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PCT 2019: Day 59, Windy Pass to Methow River

And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain?

Hike with Gravity

When I flipped to Washington, my first two days back on the trail were partly sunny. But after Ralph and I touched the northern terminus monument and headed south, clouds became increasingly darker and temperatures dropped a few degrees each day.

Dreary, rainy weather isn’t unexpected for the Northern Cascades. At least, we’ve been lucky that most of the rain has fallen at night.

Date
Weather Cloudy and foggy, becoming mostly cloudy with a high temperature in mid 60s
Trail Conditions Long climbs and descents, one descent with many switchbacks; overgrown sections with a few blowdowns
Today's Miles 20.6 miles
Trip Miles 782.5 miles

While I was home after finishing the desert, I purchased some repair tape, then set up the tent in my backyard to patch the holes I could see. There were several to patch. I also purchased a groundsheet to add an extra layer of protection to the floor.

I thought I took care of the problem and could extend the use of my tent for the rest of my hike. Seeing so much water leak into it a few nights ago, though, was worrisome.

I wasn’t just hoping I had sealed the tent when I repaired it. I may have been a little presumptuous about the weather. Many people have reported hiking the entire PCT while only seeing rain on two or three days.

It rained more than that on me just in the desert, so I should have known their experiences wouldn’t necessarily match mine.

The temperature this morning was a little cooler than the last few mornings.

Ralph and I were able to say good morning to Bounce Back and Super Glue just before they left camp. Then we talked to Erin and Rook a little while before they left.

We finally began hiking a few minutes before 7 a.m.

Clouds hung low over the mountain ridges. This didn’t obscure distant views so much as it added a fascinating atmospheric element.

Clouds appeared to be pouring from higher elevations into a valley, much like a whitewater river flows steeply down a mountain.

After walking about 45 minutes, we found Ka-Bar packing his gear and preparing to hike. He told us he was still having a problem with his toe.

Ralph told Ka-Bar if he was able to get to Hart’s Pass this morning, Ralph could drive him to town.

The rest of the way to Hart’s Pass was easy, with many wildflowers on both sides of the trail. We arrived sooner than expected at the spur trail to the parking lot where Ralph had left his truck.

He then drove to Hart’s Pass and I continued on the trail for the next 1.2 miles to get there. I only stopped briefly to collect and filter some water from a stream that crossed the trail.

Broken Toe was still camped at Hart’s Pass and was helping hikers, as he had been when we arrived there four days ago. Besides Ralph, other hikers there were Erin, Rook, Bounce Back, and Super Glue. I also met a hiker name Quinn, who didn’t yet have a trail name. Boogeyman arrived a few minutes later.

There had been rumors of crepes being offered as trail magic, but I may have been too late for that. Broken Toe only offered me tea and watermelon.

When Ralph and I started out four days ago, I left the food I needed for the rest of today and tomorrow in Ralph’s truck to lighten my load a little. Now I retrieved that food and put it in my pack.

Ralph would not be joining me for the rest of the day, but planned to meet me tomorrow after he moved his truck to Rainy Pass.

After checking with Broken Toe on snow conditions ahead, I left my microspikes in Ralph's truck. I didn’t carry them for the first four days, and decided they still weren't needed.

Everyone but Boogeyman was gone by the time I was ready to go. Leaving Hart’s Pass, the trail went up and over a couple ridges, and of course, past many wildflowers.

One variety I saw was called littleleaf miner’s lettuce or littleleaf montia. It definitely didn’t look like any lettuce I was familiar with.

The day was still gloomy, but the views and the flowers made the trail enjoyable.

The trail passed by some deep, wide valleys. The Methow River flowed in one of them, and the trail would eventually lead me down to it.

The trail was not difficult and I made good time. I caught up to Quinn, Rook, and Erin where they had stopped for lunch. Another hiker named Sailor was with them.

After everyone had left and I was preparing to leave, Boogeyman caught up.

By early afternoon, the trail began a long, descending route to the river. There were many switchbacks to make the descent more gradual. The trail dropped about 2,500 feet in the last 5.5 miles of the day.

I met a hiker named Moose while I was taking a short break. We then hiked together for part of the descent.

Farther down, the trail was horribly overgrown with shrubs and weeds, and was badly in need of maintenance. The vegetation was so thick I couldn’t see where I was putting my feet and tripped a few times on roots.

There were also some blowdowns in this section.

I saw Boogeyman again after crossing a creek. He was thinking of stopping for the day, but it was only 4 p.m., so I kept going.

When I was within the last mile before the river, the trail became noticeably fragrant. The forest smelled minty. I couldn’t identify one particular plant, however, that was causing this smell.

I arrived at Methow River at 5:25 p.m., about 30 minutes sooner than I expected. Despite being slowed down through the overgrown section, I made better time than I had estimated.

There were several tentsites on both sides of the river, but most hikers were camped on the south side of the bridge. Sailor, Erin, Rook, Super Glue, and Bounce Back were already there, and after setting up my tent I joined them for dinner. Another hiker named Allison also joined us.

Sailor said more rain was expected for tonight.

After hearing that, I pulled out my repair tape as soon as I crawled into my tent and looked for more holes to patch. Earlier, when I pitched it after arriving in camp, I also took extra care to make sure I placed it where water was less likely to collect underneath and soak through the floor.

I can’t stop the rain, so all I can do for now is try to keep it from coming into my tent.

If the problem doesn’t get any better, I will have to order a new tent, and that’s a chunk of money I’d rather not spend right now.

Long as I remember
The rain been comin' down
Clouds of mystery pourin'
Confusion on the ground
Good men through the ages
Tryin' to find the sun
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who'll stop the rain?

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