Day 127: Sunday, September 8

Cowboying near an unnamed stream (PCT mi 2350.3), walked 29.3 miles today, plus at least a mile when I got lost

It was far too chilly to get out of my sleeping bag promptly this morning, but I persevered and left camp by 7:15. Within two minutes I had a completely unobstructed view, not even a cloud, of Mt. Rainier ... Kept seeing it throughout the day but by the afternoon all its upper reaches were shrouded. Got the eleven miles to Chinook Pass done without a break ... In the last mile before the road there were insane numbers of day-hikers, and one group of them pointed out a mountain goat to me and Hooligan as a tiny speck way up on a hillside that I would never have spotted in a million years on my own. I stopped for a break at the rest area by the highway and Hooligan pushed on, never to be seen again.

Things slowed a bit after that, as I had many conversations with day hikers for the rest of the afternoon. In one of them I discovered I was talking to the half-brother of a Carleton friend with whom I will probably be staying in Seattle on the drive back from Manning Park in 2-ish weeks. Talked to two different friendly hunters, an old fellow on a short overnighter who knew all about the thru-hiking business, and maybe a half-dozen other groups of people. After talking to the group with Beth's half-brother in it, I got lost when the trail made a 180-degree branching turn that was marked by a tiny knee-high rock-colored sign that faced away from northbounders. Discovered my mistake 10 minutes later after a lot of very steep elevation loss (why can't I ever make mistakes in a flat area? See my exit from Belden.) This plus all the human interaction meant that I was well behind the pace I had been planning on, so I revised my ending goal to this spring/stream area. Got cell reception at one point and received a text from Matan, saying that he, Bow and Gangster all finished together two days ago and were at Bow's house in Olympia ... This warmed the cockles of my heart significantly.

After a really pleasant late afternoon of walking through super-green, often exposed terrain--the only unpleasant thing being the trail tread itself, which had gotten broken up and sometimes washed out altogether by the rain two days ago--I got here at 7:45, which is almost dark these days, especially in dense forest. No one's around, and I only met two other thru-hikers besides Hooligan today. Tomorrow's another long push, as I'm trying to get to Snoqualmie Pass by the middle of the day Tuesday, as that will increase the chances of getting to hang out with a Eugene friend who will be in the area then.