PCT DAY 38: Wednesday August 2, 2017
Mile 2370.7 – Mile 2390.7
20 miles ( 32km)
It was very still and so silent when I woke this morning. It was way too early to start making a move, so I forced myself to try and get back to sleep. It worked for another 30 minutes and then I gave up, made coffee and sat in the darkness, drinking my coffee and listening to the sound of silence. This really is my favourite part of the day – quitely excited by the beginning of a brand new day. It was already warm by the time I was on my way at 5am. By the time I climbed out of the forest the sun was just breaking through, in the bit of the sky that I could see. It was like a bright red flaming ball.
The trail this morning, and pretty much the rest of the day, crossed numerous dirt roads, many disused and begining to be reclaimed by the forest. There were also mutiple crossings of high voltage transmission lines. And it was in these clearings that I saw the sky was shrouded in thick smoky haze.
There wil be no distant views today. A low hum of distant traffic noise and nearby hum of industrious bees was building as I climbed through yet another ridge only to descend a bit and climb again. With wildflowers largely absent and no distant views I focused on getting to Snoqualmie Pass as quickly as possible. This task was not made easy by the rocky nature of much of the trail.
It was hot and hard work. Just as I thought this hardship would never end I reached an absolute gem – Mirror Lake. The lake is big, surrounded to one side by a forested ridge. The lake water was an incredible, clear green. The air temperature was noticeably cooler then on the way to the lake. It was like the lake created its own microclimate. What a fantastic and unexpected oasis. It was only after 10am, way too early to stop for anything other then simply to absorb the beauty of this setting.
Reluctantly I moved on. To estimate when I would get to the Pass, I was busy calculating my pace in metric measure and then coverting to imperial. It kept my mind occupied, as I would do this almost every 5 minutes. I estimated I’d be in Snoqualmie Pass by 2pm. It was in this section of trail, after Mirror Lake that I found my first ripe berries on the trail. Hammer raved about the huckleberries last year. I finally found some that were ripe. Uhm…interesting taste.
As I had internet connection last night I read about the second PCT hiker drowning in the Sierra. The pictures of the two young women – and the hiker missing in this section of the PCT last year – haunted me as I hiked today. They were one of us – setting out full of optimism, wonder and hope. My heart goes out to their families. I cannot imagine their grief.
Much of the trail in this section was like hiking through a dried up river bed exposed to the sun. Can I make it any quicker? By mid-day, I eaten all the food I planned to eat for the day, as I way of distraction from the heat and the unrelenting nature of this section of trail. I met one southbound hiker with a huge grin on her face – relishing the heat. I stopped to chat to her. Turns out Gretel was no stranger to heat – coming from Bunderburg in Australias sub-tropical Queensland. I wished her safe travels on her way to Mexico.
Finally I could see the I-90 below me. But the trail cruely wound up and away from it. It was almost another hour before I started to descend to the Pass. Eventually making it to the Chevron Gas right by the Summit Inn. It was 2.15pm – I was so happy to get out of the sun. I stopped by the food cart at the gas station – accepted their complimentary cold beer – and sat in the shade. A few hikers and a family with a blown tyre on their car were taking shelter here. The family was just setting out on vacation, out of Seattle. It turns out the mother was an Aussie from Melbourne. Small world indeed. I checked into the Inn, deciding to take a rest day tomorrow. Temperature is predicted to hit a record setting 100F tomorrow. I’m in no rush. I’m so happy to be able to get off trail and be able to sit this one out.