SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS
PCT DAY 36: Monday July 31, 2017
Mile 2318.1 – Mile 2344.7
26.5 miles (42.6 km)
It was cold through the night. The lingering patches of snow on the trail on the way to Dewey Lake should have been a bit of a clue. I was packed and on my way just as the sky over the lake was was being illuminated on the horizon.
The wildflowers were covered in heavy dew making for really nice images. I got a bit carried away especially as the sun came up. It all looked so beautiful. The three miles from camp to Chinook Pass were absolutely stunning. Wildflowers everywhere and being illuminated by the beautiful and clear morning light. I was in heaven. I kept stopping to take so many pictures and with no one to hurry me along I took my time.
It was still early when I reached Chinook Pass, few cars were driving by and hardly any in the carpark.
I remember stopping here with Hammer last year after he finished his hike. He was explaining where the trail comes in and goes out. It all looked so daunting then. And now that I’m here, the surrounding landscape still looks daunting. I am so happy that I do not have to forge a trail through these mountains. I am grateful for the trail makers and those who maintain this trail.
After Chinook pass the wildflowers got even more stunning with dense beds carpeting the hillsides I was passing. This was combined the increasing views of Mt Adams and Mt St Helens as I ascended away from the pass. It was all so beautiful and made even more so by the amazing good weather. Clear blue sky framed the cliffs and mountains, it could not get better. I wanted to capture the wonderful feelin, so I kept taking photos. But it just does not seem enough. It’s as if I want time to stop so that these perfect moments can last.
The words of a William Wordsworth poem came to mind as I walked along.
What though the radiance which was once so bright,
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.
Yes it was such splendour in the grass. I have a deep sense of gratitude to be here and being able to see all this wonderous beauty. It feels like so many parts of this trail have become a part of me. I feel so at home in this world that I have to keep remind myself that this so not my home. Then I’m filled with saddness knowing that I probably won’t be seeing it again.
I stopped for lunch by a beautiful cold spring. The water was almost too cold to drink. It was nice to enjoy a relaxed lunch without bugs.
By the time I got going in the afternoon the heat was up – the trail traversed some open areas without much breeze. This was tough. I was thinking how different this would all be in foul weather. It’s not a place I would like to be in a snow storm.
I eventually reached a dense forest with a cooling breeze…it was lovely. The forest looked like it had been hit by a hurricane – lots of huge fallen trees. Luckily the trail crews have been through recently. This forest felt different to me for some reason. It was late afternoon and I welcomed the shade and the easy downhill roll on soft trail. The forest was quite and full of deep shadows which seemed to move. It would be a perfect forest for the Big Bad Wolf, from my childhood fairytales.
I reached Mike Ulrich hut just after 6.30pm. The hut is close to a dirt road access and tends to get locals visiting. They tend to come to party. Trailmix, whom I met in Trout Lake, warned about staying here. I was relieved that when I arrived there were only othet hikers staying. Almost all, except one were southbound. I was happy to get the tent up in the meadow near the hut and finally get off my feet. By 7.30 all the other hikers had gone to bed. A very early hiker midnight.
Corky, I anxiously await every installment of your blog and this one took my breath away. Your writing and photographs are beyond excellent. How do you like your new pack ? ( still preparing/adjusting for my trek next summer and really like how your pack sits and looks). Be safe.
Thank you Kirk
I am so pleased to be in Washington in time to see the wildflowers – breathtaking in their beauty. I love this pack Kirk – I probably could have gone a smaller size in pack volume but the weight saving was not that much compared to this one. Thank you for you kind wishes.
Corky I truly hope you consider the idea of self-publishing a book about your experience, and include all your lovely photography. I’ll be your first customer. I have enjoyed your journey so much. Your writing and your beautiful photographs will make this experience one that can be revisited many times over.
I will do it for us to have as a coffee table book. Happy to send you a copy when it gets done.
Loved your photo’s of the wildflowers taken just as the sun hit the mountains in the foreground – on your way to Chinook Pass. I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blogs your photos are amazing. Keep up the good work Corky.
Thank you Tina
So many sections have been so stunning. Im so happy to be hiking Washington at this time of the year. Although they are having a record breaking heatwave at the moment. I was prepared for wet and cold. So far hot and humid. Another 190 miles to go from today Monday Aug 7th.
I’m far behind you on your posts, Stef. Got to get to Stehakin, which you just posted minutes ago in a flurry of other posts.
This section coming into Chinook and out is the most stupendous collections of photos yet. We all know the limits of a camera in the Great Outdoors, bit I was genuinely transported to that day and place through your most excellent photography. Thank you for taking the time to “smell the roses” that day.
I was a bit saddened, empathy maybe, at your sadness in feeling that you don’t belong there and that you will never see that exquisite natural beauty again. Fact is, the world is beyond limitless in scope for us to hold close every day, but you DO belong to the very small club that hold that section of the PCT so close in their hearts and minds. It exists for YOU. And, you are doing a great job sharing; thank you so much!
I’m so glad you liked the photos Larry. It really was a special day amongst many that I’ve experienced through Washington. There are so many places I would like to come back to if ever there was an opportunity. I met a hiker from Mazama in Washington, who was hiking a section of the PCT literally in his backyard – it took him 27 years to come back. Thank you for your kind words.