9/22: (24.6 miles) When I woke up today, it was so cold that the light mist had frozen my tent into stiff sheets of ice. But fortunately it warmed up soon. Today I had to make up for yesterday's "missed" miles. I hiked up lots of loose rock, then down the other side. Plenty of beautiful views today! Lunch was down in the valley before the next big uphill. The uphill was large and intimidating but I had podcasts on my side! Unfortunately, I only had two podcasts left (16 GB phone) and ran out before I reached the top of the hill. And I still had the next downhill ahead of me. So I hiked down the next big downhill as quickly as I could until I couldn't see where I was stepping. Then I put on my jacket and headlamp and kept hiking. Lots of nostalgic Relient K accompanied me down that hill (see this post's title). Camped near the Waptus River today.
9/23: (19.8 miles) Ah, an easy day. But, unfortunately, I didn't feel like hiking at all. My first break happened within the first 45 min of hiking and my second break was hardly an hour after that. I was eventually able to push myself to hike the rest of the way today. Slow going the whole day and I kept wanting to take a break (but there was no reason, nor time to do so). I made it to camp after dark at a wonderful campsite next to Deception Lake. Nice, soft grass everywhere. So appealing that I actually sat there for a moment, then went barefoot in order to set up my tent. Unfortunately, a nice water source and nice, soft grass comes with a price: mice. Lots of mice all around my tent and some crawled into my tent only to scurry around panicked for a few minutes because they didn't know their way out. Freaking annoying.
9/24: (7.1 miles) Ah, the day of shortcuts. Immediately from my campsite I took a shortcut that was a little steeper than the PCT (and definitely more rocky and treacherous on the downhill), but it cut off about 2 miles. Then, about a mile later, I took the wonderful shortcut to the highway. It was 5 miles of steep downhill (cutting off 9 miles of PCT-ness), but I hiked it with a couple of other hikers and we talked the whole way. We got a ride from a nice couple we met on the way down and they drove us into Skykomish. Here in Skykomish we got burgers and milkshakes at the Cascadia Inn & Cafe where the famous trail angel Mr. Dinsmore (of the Dinsmore's Hiker Haven) happened to be eating at the time. The waitress tipped us off and he's giving us a ride back to his place momentarily. Bed, shower, and laundry tonight!