Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Day 148 - August 31 (Happy birthday to my brother Bill !)
Mile: 2385.8 to 2390.6 (4.8)
up/down: 700/1350 feet

Not a lot of hiking, just enough to get us to the Interstate 90 roadside ski town of Snoqualmie Pass. Gas station, motel, several restaurants, that's it. But it's all we need with excellent food choices and a roof over our heads for this rainy afternoon. More rain in the forecast for the next few days and we're not happy about that. Speaking of the next section, it is 75 miles and the altitude profile looks like an EKG. Straight up and down multiple times between 3 and 6 thousand feet elevation. Hold on!

Those mountains are next starting tomorrow 
Laundry is done and we've eaten twice already with dinner still to go. It is going to be hard to break this habit of eating everything in sight after the hike...

Fog, Frogs, and Fungi

Day 147 - August 30 (Happy birthday trail mom Terri!)
Mile: 2364.7 to 2385.8 (21.1)
up/down: 4400/5300 feet

The weather she's a changin'. Rain is forecast for tomorrow and the next day, we'll be in town by morning. The fog fills the valleys, below us this morning and we're camped in it tonight. 

More of the same for most of the day - second and third growth forests, with an extra effort in one section. I can't imagine the number of work-hours that went into creating thousands of these slash piles where they thinned the trees over hundreds of acres. Hard to believe it could be cost effective but what do I know. 

We did pass by the pretty Mirror Lake in the afternoon. There were epic numbers of huckleberry along the trail which were hard to walk past (we didn't walk past them all). And frogs and fungi, very cool. 


We are a mere 5 miles from Snoqualmie with the food and lodging that brings. It will be a short hiking day tomorrow with town chores and eating, lots of eating. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Between Wild

Day 146 - August 29
Mile: 2344.5 to 2364.7 (20.2)
up/down: 4400/4700 feet 

How to put this delicately - as a hiking day on the PCT, today sucked. I know every day can't be glorious views with water every two miles. But walking through endless young second growth and recent clear cut forest all day, and long water hauls, made for a day we could have done without. On the good side we are 20 miles closer to Snowqualmie and the start of the Northern Cascades. 

We had a couple views back at the north face of Rainier early so that was nice. The rest of the day passed through a burn caused by loggers, lots of small trees, and ugly views. All while doing epic PUDS (pointless ups and downs) to ridges with views of more clear cuts. I don't kid myself, I know all those 2x4s at the lumber yard have to come from somewhere, I just wish it wasn't from where I'm hiking on a national scenic trail. 

We had a couple water sources, one early and another late so we had to haul for lunch and another dry camp. The water situation looks better tomorrow and we'll be ever so much closer to resupply. We plan to camp about 6 miles out on Tuesday evening, head in Wednesday morning for a rest day and evening at the Summit Inn. Then it is into the teeth of the Cascades. 

We started the trail with 30 resupply boxes. The last one was mailed out today! After we pick up our box in Snoqualmie Wednesday there are only two resupplies remaining! We are under 300 miles to go now. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mt Rainier, Part Two

Day 145 - August 28
Mile: 2323.5 to 2344.5 (21.0)
up/down: 2700/3800 feet

It takes a while to get past these big volcanoes so we had the pleasure of the company of Mt Rainier for most of the day. Leaving camp we continued the climb to a ridge we would follow for many miles. Switching sides of the ridge often we had views to both sides. To the west was Rainier, still sporting its cloudy hat. To the east was Cement Basin, Lake Basin, and Little Crow Basin, among others in the Peak Wilderness. It was view-o-rama all morning. 

In the afternoon we started the long roller coaster descent into Government Meadow and the Mike Urich Cabin - constructed in the 1990s by a local snowmobile club. It is open to hikers and would be handy in a rain storm but so far we've dodged that bullet. The forecast doesn't look so great a few days from now. If we play our miles right we'll be in Snoqualmie at a hotel that day. 


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mt Rainier

Day 144 - August 27
Mile: 2394.8 to 2323.5 (18.7)
up/down: 4400/3100 feet

As we continue north through the Cascades the mountains and views just get better. Today was all about Mt Rainier.

We left camp with some clouds already forming and a bit of breeze. Both would dog us all day but it didn't rain. After dropping down to Bumping River we started a serious climb to the outskirts of Mt Rainier National Park. We would only walk the far eastern edge of the park but that was good enough.  As we walked the ridge for several miles we had stunning views of the big glacier covered volcano. Our first view was the best with no clouds on the summit and incredible lenticular clouds above. 

More views were seen as we moved along but now the clouds obscured the top. 


We dropped into the basin with Dewey Lake, a beauty with size and backdrop. From there it was a steep climb out and down to the highway and Chinook Pass. This is the road entrance to the park from Yakima and connects to Seattle. Add in the trailhead and a Saturday afternoon in August and you can imagine we were drowned in a sea of humanity. 

Two miles beyond the road is the small Sheep Lake. With a 8 mile waterless stretch after that we thought of pulling in at the lake early and calling it. Silly us. So close to the road there were literally dozens of people there and many tents lining the shore. What a zoo. We gathered water and trudged up the hill for another half mile until we found a flat spot. Done. 

Ooh, Ahh, New Shoes!

Day 143 - August 26
Mile: 2290.3 to 2304.8 (14.5) plus 1 mile road walk
up/down: 1350/2200 feet

You can't imagine how wonderful it is to put on new shoes after doing 150 miles in shoes that had no business being out on the trail. It was heavenly. Hummingbird has the exact same shoe she has been wearing except these actually have tread on the bottom. Which brings up an interesting observation - when you have hiked as many miles as we have your feet are conditioned to come off the ground no higher than is absolutely necessary. The new shoes with a couple millimeters of additional tread height will drag on trail obstacles until the brain compensates for the change. It takes a couple days to fully take effect.  Until then tripping on damn near everything happens. 


My new shoes are an update of what I've been wearing since the start - Altra Lone Peak. I have used up four pairs of the 2.5 model, the new ones are 3.0. The new model appears to have solved the problem with tearing of the mesh at the toe, we'll see how it works for the next 350 miles. 


With resupply day comes a heavy pack again so that sucks. This is a 100 mile section so we have five days of food. But it's our food again!

We did walk today, two miles from camp to the road, half mile each way on the road to the store at White Pass, and 12.5 miles in the afternoon. Just another day in the forest with no views to speak of. Lots of ponds in the section we are in now - some named as lakes, some not. Where we come from they'd all be called mosquito ponds...


Under the category of longest trail distance between sightings: we saw Wombat today, last seen at Idyllwild campground  (mile 175) where I taught him how to lance and drain a blister with a sterile needle and dental floss. He still has two feet so it must have worked...  Here he is helping out at the store checking in resupply boxes while he waits for his late package to arrive. 


Finally, we passed 2300 miles today - 350 to go!

Walking The Edge Of The Knife

Day 142 - August 25
Mile: 2272.8 to 2290.3 (17.5)
up/down: 3900/5100 feet

There is a stiff and gusty breeze in camp this morning which does not bode well for what we are about to do. Just a couple miles ahead and several hundred feet above is the summit of Old Snowy Mountain and the Knife's Edge, a long exposed razor sharp ridge walk. There are actually two choices for about half a mile of the ridge - the knife which we fully intend to do, or the below ridge line traverse. The lower traverse is covered in numerous snow fields that are icy in the morning and far more dangerous than the top ridge. We were warned by a couple of south bound hikers yesterday to stay off the low path. Two hikers in the past week have fallen and been seriously injured on that stretch. One had to be helo rescued from the mountain. 

Up we go steeply to the knife and start our traverse to the north. The wind continues to gust and push on us at times. The footing is slippery with steep loose rock so we go very slow. Soon enough we are past the worst and continue the exposed ridge for another mile. The old topo map shows the McCall Glacier to the east and the Packwood Glacier to the west of the ridge we walk. But as with so many lower 48 glaciers climate change has reduced them to just small snow fields. Toward the end of the long ridge we see our first mountain goats. Very cool. Along with the Hoary Marmots at camp last night that's two new trip mammals. 

The trail swings east and drops into the basin below Old Snowy. Down we go before ascending another ridge for a couple thousand feet to continue our trek north. All day we are treated to views of Mt Adams and Ranier. 

We come up short of time to make it to our resupply at White Pass with the store closing at 6pm so we camp at a tiny lake two miles away. We'll go in tomorrow morning and get our chores done before setting off on the next section. Thankfully we brought enough food to take 8 days for this section. Not that I want to carry that much food ever again...