Switchback City

Snoqualmie Pass to Steven’s Pass, WA

We woke up early in the lodge and had breakfast at the Pancake House.  I do not think I have ever seen Kilo eat so much for breakfast before.  No crumb was spared.  After packing and diddle daddling for a while, it was finally time to hit the trail.  We started hiking around 11am.  Naturally it was straight up a mountain.  We entered the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  Once we walked out of the tree line the scenery was breathtaking.  However, for six and a half miles we had to walk on rocks and shale.  At first the rocks did not bother me, but with about three miles left to camp, I was in pain.  We passed a section hiker going Northbound to Steven’s Pass, and he asked where we were headed.  We said first Steven’s Pass and then Canada.  We came from Mexico.  His response was, “woah, you guys are savages!  I could never do that.”  We passed another PCT hiker who was laying right off the trail.  As we approached her, she cried, “you guys my feet hurt so bad.  These rocks are killing me.  We have three more miles of this.”  I felt her pain, but the only way to make it stop was to get to camp.  On our way, we saw our first Marmots today (five of them).  Such funny, beaver-like animals that communicate via a loud whistle.  We finally made it to camp around 7:30pm.  We ate dinner immediately and then set up our tent and went to sleep.

I had a restless sleep.  I am sure I heard animals outside the tent.  We woke up at 5am as we knew it would be a big day of climbing.  We had a 6 1/2 mile climb with 3,500 feet of elevation gain.  It was tough, but I am grateful this section has switchbacks and so the trail does not go straight up.  Switchbacks on the uphill and switchbacks on the downhill...we say we are entering Switchback City.  I literally think we walked one hundred switchbacks today.  Multiple times today, we saw F18 fighter jets blast through the valley.  On one particular flight we were higher than the jets.  They came so close to the mountain and were so loud after they flew by.  It was amazing and each time they flew through it literally gave me the chills.  That and the beautiful alpine views.  Today was tough, and another long day.  We were supposed to do 22 miles, but found a tent site at mile 21 and crashed.

Another night battling mice.  Kilo woke me up in the night because something was getting into my backpack.  We did not see anything and went back to sleep, but once again were awoken to the sounds of critters.  I never saw the animal, but in the morning discovered he had chewed a hole in my trash bag.  I wish he would have eaten some of my trash...less for me to carry.  Kilo and I started hiking at 6:30am.  We had a big day planned ahead of us with 23.5 miles.  Within those miles there were three big mountains to climb.  We ultimately made it up two for a total of 21 miles.  Once again we did not hit our mileage goal.  The trail in Washington is HARD.  We hiked until 6:30 (twelve hours for the day) and decided to camp on the shores of Glacier Lake.  We skipped a massive climb at the end of the day and opted to hike Switchback City in the morning.  

The alarm went off at 4am.  That climb we skipped yesterday is the first thing we had to conquer today.  As we climbed, the sun rose to a new day.  Once we reached the top, we went all the way back down and then back up two additional significant climbs for the day.  We did 14 miles into Steven’s Pass and I was tired.  If we would have had to do 14 miles + one step, I would have fallen over and not gotten up.  We did not initially plan on going into the town of Leavenworth, WA, but we heard so many great things about the town, and they have breweries (right in line with the PCT 2019 Brewery Tour).  So we hitchhiked to Leavenworth with two other hikers.  We waited maybe ten minutes before we got a ride.  The woman who drove us (and it was a long ride) is section hiking the section we just did on Tuesday so she was excited to hear what we thought about it.  We arrived in Leavenworth, which is a Bavarian themed town with alpine-style buildings, and immediately went to Icicle Brewing for lunch and a beer.  After lunch we checked into an Inn, took showers and relaxed.  We got to watch football!  I love football season because it reminds me of my childhood.  We went to a second brewery for dinner and grabbed some pizza (and a salad...vegetables).   I went to bed (an actual bed) early.  188 miles to Canada!  

Kristy Woodward2 Comments