Mile 2144 to 2165
During the rainy night flashlights flash light throughout our camp, followed by the distinctive sounds of clanging tent stakes. The PCT section is doubling in size. In the morning I can see the additions, but they are oddly out of place. Some have luggage by their tents and one tent is large enough to house a family of twelve. These are clearly not PCT hikers. Because the $27 a site regular campground is full, car campers are pretending to be $3 a night PCT hikers. We leave this problem for the campground host to sort out. We simply laugh, pack up and head to breakfast.
Because it is so early, we are looking for anything open. The Inn across the street has an “Open” light flashing and we walk our way into the Inn. We order eggs, pancakes and coffee. The woman serving us refuses to smile. The more she doesn’t smile the more determined I am to make her. I smile and thank her for everything: for bringing the menu, for explaining the menu, for bringing me coffee, for refilling my coffee, for bringing our food. This woman never cracks, not even a fake half smile. Then, when I have given up all hope, she brings the bill on which she has drawn a huge third-grade looking smiley face. I feel as though Boo Radley has just hidden a doll for me in the hole of a tree.
Now that we are done with all our purchases we can cross over to the land of sales tax. We hike towards and up on to the Bridge of the Gods. The car toll for this bridge has been 50¢ since 1936. As pedestrians we cross for free, apparently not because we are special, but because there is no place to walk. “Stay close to the left side, and good luck,” yells the toll lady. We walk across the Bridge of the Gods into oncoming traffic, afraid we might meet our Bridge God sooner than intended. The Bridge surface is a see through grate, so when not staring at oncoming cars, we are staring at out feet and the Columbia River far below.
Once in Washington we begin our assent. Ixnay catches up and hikes the rest of the day with us. We meet a woman from Alaska who insists on taking our picture. She is section hiking the PCT, but last year when she gave a program to her local community everyone just wanted to hear more about the thru-hikers. She appears to be responsive to her audience.
We camp next to a stream, have Mac & Cheese for dinner and fall asleep less than 500 miles from Canada.