Day 146 (Sept. 13) – Back to the U.S.A.
TW, Oberon, and myself were the only three hikers that were required to tent in Manning Park last night. I’ll be honest and say I had a tad too much to drink last night celebrating and woke up not feeling particularly spunky. Even so, I was up at 6:30am. Not much was happening that early in the morning, so after escaping from my tent, I sat in a comfy couch in the resort lobby until TW joined.
The new, nice lady at the front desk opened up the laundry room early for us and so we got that started before making our way over to breakfast. We were there when the doors opened at 8:00am. I had a scrumptious egg and cheese sandwich and deliciously crispy and seasoned fried hash browns. The coffee was on point as well and the overall effect of breakfast did wonders for my spirit.
Next was a transitioning of the clothes to the dryer, a visit to the resort store, tracking down Calzone’s treking poles she’d left behind last night accidentally, and then after our clothes were clean, finally a visit to the Loon Lagoon… showers, pool, hot tub and even a sauna. We thought this was the proper way to end a PCT adventure (for TW).
Upon leaving the pool area I thought I’d check in the lobby and parking lot to see if there might be any visitors that I might know. Actually, the truth is, I was expecting some visitors. I haven’t really discussed my plans for getting down to Chester, but now am happy to reveal that the dream team of Dave H Master Trailsman aka The Hibernating Marmot and none other than Super Strider Sheryl were coming to pick me up! Yes folks, we’d been communicating and putting this plan together for weeks and finally it was happening. Suprise.
And sure enough, in my post-pool euphoria, I found Mama and Papa Wonder out in the parking lot gazing around in circles as if they were looking for their long lost son. We had a happy reunion and I learned they’d been looking for me for a while asking other hikers if they seen us. I hadn’t expected them that early, but all was well!
We spent another half hour or so packing up our tents.
In the process we saw that Oberon had left his treking poles too and so we stopped up by the resort to see if he was around still. No luck finding him there, but we did grab some snacks for the drive. And then when we pulled out, there was Mr. Oberon (along with others) hitchhiking along Highway 3 trying to find a ride into Vancouver. Well, we stopped and found out they were indeed his poles. We then squished him inside with TW and myself in the back seat and set off!
Oberon is from Northern England and both he and TW planned to fly out of Vancouver International Airport. I believe it was around a 3 hour drive from Manning Park to the hotel near the airport that TW had booked. Along the way, we stopped for some lunch at a spot that had several fast food options, all neighboring one another. We almost had it where we each went to a different option, but not quite. TW and I got pizza, mom and dad got Chinese food, and Oberon opted for shawarma.
At the Travelodge near the Vancouver airport, we dropped off TW and Oberon. It was sad to say goodbye and not have TW continue on the journey with us, but I was happy to have gotten the chance to hike together as long as we did. Pretty rad adventuring together!
After a brief planning session (Team Hoekwater hadn’t really talked through much of the details of our trip together yet… surprise to those who know us best I’m sure😉), we began our drive away from downtown Vancouver and south toward the border. Well we tried, but ended up getting on the wrong on-ramp and ventured into some traffic going the opposite direction for a while first…then, after fighting our way through traffic, we were headed back toward the United States.
I was a bit nervous at the border crossing because of the odd way in which I’d entered the country, but all went fairly quickly and smooth. We’d looked ahead at this point and I saw a hotel at which I could use my acquired rewards points. The hotel was located in Oak Harbor, WA which is the largest town on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound northwest of Seattle.
Before reaching the hotel however, on our drive, we stopped at Deception Pass and took a short hike down to the water. Dave H commenced to kicking my butt in a stone skipping competition!
After checking in to our hotel room, we were soon back in the car to drive a few miles away to Cookeville. Dad and mom had visited this area years ago when my sister Emily lived on the island for a summer job. Apparently they’d ate at a lovely restaurant where dad had gotten some memorable seafood. And so…we of course were on a mission to find that very same restaurant!
We found the quiet little village of Cookeville no problem, but nothing seemed to strike the memories as being thee restaurant of legend. After a drive by and walk through of the downtown, we settled on Toby’s Tavern. It was not the same place, but the Tobster did whip up some great food! Such a truly wonderful time catching up with each other over tasty food and beverages.
Day 147 (Sept. 14) – A Long Drive
Today was all about the drive to get me back down to northern California. Using Google Maps to to find a route from Manning Park, British Columbia (where I ended up/got picked up in Canada) to Chester, California (where I’m restarting the trail again), it will give you a drive time of around 15 hours. Now, we were splitting that up between three days, but still, the drive was no small feat. Plus, we didn’t go for the fastest, most direct route, but instead chose to make some stops. The bulk of the driving was done today.
Prior to our departure from the hotel, I did a quick load of laundry and dad chefed us up a delicious breakfast! Yep, right there in the hotel room. Eggs, sausage, toast, pancakes, coffee, and OJ. How you ask? Well, this particular hotel is typically intended for extended stay visitors and came equipped with all the necessary kitchen appliances and such. So, voila…
We left our hotel on Whidbey Island/Oak Harbor around 8:00am. Not too far down the road I requested a pit stop at the local Verizon store to attempt to get a new screen protector for my phone. My current one had about 7 cracks, but for some reason they didn’t have one in stock, so that was a fail. We made a few other errand-like stops to Walgreens and the bank and then found ourselves in the car line to get onto the ferry that would take us back to the main land.
Such a neat experience. I’ve done the Seattle /Puget Sound area car ferry before, but I just love it. Parking the car, walking up to the passenger area, getting coffee, going outside to the windy deck…it was a short ride, but a fun experience.
Like I said above, today was all about the drive. We cruised on by Seattle, had a slowdown near Tacoma, kept it weird passing Portland and made a detour into Eugene, Oregon. No we weren’t checking out the origins of Nike, but it was a shoe related visit. Calzone was needing a new pair of Altra’s, and so we stopped at REI to get them and some other supplies for Cheer and I. Turned out that REI didn’t have her size in stock, but luckily a local shoe store did. Success!
We cruised on further until reaching Medford, OR where I was able to do another rewards night hotel. It was pretty late, maybe between 8-9pm and we were exhausted.
Day 148 (Sept. 15) – Visits to Old Fav’s and New
We left the hotel around 8:00am and soon stopped for a McDonald’s breakfast of champions. We still had about 4 hours of drive time until we reached Chester. It was a bit strange going along this stretch since I was passing by some of the towns I’d stayed in (Ashland and the Burney area) and areas where the trail had crossed over/under the highway. I saw views of Mount Shasta from a different perspective and also took mom and dad on a tour of some of the sites I got to see on the trail, which was a ton of fun.
We took a visit to see the wonderful Burney Falls and hiked the loop around them. Mom got to experience her first steps on the PCT! And, I “completed” a 0.1 mile section of trail that I had skipped. Not something I was all that concerned about, but makes my trek all that more complete I suppose.
Apparently, dad came from or is going to Canada and mom came from or is going to Mexico…
Next up was some cave exploration at the Subway Cave Lava Tube!
It was nearing lunch at this point and so we stopped at the gas station within the tiny town of Old Sation to get some colas and bread for sandwiches. This “town” consisting simply of this small convenience store and JJ’s Restaurant is a popular hiker stop along the trail since it’s so close, but one that I cruised on by when I was going through. Soon later (that word combo was for you John Brittenham) we entered into Lassen Volcanic National Park. Not far into the park we found Manzanita Lake at which to have a picnic. So unexpectedly delicious to have a sandwich with bread!
Afterwards, we drove through and explored a totally different part of Lassen VNP that I hadn’t seen when hiking through. The PCT crosses the parks eastern side from south to north and we cruised along the one road that navigated through the west and central parts up to a serious 8,500 feet elevation. Very neat views of mountains (including Lassen Peak), lakes, and forests looking out. We found a snow patch to play in too and are lucky we left with no serious injuries!
Before leaving the park, we went on a 3ish mile hike to see the Bumpass Hell Basin. Don’t believe me that it’s called that….
It was an interesting place that was reminiscent of parts of Yellowstone NP that we’d seen before. A fun, not easy, and bit chilly hike. We all felt the effects of the high elevation too, but persevered even so.
Following our extreme hiking adventure, we made one last stop at some sulphurous bubbling hot springs before finishing the drive to Chester…
I think it was around 6:00pm when we finally rolled into the lovely town of Chester, California. We went directly to Our Savior Lutheran Church where Cheer and Calzone had arrived about an hour earlier. If you remember, they’d flown from Seattle to Reno and eventually got a ride into town. The folks that attend this church are super hospitable and allow hikers to camp in the back lot. I stayed here last time in town as well.
After some introductions (dad of course hiked with C and C, but mom had yet to meet in person), we all went over to the Locker Room, a sports bar with what we found out had pretty good food. Good times were had by all. And, mom was getting a glimpse of what the trail life was about, tenting in random church “lawns” and eating at random various local restaurants.
Indeed, rather than get another hotel, the whole Hoekwater team camped behind the church too! Me in my tent, and mom and dad in one they’d brought along. We finished the night off by chatting on the back porch, but were all pretty tired and headed to our tents at a decent time.