Day 38: Blue Skies Again

PCT 2416 – 2436

Miles Hiked = 20

This morning Sydney and I woke up to clear blue skies! We were hiking by 7am. Over the next five miles we would climb 2400 feet in elevation. Along the way we enjoyed some nice views of a cascading stream on the other side of the valley

and of impressive Summit Chief Mountain

Summit Chief Mountain

We passed wildflowers – who remembers the name of these flowers?

As we climbed higher we had a good view back at where we came from late yesterday afternoon – the red line gives a very rough idea of the trail. Last night we camped somewhere on the lower right of the photograph.

After we reached the top of our morning climb, we took a rest and snack break – the views were impressive.

Typically the trail goes uphill and then goes downhill … this morning was no different. Today the trail would go down about the same amount that we had just climbed up!

Today’s hike however was easier than yesterday’s – there was less elevation gain and the trail was in better condition – more smooth dirt trail and not as rocky.

The trail would go down and then around the west side (left) of Waptus Lake, seen in the photo below.

Waptus Lake

Waptus Lake, as you can see is quite beautiful, but the trail stayed several hundred yards above it on the far side so we never got very close.

When we got to the bottom we took a lunch break at the Waptus River that drains into the western end of the lake.

Lunch Break

Sydney soaked her sore feet in cold river🦶🦶

Foot soak
Waptus River

After we passed Waptus Lake we saw more bright red Thimbleberries along the trail.

Late in the afternoon, we had another thousand foot climb up to some nice campsites near Deep Lake.

Deep Lake

It’s always nice to make camp by 6pm and have time to dry out hiking clothes (shirt, socks, etc) and relax a little before making another gourmet back-country dinner 🤣.

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Day 37: Up & Up & Goats Too!

PCT Mile 2394 – 2416

Miles Hiked = 22

After two zero days in Snoqualmie Pass, Sydney and I were ready to get back on the trail. We were at the hotel restaurant at 7am, had a quick breakfast and were walking down the road towards the trail by 8am.

I-90 Underpass

It only took ten minutes to get back to the trail. Our next resupply would be at Stevens Pass – about seventy-one miles away. We planned on needing four days and three nights to get there.

This next section would be challenging with over seventeen thousand feet of elevation gain across those seventy-one miles. We left the paved road and entered the forest and would gain over forty-five hundred feet in the next twelve miles. Up, up & up!

We entered the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

After two-plus hours and over two thousand feet of elevation gain, we had a bit of a distant view looking down at I-90.

I-90

Late in the morning we left the forest but continued uphill and enjoyed views of the rugged northern Cascade mountains.

Our views were somewhat obscured because of the low-hanging clouds. Luckily we didn’t have any rain😊.

Late in the morning we passed by Gravel Lake and took time for a quick snack.

Gravel Lake
Gravel Lake

A little later we passed above Alaska Lake, set in a beautiful hanging valley below the trail.

Alaska Lake

We then spent several hours traversing around the northern end of this spectacular valley

If you look closely you can see the trail on the other side of the valley – we’ll be there in an hour or so.

Then we passed above Joe Lake – another beautiful lake .

Joe Lake

Sydney always has a smile on her face and never complains – I think she enjoys this long distance hiking!

Later in the afternoon we encountered a mountain goat and her kid! Wow! Mama goat just walked right down the trail and passed by southbound hikers – she didn’t seem to be afraid of hikers at all. The juvenile goat didn’t want to get too close to hikers and scurried up the mountain away from the trail but was nervous to get too far away from Mama.

After our goat encounter we continued on and eventually turned a corner and had a view to the north. It was a beautiful day to the north with less clouds. The deep blue skies, white puffy clouds and majestic views were inspiring.

A little later we saw this marmot along the trail – it was quite cute.

Late in the afternoon, as the trail was descending, we passed by spectacular Spectacle Lake. It would have been a great place to camp but we still had a few more miles.

Spectacle Lake
Spectacle Lake

An hour or so later we crossed over a bridge right below a cascading waterfall along Delate Creek.

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0kuctMNnImmLCMkwPYkrM1O_g#Cle_Elum

At 6:30pm we were still going downhill as we passed through another burn zone. The sun was getting low and just the mountain tops were bathed in sunshine.

A little later, as we neared possible camping sites, we met some deer hunters that had been out scouting the area – hunting season starts in a few weeks.

Today was a challenging day with almost six thousand feet of elevation gain over the twenty-two miles that we hiked. But we passed through some beautiful country, so I’m happy.

As we approached 7:30pm, most of the campsites that we had targeted were already occupied but we soon found a nice place to camp right next to a little stream. It was almost 8pm so we quickly set up our tents in the fading light, collected some water and enjoyed a “gourmet” freeze-dried meal. Today was a tough day but it gave back more than it demanded – that’s all we are looking for!

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Day 35 & 36: Zero Days

Miles Hiked = 0

There isn’t much at Snoqualmie Pass – a hotel, a couple restaurants, a gas station with a convenience store, another small store with a pizza oven, a brewery and a coffeehouse. There are also a few homes and some ski lifts.

But it had everything Sydney and I needed and the following photos are a good representation of how we spent our two days.

Sleeping
Eating
Eating & Drinking
More eating & drinking
Even more hydration

When I wasn’t eating, drinking or sleeping I worked on getting some blog posts out. FYI: these blog posts aren’t posted in current time since I can only post when I have Wifi (ie: while in town) – they have a lag time of several weeks!

We were only planning on taking one zero day but Sydney lobbied pretty hard for a second day. It’s hard for Dad’s to say no.🤣

Physically we are both doing OK. Sydney’s feet have been bothering her. I think she may be developing plantar fasciitis☹️. I’m doing fine except for a constant muscle spasm under my left scapula (shoulder blade)😣. We will both push on.

We are halfway through Washington. The rumor is that the northern half is more difficult …. but also more beautiful! We will soon see.

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Day 34: Snoqualamie Pass

PCT Mile 2382 – 2394

Miles Hiked = 12

Today was Sydney and my fourteenth day on the trail together in Washington. We have resupplied twice – the first at Trout Lake and the second at White Pass. At both resupply stops we enjoyed a hotel room, did laundry, took showers and ate restaurant food and were back on the trail early the following morning. Today we had about twelve miles to our third resupply stop at Snoqualmie Pass. But tomorrow we had planned a zero day – no hiking! – so we were especially motivated to get on the trail and get to the Pass.

We got started early as usual. It was another foggy and cool morning.

We had an easy five hundred foot climb up and over a ridge and then down to Yakima Pass.

In another mile or so we passed Mirror Lake, a very scenic lake that is quite popular with weekend hikers because of its proximity to Snoqualmie Pass.

Mirror Lake

And then we had about a thousand foot climb up and over another ridge. We could hear the cars and trucks down on I-90 but the low level clouds and fog blocked our views.

The remainder of the hike was all downhill and in the fog. The bright Red Elderberry stood out in contrast to the gray and gloomy background.

Most of the time I take the lead but today Sydney was out in front – kind of like a horse headed to the barn!!!

Around noon, we passed under the ski lifts that rise up from Snoqualmie Pass.

Snoqualmie Pass

And soon we were at the Summit Inn, where we had a room reservation. I didn’t expect our room to be ready but luckily it was!

It only took a few minutes to drop our packs in our room and get across the street to the Dru Bru brewery.

Wow!

As is typical, we had burgers 🍔 and fries 🍟 for lunch. A few hours later it was pizza🍕 for dinner. Of course, a few beers helped wash it all down.🍺 🍺🍺

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Day 33: Just Making Miles

PCT 2360 – 2382

Miles Hiked = 22

Last night Sydney and I camped next to the same couple (Tracy & Brit) that we had camped next to the night before when we had rain. They aren’t “PCT hikers” but they are backpacking 160 miles and their hike just happens to be along the PCT. It was fun chatting with them in camp last night as well as seeing them along the trail yesterday and today.

This morning we were up at 5am and on the trail by 6:15. Yesterday we had clear blue skies and sunshine; today it was overcast and cooler. Tonight would be our last night on the trail before arriving at Snoqualmie Pass tomorrow where we would stay in a hotel, pick up our resupply boxes and enjoy restaurant food. So we wanted to make some miles today and leave ourselves a relatively short hike tomorrow.

Early morning view

I’ve noticed these “growths” on trees along the trail. I don’t know what they are – anyone know?

As Sydney and I hiked along the trail today we had one of our best and closest deer encounters. This deer was quite curious and actually allowed us to get within twenty feet.

Later we hiked by this ridge top of mature pine trees surrounded by a forest of young new growth trees. I guess this is how forests evolve and replenish after fires.

Flower of the Day:

This mushroom is called Amanita. Mushrooms in this species can either be edible and delicious or quite poisonous. Apparently more than half of the cases of mushroom poisoning come from this species of mushroom. I’ve seen these quite often along the trail in Washington – they are typically 3-4 inches in diameter. I’m not going to add any to my dinner tonight!

Flower of the Day #2

These are Huckleberries – apparently they are native blueberries but everyone I met along the trail and in trail towns referred to these berries as huckleberries. They are extremely common in Washington. I would guess that Sydney and I frequently saw huckleberries for several hundred miles along the PCT. PCT hikers are quite aware of their presence so most of the big juicy berries have been picked and enjoyed, but if you pay attention, there are still berries to be found!

Please … no comments on the holes in my gloves – these are my religious gloves and I take my religion quite seriously! (get it, my “holey” gloves). 🤣🤣🤣

As we continued our hike, we occasionally had views of the craggy mountains to the north that would soon offer up their own set of challenges.

A little later in the afternoon we passed under three parallel rows of power lines that bring electricity to the Seattle-Tacoma area.

Then we collected clear and ice-cold water at another unnamed spring. Spring water is the best! It probably doesn’t have to be filtered but we filter it anyway, just out of habit.

We didn’t make camp until 6:30pm – we had been on the trail over twelve hours. Today was overcast and chilly but luckily we had no rain. Tonight’s camp was a nice camp in the forest with flat spots for two tents. What more could a hiker want?

Tomorrow we have eleven miles to Snoqualmie Pass. We’ll try to be there by lunch. The thought of burgers and beer should be enough to keep us motivated!

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Day 32: Blue Skies and Sunshine!

PCT Mile 2335 – 2360

Miles Hiked = 25

Sydney and I were cold and wet and tired when we set up camp late yesterday afternoon. Once we were in our tents and in our dry camp clothes, including our down jackets, and tucked into our down sleeping bags like a bug in a cocoon we warmed up. In the morning, when we woke up, it was sunny. Yippee!!! We packed up and were on the trail at 7:30am. After a cold and wet day we never seem to want to get up too early.

Packed up

Sydney was happy that today was sunny and dry.

This was the trail as soon as we left camp.

It didn’t take long before we caught a glimpse of Mt. Rainer. I wonder how many great views we missed yesterday?

A jagged, rugged and imposing range of mountains appeared to the north – exactly where we are headed! I thought … where would we cross these impressive peaks and how challenging will it be? Time will tell.

We hiked through a burn zone and enjoyed the abundant and colorful Dwarf Fireweed – so common in all of these recovering forests.

Late in the morning we stopped at Arch Rock Spring and collected and filtered water.

Arch Rock Spring

The trail continued through the forest.

Early in the afternoon we arrived at the Camp Urich cabin.

This cabin is maintained by a local snowmobile club and is open to anyone. Sydney and I stopped here for lunch and dried out some of our wet clothes. The couple that we had camped next to last night were here also. So we got the chance to chat with them for a few minutes. We also learned from the trail register in the cabin that quite a few hikers crowded into the cabin last night during the inclement weather.

Urich Cabin

Later in the afternoon we once again passed through a burn zone.

and then saw smoke to the east of the trail.

Late in the afternoon, Sydney and I considered camping near a dirt road that the PCT crosses but decided to continue on for a few more miles.

As the shadows from the setting sun slowly darkened the forest, we found a nice campsite and set up our tents.

Shortly after setting up our tents, the couple we camped next to last night and chatted with at the Urich cabin showed up. We camped together again and learned a little more about the adventure they were on.

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Day 31: Hiking in a Cloud

PCT Mile 2317 – 2335

Miles Hiked = 18

Sydney and I literally woke up in a cloud this morning. It was foggy and cold. And there was a light drizzle.

Of course there was no visibility either ☹️. Today would be the closest we would get to Mt. Rainer so we were hoping to enjoy some great views and have some amazing photo ops. But I guess we have to take the good with the bad – we are thankful we had great views a couple days ago at Knifes Edge!

We passed by the smallish Anderson Lake with steam fog drifting above the surface of the lake.

An hour later it was no clearer and we passed by the western edge of the larger Dewey Lake

In another hour it was the tiny Tipsoo Lake.

The weather was not getting any better. We continued to hike but we were cold and wet. Late in the morning we approached highway 410 which is leads to the eastern entrance to Mount Rainer National Park.

Highway 410

We could hear cars zipping down the road. We passed day hikers out for a morning walk. Soon we passed over this major paved road – on this cool bridge, that announces to all that you are now in Mount Rainer National Park.

Just over the bridge is the Chinook Pass Overlook. Sydney and I stopped and had an early lunch and left our trash in the trash cans 😊. But we were getting colder and soon were back on the trail hiking in an attempt to make miles and warm up.

Here’s a short video that demonstrates the weather we were hiking in today!

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0E6Xm_ClL64UJWGgnocbkKZHA#Enumclaw

We continued to hike. We got wetter and colder. We passed through a burn area. The visibility never improved. We were getting pretty miserable.

Late in the afternoon, the trail passed by an unnamed piped spring with nearby campsites. We collected some water and set up our tents as quickly as possible. There were other tents nearby – we weren’t the only hikers that had retreated to their tents for the remainder of the day.

Soon we were dry and warming up. Hopefully tomorrow will bring friendlier weather.

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Day 30: Mt. Ranier National Park

PCT Mile 2296 – 2317

Miles Hiked = 21

Sydney and I thoroughly enjoyed our evening last night in a small studio rental condo at White Pass. We did our laundry, took showers, had pizza and beer and picked up and organized our food resupply for the next section of the trail. It was exactly what we needed … but today was a new day and it was time to get back on the trail.

We slept in until 6am and then started the process to pack up and get back on trail. But first we had some hot coffee – yum! On the trail we have cold coffee. And then enjoyed some non-trail food for breakfast – a bowl of Cheerios and milk, as well as an egg/sausage sandwich. We also carried a banana in our pack for later in the morning.

We were out of the condo by 7:45am and had a half-mile road walk down Highway 12 to get back to the PCT. As is typical when you leave “town”, the trail usually goes uphill for a while. Today the first four miles would gain twelve hundred feet in elevation. Along the way we entered the William O. Douglas Wilderness.

We passed by the small but beautiful Deer Lake

Deer Lake

And soon passed the 2300 mile marker – only 352 miles to go to reach the Canadian border!

We passed by another unnamed small lake with a nice reflection

It was a beautiful morning with a deep blue sky and no hint of any smoke – a great day to continue our hike northward.

Buesch Lake

The trail takes many forms

We crossed this stream by walking across this log and kept our feet dry – EZPZ!

We passed by beautiful green meadows

But look closer at those “clouds” in the last photo – those aren’t clouds … that’s smoke!

An hour later, we had another view – it looks like there’s a pretty big fire east of the PCT as it passes by the eastern side of Mt. Rainer National Park.

Soon we briefly entered the National Park

and caught a glimpse of Mt. Rainer

And then another view of the fires to the east

Late in the afternoon we found a campsite and hoped for another view of Mt. Rainer but the clouds had rolled in and we didn’t get to watch the sun set behind the big mountain. ☹️

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Day 29: The Knifes Edge

PCT Mile 2277 – 2296

Miles Hikes = 19

Today Sydney and I would hike across the Knifes Edge. I had looked forward to this day for several years and knew that it would be one of the highlights of the entire PCT. I had seen photos so I knew the views could be awesome – if it was clear. That’s why we took a nero yesterday in hopes that the smoke would clear and the views would improve. So, we will soon see!

But I didn’t know what to expect as far as the Knifes Edge exposure or risk. Some hikers had told us that there are sections where you need to watch your step. Comments online were that you shouldn’t hike the Knifes Edge in windy conditions or bad weather. Today all those questions would be answered.

Sydney and I were up early again and on the trail shortly after 6am. It was definitely clearer than last night – we could see Mt. Rainer – a good sign!

Five minutes after starting our hike we crossed this two hundred yard snowfield that was on an incline. There was a good path but the snow was hard and crunchy because of the early morning start. We crossed a section where a slip would not be good…. but we both made it across without any problems.

Soon after crossing the snowfield we had our first view of the exposed ridge that includes the Knifes Edge

Then we crossed another snowfield and the trail traversed across a talus field of rocks

It didn’t take long to reach a viewpoint that revealed the path we would soon be hiking. If you look closely you can see exactly where the trail is headed.

In the distance was Mt. Rainer!

As the sun was rising, I recorded this video

Inhttps://share.icloud.com/photos/0fD6ZUURv42UXyw8zPM0Sjx5A#Randle

It was a beautiful morning and our gamble to take a Nero yesterday and wait for better weather was turning out to be a lucky and good decision.

Awesome!

The next two photographs are looking back at the trail we had just hiked – towards where we had started this morning.

We were so happy that the views were great!

Another video

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0ODuE8aMFiTXFipuO4BmcJpPg#Randle

It took about two hours to hike across the 1.7 mile Knifes Edge. Most of that time was spent stopping to enjoy the views and to take photographs.

After the Knifes Edge the trail dropped down into this lovely valley

We spent the rest of the day hiking another fifteen miles to White Pass where we would spend the night, pick up a resupply package, do our laundry and eat some restaurant food.

More Mt. Ranier

At one point we could see a plume of smoke from one of the wildfires to the east of Mt. Rainer.

Then we left the Goat Rocks Wilderness. It did not disappoint!

We arrived at White Pass just before 4pm. The small store has laundry facilities so we immediately started a load of laundry. And then we checked into the condo that we had reserved nextdoor.

There are ski lifts here at White Pass so these condos are likely quite popular in the winter. Our little studio condo (400 square feet) was cute and served our needs perfectly.

And across the highway was an awesome wood-fired pizza restaurant – life is good!!!

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Day 28: Goat Rocks Nero

PCT Mile 2274 – 2277

Miles Hiked = 3

I’ve explained this before, so I apologize if you’re familiar with these terms but in hiker terminology, a zero day is when you take the day off and don’t hike any miles. Usually this happens in towns and is a rest day. A nero day is when you hike less then ten miles. Usually a nero day occurs when a hiker is entering or leaving a town. For example, a hiker will often try to time his/her hike so that there is a short hike into town in the morning so that lunch and dinner can be enjoyed, laundry can be done, a shower can be had and a food resupply can be picked up (if mailed) or purchased. Sydney and I did this exact strategy a few days ago when we hiked into Trout Lake – had lunch and dinner – and then got back on the trail the next morning.

Sydney and I were planning on hiking twenty-two miles today and getting to White’s Pass where we would spend the night in a hotel and pick up our next resupply box. We decided this morning, on the spur of the moment, to take a nero on the trail here in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. The scenery is so special here that we wanted to enjoy this special place.

Shortly after getting on the trail this morning we had a hazy view back at Mt. Adams. We had passed by this large volcano two days ago after leaving Trout Lake.

Mt. Adams

We also a saw our first Marmot here in Washington state. These marmots are bigger than the the Sierra Nevada marmots I’ve seen in the past. These marmots are named Hoary Marmot. The word hoary means something that is white, gray or silvery and that obviously is a reference to the coloration on their back. Marmots are herbivores and live at high elevations above the timberline. These marmots are about the size of a 25-30 pound dog. They burrow into the earth to make their dens. In the coming weeks Sydney and I will see a lot of Hoary Marmots.

This morning as we hiked along the trail, we also had our first view of Mt. Rainer – the largest mountain in Washington.

Note the smoke at the lower elevations below the peak.

Mt. Ranier

After hiking three miles this morning we found a nice campsite and decided to take a Nero and enjoy the rest of the day here in the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

In the next few miles, just ahead of where we stopped today, is the Knife’s Edge, a 1.7 mile exposed ridge with awesome views of Mt. Rainer. We’re hoping to hike this section with clear skies and little smoke. The weather was supposed to change tomorrow so we were also hoping that with the predicted change of weather, the wind direction may change and blow away some of the smoke.

So we just took it easy all day. Sydney took a couple naps and listened to podcasts and audiobooks.

I found a place with cell service and called Donna and then made an online hotel reservation for tomorrow night at Whites Pass.

Later in the day, the skies got smokier and eventually we couldn’t even see Mt. Rainer anymore.

When we retired to our tents for the night we weren’t very confident that it would be clearer in the morning – it seemed to be getting worse!

Sunset

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