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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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