Here are the journal entries for Darrell's expedition, Stage II, 2006
PACIFIC NORTHWEST TRAIL:In this map, the Pacific Northwest Trail is indicated by the red line going east/west. The green arrow indicates approximately where Darrell will get onto it (from where he left off of the PCT). The blue arrow shows where he will end the hiking portion (about 150 miles later), in Concrete, WA. Here he'll take 5 days and attend a Sea Kayaking refresher course from the Northwest Outdoor Center in preparation for next year's 1,100 miles of kayaking up the Inside Passage. When the course is over, he'll return to Concrete and put into the Skagit River with our canoe. He'll take the next 5 days to row himself to Skagit Bay. The Skagit River empties into Skagit Bay, part of Puget Sound, just about under the red arrow. As you can see, it's a circuitous trail, taking him up, over and around many beautiful and dramatic mountains as he hikes and lots of twists and turns as he canoes.
(Credit for this map of the PNT goes to the PNTA website.)
July 19th, 2006
Well ... he did it! He's completed "The Bridge"!Darrell called me tonight from Concrete, WA, where he was already picking up his truck. This time has gone sooooo fast!He safely paddled down the Skagit River and into Skagit Bay and the Puget Sound. Once in the Bay he canoed to Saddleback Island, where he spent last night. He said he felt mighty small in our canoe in the middle of that water. A feeling he'll have to get used to considering his plans for next year. He loved spending the night on that island, though. We spoke as he was watching sunset and then night come on and he just loved the view of all the islands as the lights from each one became visible when darkness came. It sounded like a lovely peaceful place for him to camp his last night out.He was a little anxious yesterday morning when he started his day, as he had to plan this crossing very carefully with his tide charts. He wanted to do his best to have the tides in his favor - not working against him. Same again this morning as he traversed north to Anacortes. It all went really well. I'd say his anxiety served to make him extra careful and prepared. And that paid off!Once in Anacortes he packed up all his gear and the boat and left it with a woman he'd prearranged with to watch his stuff. He then caught a bus to Concrete to get his truck and drove back to pick up his gear. A lot of back and forth, but it all came together just fine.He'll not be coming straight home. Now he's off to kayak shop. He's in a great area for that and plans to spend the next 3-5 days visiting with kayak dealers and trying out their wares. He's got a lot to acquire for next year, so ... no time like the present!
Once he gets home, I'll upload some photos from this year's adventure. I've not seen any of them yet ... I'm really looking forward to them!
July 16th, 2006
8:30pm: Darrell just called me. This has been his 2nd day on the Skagit River. So far the weather has been kind to him, just some clouds to ward off hot summer temps, but no precipitation as of yet.Yesterday he drove up to Concrete from Seattle and put together our 17-ft canoe, packed all his gear into it and started paddling. He covered about 11 miles in just a little over 2 hours, reaching his destination of Rasar State Park well before evening.Today he paddled on to Sedro-Woolley, his next intended stop-over, but he missed it! There is a City Park there where he'd reserved a spot for himself, but he didn't get over to the side of the river in time. No matter. He found a nice river bar a ways further down the river and is going to spend the night there.He told me that as he paddles, the wind is giving him a little difficulty. He's accustomed to canoeing with me in the bow. When we are together, I can provide the forward power and he is in the stern managing the canoe's direction. Alone, he has to manage both jobs, and he finds the wind really swings the bow around quite a bit. He loses momentum as he makes corrections. But he's also getting better at it and knows that there will be improvement each day.It's kinds of strange to talk to him daily now. We're not accustomed to this ease of communication. When he was on the PCT, cell phones were not even a consideration, but now that weight is not an issue and he's in decent range of cell phone coverage, we talk every day. So different for us!
As we chatted tonight he told me he was watching two bald eagles in some sort of altercation in mid-air, not far away. That's the icing on the cake for him, being in wilderness that is remote enough for him to see wildlife. I'm so glad for him, and envious, too!
July 14th, 2006
Well, Darrell has finished the sea kayaking intensive course. He called me tonight as he was on his way to Seattle. He told me that this week was very well spent. Lots of time in the kayak, refreshing old skills and learning some new ones. He found some time, also, to write a quick email to me from a library computer in Port Angeles. Here's part of his message:"Rain, surf and sand. Have just completed the sea kayaking class with Northwest Outdoor Center. Great! What a way to learn about how a sea kayak can respond. Put it in a crashing beach wave and try to stay on top of that wave. "Try" is the key word. A lot of swimming but you learn how to apply the techniques that were taught on flat water in a hurry. Well, it's back to Seattle tonight and put-in the Skagit River tomorrow."So, as you can see, this week seems to have been well spent. In addition to hours of hands-on kayaking time, Darrell was also able to glean a lot of information about gear and kayaks that he'll need for kayaking the Inside Passage.
This next week, he'll begin canoeing the 100 miles from Concrete to the Puget Sound. Keep him in your thoughts!
July 8th, 2006
He did it! Darrell called me tonight from Concrete. He made it but told me he encountered a lot of challenges.First big challenge was 6 to 8 feet of snow that remained on the backside of Mt. Baker as he made his descent the first day. This was unexpected and took him a long time to negotiate his way down the mountain.The next day he came to a river/creek he had to cross. The bridge had been taken out by some storm, so he hiked up and down the river's edge for a couple of miles looking for a log that might have fallen across. No such luck. Finally he selected a crossing spot that he thought would be the most shallow. Even this had an area that he feared would be over his head. He planned that he'd build a raft for his backpack and attach it to a rope. He'd tie the other end of the rope to a small log and throw it across the river, hoping to lodge it into rocks and boulders on the other side. He'd then enter into the water, holding the raft and "pendulum" himself across, allowing the swing to take him through the deepest part of the water. This was a technique we'd learned in our swiftwater rescue couse when we were preparing for our Yukon trip in '98. Being tired at the end of a long day, Darrell decided to sleep on it and approach the feat fresh the next morning. He had a lot of trepidation, but could see no other way to cross.Well, the next morning, he packed his backpack carefully, being sure to make a dry set of clothing easily available at the top of the pack. Hypothermia is no joke and facing a possible swim in snow-melt is a dangerous affair. He also made sure to tuck his survival pack into his pants, just in case he lost the raft and backpack. (Whenever Darrell is in the wilderness, he carries a survival pack, about the size of a fanny pack, that contains those very most essential items to sustain himself. This is something we developed when we did our Yukon canoe trip.)As he approached the river's edge, he encountered a trail maintenence crew! Knowing that they had to have come from the road on the other side of the river he excitedly asked them how they'd crossed. Turns out these fellows had set up a cable/chair to ferry themselves 25 feet above the river. Darrell was, predictably, very relieved! So he used their chair system to cross over. It was also tough, though, as his pack made him a lot heavier then his normal body weight, and this cable system required him to pull himself, foot by foot, along the way. He said it was exhausting and he felt he had almost no strength left when he finally reached the opposite bank.But he was dry!After that adventure, he had few obstacles, but still had to hike 24 miles the last day getting to Concrete. When he called me he was tired and happy to be off the trail, looking forward to a good night's sleep in a real bed. Tomorrow he's off to Seattle where he'll spend the night with our good friends Thea, Rand & Jess. Then on Monday, he'll begin the Northwest Outdoor Center's Sea Kayaking Immersion course. Darrell is very excited at this opportunity.
I'm sure he'll have more to report at the end of this coming week, too!
July 5th, 2006
Today I received a phone call from Darrell's companion, Mark. They've made it to Mt. Baker Highway, where Mark left the trail. I don't have a lot of details, but can report that everything went well, pretty much as expected. It was a lot of hard hiking, especially the last day. They had thousands of feet of elevational gain and loss and then gain again. Mark sounded tired but well. Our good friends, Ann and Lee from Bellingham, shuttled a car and left it at the Mt. Baker Hwy trailhead. In this car were new supplies for Darrell. Mark used this car to drive himself to Bellingham where he caught a bus and went to Seattle to meet with his wife, Kim. (Just one example of logistics we had to figure out for this trip...)
Now Darrell is on his own, continuing on to the town of Concrete, WA, where his truck is waiting. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that he stays safe!
June 23rd, 2006
He's off! A day later than planned, but with all his details organized and ready. Darrell will first drive to Washington, visiting some friends and family along the way. He'll actually be on the trail by the 29th. His friend Mark Martinez (a fellow nurse at St. Vincent Hospital here in Santa Fe) will join him for the first part of the hike. Here's the planned hiking itinerary:
- June 29th: Darrell will get Mark at the Seattle airport and they'll drive to the trailhead, at Hart's Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail. July 2nd: Mark & Darrell will arrive at Ross Lake Resort, where they'll pick up a resupply box (a bucket actually) that we shipped last week. July 5th: The duo will arrive at a trailhead on Mt. Baker Highway, where our wonderful friends, Lee and Ann from Bellingham, will have left a car with another resupply bucket. Mark's hike will be finished here. He'll drive the car back to Bellingham, then he'll go on to Seattle to meet up with his wife Kim. Darrell will continue hiking. He'll actually have some time to fish during these last few days, so he'll bring along his fishing pole, too! July 8th: Darrell will arrive in Concrete, WA where his truck will be waiting. (Once again, THANK YOU Lee and Ann!!) This marks 150 miles from the start of this year's hike. At this point, Darrell will leave the trail and attend a 5 day Sea Kayaking Immersion course with the Northwest Outdoor Center. This, of course, is in prepartation for next year's 1,100 mile sea kayaking plans.
- After the NWOC workshop is finished, Darrell will return to Concrete and unpack our foldable 17 foot canoe. He'll put into the Skagit River and canoe to the Puget Sound, ending up finally at Anacortes, WA, bringing this year's mileage to 250 miles. Not the same kind of distance that he has accomplished in the past two years, but a complex set of plans that took a lot of work to organize!