PCT DAY 46: Thursday August 10, 2017
Mile 2526.8 – Mile 2553.0
26.2 miles (42.2km)
As I left my campsite this morning it was cool with warm pockets of air which remained from yesterday. It was nice to walk through warm and cold air intermingled as the morning came to full light. I can only say it was another WOW start to the day. I was up high in the mountains and walking through trail waking up birds I’ve called trail chickens. They seem to rest in the trailside vegetation and take flight as you approach – startling.
I had the sunrise on my left and the moon on my right as I headed through another glorious remnant glacial valley.
Flower fringed streams running off the mountain were so spectecular – all I could think of is – that this is so unreal. The rising sun was illuminating part of the towering cliffs above me. It took me more then an hour to cross less then a mile of the valley. I stopped so many times. Unreal, unexpected, stunning, breathtaking, I don’t have words to describe how beautiful it all looked this morning.
I was so smitten I really wanted to linger so I can taking in more of what surrounded me. I was not looking at the trail, distracted by the evolving spectacle of the sunrise playing with the flower covered meadows, I stood in a marmot burrow dug on trail, almost twisting my ankle. It gave me such a scare. I can tell you there is one thing out here that smells worse then a ripe hiker and it’s a marmots burrow – absolutely foul.
Eventually I left this wonderland and entered a forest and a series of downhill switchbacks. My senses could take a break from the overwhelming visual feast of the past few miles. The sound of industrious bees feeding on the flower filled slopes was replaced by the sound of rushing water somewhere below me.
By the time I reached Suiattle River and started the many miles foĺlowing it downstream, the morning views were already becoming a memory. It was easy hiking on way to the river, flat and soft underfoot – like a walk in the park. I could let my mind roam over the splendour of this morning. The lower sections of the forest closer to the river had the biggest pines I’ve seen in ages – big girth and very tall.
Thank goodness US Forestry replaced the damaged bridge over Suiattle River. The river is really a huge fearsome, fast-flowing, muddy slurry. I was so happy to be able to cross the river on the biggest bridge on the PCT (apart from Bridge of thd Gods).
Then started the hard work of leaving the river valley. The seven miles of uphill on the other side were not so bad initially. It was hot and sunny but the trail was shaded and the grades seemed gentler.
It was almost 1pm when I stopped for lunch at the beautiful Miners Creek. With the movement of water and the shade it was cool and welcomed rest and respite from the heat and humidity. After lunch it was a slow grind uphill gaining 3,600 feet in elevation to go over Suiattle Pass. Just like yesterday it was mind numbing hot and sweaty work.
By 5pm I was out of the forest, and the landscape changed dramatically. The trail passed through a huge rock moraine field with daunting looking towering rocky peaks behind. The huge rocks seemed to be balanced so precariously I was nervous going through as they looked like they could continue to tumble at any moment. I was pleased the fighter jets with their air splitting noise didn’t pass over me here. It would have been totally freaky. Its given me a whole new apprecuation for the forces of nature that have shaped this landscape.
The sections of forest I passed before reaching camp were made up of tall slender pines growing very close together. This made it feel very dark when in the forest. I was happy to see the campsite had been established a bit off the trail out of the woods, in a grassy clearing with views of the towering peak called Sitting Bull. Yesterday I met nine northbound section hikers and today I did not see a single person. Only 16.4 miles to Stehikin High Bridge junction tomorrow, and it’s all downhill.