Elevation- 4,409 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 2.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2292.4 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 60s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 1
We hiked a short 2 miles down to the highway at White Pass where I spent nearly 2 hours unsuccessfully trying to hitch into Packwood. There was tons of traffic, but every vehicle was packed full of people, as if everyone was on a road trip with their entire family and extended family. In the end, I had to call a ride up from town, which ended up costing me $30.
If there is another contrast I can make between the AT and the PCT, it would be between the small towns. On the AT, the majority of every town you come to, especially the very small ones, are simply normal towns existing in their respective, yet somewhat remote locations; the only people in them, the local townies going about their daily lives, trying to make their way. Out here on the PCT, just about every single town, no matter how small or remote, seems to have a booming tourist industry. In the winter it’s skiing, snowmobiling, winter sports, etc. In the summer it’s dirt bikes, bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, fun on the lakes, rivers, etc. Personally, I don’t care to arrive in a new place only to find that there’s already a large presence of other people that aren’t from around there as well; tourist traffic if you will. The local town and it’s people lose something when this happens. When I arrive in a place full of tourists, what does that make me? Another tourist. In a realistic sense, I am a tourist, albeit not your run of the mill, Acapulco shirt wearing, perfume saturated, “I’m the center of the universe” tourist; more of a wayward traveler. BUT, in the eyes of the locals and the other tourists, you’re just another out of towner in their town. The demeanor of locals, as well as the prices of everything reflects that. It’s a reality of this trail that has not been one of my favorite aspects. Sure, you may be more remote out here than you are on the AT, but in terms of getting away from the big “Chunky Charlie”…you’re really not.
Us thru hikers are becoming nothing more than chunky charlies as the popularity of the trails increase, and the millennials turn this journey into a 6 month pub crawl funded by their parents.
In case you’re wondering what a Chunky Charlie is… we’re all guilty to a certain extent; Tourists seeking a distinctive experience who mob a pristine environment, robbing it of its uniqueness, reducing it to a tourist trap, transforming the rare into the banal, embodying the cliche they seek to escape and spreading it.