August 19, 2016 - I woke up in the middle of the night to pee and the sky looked somewhat clear and could see off in the distance the glowing of the fire. I also noticed the wind had started to pick up towards me which I knew couldn’t be good.
I woke up and looked across the valley to where I’ll be hiking and the area was full of smoke. It didn’t seem so bad as I went to bed but I guess the wind caused all the smoke to head into the valley. I was having 2nd thoughts about moving on but I decided to continue hiking until someone tells me to stop or if I ran into the fire.
I head down into the valley. I’m trying to do my best to move as fast as possible but I had a feeling that if I could get in and out of the valley I would be gone. Since I was in such a rush I ended up heading my head pretty good on a tree hang over. I probably got a concussion from that but I didn’t care, kept moving. After that it was smooth sailing down to the bottom as the trail wasn’t too bad, better than what I was told. I made good time and the closer to the bottom the better the trail.
I got to a trail junction after 4 miles of hiking. The old PCT heads straight to the creek, cutting off 5 miles of new trail. I was hoping to get through this section as fast as possible in case the fire headed this way. I stood at this junction for awhile, couldn’t make up my mind. Cutting off 5 miles would save lots of time but the only problem was the bridge on the old trail had washed out and could be a tough ford, also silky water so no telling how deep. Also the trail isn’t maintained anymore so it could be slow moving. So I figured they safe and smart thing would be to take the new way. I had already gambled once today on moving on without knowing the status of the fire.
The trail basically paralleled the river, it was a nice hike through the forest of huge trees. It would have been a very enjoyable hike if not for the rush to get away from the fire because the smoke was pretty bad and was kind of hard to breath at times.
I got to the new bridge and looked at the river and it was moving fast, no way I could ford it. If it was like that up trail don’t think I could have crossed, so I felt I made the right decision. Had I been with another hiker I probably would have taken the old trail. Plus I found a trail junction to a nearby road so I now had an exit point if I ran into fire.
Once across the bridge I had 3,000ft climb over 12 miles, so very gradual. I was flying up it, again wanted to get to the top as fast as possible. I ran into some southbounders and they said the sky was clear to where I was heading and no PCT trail closures, just a few side trails had been closed. I was pretty happy to hear that but still wanted to get to the top quickly.
At the top I ran into some section hikers. Talked about the fire with them and they had talked to a ranger about it as well and said it wasn’t an issue for the PCT. They gave me some of their extra food and I was off down to the smoke free valley, hiking in that smoke earlier probable wasn’t the best on my lungs.
It was basically all downhill to camp, kind of boring.
Tomorrow I’ll head into Stehekin to pick up my last resupply box. I gotta be there by 9am to make sure I get the first bus into town so I make it to the post office before it closes.