Pacific Crest Trail: Welcome to Washington

Our PCT correspondent crosses into her last state, and the home stretch begins.
Amanda Jameson

Bridge of the Gods. (Photo by Amanda Jameson)

I've barely been in Washington a day and a half, and already it's quite different from the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon. It's almost like the trail designers wanted to draw a sharp distinction between the last two states on the trail—and if the bit I've done so far has been any indication, the run to the finish won't be easy.

After loitering on the Oregon side, waiting for packages to arrive and for the rain to stop, I crossed the Bridge of the Gods into Washington. With no shoulder on the road, I walked across against the traffic, like the nice folks at the toll booth told me to, trying not to look down at the roiling water beneath me.

Once in Washington, the trail lost no time in sending me up, from a little over 100 feet above sea level to about 3,400 feet. Climbs like this—and steeper—are common in Washington, unlike in flatter Oregon. I have climbs of nearly a thousand feet in a mile to look forward to later, so at least Washington is warming me up.

Washington is turning out to be as wet as I expected Oregon to be. The dull grey of the sky gives the trail here this timeless feeling. When the sun's out, I can just look to the sky for a rough estimate of the time; it's harder to clock the passage of time when the light's being diffused through the clouds. I've looked down thinking 20 minutes had passed and two had gone by, and vice versa. It's a bit disorienting.

That does contribute to the magical feeling of this section of trail, though. I'm finally on my last state, with less than 500 miles to go, and everything's green and quiet and still. The moss that covers most things absorbs most of the sound, makes everything seem muted. The drip of the raindrops and the hiss of the wind are the loudest things that aren't my footsteps: I haven't seen any fauna aside from a few very disoriented bees. It's an environment where it seems anything could happen, even if that anything for me is just more walking.

I'm lying in my tent now, after 27 miles and over 7,100 feet of elevation gain—numbers I haven't notched since leaving California. Sure, I'm sore, but in a way, it feels good to have to push, and to know that there are still new experiences that lie ahead.