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...