PCT DAY 42: Sunday August 6, 2017
Mile 2435.3 – Mile 2458.3
23 miles (36.8 km)
Crossing Cascading Creek, 3 miles north of where I camped, was definitely a heart starter this morning. It was rated as a difficult crossing when running full. I could hear the rumble of water rushing down a steep rocky gorge as I approached. My legs were going a bit jelly before I even saw it. When I got to it, it was a braided creek running down a series of cascades. Not very deep but moving fast in places. There were a few spots that looked possible to cross without getting wet feet. I didn’t quite manage to keep my feet dry but made it across without problems. The anticipation of the crossing was far worse then the actual crossing.
An hour of the most delightful forest hiking followed, flat terrain, soft underfoot and cool. It was the sort of hiking I didn’t think I’ll do again in Washington. It was beautiful.
The air while still smoky but seemed a little but clearer today. I could acually see the rugged snowy peaks of the Cascade mountains on the the other side of the valley.
A long climb through numerous switchbacks led me to Dove Lake. I couldn’t stop for long as the mosquitos were vicious.
Further up I went over Piper Pass. On the other side was a granite strewn valley with the most magnificent glacier lake below. It seems like such an alien and forbidding environment as I descended in full sun through a rock field. The high vantage point offered the best view of the lake as the trail passes high above it to the east. Glacier Lake is huge and appears to be very deep. It made the climb of Piper Pass worth the sweat.
From here some more brutal switchbacks to arrive on a ridge before descending to Trap Lake. I stopped on the ridge to dry out my sweat soaked clothes and have lunch. For some reason I felt great this morning. Maybe it’s the slightly cleaner air offering better distant views. Or the fact that despite the heat and poor visibility I prefer this to rain and fog closing out the views. So I guess I’m grateful for the heat and the smoky haze which is apparently keeping temperatures a few degrees lower.
After lunch, time seemed to drag on a bit as I descended briefly towards Trap Lake before ascending towards Hope and Mig lakes. It felt like that should be it for the day. But before I could call it a day there was another mile long ascent with brilliant views of Lake Josephine from the top.
Early afternoon hiking is never easy for me and today time seemed to stand still, as I faced one uphill switchback after another. Finally a sweet downhill to my campspot about 4 miles out from Stevens Pass. I could see the ski runs and the chair lift. The joy of stopping to camp was somewhat dampened by someone out shooting a gun just up from where I was to camp. The noise reveberated through the canyon like valley. The shooting went on for quite a while after I set up camp. It felt like there was a war being waged somewhere not far from me. Eventually the shooting stopped, a crunch of an ATV on gravel followed somewhere nearby and then it was quite.