Week 2: Lake Quinault to Astoria

Hello again! Here’s my post for the next week! As is explained throughly in the last paragraph of the post I have busted my achilles on my left foot and have had to come home to let it heal. I will be home until it’s 100 percent, hopefully a month at the most, and then will be extending the trip into May instead of April. It’s unfortunate and I am sorry about it. However, it was an amazing week, and I met a lot of very generous people. I would also like to point out that I am obviously not going to be living an exact parallel to the people in Nepal we are raising money for. I have been helped a lot by strangers along the way, which is something people in rural Nepal would presumably not experience on a daily basis. Just something to keep in mind! I also just made a donation on behalf of all the amazing people that have donated by giving me cash along the way. It is visible on the fundraising page. Remember if you’d like to donate the link is at the top of the page!

Jan. 28’th: Lake Quinault

My achilles tendon on my left foot was particularly sore today. So despite being a little restless and wanting to move on I decided to spend the day in beautiful lake Quinault. It turned out to not be such a terrible idea to take a rest day. I sat outside the mercantile shop that had shut down for the Winter because of a lack of tourists rolling through. However, they had the good grace to leave their wifi running despite not being open which I am eternally grateful for. I finished up last week’s blog, and chatted with people back home. I got talking to my friend Jeremey, who I actually met in Nepal, and we made a plan to meet up when I made my way to White Salmon. Which is where he lives, and across the Columbia River from Hood River. At one point I wandered into the lodge across the street to charge some of my electronics up and my resolve immediately broke.

Remember Ron from last week? The twenty dollars he wanted me to use on myself? How I was going to save it for something really special? Well….it was about ten in the morning; I’d had my usual mush for breakfast. Then I walked into the lodge, and I smelled all the wonderful smells coming from the restaurant and that was pretty much game over. I got a table, sat down, ordered eggs and hash browns, and just devoured it. But I am going to consider that a special occasion anyways, I had a full warm stomach. Life was good!

My amazing, delicious breakfast
My face when I saw my amazing, delicious breakfast

I spent the rest of the day reading by the lake where I’d set up camp and lounging around. Nothing crazy, and I was definitely battling boredom but I came out the other side. The weather had been fairly meh for the last couple days before this, but as the sun was setting the sky finally cleared. The stars were unreal! The lack of light pollution in the area allowed me to see every star in the sky as far as I could tell. The Big Dipper, among other constellations was reflecting off the still lake, it was beautiful! I had some very reflective and philosophical moments as I munched on chocolate raisins which I purchased with the last $3.50 Ron had given me.

Lake Quinault. Ft. My book

Jan. 29’th: Lake Quinault to Cosmopolis

It was still clear as the sky glowed dim orange over the lake, it was a new day and going to be beautiful. I decided to do a quick two mile hike in the forest above Quinault to test my achilles, after the day of rest, first thing in the morning. I got up to what was admittedly a fairly lacklustre waterfall called ‘Cascade Falls’ above Quinault. My heel was still a little sore but felt pretty good, and I’d gotten into the woods and seen a waterfall so it was a good start to the day. Now, it had not occurred to me that after that two mile hike that I chose to do I still had a three mile hike out of Quinault. This is where my heel started to go again, and it was a very slow trudge out. But I made it! And it was, as mentioned, a beautiful day. I could see moisture evaporating off every log and tree the sun hit. After a decent wait, about two hours, I was picked up by Lorne who got me to Humptulips. (Which is officially my favourite town name in the world). Lorne is 58 and is currently experiencing parenthood for the second time, as he is raising two little girls that his niece abandoned. He was actually on the way to pick one up from a preschool program. As well, he donated 3 dollars, which is awesome!

Sunrise over Lake Quinault
Cascade Falls

I waited in Humptulips for another decent stretch of time, and eventually came to the conclusion today was not my lucky day for getting rides. I caught a public bus for one dollar from Humptulips into Aberdeen. Aberdeen, at least the area I was in, was a little bit sketchy, so I got a transfer ticket for no extra fee and took another bus to the very South of Cosmopolis. My plan was to try to hitch a ride out before the sun went down and set up camp somewhere in the forest off the highway. But this didn’t happen because on the bus to Cosmopolis I met Barb, a very kind 45 year old woman who would be my saviour that night. We just got chatting and ended up sitting by the river after I got off the bus where we saw a seal! She invited me over for dinner, which was delicious. There was always some commotion going on in the house. Barb lived with her friend Nicky, and her 91 year old grandma. They also had a little dog named Muffin. On top of this there were always people coming and going, more than I can name here. So it ended up being a very fun night. Eventually I ended up crashing on the couch. I don’t think I made it past 10:30, despite all the commotion around me; I was exhausted.

Pringles by the river with Barb
Leaving souvenirs 101
Barb with Muffin


Jan 30’th: Cosmopolis to Astoria¬†

It was a slow morning for me. I was curled up on the couch, and was relishing not having to psych myself up to get out of my sleeping bag into the cold for one morning. Eventually I got moving; had some cereal (NOT MUSH!) for breakfast, and found out Barb had packed me a lunch which was the best possible way to start my morning. I had decided I was going to try to make a bunch of ground and get to Astoria today. Because, rumour had it, that if I could make Portland by the first of February I could get a ride from Jermey’s sister to White Salmon, which would have been amazing.¬† I said goodbye to Barb and the many occupants of her household, and then walked over to the road where I started hitching from. It was only a two or three minute walk but I was limping quite badly. The pressure from the back of my boot on the tendon was extremely painful.

Saying goodbye to Barb


After one little mishap, where I was picked up and immediately realized we were not going the same way, it was a pretty good day for rides. It was also a great day in terms of weather. Not a cloud in the sky and it was warming up quickly, despite the frost on the roofs of the houses around me. So even when I did have to wait around, I simply basked in the sunlight. First after a little wait, I got a ride from Robbie and Jason, who were both awesome guys! They were grocery shopping in Aberdeen and heading home to Raymond. Robbie works at a fruit stand and gave me some dried pineapple he had on hand which was delicious. As well, after we got to Raymond they gave me two loaves of orange cranberry bread, which they claimed was the best in the world, and I have to agree. I actually gave everyone else that gave me a ride that day a slice and they too concurred that it was the best in the world. They also donated nine dollars! After this I got a quick ride to South Bend from Bob, who was going to drain his friend’s sailboat so it didn’t sink.

Robbie and Jason
Here I am with my cranberry orange bread which I was very excited about

South Bend is a fishing and crabbing town, and I had been dropped off right outside a factory on a warm day. Fortunately Diantha picked me up and gave me a quick ride to the end of South Bend, rescuing me from the stink of the factory. Here, a very kind lady named Waynona the Judge picked me up brought me 14 miles closer to Astoria. She was out getting ice cream for her old man, who couldn’t drive and really wanted some because it was such a nice day. She said (and I’m not bragging here it’s a direct quote), that my smile and bright eyes were why she picked me up. So hitchhiking tip #1 of the journey; don’t look like a grump. After this I got picked up by Kevin, who was driving home to Long Beach. He works driving all over Washington state delivering marijuana to dispensaries (although he doesn’t smoke his own product). He also donated twenty dollars, and gave me a pack of gum!

Trying to survive the stench of the sea (South Bend was actually a lovely little town).
Waynona the Judge

Finally I got picked up by Bob (second one of the day)! Who was coming back in his company’s van from a coffee delivery route. He brought me to the coffee shop he works at in Astoria. Where I received a free cup of coffee! I settled down to use the wifi and tried to figure out where I was going to sleep. I had a plan to get to a park by the waterfront on the other end of Astoria. Unfortunately my heel gave out on me after only five minutes. So I found an old viewing platform on 6’th street, which overlooks the inlet Astoria sits on at the exit of the Columbia River. I set up shop here for the night. I met a good chunk of Astoria’s homeless population, and had a really good talk with one guy named Jerry (or Jer Bear) as he told me to call him. Jer had served in the army and was in Germany before the Berlin Wall came down. We were all treated to a beautiful sunset over the city. I also got in a few more wildlife sightings! Saw a heron, who’s name evidentially was Harry jr., and some sea lions swimming around and barking in the distance. I fell asleep as ships went back and forth in the night, illuminating the inlet.

Bob delivering my cup of coffee
My red roofed hideout in Astoria
A BEAUTIFUL sunset over the city

January 31’st: Astoria

Remember how I was all like “wow sea lions are amazing, so happy I got a chance to see them all here.” Well, I’ve changed my mind. Some time in the night one brave sea lion hopped up on the docks immediately below me and started barking at god knows what. Despite my best efforts of shining my light and yelling down at him, he was determined to stay there. Eventually about 30 minutes later he decided to leave of his own accord, after successfully robbing me of a good night’s sleep. I sound grumpy but in retrospect the whole thing is pretty funny, so I moved on fairly quickly.

Sunrise was also pretty from my little platform, and I enjoyed it as I packed up my belongings. I had planned to get close to Portland today. Unfortunately it was not meant to be. I could barely put any pressure on my heel, let alone hike around on it and stand for hours to hitchhike. I decided I would stay in Astoria, and try to haul to Portland the next day to get a ride still. As days go it was fairly uneventful. I set up shop outside a motel with an ice machine and iced my heel, determined to heal it up. I fought boredom most of the day as I had finished my book, and as the light dimmed I made my way back over to the viewing platform for another night.

Some shotty camera work for sunrise over the Columbia River
Icing my foot while hiding from the rain outside a motel in Astoria 

February 1’st: Astoria

I had no improvement overnight. I actually did an online physio appointment, and was given some stretches to do to help my achilles, which is very badly sprained. I continued to ice it as well. After my consultation I spent an hour asking around the city if anyone knew where I could get some crutches. After not finding any my heel was feeling awful, and I realized things were getting a little ridiculous. So as mentioned at the top, I’ve had to make the decision to come home for physio and to allow my achilles to hopefully heal quickly. After it is 100 percent I’ll head back to Astoria and pick up where I left off! I will still be down in the States for three months, and my trip will now extend into May instead of April, assuming I can get healthy within the month, which seems likely! I know it’s not ideal but I’m going to prioritize my own health, especially because I need to be able to walk for work in the Summer. You’ll still get the full three months, just a little broken up. I will probably make a small blog post mid February just to keep everyone updated. Thank you for understanding.

My bus broken down on the side of the highway (little bit of karma for having to go home)