Leavenworth, WA (mile 2476)

Well Folks, Skeeter’s magical adventure of international intrigue and mystery is headed into the home stretch.  Starting in 9 days if everything goes right, I will be starting and ending every sentence, thought, and comment with the word, “eh.” That’s right, I will finally be in Canada!  Washington has been brutal.  The beginning started off rather easily with prodigious amounts of huckleberries, spectacular lupine covered ridge tops, and lilac scented alpine meadows.  The trek around Mt Adams was particularly beautiful.  The trail cork screwed around the elevation contours with an entwining series of waterfalls and boulder fields.  I had a long lunch admiring the beauty of Mt Adams with  its huge glaciers and very difficult looking terrain.  The following day the weather turned cold, wet, and ominous.  I had some adrenaline flowing as I traversed over the Goat Rocks’ Knife Edge.  It is a highly exposed, 5 mile long, volcanic rock top where I was bombarded by ice, sub-freezing temps, and 65 mph gusts!  I was literally knocked down twice and our group only managed 7 miles that day. I watched as the 95 lb Steady lost her hat and pack cover within the span of seconds as she perilously crawled down a couple of sections.  My tent rain fly was covered in a thin sheet of ice the following morning and my trusty bidet was frozen solid. Nothing says “good morning” as a series of snow covered fern leaves after my daily constitution.   Steady reported a temperature of 19 degrees F and a forecast of cold temps the following day.  Since then, the temperature has warmed up and the hiking has gained at least 3000 ft of tiring vertical elevation per day and a constant up and down rhythm in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  It has reminded me of the same difficult section of Maine at the end of the AT.  There are also a bunch of new wildfires that started from the storm that hit us on the Goat Rocks.  Most of my pictures taken have all been a bit obscured by the constant hanging bank of smoke giving them a sepia tone.  I also finally saw my first bear yesterday!  It didn’t see me at first as I watched it about 50 meters away rock hopping up a boulder scree.  It is quite amazing how adroit and nimble these huge beasts can move.  I never had to make any noise and soon he was out of sight undoubtedly in search of more berries.  Speaking of berries, as much as I love them; I have had to stop consuming them.  It seems that my stomach has found them a bit disagreeable.  I can still have a few but have had to curb my intake from the container of peanut butter full of them that I was eating a day. The next week forecast calls for warm, partly sunny, and pleasant weather with rain coming around the 28th.  If I can get through this hike with just 2 days of rain in Washington at the end; I will be very pleased.  I will have Siva’s micro spikes ready for the last 4 days if the weather does turn but will probably not need them.  I have one more town resupply in a very remote and insular town called Stehekin before the last 80 miles. I will be on day ten or eleven without showering by that time. I already feel bad for the poor sap that has to sit next to me for the 3.5 hour bus ride into Vancouver, BC.  My next entry will be the last as I hope to post a series of “after” pictures from the northern terminus.  Talk to you all later, eh.  -Skeeter

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