18 miles southbound on PCT to get picked up near Hart’s Pass

Elevation gain: 3,986 ft

Elevation loss: 3,745 ft

Holy Cow…that thunderstorm last night was MAJOR! Because we camped in a “bowl”, surrounded by granite peaks, the thunder was deafening at times. It was basically impossible to sleep until the storm subsided. Between the bright lightning strikes, the pounding rain on our tarp tent , and the startling thunder, we just lied there, super happy not to be walking in it all. We don’t get storms like this in southern CA, so I think they’re pretty neat, but I did worry about the lightning starting a fire near us, that’s for sure. Washington rain is no joke…when it rains, it POURS! At one point, there was a river literally going from my side of the tent, under our tent, and then continuing on Link’s side of the tent. Thank goodness it actually went through instead of pooling underneath us. Link always makes sure not to set up the tent in a depression after an experience we had years ago while backpacking (let’s just say we ended up sleeping on a waterbed). The one dilemma was that it rained so hard that, even though we had both vestibules zipped up, each rain drop made dirt splatter up onto the mesh of the tent. This meant it splattered on us INSIDE the tent…on the quilt, on our faces, everywhere. I can’t tell you how relieved we were to be getting out of the wilderness today since it would’ve been virtually impossible to dry everything out! We had set the alarm for 4:30am, but were actually awake at 4-ish so decided to just get going. Zach was up too…I think we were all pretty anxious and excited to finish the last part of this journey. We both donned our rain pants for the first time since the Sierra. Even though we had been carrying the extra weight this whole time, it was all worth it in order to wear those today. We knew the wet overgrowth would’ve soaked our hiking pants for sure! Mother Nature was kind enough to let the rain subside while we packed up…it had turned into just a heavy mist, and we were on the road by 5am! This did mean that we, unfortunately, needed to walk with our headlamps for the first hour and a half. We have literally only walked with headlamps one other time this entire trip because my depth perception is so poor with low lighting. Especially with the rocky trail, and steep descent, I was basically white knuckling that whole first portion of the hike today. Amazingly, I didn’t trip once…shocker!

We were really hoping the rain helped to extinguish some of the wildfires, but were also hoping the lightning didn’t start any new ones! We had only been walking about 15 minutes when we heard loud rumbling coming from the right side of the trail. We both stopped to try and get a better idea of what it was, and realized it was a rock slide. Oh MAN, we could tell it was on our right, but it was pitch black…I mean PITCH BLACK! We had no idea how close it really was, and if it had covered our trail. All we could do was push on and find out as we hiked along (also hoping another slide didn’t happen directly above us! 😬).

We never came across new rocks covering the trail, so that was great, and I definitely felt better once we finished hiking though that part! As the sun started to rise, the sky was spectacular. We were walking in the clouds much of the time, and we could tell that the storm had helped to clear the sky. We could actually see across the valleys and got a glimpse of what we had missed doing these same miles just a couple days ago.

A lot of moisture in the air equals beard droplets 😜

We hiked for 7 and a half straight hours with only a 5 minute stop to make breakfast shakes and a 2 minute stop to ask Link how he feels at the end of this amazing journey.

It was pretty fun walking southbound on the trail, seeing all the thru hikers coming toward us as they made their terminus push. We saw some people we hadn’t seen in months, as well as others we had never even met. We only spoke to each hiker for a brief time because they were as anxious to get to the terminus as we were to finally be done hiking. The feeling was truly electric, though. Everyone congratulating each other, asking what future plans they had, and exchanging contact info so we can all stay in touch…what a special bond we have all formed so quickly! We had told Link’s dad and wife, Jo, that we would meet them at the trailhead 1.5 miles from Hart’s Pass sometime between 12:30-1:30. As we walked up at 12:25, they were already there, cheering for us with a “congratulations” sign on the car.

Man, oh man…those seats were the most comfortable thing! I had seriously been dreaming all morning about how good it would feel to change into my comfy sleep clothes and lean back in a nice warm car. Ahhhh… They had also brought us fresh sandwiches, Jo’s famous homemade cookies, chips, cinnamon twists from Twisp (the town they stayed in last night), beer and root beer! All our favorite things, and, for me, probably the last time I could indulge on all those items. Back to real life tomorrow which also means back to eating more healthy since I won’t be walking 20-25 miles with a pack on every day! We had heard there was going to be trail magic at Hart’s Pass so when we drove by, we slowed down to see if there were any hikers we knew who were on their way to the terminus. I had said to Link earlier this morning that I was really hoping Mantis & Pants would be there. It was definitely possible that they had made it to Hart’s Pass already, but since we lost the Inreach yesterday, we had no way of finding out if they’d be there. Plus, the “R” word had happened…RAIN, which Mantis is really not a fan of. So I was cautiously optimistic in order to not get my hopes up too much that we would get to see them. Just as I was scanning the Pass, I saw someone running toward the car…MANTIS!!! Oh my gosh, I leapt out of the car and we gave each other the hugest congratulatory hug…I’ve missed her so much! They had worked so hard to get to the Pass and see us, and I could not have been more thrilled. They had sent us a message on the Inreach last night, but, of course, we hadn’t seen that. We shared some of Jo’s awesome cookies with them, and they said they would really try to visit us after they finish the trail…that would truly be amazing!

From the car…gorgeous!

Then it was back to the car, and onto Seattle. Eric and Jo really went out of their way for this trail angeling duty…the 10 mile road from Hart’s Pass is atrocious. It is a dirt road, filled with potholes and pretty much just one lane, with a steep drop off most of the time. It took about 4.5 hours to get to Seattle, but it was so great to catch up with them since we hadn’t seen them in quite some time. We chatted, ate, laughed, and ate some more. We arrived at The Cedarbrook Lodge about 5:30, and this place is NICE! Super comfortable bed, very spacious and clean, and even had bath salts and bath bomb, awesome! We had dinner together at the restaurant in the Lodge which was super tasty as well. Eric and Jo really went above and beyond with this task…the ride, the snacks, the hotel, AND dinner. Thank you both sooo much, what an amazing end to an amazing adventure, absolutely perfect!

We really wish we could’ve had more time to appreciate this beautiful hotel room, but our plane leaves at 6am tomorrow. So we will be up early, super excited to see the kids, Mikey, and the rest of our family and friends. We will still be posting blogs for a while because we want to document Link’s hair/beard shearing as well as multiple cool video compilations we plan to put together. So make sure you subscribe, if you haven’t already, in order to be alerted via email when we post those. Many of you have suggested we write a book, so we might even send our story to a few publishers and see if anyone is interested…stay tuned. We can’t thank you all enough for your absolutely amazing comments. When I say it was the first thing I looked at when we finally got cell service, I wasn’t lying. I absolutely appreciated EVERY single note from you all and found it helped me along the ENTIRE journey!! Love to you all ♥️…DoubleDown