Sunshine, Rain, Fog. Repeat.
White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass, WA
We did not check out of the lodge at White Pass until we absolutely had to. Once we were out, we went down to the Kracker Barrel Store to buy the rest of our resupply items. Finally around noon we hit the trail. It was a fairly easy day although we had full backpacks with five and 1/2 days of food. We hiked out ten miles and camped at Snow Lake. I feel like we have been lucky with the Washington weather so far (knock on wood). Today was sunny, blue skies with a slight breeze and probably in the low 70s.
The morning was cold. Kilo’s watch thermometer said inside the tent was 45 degrees. We had an eight mile hike into Rainier National Park. Throughout the day we entered and exited the National Park multiple times depending on the side of the mountain we were walking. The views of Mt. Rainier, the towering icy beast, were incredible. Towards the end of the day we hiked into Chinook Pass, a popular day hiking destination. We know when we are getting close to a parking lot because we start to see hikers with no backpacks, people wearing jeans, and women carrying purses. As we came down into the parking lot there was trail magic! Mad Baker and Ron, Trail angels we had run into previously, had a tent and chairs set up. There was fresh fruits (nectarines are my newest favorite fruit), beers, sandwiches and pumpkin pie. Also in the parking lot were pit toilets and trash cans, oh the luxuries! As we sat there and talked with the other hikers, we learned that the CEO of Wholefoods, John Mackey, was hiking in the park today apparently with his whole entourage. When he was done hiking, he had a massive RV he retreated to where he had chefs cook up his food. He had invited some of the hikers to join him. I am bummed we missed that trail magic. After our evening trail magic, we had about a two mile climb up to Sheep Lake where we camped for the night. Popular with the recreational campers, it was pretty crowded around the lake. It was also a beautiful spot, so I understand the crowds.
As the alarm went off at 5:30am we heard the pitter patter of rain drops on the roof of the tent. I immediately changed the alarm to 6am and fell back asleep for 30 minutes. At 6 we did actually wake up and start to get ready. It stopped raining just in time for us to pack up the tent. We immediately started the day with a climb because, well, this is Washington. There is more elevation gain and loss in Washington on the PCT than in the Eastern Sierra Mountains. Once we got to the top of the climb it started to rain. It rained off and on all day, but never poured and we still had amazing views of the Cascades and Mt. Rainier. All day today all I wanted to do was take breaks. About every two miles I would think to myself, “How far have we gone? Can we take a break yet?” And then I would look at Guthook and see we had only walked two miles and it was way too soon for another break if we actually wanted to get anywhere. Our goal for the day was 21 miles to the Mike Urich Cabin. It is a cabin owned by a local snowmobile club that has a pit toilet. We arrived to a party at the cabin. Trail Magic! We had grilled hot dogs, chips, candy, Oreos, and Rainier Beer for dinner. It was way better than the Knor Sides Chicken flavored rice paired with an earthy yum yum creek water I was planning on having. I ate two hot dogs, but I felt like I could have eaten 22 hot dogs. Hiker hunger. There was a large bonfire to keep us warm as a thick fog rolled in for the night. We opted to camp outside the cabin because of the mice that supposedly live inside the cabin. Also, we thought it would be a quieter night in our tent than in the cabin with a bunch of people. However, once we set the tent up, we realized everyone else was camping outside as well and no one was actually sleeping in the cabin.
So maybe sleeping outside the cabin was not our best decision. It rained off and on throughout the night. Tiny mice kept trying to get into our backpacks and we would have to wake up to shoo them away. I woke up one time and shined my headlamp onto my backpack and a small mouse was looking up at me as if to say, “feed me.” The only victim was my toilet paper. The mouse chewed a hole through part of the roll...and must have walked away disappointed with dry mouth. After I would shoo the mouse away, he would run over to Kilo’s side of the tent and wake Kilo up trying to get into his backpack. We were also in the direct path to the pit toilet so every time someone woke up to use the bathroom, we woke up too. We slept in (or at least laid there) until 6:30 trying to catch some of the sleep we did not get in the night. When we got out of the tent there was a thick fog that lasted until about 3pm and then rolled back in again around 6pm. There were no spectacular views today. We saw a lot of white (fog). I so hungry all day today no snack could satisfy me. We had a two mile steep uphill push to end the day at our campsite for the night. I was soaked in sweat by the time I got up the mountain, but as soon as I stopped hiking I was freezing. We set up camp, cooked some Knor rice for dinner and then laid in our sleeping bags so nice and warm.
I unzipped the tent this morning and to my surprise Mt. Rainier was staring back at me in all of her icy gloriousness. The thick fog from last night was gone and today was going to be clear and beautiful. The thing about Washington is that the PCT goes all the way to the top of the mountain and then all the way to the bottom of the mountain. Repeat that five times daily and that pretty much summarizes every day thus far in Washington. I would like to thank the PCT Washington in advance for the buns of steel I am going to have before I leave this state. When the trail runs to the top of each mountain, it literally goes straight up (walking on the balls of my feet, calf muscles fully engaged, and using my arms and shoulders to push the trekking poles hard off the ground to propel me up). We hit a dirt road around lunchtime and took a break to eat our cold-soaked Ramen noodles. As we sat there a truck pulled up, a man jumped out and gave me a Coca Cola and Kilo a Bud Lite. He ran back to the truck where he and his wife proceeded to unload a ton of food for trail magic. After eating our first lunch, we had a much better second lunch of chili hot dogs (lots of hot dogs lately), chips, watermelon and grapes. We hiked just over 21 miles before camping at what Guthook said was a lake, but I would describe it more as a swamp, mosquitos included. There were three tents (including ours) for a two tent campsite and we arrived last. We were able to squeeze the tent onto a small dirt patch between tall swamp grasses, but we were definitely sleeping at a slant and on some lumps of grasses.
I woke up at midnight and did not sleep much after that. I could not get comfortable and kept tossing and turning. These air mattresses we all sleep on are so loud when one person in camp rolls over about ten seconds later you will hear everyone else in camp roll over. I am sure everyone appreciated my insomnia. We had a four mile hike into Snoqualmie Pass. As soon as we walked into town, we immediately went to the local coffee shop. First, I was exhausted. Second, we had been in Washington for two weeks and had not had Washington coffee yet. Washington prides itself on its coffee. And third, they served pizza starting at 10am. We sat in the coffee shop for two hours until the brewery opened. Dru Bru was our 14th brewery in the PCT Craft Brewery Tour of 2019. We had a couple of beers (I had the Pacific Crest Pale), while we waited for check in time at the lodge. Around 2pm we headed over to the lodge, picked up our resupply package and card from the Loo family, and then took showers and did laundry. There is always so much to do when checking into a lodge because everything is so dirty and needs washing including ourselves. We grabbed an early dinner (I ate a salad and vegetable curry...I repeat, vegetables), hit the grocery store and then laid in bed for quality TV time (I cannot remember the last time we watched TV). Back on the trail tomorrow...259 miles to Canada!