Resting in Port Townsend

I woke up this morning a new person, or perhaps a well-used but restored person. I was able to get out of bed, take a shower, eat a full meal sitting at a table, and even later in the day attend the festivities at the wooden boat show. Dan and I walked through the booths selling epoxy and marine windows, admired the luster of the hand-built skiffs and kayaks, the piercing masts of all the sailboats at harbor. We met a friend at a music stage and spent even more time wandering with her. I even got a new hat (number 4 on the trip) to replace the most recent which had too small a brim to be useful sun protection (it was a replacement for a hat I lost in the Pasayten, which was a replacement for the goat-chewed hat I started with and destroyed). A very fine day, all told. Port Townsend is an enchanting city, architecturally, scenically, and seagull-y (they are a prolific source of background noise here). I’m glad I was able to spend an awake day here.

I’m not one hundred percent yet. After being out for a few hours, I felt woozy and exhausted, and my stomach has been off all day (perhaps from the prolonged bout of emptiness). I decided to take one more day off tomorrow, knowing I will feel much better leaving after a day of generally good health, rather than still hovering in this recovery phase.

20130906-212824.jpgThe one hundred year old wooden sailboat “Adventuress”, her cloud of sails lost in a sky of clouds

20130906-212951.jpgA forest of wooden boat masts


20130906-213138.jpgSun going down, Olympic Mountains, Sailboats, Lovely

Day 51 and day 52: sick in Port Townsend

Yesterday I dragged through the miles. Not at very first, but shortly after starting the day I was exhausted. I kept stumbling. I had to lay down repeatedly. The shoreline was heavily fogged in and the air punctuated by fog horns from all the boats off shore. It had that eery edge-of-the-world feel, and were I not feeling so bad I would have really enjoyed it.

I caught the ferry to Port Townsend in the afternoon, and as soon as it docked, I went straight to the hotel and proceeded to sleep for almost 24 hours. I was too sick to get up for food and hardly even water. Dan arrived today and took on nursing tasks. Thanks to him, I’ve been able to eat and drink, and maybe I’m even on the mend. I was wretchedly ill, though.

20130905-225742.jpgFoggy coastline

20130905-225818.jpgBald eagle in the fog

20130905-225904.jpgThe ferry

Whidbey Island on Day 50 (and yesterday too)

Last night I crossed Deception Pass Bridge, leaving Fidalgo Island, home of Anacortes, and arriving on Whidbey Island. In celebration I promptly stopped at Deception Pass State Park campground for the night, heading first for the hiker/biker only sites set aside for those who arrive at the park on foot or by bicycle, which I promptly abandoned because the water taps were irritatingly far away. Like five minutes. I’m aware that sounds ridiculous, given the walking nature of my life these days, but campgrounds please me with their conveniences. Conveniences like very close water. I went to an RV site instead, which had both its own water tap and a place to charge my phone while I cooked dinner. Everything about the plan was perfect except for the hard pan gravel underlying the site which made placing tent stakes a challenge. It rained in the night a fair amount and my tent partially collapsed on me, wet and splattered with muddy grit from the forceful raindrops. In the morning I salvaged the situation as best I could and headed off to an island day of hiking.

This morning I passed a bay at low tide and my nose filled with the thick, almost chewy, salty decay smell of the ocean and I was very happy. I love that smell, mud and shellfish and brackish water mixed into heavy air that sits on the back of the tongue. It was raining throughout the morning, but I loved passing the driftwood coves and rocky shallows exposed by the low tide. The ocean is here, or a weaker arm of it anyway. It’s exquisite.

I had very little trail today since the island is quite settled, but the roads were usually small and pleasant enough. I was contacted by one of the only trail angels (a person who helps thru hikers, often by feeding or sheltering them) of the PNT who offered to host me for the evening. She picked me up right off one of the roads and brought me to her house where I had a shower, did laundry, and ate fresh crab dipped in hot butter. How wonderful! Here is a recipe for feeling connected to the world: go do something difficult and tiring until you feel ready for help, then let someone help you.

Tomorrow I have a few more roads and then some beach walking the rest of the way to the ferry, which will take to me Port Townsend which, I’m excited to say, is going to be having its annual wooden boat show while I’m there.

20130904-082517.jpgLook at this incredible eye.

20130904-082608.jpgDeception Pass bridge

20130904-082720.jpgThe view into the sound from the bridge

20130904-082828.jpgAll the morning rain made this rainbow over a small marina


20130904-083000.jpgThe view from Joseph Whidbey State Park on the west side of the island

Day 48, Anacortes

A long day, with long miles and long hours. Walking on the railroad track for 11 miles proved interesting kinesthetically, since my leg length and the railroad tie spacing work at different frequencies. I gave a fair amount of attention to the tracks, alternating between short steps on the ties and short steps mixed with long steps, none of which were a natural rhythm for me. Interesting, yes. Tiring, certainly. When I wasn’t on the track, I was on the busy shoulder of Highway 20, slapping at the pavement with the soles of my feet. My poor feet, the soles of them in miserable pain, from what? From the pavement? My feet are a mess, and its frustrating.

Some highlights from the day: crossing under I-5, like fording a great river of cars; seeing the Puget Sound for the first time on the trip; and crossing Fidalgo Bay outside Anacortes on a mile-long trestle converted to a bike path, seeing harbor seals with heads just breaking surface of the water.

I’m in Anacortes, wondering at what my feet will be like tomorrow, marveling at the strange Pacific Northwest with its stunning mountains, waterways, and freeways, and digesting a pretty fantastic Indian dinner. Whidbey Island lies before me, as do some possibly rainy days I’d like pass before I get into the Olympics, so I may take my time on the island.


20130901-221351.jpgThe trestle across Fidalgo Bay

20130901-221440.jpgA juxtaposition of Mt Baker and the industrial strangeness of a refinery

What happened on Days 46 and 47

From Concrete to Port Townsend, the route is going to be unlike any other section of the PNT. Though not always trail, and not always in wilderness, the route has generally followed more rural lines of travel, visiting only small towns along the way. From Concrete, though, I plunged into the densities of Western Washington population, following the rail-trail parallel to Highway 20 and passing a couple towns yesterday on my way to Sedro-Woolley. Sedro-Woolley has 10,000 people living in it, a fact quite amazing when examined against the size of many of the other PNT towns. I’ve taken a rest day here with Dan, who had only a 1.5 hour drive from Seattle to arrive, making this town likely the closest stop (by car) to Seattle on the entire trip.

From here I continue on the rail trail, only minus the trail since for the next 11 miles or so it is apparently still railroad track, hikable except for Thursdays. I’ll cross I-5 tomorrow, which feels something of a milestone, and work my way over to Anacortes on bike paths and country roads. It’s unfortunate the rail trail stopped because it was quite pleasant to walk, sided by mossy-trunked maples or farm lands or, briefly
, the wide and roiling Skagit River whose water is the color of milky coffee from all the rain. No matter though. I expect to continue enjoying this radically different part of the trail in this narrow and bustling strip of earth where, to my great delight, I can listen to NPR as I walk.

20130831-215655.jpgVineyards next to the rail trail in the morning most

20130831-215813.jpgGreen draped rail corridor