Friday, November 20, 2020

Day 74: Conquering Mount Zion!

August 22: Amanda and I checked out of the motel in Sequim then drove over to Jack in the Box for a quick lunch. We chose that location because they had a few tables and chairs outdoors available, and we liked the idea of eating outside of the hotel room or in the car.

But we were disappointed to see people at one of the tables smoking and rather than put up with the smoke, we ate the in car. 

Lots of gravel roads to follow today.

Amanda drove me back up to the trail where I followed gravel roads for much of the day. The weather was overcast and cloudy, but at least it wasn't raining. It was sunny in Sequim, but then Sequim is in a rain shadow, but it was somewhat disappointing to find out the trail was in fog.

For the most part, the trail headed relentlessly upwards, higher and higher toward Mount Zion. And finally, I left the logging roads behind veering off onto the Snow Creek Trail and Deadfall Trail which peaked at Mount Zion.

At the summit, the sun was flirting through the fog and was nearly breaking out. There used to be a fire lookout tower at the summit with fabulous views, but the lookout tower was long gone and new trees were largely obscuring the view. But I could see a little of Puget Sound, despite the fog and trees, but it was a bit disappointing for a mountain with a name as grand as "Mount Zion."

And then I headed back down the backside of Mount Zion at which point I started seeing a few day hikers. It wasn't crowded at all, but it was the nearest trailhead to the summit and therefore the busiest section of trail.

And Amanda was already at the trailhead waiting when I arrived, and she reported seeing four PNT hikers behind me on the trail!


She was driving on the road walk out of Port Townsend and saw two groups of two people with big heavy packs walking along the road and figured they had to be thru-hikers because nobody else would voluntarily do such a horrible road walk. She stopped at the first two to chat and give them some of my cold drinks as trail magic. She hadn't really expected to see other thru-hikers and wasn't prepared to give them trail magic, so she gave me them MY drinks! But that's okay. =)

She reported that their names were Ryan and Alison, and that they were maybe 15 miles behind me on the trail. They had also started hiking the trail last year like I did but, like me, weren't able to finish and came back this year to finish up. They had also been hiking from the ferry terminal eastward before completing that section and coming back to the ferry to complete the Olympic Peninsula. Which meant.... there was a possibility I could have passed them on the trail while they were going in the other direction but we didn't recognize each other as fellow PNT hikers. But it's also entirely possible that our paths had never crossed either. For instance, if they passed where I got back on the trail before I got back on or we used different alternate paths or one of us was off trail in town when the other passed by. Who knows?

And Amanda also found out that their permits through the Olympics meant that they were scheduled to finish the trail on September 5th--two days before me. At some point, they'd have to pass me on the trail. And they hated the permit system as much as I did, but it sounds like they hadn't worked out a schedule as nice as mine since they had a short 4-mile day followed by a 30-mile day or something to that effect. I was glad that my longest stretch between campsites was about 17 miles.

After meeting the first two hikers, she saw two other PNT hikers further up the road, but she had given away all of my drinks already and had no trail magic left to provide, so she didn't stop for them and didn't get their information. I still have no idea who else she might have seen.

It was exciting to think that there were PNT hikers less than a day behind me on the trail, though! I hadn't seen any all year and figured the bulk of them were a week or two behind me since I didn't have to start at Glacier NP like most of them did. Ryan and Alison were about 15 miles behind me when Amanda saw them, but it was likely they'd gain some ground today since I had only hiked about 10 miles. I figured there was a good chance that they'd stop and set up camp somewhere between 5 and 10 miles back and could very well pass me by the end of day tomorrow.

The rest of the afternoon, we mostly sat around in the parking lot reading books. We decided to camp at the trailhead to save a little money on a hotel and save having to drive out just to drive back again in the morning. Amanda brought a giant tent, so we set that up out of view just down the trail. All of the day hikers at the trailhead followed the trail to Mount Zion, but absolutely nobody followed the trail in the opposite direction so we set up at a flat area in that direction.

I cooked dinner at the picnic table in the parking lot.

Living the good life! =) But that was it for the day.

And the final few miles up and over Mount Zion were on actual trail. =) Quite a steep trail, though!

I could barely see Puget Sound between the fog that was still burning off and the abundance of trees growing up around the former site of a lookout tower on Mount Zion. This was as good as the view got!

Mount Zion trailhead

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