Day 126: mile 2337.5 – mile 2359.9

Elevation gain: 3,502 ft

Elevation loss: 4,338 ft

This blog title is so appropriate right now for quite a few reasons. One, we know these darn elusive elk are so close to us, yet we haven’t had the pleasure of seeing one. We have heard them calling to each other many times, we have seen their tracks everywhere, but no sign of the actual mammal!

Two, we have had the pleasure of chowing down on many a type of berry on this adventure…blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries, grouse berries, salmon berries, and raspberries. But we have heard the most from other hikers about these “wild strawberries” that we have yet to try. We see the plants as well as what looks like the start of the strawberry hanging from them, but none of them have ever looked ripe!

Three, and most obvious, we know we are so close to that Northern Terminus, yet still feel so far. Literally EVERY hiker/backpacker we meet and talk to say, “you’re so close now!”. And even though we definitely know this, 290 miles and the end doesn’t seem real or possible.

One funny/annoying thing that happened last night was when Mantis & Pants showed up to camp around 7:15pm. I know it was 7:15 because as I was asking Mantis about her day, while Pants set up the tent, the WA section hiker yelled, “QUIET VOICES!”. We were about 50 feet from his tent, speaking in a regular voice, and IT WAS 7:15, for Pete’s sake! He easily could’ve just asked nicely if we wouldn’t mind speaking a little softer, or he could’ve just chilled while we spoke for the short 10 minutes BECAUSE IT WAS 7:15! Then…this morning at 6:30am I heard the section hiker speaking loudly to his hiking partner. We were already up, but Mantis & Pants were still sleeping so I was secretly hoping they were going to ask for “quiet voices” as well. That guy was the furthest thing from “hiker friendly”! 😡 Now, onto the day today: Link and I were hiking by 7am and the first 5 miles were in a burn area. The sun coming through the burned trees looked so cool. We stopped for breakfast right before the end of the first burn section where there was a stream with the most lovely, cold water.

Peek a boo Rainier

Once we were out of the burn, we were walking in the forest. This forest was so green and lush, with moss and super cool fungi growing everywhere!

More new and REALLY special looking fungi!

Purple Jelly Disc fungi
Bracket Fungi

Even though we have seen a lot of different fungi, moss, and mold, Link spotted 2 of the coolest ones we have seen yet! One was called Chicken of the Woods fungus, and the other was Wolf’s Milk. The Chicken of the Woods was actually about 50 feet off the trail, on a decomposing tree. I’m so glad Link was able to spot it even though it was so far off trail! I wonder how many types we are missing because they’re either too small, or even further from the trail.

Chicken of the woods fungus
It was HUGE!
This is Wolfs milk… can you believe it is real?? I swear we used no filter either!

Around 11:30, we were approaching Camp Urich, a cabin that hikers can stay in to get out of the weather when it’s bad. When we were just .5 away, a section hiker walked south toward us and said, “there’s magic at the cabin!”. Wait…WHAT?? Are you kidding me? As Link and I picked up the pace, we talked about how a cooler with cold drinks would really hit the spot. Our expectations were low after only having one spontaneous trail magic this whole trip (of course not counting our amazing scheduled magic from P and then from Glide). When we arrived at the cabin we were greeted by Greg and his brother in law, Tom. The spread was fabulous…bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, HUGE meatball subs, cold beer and gatorades, chips, danishes, oranges. Man, they didn’t leave anything out! Then they told us that they only come out one day a year to bring this magic to hikers, and we happened to walk by on that very same day…AMAZING! They were really interesting and fun to chat with so we ended up staying over an hour. Just as we were about to leave, Bob (the section hiker who camped near us in Goat Rocks), and then Mantis & Pants showed up. We would’ve loved to stay longer but we still had 12-ish miles before getting to camp. So we thanked them profusely, hoping they realized how much this act of generosity meant to us, and hiked on.

Link had 2 of these meatball subs, a bagel with cream cheese & smoked salmon, 2 danishes, a beer, and a bag of chips. I had a sub, 2 bagels with salmon, chips, and a Gatorade…amazing!
Spectacular trail magic angels 🌟

Just about 2 miles past the cabin, we had not only a spectacular view of Mt Rainier again, but also great cell service. So Link was able to download pix and we were able to enjoy the view all at the same time!

Toward the end of the day we walked through another burn section, but this time it looked like it had been a really long time ago. The burned trees were now almost white in color, with only half of them still standing. There were a ton of new trees in between…the new forest was almost complete which was great to see! In this area, we saw the largest and darkest huckleberries we have seen yet. This meant they were super sweet and we had to stop multiple times to have a snack.

We were having to dry camp again tonight except that this time we had to carry all the water for 7 miles…ugh, brutal! There were definitely some steep climbs, but at least they were somewhat short and we made it to camp around 6pm. We are in the trees, but there is a little bit of sunshine coming through, plus someone on Guthook said that a bunch of elk ran by camp in the morning while they were here…fingers crossed!! There is a large stump to use as a table and another one to sit on which is always a special and rare treat.

Stretching is a very important part of the day for this old bod!
Dinner tonight was chicken white bean chili with Parmesan and hot sauce.

The biggest bummer about being in the trees is that we could tell there was a spectacular sunset tonight (unfortunately because of the fires nearby) but the trees were blocking most of the colors. At about 7:30, Mantis & Pants, and then Bob too, all got to camp. It was fun having 5 people, and even more fun to be able to talk without being yelled at! 😜 Thanks for all of your encouraging and supportive comments as always…Link and I absolutely LOVE reading all your thoughts! DoubleDown