ALPINE LAKES WILDERNESS
PCT Day 139: Mile 2404.8 – Mile 2527.5
Tuesday August 30, 2016: 22.7 miles (36.3km)
The morning cloud and sunrise made for some spectacular photos. It was a slow start to the day and I was not on the trail till after 7am.
In the early part of the trail this morning the blueberries were everywhere but as the morning wore on the huckberries dominated, while later in the day the raspberries and salmonberries made a reappearance. It all made the Muesli bar look a bit anemic.
The trail was passing through the craggy peaks of the North Cascades and there was a fair amount of clouds about. A change in the weather is predicted with some rain forecast. The state of Washington has been so dry that the whole state has a fire ban. So perhaps a bit of rain will be good.
There is little flat ground on the trail in Washington, you seem to be going up or down and much of the trail is quite technical. As usual the trail continues to amaze, surprise and delight. While walking down the trail last night about 7.30 last night when I came around a switchback to find a deer bedded down for the night. It woke and seemed a bit dopey before getting its wits about it and taking off.
I had lunch near a creek and as I was cooking up yet another culinary delight also known as Knorr sides. A hiker known by the trail name of Chatterbox happened along. We got talking and he had an interesting story to tell. He worked in the airline industry initially and almost took a job with Ansett based in Melbourne. He was diagnosed with throat cancer and was extremely lucky that it was picked up when it was. He became quite emotional when recounting how close he was to not being here. The second chance at life has made him value every day. He made some radical changes in his life including becoming a coffee roaster for the past 20 years before recently retiring. Now he hikes and does some voluntary trail maintenance and appreciates his second chance at life. I would have loved to have found out more of Chatterbox’s story, but he was keen to get to Spectacle Lake and set up camp and I had further miles to make.
A short time later down the trail I met a hiker whose trail name was Princess Anne. She had hiked from the Mexican border to Sierra City and then flipped North to ensure she got to see the North Cascades and intends hiking South to Sierra City.
The sounds on the trail can go from the gentle sound of waterfalls from across the valley to the roar of 2 more jets flashing by, which sounds like someone screaming in your ear for 30 seconds and back to the gentle sound of waterfalls again, quite surreal.
As I continued down the trail after the deer encounter and it was not long before it was getting dark and time to look for a campsite. The first was occupied, so I continued to the river. Several sites there were also occupied. When I looked at the app there was another campsite 0.8 miles further up the trail. So off I set and it was also taken. Next site was 1.8 miles further up the trail and it also had a tent set up. When I looked at the App again the next campsite was 3.8 miles and no guarantee that it was not occupied as this seems to be a popular section of the trail. The site was a pretty large and it was now 10pm. So I decided to set up and do it as quietly as I could. I think I did a reasonable job of getting the tent up with a minimum of noise. Once in the tent and getting the sleeping mat and sleeping bag and tomorrow‘s food organized and I promptly fell asleep.