August 6- 10 miles, camping below Naches Peak
With all my running around the little town of Packwood, trying to find Wi Fi strong enough to upload my blog, I didn’t have enough time to hitch back to the trail, like I’d hoped. Instead, I spent another night at the Packwood Station Bunkhouse with Kinky Camel and southbound hiker Sequoia. We repeated our family-style spaghetti dinner and waffle breakfast, since they were a hit. After breakfast, Kinky Camel and Sequoia decided they’d head into Seattle for gear and I did a couple more errands around Packwood.
I knew I wanted to hike with Day Tripper and 1-Step, but they were already a day ahead of me and I didn’t think I’d be able to catch them. Instead of hiking out of White Pass, I decided to hitch up trail about 30 miles to Chinook Pass and then hike southbound to see them. After receiving a bit of trail magic at Chinook Pass and hiking southbound for five miles, I found them lounging naked in the sun next to Anderson Lake.
They convinced me that I wasn’t missing anything too special between White Pass and Anderson Lake, so, once they were fully clothed, I made a U-turn and hiked northbound with them back toward Chinook Pass. Purists may scoff at me, but hiking north with them felt like the right move, even if it meant missing out on 30 miles of the PCT.
We’re camping just south of the pass, near Naches Peak. 1-Step wants to do 26-mile days so he can maintain his schedule. I hope I can keep up with them; it’s going to be an early start tomorrow morning.
August 7- 23 miles, camping at Urich Camp
Last night, I was awoken by the calls of coyotes roaming around the mountain – at least I think they were coyotes. Day Tripper and 1-Step get up early, so that means I was up and hiking with them by 6:30am.
The views were beautiful all day, but Rainier remained shrouded in clouds. At times, it was difficult to tell the difference between the white clouds and the white snow of Rainier.
The most beautiful sight we saw all day, though, was a small black fox. We were sitting on Sourdough Gap admiring the view when I spotted the little guy walking up the switchbacks below us. We thought he’d sense us and turn another direction, but he stayed his course while we stayed as still and quite as we could. I didn’t dare take out my camera because I didn’t want to miss a moment of seeing this special animal. That handsome fox trotted all the way up the trail and went right on by, just three feet from Day Tripper and looking us straight in the eyes, as though he saw hikers all the time on his daily route over Sourdough Gap. It was magical!
My foot seems to be recovering, but I stepped on a rock wrong mid-day and felt it achy and cranky all the way to camp. I left 1-Step and Day Tripper lounging at a lunchtime spring and hiked slowly ahead of them for the afternoon. I originally wanted to stop after 18 miles because my foot hurt, but with rain clouds building, it seemed like a better idea to head for a shelter called Urich Cabin.
This shelter is nicer than most I’ve seen. There are three section hikers staying here also and someone else has left a trail magic cooler full of juice and chips. The section hikers have set up their beds in the loft and Day Tripper and 1-Step are sleeping near the door, so that leaves the back corner for me.
Unfortunately, there are mice here, which is common for mountain shelters, but after my last dealing with a mouse, I’m not looking forward to tonight. I’ve packed my food in my backpack, wrapped the pack with my rain jacket, and stuck it under my feet. If any mouse messes with it, I’ll end up cuddling it in my arms.
August 9- 20.7 miles, camping on a ridge
It was a very misty morning and the dew collected on all the grass and leaves, looking like crystal frost. If I’d camped last night, all of my gear would’ve been soaked through with condensation. The mist cleared as soon as the sun came over the treetops. I had looked away for one minute and the world outside completely changed to blue skies.
In 1853, a pioneer party called the Longmire Wagon Train made camp on this meadow for two days before descending to the Puget Sound. Knowing bits of history like that make the hike so much more interesting. I love imagining how those people lived, what they felt and thought about during their own journeys and what they hoped the future would hold.
All day, I was hung up in huckleberry bushes. It became a compulsion to scan the sides of the trail for ripe, juicy berries and my hand would dash out to grab them as I walked. I thought about pulling out my pot and filling it with berries, but I was just too lazy. The trail seemed to provide plenty, so there was no need to stockpile them.
I finally got some amazing views of Mount Rainier today. Even at this distance, it’s such an impressive mountain: it’s base decorated with tall, jagged rocks like sentinels; blue, cracked glaciers draping its sides; and it’s peak wide and expansive, practically touching the sky.
I wasn’t sure how far I’d make it today with my foot, but I took it slow and steady and made it further than I thought. I found a lovely spot on a high ridge with views to the north of the rugged Wenatchee Mountains. I can also see what I think is the smoke from the massive forest fire north of Skykomish. I’ll have to detour around that fire, missing out on some beautiful land. In the meantime, the sunset is gorgeous and Day Tripper and 1-Step just showed up to camp with me.
August 10- 23.25 miles, camping at Lodge Lake
There was a light rain around 4 am that woke woke me up. I love the sound of rain on my tent- I feel so protected and cozy inside, as long as it’s not freezing cold. By 8am my tent was dry, I said goodbye to 1-Step and Day Tripper, and I was hiking off the ridge.
The trail wound down and up, down and up, and more down, down, down all day long. I saw a few southbound hikers, but no one else, and the trail was thick with view-blocking trees, which made the day pretty meditative. I went into trance mode and had to remind myself to look up and around so I didn’t miss anything.
I’m calling it a night just two miles short of Snoqualmie Pass with its hotel and restaurants. My foot did really well until the late afternoon, when the trail became really rocky. My back tingles have also returned. It’s bizarre, they seem to pop up when my pack is at its lightest, but the pins and needles are super painful. I think it would be better not to push it tonight and then have a “Nero” Day tomorrow. I’m still hoping I’ll make it to Canada, but I need a healthy back and both feet to do it! I’m camping alone, for the first time in awhile, at Lodge Lake. At this point in my hike, I actually really love camping alone, a stark contrast to my first days on the trail.
August 11- 2.5 miles, staying at the Summit Inn
This morning, I had a super easy 2 miles along the trail and then down a ski lift road to Snoqualmie Pass. I piled up on breakfast at the Pancake House and was ready to nap and do laundry when the Summit Inn clerk said there would be no check-ins until 3pm. Argh! I was SO ready to just relax and get organized, now I’m stuck hanging out in the hotel lobby for six hours. I was tempted to maybe hitch to another town and stay at a different hotel, but I ran into Blue Moon and Scarecrow who convinced me the Summit Inn was worth the wait.
Seven hours later… I grabbed some Korean Bibimbap and convenience store junk food and settled in for the evening with some classic films. My resupply package seems to be M.I.A.- I may have to hitch down the road 20-40 miles to locate it tomorrow.
August 12- ZERO DAY, staying at the Summit Inn
I must’ve been super exhausted because I slept about eleven hours last night and still could’ve slept more. For about an hour, I was hurrying to eat breakfast- which happened to be a bacon-filled pancake topped with ice cream- wash my clothes in the sink and pack my bag so I could check out on time. Thinking about everything that I still needed to do today, I decided I should just stay another night. I still needed to line-dry my clothes, call my bank, call Apple Customer Care, call loved ones, post to my blog, and locate my resupply box. A little more sleep wouldn’t hurt either.
And so, here I am, another night at the Summit Inn. I’ll head out tomorrow morning and still won’t be behind in my schedule. Whoohoo!