As we headed east on I-90 towards Snoqualmie Pass, the fog and mist grew heavier and I wondered if I would regret going up into the mountains today. Back home, morning clouds had already given way to sun, and lately I’ve been focussed – OK, obsessed, with getting out into every sunny day I can here in Seattle, where summer is stunningly gorgeous but all too short.
The doubts disappeared as soon as we started on the trail though – mists rolled down the mountainside from some notch above like giant puffs, and it was really cool to walk in the midst of the clouds that are usually high above you.
We were hiking a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada. Most of the people we saw on the trail were through hikers – going all the way, or close to it. They were from Indiana, Ottawa, Rochester, and elsewhere. Their faces beamed under layers of dust as they spoke of elk, bear and coyote. Zack, the first hiker we met, was a lovely shade of dusty brown from his dread-locked hair to his boots. As he leaned in to show us a cache of ripe huckleberries he’d just picked, the smell was powerful! I wish I’d taken his photo, but I did record some of my favorite sights on the trail:
Here’s the Pacific Crest Trail register. We pulled it out of its waterproof housing to read the most recent entries. The PCT is 2,663 miles long and typical through hikers do about 20 miles a day, re-supplying at the nearest towns when possible. Our friend Zack was heading off trail for real food, and then hoped to meet up with a friend who was rock-climbing up near Leavenworth. He looked at our map so he could figure out which roads to hitch-hike on. It was probably a good 90 miles, but after hiking up from the Sierra Nevada I’m guessing that was a minor challenge.
By the way, the fastest through hiker, Scott Williamson, set a record of 64 days, 11 hours, 19 min. From Mexico to Canada. And all the through hikers we met were young, and most had school or a job to go back to. Reminds me that it’s a luxury. Even our hike required a car, some free time, and decent health, all of which we’re lucky to have.
If you click on the open book photo you can read notes people left in the register – NOBO means northbound.
For us the turn-around point was just a few miles south at Lodge Lake. My guidebook said it reflects the surroundings mountains, but today we were content to sit on logs at the lake’s edge, snacking on Cliff bars and watching the mist roll over the lake. There were hundreds of waterstriders – pretty big ones – and as they jumped across the surface, swifts zipped around overhead.
In certain parts of the forest, hemlocks and Doug firs collect the mist. When it drops off the needles everything underneath glistens.
The meadows were speckled with red, yellow, purple and white wildflowers – and best of all, berries! I sampled blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries and tiny wild strawberries.
I blurred the image above a little to convey the dreamy, seamless beauty of the meadow and misty treeline.
Only four miles for us – not forty a day, like the guy who set the speed record.
And now it’s time for ice cream…