Day 100: Mt. Adams Wilderness… of black flies and mosquitoes

August 2
Mileage 30
Mile 2237.5 to mile 2267.5

I wake up in the morning before everyone else; they all stayed up late out in the field with the paying guests, looking for UFO’s. I eat my little tupperware of oatmeal, chia seeds and protein powder, walk to the beautiful cob bathrooms to poop. When I come back the others are up, stuffing away their sleeping bags.

“Dude said that satellites were UFO’s,” says Woody. “And that the lights of climbers on Mt. Adams were ships, coming out of a portal in the mountain. I was like, ‘No those are the lights of climbers’. It was so disappointing.”

We trickle out onto the road and hitch the two miles back into town. We’re rolling ten deep these days, a pretty big group. We keep picking up more and more people, like a snowball rolling downhill. It’s funny because in front of us and behind us are windows where the hikers are super sparse. So if I’m behind or ahead it’s like there’s no-one on the trail, anywhere.

We make it the two miles into town but then get stuck, standing in a big clump on the road that leads out of town. There’s no traffic- this sleepy little town is still asleep. I get a text from Guthrie- he’s at the trailhead, camping with his parents, and his dad, in an incredible act of generosity, has offered to drive into town and pick us all up.

We fit ten people into Guthrie’s parent’s SUV. Plus our packs. Thru-hiker magic! At the trailhead Guthrie’s mom, Susan, has even made us breakfast- sausage and eggs and blueberries and toast. And there’s a cooler of soda on ice. We stuff our faces until we can’t eat anymore and then finally, at 9 a.m., it’s time to hike.

There’s a long climb this morning, so I lose everyone. I’m not a fast climber, never have been. Probably never will be. I have service on the climb so I can stream music, which is a rare treat, and by some stroke of amazing Miley Cyrus’ The Climb comes on as I’m working my way up the mountain, and hilarious as it is, it instantly boosts my morale.

There’s always gonna be another mountain
You’re always gonna want to make it move
It’s gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes you’re gonna have to lose
It aint about how fast you get there
It aint about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

I almost catch the group at a stream at the top and keep hiking so that I can keep up- how long can I go this morning before I take a break? It’s beautiful today- we’re in Mt. Adams wilderness, circling the white mountain in lush green meadows and bright, flower-filled burns. We joke about the places in the mountain where the spaceships come out.

Early afternoon I’m dying for a break but now, suddenly, there are thousands of blackflies, and if I stop for even a second they land all over me and try to bite. My feet hurt and I’m crashing but I have to keep moving! I finally take a break in a sunny clearing where, for some reason, the flies aren’t as bad, and sit numbly eating potato chips and MnMs. Afterwards I feel like shit- I should’ve taken a break this morning, I shouldn’t have let myself bonk like that. The pressures of the group are stressing me out today.

A few miles later everyone breaks at a cold, fast spring rushing out of a huge pile of lava. We noncommitaly talk about where to camp for the night and then hike out, one by one.

There’s a shift change. The blackflies go away- and the mosquitoes appear.

It’s some of the worst mosquitoes we’ve seen on the trail so far.

We’re hiking through an area of deep forest and stagnant ponds, and the mosquitoes are thick. I’m hiking with Guthrie and we’re practically running through the woods, slapping our arms and legs, cursing and hiking as fast as we can. The whole situation is hilarious- mosquito hell in Washington, who knew? We pass Chance, who’s hiking with her tent draped over her. We race past pond after pond and at last the trail starts to climb, up away from the water. The mosquitoes become less dense and then there’s a campsite and Woody, with his tent set up.

We throw up our shelters and the others trickle in, one by one. We sleep.

Photos on instagram.