Day 138: Trout Lake, Washington

Fri. 9/6/13
13.3 miles (Miles 2213.9 – 2227.2)
Blue Lake – Rd. 8851


A stream that wouldn't normally be a stream.

Well, it never stopped raining last night. It poured down hard the whole time. I woke up a couple of times to drips on my face, so I’d turn on my headlamp and soak up the trickles I could see on the inside off the tent with my bandana, then fall back asleep. At 6am I saw Tears’ headlamp moving around through my tent walls, but the rain was still so loud coming down that we couldn’t hear each other talk if we tried. I sat up, got dressed, and quickly realized that I had to go to the bathroom really bad! I refused to get out and get wet just to jump back in again, so I held it. I chowed down my cold oatmeal and mini pie in record time, packed as much as I could into my backpack, put on my sopping-wet socks and shoes, wet rain jacket, and ducked out into the downpour. I pulled my pack out and set it on the wet ground and packed up my tent as quick as I could. It was so wet anyway, I don’t really know why I hurried. Oh yeah… I had to pee! I finally went after all my gear and what felt like 10 pounds of extra water were stowed away in my pack.

Well, we weren’t going to go thirsty today! Besides all the new swollen streams crossing the trail and the places where our trail became its own stream, we could’ve rung out our tents and drank that if we had to… or just set a cup out for a bit since it was still coming down.

Pretty dramatic, huh? It really did rain a lot. I was dealing with it really well, still. I was determined to get through this without being a grump. We later found out that the area we were in got more rain in these two days than the last two months of September combined! I was a little relieved to hear that, actually… so it was dramatic – not just me!

I wish I had more photos to share from today. There were tons of things I wanted to capture, but I had to tuck my phone away to keep it from getting too wet. I really wish this darn thing was waterproof.

Tears and I discussed a loose plan as we hiked. We were wet, and we started getting chilled, too, so we only stopped when we had to go to the bathroom. We ate a couple of snacks as we walked, but that proved to be a challenge because our fingers were so cold that they weren’t working. It was almost impossible to open our Snickers wrappers! We found a bunch of stuff like this to laugh about, so that kept our spirits up. We decided if we got too cold, we’d just call it a day and hunker down somewhere in our damp tents until tomorrow.

That’s when a series of events happened to land us in Trout Lake, Washington, also now known to me as one of the best trail towns on the PCT. Being an unplanned stop to make me go from very uncomfortable to very comfortable helps that ranking significantly, but all the people here are trail angels (and not just for us). That solidified it.

First, we came to a dirt road where a Jeep was going by. I looked at Tears and asked what she thought about bailing from our misery and trying to get a hitch. She was all for it. Aloha was in Bend with PRT, a three-hour drive away, and we didn’t have cell service anyway, I’m sure, so a pick up from him was out. The Jeep that drove past didn’t stop. We would’ve gotten too cold standing around hoping for someone else to drive by, so we hiked on, back into the rainy woods.

Then we came out to a one-lane paved road. I stood there, in the rain with a pouty smile at Tears as if to say, “I think we’re outta’ luck.” That’s when we heard a vehicle! I stuck out my thumb and they stopped! It was two elk hunters. They couldn’t bring us all the way to town, but they could bring us to an intersection where it would be easier to get a ride in. Awesome! We jumped in the back of their pickup, and when we got to the next spot, they were already thinking up a plan to get us to town. The driver even offered to let us sit in the truck to warm up while we waited!

Just then, four people came out of the woods from checking out a waterfall. I walked over and asked them if they were heading toward Trout Lake and if they wouldn’t mind giving a couple of cold, wet backpackers a ride. They said sure! We were okay riding in the back, but they insisted we sit our shivery selves inside, even though we were dripping wet. They were discussing all the options of places we might stay in town and where to drop us off – after they were sure we were set. They brought us to the general store first. One of them knew the store owner and walked us in.

We were being quickly handed from angel to angel. The store owner was on the phone when we showed up – arranging rides for other hikers caught in the storm, and calling local residents to see if they might host us because all of the rooms in town where booked solid because of a wedding – it’s an adorable tiny little town, too, so there already weren’t a ton of lodging options to start with.

Gerry was in the store when we showed up. He offered to let us stay at his house. He made us hot coffee first thing. Then we took hot showers. Then he had us put our wet clothes in the laundry. Then he started up the wood stove in his shed and rigged up a line so we could dry out our soaked gear. Then he drove us around town and told us where the good spots were. Then he handed us keys to his truck so we could get there and eat and go to Cuddles cello concert (!).

We chatted with some other hikers that were hanging around the Chevron/cafe (including Manchurian who we haven’t seen in a long time!), we ate a scone, then head to a restaurant where we met back up with Gerry for a delicious steak (I got that protein-loaded steak, mom! Just like you ordered!), and then to the cello concert (where we saw Fun Size, another hiker we haven’t seen in a long time!). So many people from town were there, and they were all so excited about so many hikers being in town! And quite a few had hikers staying in their homes. I am just overwhelmed, once again, with the kindness of strangers.

Oh – and of course, Cuddles was amazing on his cello, and we got to see his wife play violin with him! It was amazing – and awesome to finally meet Emma!

So I know that’s a long entry about a series of events with no pictures, but I could’ve said so much more… this was a great stop, and I’m SO glad we made the decision to come here. We’ll get back on the trail in the morning, dry. We’ll sleep tonight, dry. Thank you, Gerry and the amazing little town of Trout Lake. I’d say I’m speechless… but I’m not. I could say thank-you a hundred times more.

Tonight I love the people of Trout Lake… and being dry.


Steak dinner. Proof I took my mom's good advice. :)

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)


3 thoughts on “Day 138: Trout Lake, Washington

  1. The huckleberry shake at the Chevron complex is not too shabby–hope you get one somewhere along the trail.

    It was a really unusual amount and timing of rain. However Washington does tend to get random moisture as the fall sets in–we northwesterners develop extra gear requirements to avoid getting frozen out. Northern Cascades in Washington during Sep/Oct can be a tough test for ultralight backpacking.

  2. I’m so glad you were able to get dry and have such wonderful hospitality. I was worried about all you PCT hikers after that torrential storm. I heard it was the remnants of a typhoon! But bright sunny warm skies are ahead. You are going to love Washington!

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