Catching up at White Pass

Part 3 in a series of stories from Mountaineers Adventure Club teen students hiking the Washington section of the Pacific Crest Trail.
stephanie houston stephanie houston
Mountaineers Adventure Club Alumni
January 18, 2017

Editors note: During the summer of 2016, six current and former Mountaineers Adventure Club (MAC) members hiked the Washington section of the Pacific Crest Trail. This blog is Part 3 of a 4 part recap series. To find out what happened next, read Part 4 by Michael Telstad, or to see what happened before with Part 2  by Miriel McFarland. And learn what Michael had in his pack to keep his base weight under 12 lbs through his detailed gear guide.

On the section from Trout Lake to White Pass, I had to go off the trail to get an MRI for my knee. MRI scheduling and receiving results isn't instantaneous, so I had a few days to wait and think about my knee and my friends out on the trail without me.

The waiting game

While waiting for the MRI, I started feeling that maybe my knee was healed.  I hung out with my friends from school, got to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, and my body appreciated the rest from the trail, but it wasn't worth it. I felt guilty and sad that I couldn’t be hiking with my friends. Maybe I was just lazy and subconsciously I just got off the trail because it was hard work?

By the time I finally got the MRI results, I felt like maybe I was healed and I could go back on the trail in a few days. I looked at the results from my dad’s account - the doctor hadn’t looked at it yet but my dad had access to it - and we could see the radiologist’s notes. It looked like there wasn’t anything extremely wrong with my knee, which was pretty encouraging.

That night, Logan called me to tell me that they were almost to White Pass. Much faster than expected, what I thought would take them three or four days had only taken them two. A storm had come over the trail and they were trying to make it to the hotel as fast as possible.

I talked to nearly everyone on the phone. As they told me about their adventures and their suffering on the trail, I could feel jealousy creeping into my mind. Why did they get to have this epic adventure when all I got to do was sit around? I wasn’t planning on going on the next section because of my knee, but I suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to go. I knew I had to hike with my friends. 

As they told me about their adventures and their suffering on the trail, I could feel jealousy creeping into my mind. 

The next night, I called Logan and asked if they would wait for me the next day. They would wait! I had to convince my parents to drive me all the way to White Pass, which my mom accepted to do but only if I stayed on the trail for the rest of our trip. I wanted to go so bad I knew that it wouldn’t be a problem. 

A Peanut Butter Jar Per Day, Keeps the doctor Away

I got everything ready that night and came up with an ingenious plan to eat a jar of peanut butter everyday while hiking so that I wouldn’t lose weight or have to cook anything. I love peanut butter but I thought that I might get bored with the classic flavors. I decided to try all of the different types of nut butters that they had. When I went to the cash register with my 15 crazy nut butter flavors the guy behind the register obviously though I was crazy. He just smiled and said, “So you’re doing a nut butter taste test?” and I responded, “Yep, I’m going to eat one jar every day!”

The next day when I arrived, White Pass seemed deserted. I asked the women working in the hotel where my friends would be and she responded that they left an hour ago. That freaked me out. But  thankfully Logan ended up walking from the gas station, where they were waiting, to the hotel. It was definitely a relief to see that they hadn’t left me, and even more of a relief that I got to see everybody again.

Miriel wasn’t on this section because she broke her wrist so Logan led me down to see the others. There were just three of them on the bench, Lynnea, Michael and Alex. They all looked tired and beaten down, not to mention a bit skinnier as I had noticed when Logan found us at the hotel. But I was ready to go! When we started hiking the pain kicked in to my knee but it didn’t matter. It felt good to be finally on the trail again. The White Pass to Snoqualmie pass section was such a blur, as was the section after and the first section. But it was a beautiful blur and I knew that it was a thousand times better than being home alone, not experiencing anything.

The MEMORABLE moment

The main thing that I remember from the hike was the morning after leaving White Pass. We had done 17 miles of flat the day before. It had begun to rain during the night and now it was pouring down in sheets. I was snuggled in my sleeping bag under our tarp just watching the rain fall around us. In that moment I was completely content. No aches in my body, no worries just joy to be back on the trail and the bliss of hearing the rain patter in comforting patterns. 

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