Day 136: Snow Lake (2304.7) to Sheep Lake (2325.7)
August 23 // 21 miles
Condensation nation inside the tent again, there was a small puddle at the foot and my sleeping bag was wet through. Outside was even worse - my clothes that I left hanging on a tree branch overnight were soaked, as well as my shoes so I was not off to a comfortable start. That’s what we get for camping so close to water.
We ate breakfast in a circle while trying to dry off our wet gear, but the rising sun was pretty quickly obscured by thick clouds rolling in. It was very cold and I couldn’t build up the courage to put on my wet T-shirt, so my base layer will be nice and sweaty for sleeping tonight, oh well. It was mostly flat for the first four miles, before crossing Bumping River on a fallen tree. I wasn’t in the hiking zone and sat down on a log beside the trail to have a second breakfast of pecan pie and Fritos to try and get some energy. It didn’t warm up all morning and I was chilled even while working hard climbing. Cloudy and overcast with lots of mist drifting through the pine trees. Stopped at a creek before an 8 mile dry stretch but in this weather I didn’t feel like I needed water at all, have to force myself to drink enough water when it’s cold like this. Dehydration doesn’t much care about the temperature.
At the top of the climb entered into Mt Rainier National Forest, and as advertised, the tip of Rainier was sometimes visible peaking above the mist. Had a nice ridge walk looking down into a deep green valley, lots of blue lakes that were bright turquoise even without the sun shining. Perfectly ripe blueberry patches were slowing me down. At lunch I found the group stopped in a small campsite with some mild shelter from the biting wind. Since everyone was just starting lunch, I went back to the patches of blueberries and filled an empty plastic cookie container, then put them on my bagel with honey and peanut butter. DELICIOUS I am a master chef.
I got way too cold today and need to get my bounce box mailed up here, it’s still way back in Etna or Seiad Valley. In this weather it’d be real nice to have my warm hat, gloves and rain jacket for sure, and wouldn’t mind my extra fleece. Didn’t see much of the group all afternoon since every one kept moving to keep warm. Passed by scenic Dewey lakes with a few people around, but no one swimming in this weather. Thankfully got to start going uphill which warmed me up enough, and what a strange thing it is to be grateful for elevation…I’ve changed a lot as a hiker this year.
Towards the top of the climb the sun finally came out and it warmed up enough that I could go back to my normal T-shirt, so long as I kept moving. I found Honeybee and Eli taking a break with Keeda, who looked so wiped she kept sliding slowly down the hill she was laying on with no effort to stop herself. We were close to Chinook Pass, a large highway before our last climb of the day and we stuck together to chat and throw sticks off trail for Keeda as we walked.
At the pass, Bagels, Cream and PC were there taking a break, and for good reason-in the parking lot beside the highway was Madd Baker-the same guy that had trail magic’ed PC and I right before Timberline. He had a tarp set up beside his truck and boxes of sodas, cookies and candy for us to snack on. We stayed for a half hour but it was too cold to stay still for long, and we were only a couple miles from our campsite at Sheep Lake.
Fall is a coming, and the cold day turned into colder evening. Even working hard on the last uphill, Cream and I kept bouncing around when one of us would stop to change into base layers or add puffy jackets to keep warm. Climbed up parallel to the highway which got smaller and smaller below until we crested the ridge and arrived at Sheep Lake, a huge basin of rock with campsites scattered around the water, most of which were taken by weekend campers.
Cream and I caught up to Eli and Honeybee wandering around the lake looking for PC and Bagels. We joined in on the hunt, wondering if they had just kept on down the trail. Finally, with a couple cryptic hints from a lady camped with her two kids, we tracked them to a grassy spot far off the trail and halfway around the lake… at least we had the place to ourselves. Couldn’t stay out long, it was just too cold, even sitting wrapped up in my sleeping bag. We finished the last of the whisky and tequila packed out from White Pass to try and warm up, but everyone called it an early night and crawled into warm sleeping bags before it was even dark outside.
Day 137: Sheep Lake (2325.7) to Spring (2351.7)
August 24 // 26 miles
No condensation this morning thank god but it was one of the coldest mornings yet. The only parts of my face (nose, some forehead) that wasn’t covered by quilt or hat were icy numb, and it almost impossible to force myself out of the enclosed space of a tent warmed by Bagels’ super-human space-heater power. I’ve loved my two ultralight quilts over both PCT hikes but I think in the future it may be time to bite the bullet and revert back to a normal full sleeping bag, if I’m not in perfect position the cold air slips through the bottom opening and I can’t get quite warm enough to be fully comfortable. I had to sit under my quilt during breakfast, wondering how Eli only has an extra long-sleeved base layer shirt for his warm clothes…no jacket, no puffy, no pants, no hat. He was casually standing around eating his breakfast while I hopped around trying to keep my quilt covering all exposed skin while I changed out of my base layers into hiking clothes. I don’t understand how the Australian can withstand more cold than I, who grew up in a frozen city that made news last year for being colder than Mars?
Left the lake fully gloved and hooded and wrapped in all layers. I’ve been constantly nervous about my lack of rain jacket, lost in an errant bounce box somewhere in the US postal system. I’m playing roulette with the weather and hoping that I can be in town or close to town during rain because getting soaked in these temperatures would be a chilly dance with hypothermia. Thankfully no rain this morning, but a heavy thick mist obscured anything more than twenty feet ahead, and the pine trees were dripping with condensation.
Climbed away from the lake and followed a ridge line that I figured was waaay high up based on the size of the tops of the pine trees below me, although it was impossible to know for sure since everything underneath the treetops was swallowed up in white fog. At some point the trees disappeared and I was on exposed ridgeline that dropped away into endless white. It felt like I was the only person in the world in the best way possible. I’ve become so much more comfortable alone with my own thoughts the longer I’m on trail and I’ve begun to worry how I’m going to handle the adjustment back in real world.
I was enjoying my solo euphoria so much that I was taken completely by surprise at the voice of the heckin mountain god booming through the mist, a low bass echoing from far off. I couldn’t make out what it was saying, but it was loud enough I could hear a reverb echo off the cliff sides. No matter which way I turned I couldn’t see anyone else and wondered if I was losing my shit and would have to accept a conversion to religion. It wasn’t until I rounded a bend in the ridge and had a clearer view down into the valley that I realized the trail was winding high above a ski resort, where a race tent was set up far below, and the megaphone directing the runners was my mysterious mountain god. Not so alone after all.
My body couldn’t settle on one temperature and I alternated layers off and on half a dozen times trying to keep warm but not sweat into my puffy or sleep clothes. The trail crossed a few steep faces of broken rock and I could hear the pika squeaks echoing around from all directions but I couldn’t pinpoint them inside their little rock holes. At one point the mist cleared enough that it was possible to finally get a feel for the landscape I was hiking through, the ridge sloped away into a valley bottom with a lake and there was even a brief 5 minute shot of sunlight, which lit up the wet trees in a way that made me see why this is called the evergreen state.
I stopped at first water 8 miles in; my friends were already there eating second breakfast and wrapped in all their layers against the chilly wind. Cream was living up to her name and applying sunscreen to her face despite the fact that we had basically spent all morning hiking through a cloud. When we asked her why, she said that the sun would be out shortly just you guys wait. I had warmed up enough during hiking to enjoy the brisk morning, but sitting still was unbearably cold and I couldn’t sit still. Made ramen but wasn’t patient enough to wait for a full boil and it lost it’s heat quickly so I drank it cold with hard noodles, disappointing. Cut the break short and keep moving to try and stop the shivering.
After our break we were all leap frogging with each other since the hillside was covered in huckleberry and blueberry bushes, and they’re so ripe and dark this time of year it’s impossible to pass them by without stopping for a handful from a particularly heavily laden patch. My fingers and mouth have been stained a constant purple.
After leaving the berry bushes behind, I really hit my stride. The sun managed to push through the mist for a few minutes at a time and it was just warm enough to strip down to a T-shirt. My legs have never been so strong in my life and it’s become a rare thing to be physically hurting during the day, despite the steeper climbs that are being thrown at us after flat as a board Oregon. Even the uphills have become fun challenges and I’m getting addicted to the high that comes on towards the end of a particularly steep climb and helps me fly up the trail until it’s time to go back down again. Keeda kept bursting through the mist ahead of me to trot behind for half a minute, before tearing off ahead again. When we’re all within a mile or so of each other, she’ll leave Honeybee’s side to run between the rest of us, checking on the rest of her pack. It’s a nice feeling knowing that she’s looking out for all of us and she’s become a staple part of our trail fam.
Passed through a burn zone, the trees were a bright red underneath the cracked and blackened bark. It’s been a while but I still can’t explain what I like so much about the burns, but it’s definitely tied in with the sweet smell of burnt sap and the way that ash puffs up around my ankles with every step. Around a bend I stumbled across a hiker peeing just off the trail, not a lot of coverage among the crispy trunks. It was obvious that she wasn’t a PCT hiker, she yelped and kind of fell over while trying to pull up her pants. I’m so used to coming across other thru hikers peeing just off trail, it’s become common to give a nonchalant wave to a mooning white butt and both parties carry on with their business, be it hiking or squatting.
Cream was having a break at the only spring in the burn zone, the two of us tend to hike about the same speed and leapfrog a lot every day. The sun had come out as she predicted this morning, although it was still chilly enough that I had to pull out my puffy while sitting still. I sat for a while on a rock after collecting my water, drawing designs on my lower legs with the dusty black ash and eating my new favourite trail food- a pre-packaged artisanal cheese and meat pack from a company based in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been bulk buying when I come across them them in gas stations and supermarkets since mid-Oregon and depending on them heavily for protein, veering away from my usual snickers bars and trail mix, which I can barely stomach anymore.
Shortly after, the burn zone ended, Cream and I caught up with the others at a little wooden cabin in a meadow off the trail. There was a woodstove inside, indicated by the smoke puffing out from the little chimney and the idea of being in a warm building was incredibly appealing, but the cabin was already packed with about ten other hikers, the most we’ve seen on trail in ages. PC and Bagels were sitting in their camp chairs on the grass out front while Eli and Honeybee were throwing sticks for Keeda, her favourite game. It would have been nice to stay a little longer but from checking guthook it became clear that there were way more hikers than campsites in the area so we got moving and gunned it to get to the only spot big enough to allow us to stay together. It was only four miles away and I was hauling with one of the rare hiker-energy busts that make me feel like I could run all the way to Canada. But of course the huckleberries appeared in perfectly black clusters and I slowed down to pull handfuls off the bushes every few steps. Bagels and Eli caught up and we all power-hiker the rest of the way to our campsite, taking little breaks when whoever was in front stopped for another berry handful.
Camp was a large flat site near a spring spilling over the rocks and away into the woods, and a quick scout around determined that there were also two tiny spots squished together right beside the trail away from the water. We’ve learned that when Guthooks says that a site is big enough for one or two tents, it’s usually able to fit at least five or six. When Cream, PC and Honeybee arrived we did some quick dimension testing and figured that we could all fit into the little spots and leave the larger area for the other big group coming behind us. The site was a mess of criss-crossed guy lines and tent stakes but there was still enough room to sit in a tiny circle and eat dinner. Bagels and Honeybee tried throwing a stick for Keeda, but she was as wiped as we were and just rolled over for a belly scratch on the foam pad that Honeybee sets out for her when we take breaks.
We’re getting our timing perfectly right to avoid the huge rain/sleet storm that’s supposed to hit in a couple days, our next resupply in Snoqualmie will keep us out of the worst of the weather. Bagels and I have become more accustomed to sharing a tent and have developed a quick routine to split the effort of setting up (that is, when I manage to arrive before he has it done himself, the benefits of being slower) and share the limited space inside the duplex without getting in the way of the other. Some nights I still prefer my own tent for a quieter sleep, but in the cold mornings of Washington, I’ve come to appreciate the heat that gets generated from two people overnight. I’ve finally…finally! also managed to figure out my resupply volumes to snack to my heart’s content and run out of food on town day. I’ve got trail life down pat. Figures we’re only a couple weeks from the finish.
Day 138: Spring (2351.7) to Dirt Road (2376.8)
August 25 // 25.2 miles
Keeda caused some diversion in camp first thing this morning as she decided that the door of Honeybee’s tent was not an appropriate exit and kind of just tore her way out the side wall. Honeybee patched up as best she could while we ate breakfast in a circle, offering encouragement and advice without lifting a finger ourselves.
It was cold again, but not as bad as yesterday morning, got going around eight after eating breakfast. Everything was shrouded in mist, which seems to be the new norm and I love it, so long as we don’t get too much colder…still a while until Canada ahead and I need winter to hold off until then.
There was an unexpected burst of cell service atop the first ridge, every person stopping for a social media break caused a small hiker bubble for the rest of the morning. We played leap frog with the other hiker pack of 4-5 people, which provided us with some healthy competition to keep moving. We never see groups our size on trail even though I know they must exist.
It was also RACE DAY on the PCT. A 100 mile ultramarathon borrowed a section of the trail and we happened to hit it at the perfect time. Every six miles today there were aid stations where the runners stop to get food, water and see friends/family when the trail crosses dirt roads. I wasn’t sure what to expect on the long downhill where the first station was. I could see the blue tents, parked cars and a small crowd gathered where a dirt road intersected the PCT. None of the runners had come through yet and I think the crowd must have thought I was a runner. I could hear someone yell and then there was cheering, which diminished into some half-hearted applause when they saw I was just walking along with my pack. I was still offered some fruit for the road and chatted with the race coordinator while eating. He said that the front runners would be coming through shortly, so I set up in a little dirt patch next to the trail to wait for my friends and catch some of the excitement. The whole crew arrived before the runners did and we watched the first guy (incredibly skinny, long hair and beard, short shorts) come tearing down the hill, wave at the cheering crowd, kiss his wife and run on into the mist without so much as a piece of watermelon. Madness.
A few more runners came through and we helped the crowd cheer them on for a bit but it was time to get moving. The runners tended to walk the uphill and then run the downhills and flats, appearing out of nowhere, so it was a no-headphone day and my neck got sore from constantly craning around to check the trail behind me.
It never warmed up even a little bit today, and had to keep my gloves on and hood up to try and keep some feeling in my extremities. Made good time to the next aid station in six miles, it was too cold to stop for long, but they offered to take our trash and there was even a hiker box that someone had given the volunteers to put out alongside the trail. Picked up a couple packets of caffeinated gel for energy and a paper cup of mountain dew.
It was just one stop to the next today, the trail has never felt so busy and I probably talked with more strangers than the rest of the summer combined. We passed a trail crew shortly after the aid station, clearing brush off the path and breaking up stones. As my group made our way up the switchbacks towards them, they yelled at us to tell them our trail names, and we yelled them back one by one. The crew then chanted our trail names as we passed. It was great. I should do some trail work next summer, it seems like a fantastic way to give back.
There was a cooler of beer and soda, and two boxes of pizza at the next dirt road. The pizza was all gone but that was okay because we had tummies full from snacking all day, it’s been the first time that I’ve appreciated the trail magic but not taken anything. And not fifty feet past the pizza and soda there was yet another aid station. It was the busiest one we had passed so far, with port a potties and two huge awnings with coolers and food. Cars were lined up on either side of the road with a crowd of volunteers and family members bundled in parkas and toques, many holding signs, replacement gear and/or small children. They all gave us high fives and words of encouragement as we passed. The trail is an absolute party today. A beer can had magically appeared in my hand, people clapped me on the back. We took a minute beside the trail to drink, talking to a man watching for his son and watching the runners shuffle in looking absolutely wrecked (they still had another 60 something miles to go…and people think we’re crazy).
It was getting bitterly cold and we still had a good chunk of trail to get to before camp. After the aid station there was a sharp two miles of uphill, very steep. The runners walk on the uphill and we actually caught and passed a few of them, they returned the favour on the downhill. One guy in his mid-thirties was chatting to Bagels and I near the top of the climb, he’s been running these ultras multiple times a year for almost ten years. We couldn’t believe what he was doing, he couldn’t believe what we were doing. People are such strange creatures. When the trail flattened, it was time for him to run again so we said goodbye and off he went.
I figured the trail magic was done for the day since we were making camp before the next aid station and they would be gone in the morning (30 hour cutoff for the runners so they’d all pass us in the night). But the goodness didn’t end there, in a few miles the trail emerged from the woods into a clear cut for telephone wires, and there was a dirt road upon which was parked a jeep with trunk popped and a huddle of thru hikers wrapped in blankets, including Cream, Eli, Honeybee and PC, who we thought were miles ahead. The jeep owner was a lady that lived nearby, and she’d made chili and brought it out to the trail to warm us up on her day off. What a legend. Bagels and I were last to leave after the chili was gone, we helped her pack up the jeep and continued on down the trail wondering if today could get any better.
After being spoiled all day, we stopped at an overgrown rocky road that was camp for the night. The water was another .2 miles down the trail and I was on water duty tonight, taking bottles and water bladders and a filter down to the little trickle of water, trying to keep track of whose bottle was whose and which was for dirty vs clean water. All in all it was about 8 liters to filter and my fingers were going numb in the icy water. When I got back to camp with my arms stuffed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Bagels had already blown up my mattress (by far my least favourite part of each day) and put my quilt in his tent, Honeybee had set up my camp chair at the best spot around our dinner rock and PC gave me an extra packet of hot chocolate. Trail currency at its finest.
While we were eating, the runners that were still trickling on by (at this point they were all moving noticeably slower, usually walking) enviously said, without fail, some variation of “man I wish I was staying with you guys tonight.” To which we, without fail, replied “you’re more then welcome” but none of them took us up on the offer and plodded into the night. I felt bad for them, they probably think this is fun the same way I think walking for 5 months is fun, but it’s a much more concentrated and extreme form of fun and I can’t see how it would be enjoyable during this part of the run. 100 miles is a long way to go without stop or sleep, especially when the night is going to be cold and probably rainy.
The thrill of cheering on the bobbing headlamps that passed us by wore off, and everyone was wiped so it was soon tent time. I can still hear the occasional foot pounds of a runner coming through in the pitch black, I’ve never been so happy to be warm and snuggled in my quilt while they go off into the beginning of a long, long night.
I can’t believe how much I’m still in love with this trail and it’s lifestyle, we’re nearing the finish line but I feel like I can keep on hiking the whole way to Canada and then back to Mexico again. The Oregon migraines have for the most part faded and I can focus on how much fun I’m having with my trail fam. Since last year, I’ve been solidly and stubbornly set in the mindset that there would be nowhere I could possibly love as much as the Sierra Nevada, and though I still haven’t caved out loud…Washington is just as equally magic and I love that it’s been able to surprise me.
Day 139: Dirt Road (2376.8) to Snoqualmie (2393.1)
August 26 // 16.3 miles
Despite my usual rule about no alarms on trail, I was up early to help pack up so Bagels could get to Snoqualmie in time to meet some friends from Seattle that had promised to bring us a stack of Costco pizzas. It rained during the night and everything was wet and freezing cold, but it’s town day so the weather can be as miserable as it wishes… I would be having a hot shower and warm bed at the end of the day. I was the first out of camp (how little I get to say that!) and town was calling so I hit my top hiking speeds today, that rarely ever happens because it leaves me so wiped the next day.
Normally I try to suffer the cold in my hiking shirt and keep all my warm sleeping layers in my bag so I have something dry to change into at camp, but since it’s town day I hiked in my base layer and puffy and let them get soaked through by the thick mist that seems to be a Washington staple. There was steep climbing right off the bat so the puffy didn’t last long but it was nice to keep my thick wool baselayer top on for a small degree of warmth.
The mist was so pervasive that I couldn’t see more than a few feet down the trail and the trees were making their own rain from all the dew their branches had collected overnight. I was completely soaked through and freezing within a half hour of hitting the trail and ended up putting my poles away, hiking with my hands sandwiched in the little heat pocket between my pack and back, which mostly kept them from going numb. On the plus side the cold weather helped me sustain max speeds and I had incredible energy powering up the steep uphills.
I still can’t be the fastest though, PC caught up at the top of the climb, and so I had some company while the trail curved around Mirror lake. Of everyone in our group, I tend to have the most conversation on trail with PC and it passes the time so much faster than counting down the miles alone, although I can’t keep up with him when he decides to hike at his top speeds. There were a few intrepid families braving the miserable weather to cook breakfast outside their massive tents but we had no time to stop and chat-it’s a town day and my legs were going numb.
Ditched PC while he made some wardrobe adjustments trying to stay dry, I was scared to stop moving in this cold. Continued down towards Snoqualmie pass alone. The downhill was quite steep, very rocky and dangerously slippy, especially without poles, not that they would’ve helped…I don’t think I’d be able to grip them with how numb my hands were in their thin, wet gloves. The thick foliage alongside trail was soaked and slapped against my legs and completely drenched my socks and shoes but still made good time down towards the interstate.
The mist turned into proper rain on the way down, and I felt very grateful how lucky we’ve been so far with weather in Washington, and not gotten days like this when we’re far from town. It’s one thing to hike in the rain, but setting up a wet camp after a day like today seems like the most demoralizing thing in the world. All the waterproof stuffsacks in the world won’t help keep things dry if the sun doesn’t make any appearances.
I could hear the traffic on I90 from far away but my phone was too wet to check how far out I was or even get my music playing, so I retreated into the boring, mindless, static world in my head with body on autopilot for the last few miles, usually imagining the same simple daydreams or scenarios over and over and over on loop. This “zombie hiking” helps escape the misery of cold and wet hiking (also helps with wind, extreme heat, steep climbs, boring road walks).
The woods opened up and I crossed underneath the ski lifts on the open hillside. The mist had cleared enough to see Snoqualmie pass below- a tiny little highway stop that also serves as a ski town in the winter. I almost ran down the rest of trail and then wandered down the highway towards the cluster of buildings hoping to warm up and get some food, there isn’t a whole lot other than a couple restaurants, hotel and convenience/gas station store.
I was chilled through with a serious case of the shivers as soon as I stopped moving, so I went straight to shelter under the overhang of the restaurant/brewery in the middle of town. PC and Bagels showed up shortly after while I was changing into my dry t-shirt and slightly damp puffy, giving a great strip show of my skinny-fat hiker torso to the patrons eating inside the restaurant. I was craving a hot bowl of chili that was listed on the menu tacked to the door, but PC and Bagels wanted to hold out for the promised costco pizza, so we went to the Dru Bru brewery to wait. My hands were so cold I couldn’t get my ziplock wallet bag open, so went to the bathroom to hold them under the dryer until they could function normally again. I looked pretty rough in the mirror-bright red from the cold and very dirty with a hint of drowned rat. My blue hiking t-shirt has permanent sweat salt marks that won’t go away no matter how much it’s washed. I also look happy though. I love Washington.
Honeybee, Eli and Cream showed up looking as cold and wet as I felt, but everyone was in a good mood, especially since Bagel’s friends stopped by the brewery with six large pizzas (magical friends!) which was so welcome after eating nothing all day. I had six pieces which I thought was pretty impressive, but Eli managed to put an entire pizza away on his own. The few beers I tried were pretty good, but surprisingly, my favourite of the day was the non-alcoholic, homemade root beer Dru Bru had on tap. Another nice surprise was a visit from my 2017 hiking buddy Sara’s mother, she was hiking at Snoqualmie and popped in to buy me a drink and catch up.
After a few more rounds of pizza and beer we traipsed across the highway to get a couple rooms at the Snoqualmie inn, an old, run-down hotel alongside the road with funky green duck-patterned wallpaper. We’d heard that they weren’t always friendly to PCT hikers, but the lady at the front desk was kind and helpful, and the room had a bed and a good shower, which is all I need nowadays to be happy. Bagels and I split a room separate from the others so we could spread out our wet gear to dry. It’s odd not having the rest of the group crammed into a hotel with us but I can’t deny it’s nice to have the extra space. There was also significantly less hair in the shower drain.
I could go on about the town luxuries for far longer than is interesting, but it summed to a hot shower, coconut water and icecream and oreos from the gas station, drying and finally washing my disgusting clothes, and a nice long nap with the Office on in the background. Waterfall, who I hiked with way back around Wrightwood, is here too and she came along with the rest of us to dinner across the road at a small cozy restaurant. I went all out and ordered steak! with roasted vegetables!! and red wine to share. Snoqualmie has been one of the best town stops, there isn’t much but it is the perfect little size to get around on foot, has everything I need to be completely happy, plus the businesses are very PCT-friendly.
In addition to loving Snoqualmie, this has been one of my favourite sections of the entire trail. Today especially was one of my best days, despite the wet and cold this morning. I’m absolutely loving Washington. It’s just as beautiful as the Sierra and I’m feeling amazing, I know I’m going to finish at this point, even if I break both legs and have to drag myself arm over arm to the border. My trail family is close knit and our rule “no thirties in Washington” and tendency to pack out luxury food has made everything feel more like an extended camping vacation than an exhausting slog to Canada. We wake up late, take breaks as needed, camp early to eat dinner together enjoy each other’s company before the sun goes down. They sometimes give me a hard time about doing this trail back to back years, I would honestly do it again next year in a heart beat.