Monday, December 23, 2019

Day 25: The Northport Death March

August 9: I woke up to dark and cloudy skies. It didn't rain nor was rain in the forecast, but the worst of the hot temperatures had passed and not a day too soon!

The day started with a few miles gravel road walk.

I hit the trail at a normal 6:00am start time. The first few miles followed a gravel road from the campground to a rural highway--then there was a long, 20-mile road walk along the highway into Northport.

Twenty miles! On a paved road! With fast-moving traffic! It was completely and utterly flat so in that regard, the day's hike was easy, but that was the only easy aspect. Other than that, the road walk was completely miserable.

Well, the other nice thing about the highway--at least it wasn't very busy with traffic. The first few hours of walking, I could count on one hand the number of vehicles that passed me. As the day wore on, the traffic picked up but it was never super busy. At its worst, a car would pass me every five minutes or so.

There was no privacy along the road so when I had to pee, I'd wait for a break in the traffic and pee on the shoulder of the road. There were trees at times alongside the road, but fences or thick vegetation generally kept me away from using those for privacy.

Most of the day was spent on this massive 20-mile road walk into Northport! Horrible, horrible road walk....

I also thanked my lucky stars that the brutal temperatures from yesterday had broken. The elevation was low and it was likely near 100 degrees along this road walk the day before. A whopping 100 degrees on a paved road probably could have melted the shoes off my feet! Temperatures were still uncomfortably warm and the air was humid--but definitely not 100 degrees warm! So temperatures were working in my favor.

The road makes a wide turn around a mountain range coming within 500 feet of the Canadian border. The trail is always fairly close to the Canadian border, but this was closer than usual. I could practically throw a rock and hit Canada.

About halfway through the road walk, I reached a small convenience store, gas station and shipping provider located just on this side of the border. I stopped for a rest in the shade of the building and bought a Klondike Bar and Coke to refresh myself. I also kicked off my shoes for a bit while relaxing.

Cars came and went and I noticed a large number of them were Canadian. Out of curiosity, I asked one of them where they were from and he pointed over the border. Just a short way over the border in Canada, he told me, but he likes to drive here to get gas because gas is so much cheaper in the US. Apparently shipping is a big border business as well because his wife went inside to mail a large package. It seemed like all the Canadians who stopped picked up gas, and it seemed split about 50/50 about whether they were picking up a shipment or sending one.

Eventually I put my shoes back on and continued the long road walk into Northport.

I bought a Klondike bar and Coke at the convenience store--and kicked off my shoes for a bit. They were throbbing from the road walk!

I arrived in Northport at about 4:00 in the afternoon. I passed some cabins at the edge of town and tried calling the provided number to see if I could get a room for myself, but the guy said they were full. My guidebook mentioned a B&B further into town, but the phone number I had didn't work so I walked into town to check it out--and it was clear that the business had gone out of business. Nope, I couldn't spend the night there either.

And that was it for official lodging in town. But there was one other place I might be able to stay.... a couple of trail angels that often allowed hikers to camp on the lawn of their backyard. I wasn't excited about it--I really wanted to get indoors for the night because there was rain in the forecast overnight, but I literally had nowhere else to go.

So I headed to their place and introduced myself to Jami and Josh. Josh caught me as he was leaving the house to walk their dog and Jami was watering the lawn in back. They were both so welcoming and friendly! Jami gave me a walk through of the facilities--where to shower, towels to use, laundry, etc. I almost didn't want to do laundry--I had left Metaline Falls just two days earlier and didn't actually feel all that dirty--but I knew I would later and it was probably best to wash clothes every chance I had.

This poor little guy was trying to commit suicide on the road!

I admitted to them that they were my last resort because I had wanted to stay indoors due to the chance of rain overnight and Jami said that that wasn't a problem and said I could stay in their guest room. Awesome! I was officially the 27th hiker of 2019 that they hosted. Last year, they told me, they had 35 hikers for the year and I wondered if that meant there were another 8 hikers behind me?

I settled in and chatted with them for a bit, then said something about going to the market to resupply. Jami said that they closed in 13 minutes so I better rush. Yikes! I practically ran out of the house and to the market, quickly running through the store and throwing stuff into my basket.

By the time I reached the checkout stand, they had already turned off the open sign and were locking the door--but they did finish ringing up my basket of supplies. I had made it--and just in the nick of time. If I missed it, they wouldn't open again until 10:00 or something the next morning--long after I had hoped to leave town.

Jami cooked a delicious curry and rice meal that she was happy to share with me and we all chatted about the trail the rest of the night. I was really glad I ended up here for the night. It was tempting to get sucked in and stay an extra night, but no, I still had miles to do and places to go! I wasn't prepared to spend a zero day in Northport!

This poor little guy did commit suicide on the road! I found four or five them along the road walk, but this was the least bloody of them.

So I'm confused.... can I cross or not? Make up your mind!!!
You get the feeling that the neighbors around these parts aren't very friendly. I got the distinct feeling that I was in redneck country.

Hello, Canada! I see you! =)
This is the Columbia River shortly after crossing into the United States. It looks a lot smaller here than it does when it passes Portland! (Which is where I'm most used to see the river.) But it's still a sizeable river....
This gas station is a popular stop for Canadians popping over the border. In fact, I feel pretty confident that this place wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for Canadians popping over the border.

Columbia River
That's Northport ahead! The PNT crosses the Columbia River on the bridge in the distance. (But I wouldn't cross it until leaving town tomorrow.)
This sign made me laugh. It basically sounds like, "We were puny then, and we're punier now!"
The plaque on the chimney describes the Northport smelter which once processed gold, copper and lead ores from local mines. This monument is only a replica--the last remnants of the smelter were covered over in 2004 during an environmental cleanup.


GG said...

It took me a half-beat to realize it's not a giant pipe, it's your pole.
I'm still waiting for the shadow photos.
Have you stopped doing the shadows?

Ryan said...

I still occasionally take shadow photos but they aren't a priority....

Arlene Gregoire (EverReady) said...

The Canadians are crossing the border to ship parcels destined for US address or international because the USPS is way cheaper than posting from Canada. Canada‘s postal service is great but the rates for cross border shipping is stupid expensive.