Saturday, July 29, 2017
“What a fantastic f&$@ing day.”
That’s the last thing I wrote in my journal for the day, and pretty much sums it up in one sentence. I already love this hike and I’ve only done one day!
We woke up in our hotel in Tacoma early after about five hours of sleep. Eh, that’s enough! Before we left and I forgot in the excitement of the day, Adam tore the tightly-locked lids off of my green food cache buckets so I could add my precious pork rinds and pistachios that I forgot to put in there! Then I generously duct taped the lids back on. “It’ll work,” I thought.
We swung through a Starbucks so I could get one last delicious cappuccino made with heavy whipping cream before I hit the woods for nine days. I can’t think of a better breakfast! I also ate an avocado, so I was full and ready to go by the time we arrived at Longmire.
I spread out my gear on a picnic table one last time just to be sure I had everything, and with 3-days of food and 40oz. of water my pack weighed about 25lbs. I conveniently accidentally brought my luggage scale (seriously, it was packed in a stuff sack inside my backpack – I’m just glad I noticed it and didn’t carry it needlessly for 93 miles!) I repacked my pack and hit the trail at 9:15am. Not bad!
I decided not to get too obsessive with mileages, elevation gains and whatever else stats on this trip. I kinda knew what I was going to be doing each day for planning purposes, but I wasn’t going to run my Garmin or anything. I wanted to just hike and take it easy. I’ll mention mileages throughout my journal, but they’re all “close enough” roundabout numbers. The signs and maps for this trail are all different from each other, too. The only way I’d know for sure is to run the gps on my watch, which, as I mentioned, wasn’t going to happen. Then I’d have to worry about keeping it charged, and yada yada yada. Not this trip!
With that being said, I think day one was around 15 miles. It may have realistically been about 13.5? I dunno. It was somewhere in there, and it was a bigger first day than I’d hoped for. But I dove right in like I do! I was so excited to be on the trail, it could’ve been a 30-mile day and I’d still have smiled just as much!
I got my first nice view of Mt. Rainier from the Nisqually River crossing. I realized quickly that when trying to take a selfie with a ginormous mountain behind you, you have to sort of angle the camera up from below. Otherwise it’s just your face and some rocks. I hoped I could get the hang of it by the end of the trip so I had a few good photos of my face with my new bestest buddy, the mountain.
The whole first half of the day was a climb. It was tough, but I just kept climbing. And climbing. Two hours in, sweaty and hot, I already started to crave a cold seltzer water. I think I mostly just wanted something cold.
I passed by some pretty great waterfalls tucked into to the forest, and eventually popped out at Reflection Lakes, which is a gorgeous lake with a majestic view of Mt. Rainier. It’s also a popular pull-off spot for car tourists, and since it was a Saturday, there were tons of people. I didn’t care, though. I just plopped myself down in a pretty spot, treated my water, grabbed a quick snack and moved on.
A couple of hours later I stopped by Martha falls (so many waterfalls!). During this break I treated more water and ate my avocado lunch (which is avocado, tuna, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pink sea salt, and everything bagel seasoning. I’ll probably mention this a few times. As it turns out, this is becoming a go-to backpacking meal for me.)
I also switched out to my Topo hiking shoes at Martha Falls. I started in my Bedrock sandals, and it was going great! I absolutely loved hiking in them! My toes got to be all natural and spread out like they like to do, and I could feel the rocks and roots and all the things under my feet. I really love that connection with the earth (to sound all hippity-dippity) when wearing minimal footwear. And our feet have all these crazy bones and tendons and things in them that makes them so mechanically amazing! I just felt happy wearing them and taking advantage of all that cool stuff. Feet are neat. But… Hiking in sandals definitely takes some getting used to, and I’d only done a few training hikes and a few runs in them prior to this trip, so I was nervous about how it would go wearing them for so long.
I arrived at Box Canyon, which is another popular car-tourist pull-off spot. My first day actually kind of followed the main park road, so I crossed over it quite a bit and saw a lot of people. It was a little crazy at times, but I just kept on doing my backpacking thing. Box canyon had flush toilets, which I used, running sinks, which I used, and a water spigot, which I also used. Then I hiked the small loop that makes this spot so popular and gazed way down into the deep canyon. It was pretty intimidating. Pretty cool spot.
I had just a short ways to camp after Box Canyon, so I head back into the woods. I arrived at camp around 5:15pm, picked a site and set up my tent. I head back down trail to Nickel Creek, washed up a bit and head back to camp. Adam said he might meet me at camp, so I kept looking up the trail, hoping I’d see him sauntering along. But I didn’t. He was out dropping my food buckets while I hiked all day, and I know that his chore could easily be an all-day event, so I figured there was a pretty good chance I wouldn’t see him. But I still hoped.
I ate dinner, then ate some chocolate, and was just starting to get ready for bed brushing my teeth, when about 7:45 pm, in came Adam!! Wearing his backpack, looking all hiker-ish! I was so excited he came out!! And he is so sweet and such a trail angel at the core. He brought me a cold seltzer, salad (which I was actually thinking about earlier) and a freakin cucumber! He’s amazing. I’d already eaten, though, so I thought I’d save it for the next day hiking.
I did just fine sticking to keto eating. In fact, I found that I don’t need nearly as much food as I thought. I had waaaay too much. I planned to send some back with Adam so I wouldn’t have to carry it the next day. It was going to be my biggest day, so I could use all the help I could get to keep it as comfortable as possible.
I hung all of our food and smellies on the bear pole, and we were asleep shortly after.
Yup. I’m really going to like this trail.
Tonight I love hiked-in trail magic by my favorite trail angel, Aloha!