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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Monster, New Friends, Still Mosquitoes

Day 28 7/10
Mileage 12
Camped on the trail by White Pass

Today began as mosquito-y as yesterday ended. Only after the heat of hiking in our rain clothes became unbearable did we stop and change, lathering up in DEET. The snow got patchier and eventually disappeared as we made our way down to White Pass. Hooray! The woman working at the Kracker Barrel store had the patience of a saint as we collected out boxes, repacked our packs, and proceeded to loiter for a good four hours. As we ate, people came by and offered us cold beers, apple turnovers, and an only slightly dropped pizza pocket, all of which were consumed with gusto and gratitude. This stop really amazed me by the support we've been receiving from all sides, not just from other hikers. But, speaking of other hikers, we met Jenny, Sammi, and Danielle, three young women who were beginning the first of their series of section hikes at White Pass today. They were superb company. We also met Pants on Fire and Bless, a couple finishing their thru hike from last year, which had to be curtailed due to snow. We all hung out for a while, talking about hiker stuff, and made our way to the trailhead. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. As if someone has flipped a switch, the skeeters immediately returned in full force. Our planned campsite was already occupied, so we continued until we found a decently flat spot to set up camp. We pitched our tents, all of us exhausted, hot, and tired of mosquitoes. I felt sloppy and disorganized in camp. Mosquitoes really take your full attention to the exclusion of everything else. Somehow, I made it into my tent, ridded it of mosquitoes, and I can finally exhale. Before I forget, there was definitely a monster in the woods last night. Kyle's Audubon society app confirms this. It was probably just an elk making elk noises, but it sounded a lot more like a monster. We hope to hike to a less mosquito-filled site tomorrow and zero there to prepare for the upcoming Goat Rocks wilderness. The snow reports have left me optimistic, but we'll see soon enough. At the very least, the mosquitoes will abate as we ascend. Our final leg of Washington is here! It will definitely be the most challenging, but once we get through here, things will be easier until (probably) the end. It will be a huge relief to not have to continue worrying about trail conditions, to not have any foreseeable sketchiness ahead. Cascade Locks has become like a beacon for me. Oregon! So soon! I also realized with a shock today that I've already done 10% of my total mileage! It's unbelievable how the days blur together and miles get done. I still don't feel like we're into the meat of the hike yet. I expect this will happen a few resupplies after Cascade Locks, when the group's back together and we've found our rhythm, and we don't have any major obstacles or weather conditions disrupting our flow. This has already been far and away my longest backpacking trip ever, and to not feel like I'm too far into it yet is encouraging. I think I mentally prepared well for the scope of the hiker, and I hope this means I don't realize halfway through how long this is really going to take and become overwhelmed. Anyway, it's after 9pm and I need to be awake in a mere 11.5 hours, so I best be off. Goodnight, mosquitoes. 

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