tiffany's pct journal

Washington Section L: Canadian Border to Highway 20 (Rainy Pass) - Part II.

Days: 5 - 6.
Dates: July 8 - 9.
Trail mileage: 30.6 - 61.5.
Distance: 30.9 miles.

That first day hiking alone was hard. It was some grueling climbing that day, and I felt some serious loneliness. I saw other hikers on trail, but I felt very small, hiking alone for the first time on the PCT, knowing I had a couple thousand miles ahead of me.

view from the trail
Painful climbs made easier with these views

Not only that, but it had rained previously, and all the vegetation was covered in water. This section was covered in overgrown sections of trail, and apparently I was one of the first to hike through the overgrowth since it rained earlier, so walking through it knocked all of the water onto my shoes. My shoes and socks were soaked the entire day.

When I reached the bottom of a large descent, and was preparing to start a long climb, I broke down crying. Everything felt so overwhelming: the loneliness, the amount of trail I had left, the climb coming up, the weight of my pack, even the vastness of the wildneress…

view from the trail
The huge mountains around me made me feel very, very small

I felt a lot better after the cry.

I decided to set up camp earlier than I had planned. There were a couple other tents set up there at this large campsite, but we all stayed in our tents as it was raining. I went to sleep that night feeling very alone and small.

view from the trail
Gloomy days reflected my gloomy mood

The next day, I planned to make it to Rainy Pass, and camp as close as possible to the North Cascades National Park boundary without crossing it. This is a 17-mile section we're not allowed to camp in without an additional permit, so most PCT hikers just hike straight through it.

the One At A Time Bridge
It's called the One At A Time Bridge, because it's rickety AF

When I was a few miles out from Rainy Pass, I decided to take my shoes and socks off to air out my feet on a nice rock with a gorgeous view. As I was putting my shoes and socks back on, another SOBO hiker walked up to me and said hello.

My first trail friend! Oli and I started chatting and hiking together, and ended up hiking all the way to Rainy Pass together. It wasn't until we reached Rainy Pass that I realized we had never even asked for the other person's name.

When we walked reached Rainy Pass, we saw a tiny northern terminus monument someone had made, presumably left from 2018 (the previous year), when the northernmost stretch of the PCT was closed due to fires. I'm glad that the NOBO hikers who couldn't make it to the terminus because of this closure in 2018 were still able to sort of get a photo with the monument.

tiny northern terminus monument near Rainy Pass
Tiny northern terminus monument near Rainy Pass for NOBO hikers who had to stop here due to 2018 fires

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