Day 19, Alice Creek to Cedar Falls

Woke up to clouds but no rain. This is how I remember it over here. Nice temps too.  I lived over on this side for several years.  Scenes like this bring Twin Peaks back to mind.


The clouds moving in and out.

Low Clouds

Low Clouds


Running along I-90

We got going and breezed through the last 10 miles to Cedar Falls. Counted over 30 trail users on the way there including climbers at the Deception Pass climbing area. There were a lot of trestles today as well.


One of the bigger Trestles

Trestle View

Go to the edge and look over!

Something kind of fun happened.  I had noticed a few days ago on Instagram a biker starting the trail.  Him and his partner passed us today.  They moved quick!  I recognized him from his photos when they passed us, and then, with the luck of a fortuitous flat, we were able to chat a bit when he was fixing it.  His name was Bryn.

Once the trail turned away from I-90 and more in toward Cedar Falls the forest got more mossy and most definitely Squatchy!


So many slugs!


Very Squatchy. He’s out there somewhere!


So many Maidenhair…

Keep Out

I’m amused how these signs seem to always have a trail running past them.

Finally found some stinging nettles, I’d been looking for them once we got into the mountains but couldn’t remember exactly what they looked like. After touching them I remembered pretty quickly.


Most definitely stinging nettle.

In Cedar Falls there’s a big educational center for the watershed. It’s pretty interesting. We didn’t spend much time there other than to look at the rain drum garden and the roof covered in vegetation. In all honesty I felt out of place there, I couldn’t eat my instant potatoes out of a bag like a vagrant if you know what I mean… so I talked Coyote into heading down to Rattlesnake Lake to sit in the park.

Cedar River

Watershed Education Center

Rattlesnake Lake

Rattlesnake Lake

Seems Early

Seems early, but berries are on.


Sitting in the park.

Our original plan would’ve taken us into Issaquah via the Snoqualmie Valley Trail-Preston/Snoqualmie Trail-Issaquah/Preston Trail and there I would rent a car and drive home. But my incredible friend Lisa had generously offered to come pick us up, so we waited there by the lake.

Lisa showed up and we were off… we even stopped in Cle Elum and ate at Smokey’s Bar-B-Que!  Then we drove Highway 10 through the upper Yakima river canyon watching the trail we had just been on.

And then we were home.

Day 18, Roaring Creek to Alice Creek

We were up early with anticipation for the tunnel.  Happily we stayed dry all night even though the thunder seemed to circle around us.  That’s the nature of the mountains I guess.

We walked along the lake looking at old snow shed footings and stuff until we got to Hyak.  There’s nice bathrooms and more showers in Hyak, but we didn’t have any quarters so we kept on.


Lake Shore


The Amenities!

Old Snow Shed

Old Snow Shed Reconstructed

Approaching Hyak

Approaching Hyak


The empty lot at Hyak.

The tunnel was amazing.  Don’t touch the side… I did and got slimy black fingers for it.  Some sort of weird mountain mildew stuff going on in there!  We had it to ourselves the whole way even though we thought someone was coming the other way until we got there.  We didn’t realize you could see the other end from the start.

East End

The Hyak entrance.

West End

The western end.

Somehow or another while walking the tunnel my hip started to hurt.  I think it was the crowned surface of the trail in the tunnel.  My right leg didn’t like having to be longer than my left I guess.  I switched sides but it still complained.  We rested it at Carter Creek at the camping area for a while and it felt much better.  Carter Creek campground has been damaged so we did the three more miles late in the day to Alice Creek.  Should make for a shorter day into Cedar Falls tomorrow.

I-90 Snoqualmie

I-90 after the tunnel.

Nice Trail

Nice trail on this side!

Last Pitch

Last Pitch!

Later in the evening as we were sitting I heard something and looked and saw someone coming so I alerted Coyote so she could prep the dogs.  I just assumed whoever it was was on a bicycle… but no, a guy goes cruising by standing up.  On something like a solowheel… completely threw me for a loop.  I’ve seen them in Seattle and Portland but that was honestly the last thing I was expecting out here! He passed again about an hour later heading back to wherever he got on trail.

Day 17, Easton to Roaring Creek

The trail is very pretty now with mountain views.  Met our first hiker of the trip.  He was solo, heading east, and training for the te araroa.  He’d just come upon two bears minutes before we met.  He had his bear spray out and was ready.  Unfortunately when we walked through the area the bears were long gone.  Saw several cyclists today, and even a horse at Stampede Pass.

Leaving Lake Easton

Lake Easton

Trail Away from Easton

The trail leaving Lake Easton.

Bleeding Hears

Bleeding Hearts along the trail.


Trillium along the trail.

We’re looking forward to the tunnel under the pass tomorrow.  2 miles!

We’re camped on the headwaters of the Yakima River, Keechelus Lake. I don’t think this lake could hold more water! It’s filled to the brim!

Fire Pit

A flooded fire pit in the lake.


Flooding Keechelus, notice the power poles in the water.

Keechelus 2

Keechelus Lake

There’s big booming thunder and thunderstorms moving around us and the pass.  Hopefully we don’t get wet.

Day 16, Confluence to Easton

We made it on trail pretty early.  I liked our spot but Coyote didn’t sleep well.  We made miles early while it was still cool and easily picked up our boxes at the Easton post office.  Still have too much food so we mailed a small box home.  We ate at the Easton Saloon and were able to sit out back on the patio with the dogs.  The burgers and fries hit the spot!

Easton PO

We’d been watching online when the Cross Washington Bike Packing Challenge had started and we were tracking the leaders here. The first to pass us were Val and Josh on their tandem. They were really moving. Hard to believe they left La Push on the 20th and here they’re passing us near Easton on the 22nd.  It’s even harder to believe that I’ve got a device in my pocket that can track them and tell me who they are and when they’re coming by.


Val and Josh swiftly approaching.

We’d also read online that Lake Easton State Park had hiker/biker sites available so we went to check them out.  Sure enough, $12 hiker/biker rate… and showers!


Fee Rates


Shower Tokens



State Park

Lake Easton State Park

We’re stayin!  So we showered, hung out, etc.  Eventually I went back to the Saloon to hopefully get a charge on our battery packs.

The Saloon

The Saloon in Easton

From the hiker/biker sites there’s a short trail that leads right to the bridge over the river and voilà, you’re in town.  I was a bit self conscious since I had washed my clothes while I showered so they were wet, but I got over that quick enough.  That’s trail life for ya.  I asked the barmaid if I could charge and she was happy to oblige.  I ate again while I was there and enjoyed a nice garden salad, complete with cucumbers and tomatoes!  Coyote’s missing out! Love fresh food on trail!

Yakima River Easton

The Yakima River in Easton

After a good while I went back to camp and had a nice campfire.  Don’t get too many of those out here.  It was nice.

Lake Easton.jpg

Winding Down

The holiday weekend is fast approaching and I imagine this park will be completely packed out.  It’s not too bad now, I saw three or four other campers, but that’s it.

Day 15, Bristol to Confluence of Yakima/Cle Elum Rivers

Finished the Upper Yakima River Canyon early today.  There was loads of bear scat in the final bits of the canyon.  It’s a very pretty trail through there.


After we passed under I-90 we were harassed by a couple of ankle biters.  Wylie just ignored them, I was impressed.

Under I 90

We were looking forward to eating at Smokey’s Bar-B-Que that’s right on trail in South Cle Elum and were bummed to find out they were closed Mondays and Tuesdays.


Smokey’s BBQ in the old station.

Oh well, need to go into town anyway for a tent stake.  We spent altogether too much time eating junk (town) food and using free wifi.  I was able to successfully obtain a tent stake.  Headed to Safeway to water up and while we were there we were approached by a couple of uh… street people?  Is that how you say it?  They were standing out (with a sign for spare change) and were looking to make a sign when they came and chatted us up.  They were jazzed they made $90 the day before.  Funny enough, after we’d watered up I was waiting outside of Safeway for Coyote to come out of the bathroom so we could go.  While I was standing there I think some random dude tried to give me money.  I noticed this truck and was wondering why he wasn’t pulling out when I looked and saw him waving something at me but I was clueless, so I just waved back and he pulled away.  What a rookie mistake!  I know I’m stinky and dirty with a backpack but I’m not panhandling… I’m just standing there.

Cle Elum

Cle Elum!


Got a kick out of this.



The trail through here is nice, albeit a bit windy, and as soon as we crossed the Yakima River near where the Yakima and the Cle Elum come together we found the perfect stealth spot and threw down.  Looking forward to Easton tomorrow.

Day 14, Thorp to Bristol

Got up early, slept well.  Realized there was rain overnight.  Knowing there was about a mile to hot coffee at the arco by the Thorp fruit stand we quickly packed up.


Once there we sat outside and waited knowing the John Wayne Pioneer Wagons and Riders Association would be passing us today on their annual cross state ride.  Once we saw the lead riders and the start of the mountain bikers that were part of the group we picked up and started down the trail.  Saw lots of horses.  Coyote was very happy.  Horses were her passion for many years.

We’ve started to get some serious change in the scenery today.  Most of it happening once we started in on the upper Yakima river canyon.  Trees! And Tunnels!


Pine Trees!

Taneum Creek

Taneum Creek

Yakima River

Spring Runoff on the Yakima

Getting Pretty

Entering the Upper Yakima River Canyon

Cool Lichen

Cool Lichens


Coyote keeping an eye on the scenery.




Getting Pretty!


Thanksgiving Dinner walking by.

Highway 10

Highway 10 across the river.

Coyote also spotted an orchid.  I believe it’s a Mountain Lady Slipper (Cypripedium montanum).

Orchid 2

The Orchid


Mountain Lady Slipper

We should be in Cle Elum in the morning.  I broke a tent stake tonight, thankfully Coyote had a spare.  I’ll see if I can pick one up in Cle Elum.

Day 13, Kittitas to Thorp

Coyote’s son Wesley dropped us off again early in the morning on his way up into the mountains for some fishing.  Feels good to be back on trail.

Kitty Toss

Kittitas Trail Head


On the Iron Horse


True Hiker Trash would use this…

The walk through Ellensburg wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  We walked right through the college area.  Having gone to WSU I’d never seen this part of Ellensburg before.


We also walked downtown in an attempt to grab a beer at The Pub by Iron Horse Brewery.  Before we even made it inside a guy came out and told us we needed to go to Whipsaw Brewing since they allow dogs.  Apparently they didn’t know we’re hiking the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, aka The Iron Horse State Park west of the Columbia River.  A pint would’ve been nice, y’know, brewery namesake and all that nonsense… but we were told to go somewhere else before we even made it in the door.  Disappointing to say the least.

I never knew downtown Ellensburg was so trendy.  We obviously didn’t fit the demographic and quickly lost our inertia.  We grabbed a quick bite at Café C5 (excellent menu and food btw) where we were welcomed heartily and told the dogs were as welcome as we were.  They even provided a water bowl for them.  Then we walked back up to Kiwanas Park, rested a bit before watering up and getting out of town.  As I left I made sure to shake Iron Horse dust from my shoes.

No Parking

It’s not all trendy!

Saw our first bike packers since Rosalia today.  Those out of Rosalia most likely do a loop out of Spokane while these probably originate across the mountains.  One guy we met stopped to ask about my pack.  Seems he’s a ZPacks fan.  You can certainly sense this portion of the trail gets much more use.


Bike Packers

We tried to go slow today but still managed 15 or so miles.  More than that actually since we don’t count the bonus miles walking downtown and back.  Found a spot to throw down just past the Yakima river.  Talk about spring runoff!  That river’s full to the brim!  It clouded up late, we might get wet overnight.

Yakima Full

The Full Yakima


It’s amazing what’s hiding in plain sight if you just take the time to get out.

Zero Day

While at home for another zero I inadvertently earned a new trail name.  “Hot Shot” it is since Coyote injected my heel blister with tincture of benzoin.  I’ve had more enjoyable days… but hey, it worked great although it hurts like all get out.  Very similar to applying rubbing alcohol to chaffed skin.  The pain is intense for about 15/20 seconds, and then you’re all good.

I’ve never had a heel blister before.  They suck.  It showed up after the long hot day into Lind.  Blisters are caused by three things, heat, moisture, and friction. To combat this I’m changing my socks.  For years I’ve hiked in Darn Tough wool socks.  They’re great for durability and if you’re in the high country heat isn’t that much of an issue.  However, I need something else now, even if it sacrifices the toughness.  Taking a hint from backpacking forums online I ran by Walmart and picked up some cheap dress socks and ankle high nylons.  Now I should be able to avoid all three, the heat, moisture, and friction.

During our time off Coyote brought up the idea of skipping ahead to Kittitas.  That would solve all of the issues we faced with the live rail, getting a shuttle across the river, and having to wait for the firing range date.  She would also be able to bring her other dog back out on trail.

We had contacted the gas station in Beverly and the woman there had said she’d be able to shuttle us (we offered payment).  We also had resupply boxes in Beverly.  But that’s easy, one call and they’ll send the flat rate boxes back.  We were also granted permission from the Army to camp at one night at both the Doris TH and the Army West TH.  Our approval stated we’d cross the firing range on the 22nd, so we’d have to wait two additional days…  Hmmm.  We’d be skipping ahead something like 75 miles.

Frankly, I’ve seen enough of Eastern Washington.  Take me to Kittitas.

Day 12, Roxboro to Warden

After the past couple of nights with troubled sleep this spot was amazing.  Sad to leave such a good spot.  Can’t they all be like this?  I woke a couple times during the night and could see God’s amazing star show from my bag.  Too cool.

Trail to Warden

The Trail heading towards Warden

Had issues with tumbleweeds completely covering the trail today.  We could see a canal close so we bushwhacked over to it and walked along side it until we were past the tumbleweeds.  I wonder how the horse and wagon riders deal with them…


There’s a trail down there somewhere.


Walking along the canal.

More exciting was our badger encounter.  I was off in la-la land like can sometimes happen.  Coyote said something and when I looked here comes a badger right towards them on the trail.  When I saw it my first thought was, “Oh crap, it’s coming for the dog!”  It was that close.  He must not have seen us either because right at that moment he turned and took off back down the trail.  He stayed out ahead of us for a good long while too.  Glad that worked out.



We eventually got to Warden, and noticed that Wylie was picking up ticks again.  He’d been tick free for several days so that seemed a bit odd.  Maybe he found them when we hiked along the canal.


Welcome to Warden

We went straight to the post office to verify our resupply boxes were there.  They were.  Asked about where to eat and the guys at the post office basically said there were only two choices.  The Corral Restaurant, or Subway in the grocery.  We went to the Corral and ordered burgers.

Across the street from the Corral was City Hall.  Coyote went in to ask about possibly camping in town and wasn’t pleased with the response.  Basically no camping allowed at all and we needed to keep moving.  Kind of a weird vibe, not real friendly.  So after eating at the nice gazebo grassy area right next door to the city hall we decided to get our boxes and get out.

We tossed around the idea of zeroing again to heal up blisters.  It would also help waste some time so we didn’t arrive at the Yakima Firing Range too early to camp at the trailhead.  We were nailed down to a specific date to cross the firing range, with the Army’s permission to camp at both trailheads.  We weren’t really looking forward to the next section anyway since live rail starts in Warden and we would have to walk the road detour.  In my research I’d found a canal detour here that sounded much better than the road, so that’s what we were planning, a canal road walk to Othello.  Once in Othello we could zero and then walk the road to at least Royal City where the live rail stopped and we could continue on through the Crab Creek section.

We finally decided to continue with the canal walk and went to get our boxes.  But then in going through our resupply it became apparent we needed to send things home.  So we’re going to pay to send stuff home?  And pay to zero in Othello?  I live about 40 miles to the south… let’s just go home, heal up, and save the money.

So that is exactly what we did.

Day 11, Lind to Roxboro

Up early, mostly because of the trains.  Had to wait for the grocery to open at 7.  Looking at Google we noticed that Kindra’s Coffee Bar was open.  Hot coffee?  And espresso?  On trail?  I’m in!  The coffee was good, it’s a nice shop, and there was a constant flow of people coming through getting coffee.  We had a chance to talk to Kindra a bit and she explained how she’s from Lind, born and raised. Downtown Lind has obviously seen bigger and better days, so to see someone getting involved and working to revitalize something they love is refreshing.  That kind of enthusiasm is rare and I’m glad she’s making a go of the shop.  If you get a chance, stop in.


Coyote at Kindra’s Coffee Bar

After the grocery opened we stocked up on snacks/fruit/more coffee.  The owner was also nice enough to allow us to fill our water there as well.  Anticipating a dry camp I took 5.7 liters.  That’s a heavy pack.

As I sat eating my banana out front of the store I couldn’t help but notice the city office/chamber of commerce across the street.  I’d seen a woman head in so I knew someone was there.  So on the spot I decided I’d try and sort something that had been bugging me a bit.  On the Friends of the John Wayne Trail – Eastern Wa Services webpage it states that while there is no lodging in Lind, tent camping may be allowed in the City Park with permission.  But there’s no phone number, nobody to call to get said permission… that’s why we had to ask around in Slim’s the night before.  And I couldn’t find a number online either, I’d looked as I was laying about under the highway the afternoon before.  So over I went.

I tried to explain who we were, what we were doing, and what I needed, but I didn’t feel like I was actually understood.  I dunno, I never did get a number, and now I think about it, that’s probably because there is no number.  There may not be anyone to give permission.  Who knows?  In small towns it seems that everybody has to do more than one thing, wear more than one hat so to speak, and maybe the “permission” just gets lost in translation… All I got was a card for the upcoming combine demolition derby and a “congratulations” for hiking the trail.  Odd.

Lind Trestle

The missing Lind Trestle

Fertilizer Sign

Does this mean we don’t have to dig a cathole?

It was looking to be another warm day and we were actually getting a later start so off we went.  Once again we spent time hiding under the sage.  At one point as we were walking along a cultivated green field I noticed a pointed nose and striped face peeking out at me.  I stopped and it disappeared.  It showed back up a bit later, popping out of the greenery to check us out.  Most definitely a badger.  I’ve seen them before, one in the Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area, and one near Washtucna, southeast of where we are now.


Trail between Lind and Roxboro


Horny Toad

Horned Toad on Trail!



Trail between Lind and Roxboro

Later in the day we ran into another locked gate the provided codes didn’t work with.  What a pain.  Shortly after there was an electrified wire strung across the trail.  The cows it contained had torn the trail up pretty good.  Damn Cows.  (Paint Your Wagon reference here… think Lee Marvin’s character Ben Rumson and his love of farmers.)


The gate we couldn’t open.


The electrified wire across the trail.

When we reached the grain elevators at Roxboro we were surprised to see them taken over by owls.  Each was missing a roof section and were looking pretty decrepit.  But the owls were cool!  We kept on just a bit past until we found an excellent stealth spot and then pitched for the night.


Owls in the Roxboro elevators.

The taping of my foot continues to work, although now I’ve got a bona fide blister under the callous on the side of my right heel.  That’s what happens when you carry over 5 liters of water on your back in hot weather!  But that’s ok, I’d do it again.  I’ve gone without water, and I much prefer to have it.