Day Eight
Big Mosquito Lake to White Salmon River Springs

15 miles

Summary: A long stretch of woodland walks takes you to Forest Road 23, where some PCT through hikers use to hitchhike to Trout Lake. At this point I switched hiking parties, continuing on with three others for about three more miles toward the slopes of Mt. Adams.

This was perhaps my longest day for miles, yet it sure didn't feel like it. This was due the the rendezvous in the middle of the day, and in part to the lightness of our backpacks. We got up relatively early. As we were breaking camp, Tyson walked passed our site and we invited him to take a look. He thought it was pretty sweet and said so. Then we told him that we were meeting three other people near Forest Road 23. Since he was a speedy through hiker, he'd probably meet them first. So I described them: Chuck is tall with dark hair and a moustache, Kevin is tall and thin and balding, Beth is short with long brown hair. Tyson said he'd let them know we were doing fine and coming soon. It seemed that we were using the trail telegraph to our advantage.

I was eager to get going since I told them that we hoped to be at the rendezvous around noon. This was the first time the entire trip that I looked at a $2 watch I had stowed in my backpack. It read 8:30 a.m.--later than I thought. We needed to hustle.

This was a day with three logging road crossings before we got to the rendezvous point. The first, Road 88, offered a directly view of Mt. Adams. Though slightly covered in clouds, it loomed like a giant at the end of the road. I was amazed that we really had walked all that way in a week--from the gorge to the rendezvous totals more than 82 miles. At the next road we came to, we found nothing but a long swath of rocks. No vehicle could have possiblity traveled on it. Rick thought it was an old firebreak. I wasn't sure what it had been used for.

We continued on and found Tyson at the side of the next road having his lunch. "Hey, you guys are really traveling for section hikers," he told us. "Well," I said, "we have some people to meet and we're getting fresh food for lunch!"

We crossed the last logging road before the rendezvous and I thought to myself that we are almost there. I hadn't checked the map very well, however, and there were three more miles of forest walk. At one point we found a huge Western cedar right near the trail. Rick pulled out his digital camera and we each took shots of the other holding his arms horizontal, with the width of the tree exceeding even these outstretched arms.

This huge Western cedar was right by the trail.

At last we came to Road 23. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I knew that the actual trailhead was almost a mile ahead, since Chuck, Beth and I had scoped out the rendezvous a month in advance. But all I told Rick was, "It won't be long now." At first I blazed a path and left Rick in the dust. But then I thought that I had shared a week on the trail with my buddy, was it fair to suddenly rush ahead at the very end of the trip?

Rick stands at the endpoint where the PCT crosses Road 23.

So I stopped and waited for him to catch up. It was shortly after 1 p.m. when the trailhead parking lot came into view. There was my Subaru, covered with road dust. The editors were here!

We started walking down the PCT further, still carrying our packs, when Chuck and Beth came down the trail. They were excited to see us and amazed that we had arrived only 10 minutes after they did. It was astonishing that Rick and I had traveled 82 miles in eight days and managed to meet our connection just 10 minutes after the had arrived at the trailhead.

I tried to hug Beth, who cringed at this dirty, smelly hiker who wanted to embrace her. They continued back to the car to get a cooler and lunch. We continued on to a potential hiking spot by a creek only a few 100 yards from the parking lot, where we met up with Kevin. I looked so foreign at first that Kevin didn't recognize me!

The cousins celebrate 82 miles in eight days.

A toast to the first week on the trail. Could the second week match it?

I only had four pictures left on the disposable, and Beth took several of Rick and I celebrating our week on the PCT. Then it was beer, fresh grapes, fried chicken, brownies and other goodies. We were gorging ourselved when suddenly Tyson came down the trail. Rick and I invited him over and before we could introduce him, he looked at the three editors and correctly remember their names. They were astonished at first until we let them in on how we had prompted him that morning to send a message ahead on the trail. Tyson then snapped a shot of all us--particularly important for me as I said good-bye to Rick and hello to my next week's hiking contingent.

The PCT hikers: Left to right, Rick Race, Kevin Cool, Tom Griffin, Chuck Luce and Beth Luce. Photo by Tyson Fisher.

We chatted and then Rick washed himself in the creek. I went back to the car to clean up and resupply from a bag I had left at Beth and Chuck's house. I even shaved with my electric razor. Beth told me how horrible the Mariners were doing, how Bush had to ask for more money for Iraq, and that the weather reports predicted rain starting on Sunday (Day Nine).

With this report confirming Treebeard's news, I said we should try to hike a little in the afternoon while the weather was still good. Kevin, Beth and Chuck jumped at the idea. They wanted to hit the trail but were worried that I would already be too tired. "Nah," I said. "My pack was light today and after eight days of hiking, I feel like I am in great shape."

So I bid Rick a fond farewell and told him how much I am going to miss him. He said he wished he could continue on, but his family was waiting for him in Virginia. I crammed the new food and fresh clothes into my pack. We shook hands, and then we were off.

Day Eight-Part Two
Day Nine
Day Ten
Day Eleven
Day Twelve
Day Thirteen
Day Fourteen
Day Fifteen
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