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We are currently on another long distance hike, and the third leg of our "triple crown", the Continental Divide Trail (the "CDT"). Come along with us if you can - if not in person then by following our grand adventure via our "posts from the trail".  Check out our Flickr Photos, which we'll update periodically, and see it through our eyes!

Our Credo...

"Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

August 22nd

Sometime around midnight last night the rains began to come down more insistently, changing from a pitter-patter to a drumming sound. It kept up a steady rhythm all night, sometimes slacking off only momentarily before beating even harder. The tent, under the constant fall of rain, kept us mostly dry, but did let in moisture, a pool of water formed in each corner, where seam seal was lacking. Water seems to seep upward through the floor beneath any object. Our faces were sprayed with mist each time a hard rain fell, as if driven through the tent. Or perhaps the force of the rain is shaking free droplets of condensation. In any case, what isn’t actually wet is surely damp.

We ate our bagels and cream cheese in the comfort of the warm and somehow still dry, sleeping bag, waiting for a lull in the symphony, an intermission. This rain has an all day feel to it and we know that any break will only be temporary, but its so much easier to pack up when its not pouring. We are tempted to sleep in and wait longer but still have hopes of a 30 mile day so that Tuesday we can make it to Timberline to meet my parents.

By 7:20am we are hiking. The morning is darker than normal because of the clouds and colder. Dreary. The rain returns quickly and is an almost constant companion as we continue to traverse the flanks of Mt Jefferson. The Frogg Toggs are no match for this northwestern rain, Both the pants as well as the top let some water in and become heavy as water saturates their material. They do manage to create enough of a vapor barrier that they are somewhat warm and they keep the shirts underneath from becoming totally soaked.

After a couple hours we come to Milk Creek, so named because the glacial silt and cascades usually turns the water a frothy white. Today its more of a chocolate milk, brown from the mud and debris cut from the rain swollen banks. We see no good way across and look up stream until the creek is squeezed through canyon walls to steep to traverse. Stopping for a minute to consider our options leaves us both very cold. If we can’t cross the creek we must either hike to keep warm or put up the tent and wait for the rain swollen creek to come back down to more normal levels. There do not appear to be any side trails to help us and hiking back on the PCT puts us nowhere near where we want to be, so we set up the tent, strip out of damp/wet clothes and put on dry ones to warm up and wait. Its now about 10am and we are back to where we started the day, only wetter and about 4 miles further along. ZigZagger goes by. He checks out the creek, finds what he considers a reasonable cross! ing and comes back to tell us that he has marked it with a stone cairn.

We are both skeptical and disappointed that we didn’t find it ourselves. We are also still trying to warm up and are in no condition to leave the tent just yet. We warm up, eat an early lunch and wait for another break in the rain. Then we put back on the cold wet clothes and for the second time in the same morning pack up in the rain. At noon we find the cairn and cross the creek, it’s not as easy as Zigzagger made it sound, but its not as bad as it looked.

We hike on in the rain for another couple hours to Russell Creek, another stream fed by glaciers. It’s supposed to be the worst creek crossing on Jefferson’s slopes and its raging. Zigzager isn’t here, so we figure he has crossed, but we don’t see how. The current seems too swift and too deep. Rocks rumble beneath the surface, as they are swept downstream by the torrent. We look upstream for other potential crossings and see nothing. Several are tempting, so close that a jump might make it. But the trouble is that it also “might” not. 70% sounds like good odds until you consider that 30% failure rate and the consequences of being carried over a serious cataract if you miss. We are frustrated, as we really want to hike now that we have had two starts to the day where it was difficult enough to get going that we want it to be meaningful. We look a long ways up stream until the other side is overgrown with willows and alders on its banks. Still nothing. We turn back to evaluate the creek coming back down.

As we are heading back to the trail, Honolulu and Disco are walking upstream looking for a way across. They continue to search as we head down. At the trail we find Trim. He plows right through he creek, struggling a little with a couple steps. The water is up to the top of his thighs. His height and strength carry him through. But I will bet it is a feat he is glad to not have to repeat. It is more than I feel comfortable with. It’s more than the Carrot would be likely to try. We are more determined than ever to find a way across and look again back upstream. We follow Disco and Honolulu’s tracks past where we had first turned around. We see them on the far side, so somewhere they made it across. The roar of the rushing water makes conversation with them impossible, but through hand gestures we understand they had used the alders to pull themselves part way across. We think we find the place they crossed and we think they must have been a little bit lucky, or a little bit foolish or both. Maybe I’m getting overly cautious as I get older, or maybe I’m getting older by being cautious, but I see no way across that I feel comfortable trying. And we have now spent an hour and three trips up stream looking. Downstream is a narrow, cliff-lined gorge, no good. Once again the option that seems best is to put up the tent and wait. This time it will be tomorrow before we try again. There is no way we will leave the tent three times in one day. By 3:30pm we are inside and slowly drying out and warming up. This time it takes longer, the temperature is dropping and our body heat output is less. It takes an hour for the toes to come back to life. In between rainsqualls we make tea, then pasta, then hot chocolate. The power of hot food and beverage is amazing; never underestimate it. Warmth returns, even if everything else is wet or damp. (The sleeping bag remains, remarkably, basically dry.)

We found a campsite back away from the trail on slightly higher ground. During one downpour, water started to rain into a puddle next to the tent. As the puddle stated to move under the tent the situation became serious. If nothing was done we would son being the middle of a small pond, not comfortable. So I put back on wet clothes, jumped outside and used a hiking pole to dig a trench to drain the puddle away from the tent, returning to restart the drying process. Later on we hear someone set up a tent closer to the trail. Cold and rain keep us from greeting our neighbor.

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