We are in a happy state of shock. After five weeks of the trail being closed for many miles north of Stevens Pass, it is now all open. And it reopened this morning, the same morning that we showed up at Stevens Pass. We can’t believe our good fortune! We are so grateful for these miles (even though they’re said to be some of the hardest of the trail). Walking from Mexico to Canada may be possible after all.
Part of the reason the trail has reopened is because of the immense amount of rain we have had. We had been hoping for rain to help with the fires, but after more than a week, we are (selfishly) ready for a break.
It was counterintuitive to leave the dry comfort of the inn at Snoqualmie Pass. It rained throughout our day off while we dried out our gear from the previous days’ deluge. We took pity on the hikers who headed out into the wet weather, while we soaked in the hot tub. But then, inevitably, our turn came. The rain was predicted to last all week, so we had no choice but to go back into the fray and get the authentic “Washington Experience.” It was rough. It wasn’t pretty. We climbed into the clouds, getting wetter and wetter, and it was difficult to see more than a few feet in front of us, let alone catch any glimpses of the views we had heard so much about. Even as we near the end of this hike, this trail has more lessons for us. Here’s what stuck with me from this stretch: The only way through is through. At high elevation, with cold rain (and snow) blowing sideways and low visibility, it’s tempting to throw up your hands and say, “This is terrible! I hate this!” But, then what? The answer is still the same: then, you keep hiking. There’s nothing else to be done, so you let yourself have your pity party while still putting one foot in front of the other. You just get through.
Be OK with being uncomfortable. We take precautions and avoid recklessness and danger, but beyond measures of safety, there’s a certain amount of discomfort that just comes with the territory. That’s when you take a deep breath, put on your wet hiking clothes, and accept the things you cannot change.
Take it in stride. The hardest thing to accept with weather like this is missing the views. When the sun peeks out, and there’s a break in the clouds, the views here are breathtaking. But we know that most of them are shrouded by mist and clouds, and we are simply missing them. Ultimately, though, that’s the nature of a thru-hike. You’ll get some views and miss others. You take what you get when you’re there. (And you keep a list of sections you want to come back to in better weather!)
Enjoy the rainbows! Finally, there’s a reward to enduring buckets of rain. Every day we got at least one rainbow. It’s hard to remember what you wanted to complain about when you’re looking at a rainbow.
We are still adjusting to the news that there is more trail to hike after having accepted that we would have to miss Section K. But even with the additional 104 miles opening up, there isn’t much trail left. Less than 200 miles left to hike. With that, happy trails!
P.S. – A special thanks to our umbrellas, which have helped keep us sane throughout these days of rain. “Umbrella fellas for life!”