Getting ready to leave Harts Pass I was feeling a little excitement as the Washington part of the trip was coming to a close. I had really wanted to finish the entire trip in Canada but the reality is it is less likely to have early snow in the Sierras than in the North Cascades.
Morning broke to a foggy day with no smell of smoke in the air. I was of mixed feelings as the fog restricted visibility but might help with retarding the wild fires spread. As I rode along the trail I wondered when the fog lifted whether the smoke would return. Riding in the fog the miles seem so long, you just go along without any sense of going anywhere, my world extended no further than the few hundred feet I could see. As it turned out the smoke did seem less thick as the fog cleared, especially at the higher elevations and some of the grandeur of the area was exposed to my view.
I began to pass hikers returning from the border Monument 78. These people had chosen not to enter Canada and were returning to Harts Pass in hopes of catching a ride back to civilization. Congratulations were offered to and from those who had completed their goal and those who were within a few miles of completing theirs as well. Several of the hikers were those who I had met earlier in the trip, some from as far back as Southern California two thousand miles before. Among the hikers I passed still going north the excitement and joviality was palpable, “Meet you at the border” was the cry of the day.
Initially I planned to camp at Hopkins Lake, 25 miles from Harts Pass, ending my ride the next day with a 15 mile ride to the road in Manning Park. When I got to the lake there were several tents already pitched, as it was only 4:00 in the afternoon more people were sure to stop as well. The no-seeums were thick by the lake so I decided to ride the six miles to the monument where there was reportedly a nice camp with a stock corral and good creek water. The horses were feeling good, making good time down the hill towards the border; we made the six miles in just a bit over an hour.
At the monument I met some day hikers, the Moroccos, who took pictures of Mercedes, BG and me at the memorial. They questioned me about the Klickitat Trek sweatshirt I was wearing as they have been to that endurance ride as well. John rides a Tennessee Walker in endurance and was pleased to see how well Mercedes and BG had held up on our trip.
Another quarter mile and we were at camp, the first ones in for the evening. Mercedes and BG appreciated the corral and not having to be tied all night. There was a little grass for them to eat as well as the feed I had packed for them. As dark approached another ten or so people set up camp nearby. Despite their high spirits by 9:00 all were turned in for the evening. About 3:00 the horses put up quite a fuss, squealing and snorting. I got up to see to them, couldn’t see what had set them off but went ahead and gave them their morning hay and went back to bed. The next morning I couldn’t find one of the nose bags for their grain. There is a bear box at this camp for people to store their food in; I put the horse’s grain ration in it as well. As I was walking to the box I happened across the missing nose bag a good 25 yard from where I had left it. It was soaking wet, as if it had been dunked in the creek. Later as I walked around the back side of the corral I saw fresh bear scat which had not been there the night before, oh that’s what got the horses stirred up.
The first four miles of the trail into Canada gave me a whole new appreciation for the job people have done on the US side on trail maintenance. The horse punched through rotten board walks, scrambled over sloughed off trail, jumped over washed out spots and sank in boggy places. I even had to cut a couple logs out that must have fallen after someone, fairly recently – there was still chainsaw sawdust, had cut other trees out. I was really worried that after all this way that one of the horses was going to get hurt. But at the halfway point the trail conditions improved dramatically, really nice going the rest of the way. Now all that remains is back to California and the Sierras.
Trail data: mileposts; 2619-2658, miles ridden; 38.1, trail time; 9:41, moving average; 3.9, minimum elevation; 3850, maximum elevation; 7076, total ascent; 5918, total descent; 8320
Total miles: PCT; 2146, Ridden; 2234