 of us had dinner and we told her about our adventures.
After the Trail Days we got back on the trail and crossed The Bridge of the Gods to enter a new state, Washington! The last 500 miles had begun. We met our hiking friends Debra a.k.a TopsyTurvy and Colin a.k.a Datamuffin. I'm thinking about changing my name to Colin Stryker because he keeps bragging that he is the only one with that name in States, well not for long!
The 4 of us get along well because we all shared a retarded sense of humor. We made a plan to hike Washington together, and we did. I'm sure they wanted to push me off a cliff hundred times but they stuck with me. Maybe it's because of my beautiful legs and divine facial hair that made it all worth it. The first 4 days of Washington were a lot of up and down and not so rewarding with the views, the weather was hot and it made us think that we'll never get rained on in Washington. We were idiots to think so, idiots I tell you! That section ended in gorgeous Goat Rocks area before getting to White Pass. There was a lot of day and weekend hikers in that area, there we noticed the difference between us and them. Uphills didn't seem to bother or make us go slower, even the steepest ones. Our fellow hiker named Happymeal was created in a lab, he is half mountain goat half marathon runner on steroids. When he was hiking an uphill it was almost like he was on an escalator that has jet engine motor on it. Happy Meal is coming to Helsinki in end of October so if you see someone flying up the hill of Linnanmaki don't disturb him.
At White Pass we got our resupply boxes at a Chevron station, we ended up spending 5 hours there. You can imagine what it's like hanging out in gas station for 5 hours snacking on gas station food. Kristen and I picked up 4 cans of hard lemonade/beer for TopsyTurvy's on coming birthday. We each carried 2 cans for the next 3 days, that doesn't sound much but I can tell you we notice the difference in weight. The 3rd day 2 hours before camping and starting Topsy's birthday celebration my can of Guinness exploded into my backpack soaking our sleeping quilt and my cloth bag with Guinness, a lot of not so beautiful finnish words came out of my mouth. I was not a happy camper. 2 freaking hours before making it! We both were really happy to carry those cans for our friend's birthday but I also would have wanted to enjoy that beer by drinking it, not by smelling it for the next few days. I have to say though that I felt extremely manly smelling like Guinness on the trail. The views on the trail were getting beautiful going north towards Snoqualmie, the day before getting there it rained on us and soaked us so were happy to get to a motel in Snoqualmie and dry our gear and reluctantly I washed the smell of Guinness out of our sleeping quilt.
The next section from Snoqualmie to Skykomish was about 4 days of hiking and 2 of them it rained on us. The first days were filled with spectacular views, we also ran into mountain goats on the trail. I added a video on this post of a mountain goat family we met. The speed they were running up that hill after seeing me made me consider about starting to carry a deodorant from there on. I decided not to, it kept the bears in a distance. On this section we started learning how bad Washington rains can be, it rains all day and at the end of the day you don't get to go a warm shower at home. You pitch the tent in rain and you wake up the next day to the rain. After 2 days everything you have with you is soaked. By the time we got to Skykomish the weather was getting nicer and we were able to hitchhike there in sunshine. After getting a ride we were hanging out at the local deli eating burritos and milkshake like the world was ending in an hour. Then Jerry Dinsmore, a local trail angel picked us up and took us home where we were able to dry our gear and enjoy watching movies with fellow hikers. Thank you so much Dinsmores!
The next section from Skykomish to Stehekin we got to enjoy a beautiful weather and the views were magnificent! A lot of climbing but we got rewarded with stunning mountain vistas and the wild flowers were blooming creating a "Sound of Music" kind of setting to the mountain tops.
Getting closer to Stehekin we came up to Suiattle river, the river was running strong and looked extremely dangerous to cross. Luckily there was a log that went over the river, we ate snack and I crossed the log first while Kristen was taking pictures and filming me crossing it. After getting to the other side I turned around to yell Kristen that it was ok to cross I saw a big black bear 30 feet ( 10 meters) behind her walking towards her! I started yelling stuff in finnish again and she had hard time hearing me because of the roaring river. Finally I calmed down and yelled " Bear! There's a bear behind you, get on that log!!" She replied " Ville Jokinen! That is not funny!" I told her that I wasn't kidding and she got on that log like it was made out of chocolate. By that time the bear had heard me yelling and dancing like a monkey on crack and had turned back and was slowly running back to the woods. Crikey! Later we figured out that the bear hadn't seen her because she had dropped down already from the river bank and was almost at the log. Looking back at it we laugh but at that moment I almost pooped my pants, almost.
Stehekin was awesome! There's only 80 residents living there year round. You can't get there by car, only by boat, float plane or by ... hiking there. The bakery was all that we had heard, we spent $ 40 in 5 minutes on pastries. The day we got there was so beautiful that we spent a lot of time swimming and sunbathing on the lake. We all were in a good mood because we knew that we had only 80 miles to go, the only thing concerning us was the weather. The day we left it was pouring rain on us the whole day and soaked us completely. 5 minutes before camping we saw another bear on the trail that ran away fast after seeing us, it made us worry about our food. We set our food bags close to tent that night to hear if the bear was getting closer to them. Banging the pot usually gets them go away. That night our problem was a mouse that kept us up all night, I hit the tent wall every time I heard it walking near food bags. That worked well until I finally fell a sleep and in the morning I found out that it had chewed a hole on my food bag. The weather was rainy and snowed on us for the first 2 days and the last 2 days were nice but cold. In the mornings we had to put frozen socks and shoes on walk them warm. The last day we woke up with butterflies in our stomachs, we knew we had to do only 14 miles and then we'd be done! Those 14 miles we were basically running and on the last mile we were constantly thinking is moment going to be behind that corner or maybe behind that corner or... and finally there it was! Getting there was a very emotional moment, after walking 2655 miles and... then you're done. I spent some time with Kristen at the monument and then our friends Topsy and Data got there and we all celebrated with creative drinks and took about 200 photos of the monument and us just to make sure that we can prove that we actually got there. After partying like animals we still had to hike 9 miles to Manning Park, Canada. We spent the night there in a hotel and the next day Kristen's mom and dad came to pick us up. It was really nice of them to do that 12 hour drive to collect some bums out of British Columbia, we drove from there straight to Seattle and only one of us in the car got hassled by the border agents. I won't say names but that person is from a Scandinavian country with a facial hair of a homeless Santa Claus. In Seattle we ate dinner and waited for the traffic to get better until driving to Portland and spending a night there.
The next day we got to Bend, and that's where we are right now. We might go back to the trail to see one of our friends who is hiking in Oregon right now but we won't be doing any 35 mile days anymore. Those crazy days are over! We were young and dumb back then.
The trail is over and in the books but stay tuned because we are going to tell a little about the gear that we used because a lot of people have asked about them. Keep on keeping on!