August 14, 2016
Bushcamp (mile 2399.9) to bushcamp (2421.9)
Our total miles: 2015.6
Andy woke up to gaze at the stars. He saw a satellite but no shooting stars. Laurie rolled over a few times and thought about looking for a shooting star but could not will her eyes open.
We were walking by 6:45am. The air was refreshing but warm. We could tell it was going to be another hot day.
We dropped down to a river, then climbed up towards a ridge. We were graced with views of Mt. Rainier in the distance and jagged, rocky peaks surrounding us.
We passed another small tent city on top of a grassy ridge.
We traversed across scree slopes, gazing down to dark blue lakes below. It was ankle twisting walking and we stopped frequently to take in the views.
Sunlight slowly casted a golden shadow on the hill opposite from where we stood. We could see Joe Lake and the trail we had come over the day before.
Around 9:30 we passed 3 small pools and the 2 French women (Diane and Colleen) who we have seen frequently since the Urich Cabin.
Again we dropped down and then climbed. We turned a corner and were treated to more spectacular views of more gagged peaks.
Every 100 mile marker we stop and kiss. It has become our little tradition. After our 406.3 mile jump our century milestones are different than most people’s but with a little calculation we can easily figure it out.
Today we crossed the 2000 mile marker. Laurie was ahead of Andy, lost in her own thoughts. He called to her to stop. She did and walked back to where he was standing. We congratulated one another and kissed as we do normally. However this time, there was more to the celebration.
Andy dropped to one knee, pulled out a candy ring and asked Laurie to marry him.
She said yes!
Together we have walked over 2,000 miles, climbed up 14,000 foot peaks, fought off thousands of mosquitoes and shared many moments of sheer delight, frustration and exhaustion. For both of us, this hike has been more enjoyable and tolerable because we have done it together.
We are excited to spend the rest of our lives climbing moutains, biking up hills and traveling the world – together.
We laughed at ourselves as we tried to stretch the plastic ring so it would fit on Laurie’s finger. Neither of us were sure which hand the ring was supposed to go on so Laurie resorted to sucking on the candy instead.
Why a candy ring you ask? Laurie mentioned to Andy a long time ago she wanted someone to propose to her with a candy ring and he remembered.
We took a few photos and continued on to yet another expansive and breath taking view.
A deep blue lake lay beneath a cluster of jagged peaks dotted with snow.
We descended 2200 feet distracting ourselves with talks of where we could get married, what kind of wedding we wanted and how many people we would invite. The only thing we decided in that 1 hour descent was that we would both wear trail runners.
We paused at a waterfall to get water. Laurie cooled off in a pool while Andy chatted with Diane and Colleen who were getting ready to leave.
We hiked down some more through a burn area. Fireweed was everywhere and Laurie was in heaven. She loves this pink flower.
We crossed a few more creeks, some with bridges and one without. We discovered delicious huckleberries and sat for a short lunch before starting the 5 mile and 2300 foot climb.
As we climbed we negotiated over and around 71 down trees. We had been warned about down trees but everyone said different things. Even today, when we asked 2 guys that were hiking together, one said the trail was a mess and the second guy said there were only 4 to 5 problem trees.
We agree, there were less than 10 of the more difficult trees to get around, but 71 is far from 4 to 5!
We switchbacked up the hill, mainly in the shade for which we were both very thankful. It was hot and we were sweating.
Andy had beads of sweat forming on his cheeks. We dunked our hats in cool streams but within 10 minutes they were dry. The sunlight and heat did make for the sweetest thimbleberries we have ever had. Bright red and sweet thimbleberries lined the trail. We stopped to pick until we couldn’t handle the heat anymore.
Close to 5 pm we reached the top of the climb. We stopped to get water from a tarn and both jumped in. The water was surprisingly warm and felt so refreshing.
From here it was a gentle up and then long down to camp. We walked through alpine tundra, past two small lakes and down through thick brush.
Less than a tenth away from our planned tentsite we heard voices and saw people setting up where we had hoped to camp.
We were near a flatish spot so we decided to make it work.
We ate dinner and quickly got into bed. We only hiked 22 miles but with the emotions of the day plus elevation gain and loss and climbing over trees, we were both pooped!
Tonight we are grateful to be sharing this experience together and for ripe thimbleberries.