PCT Day 19. Monday August 1, 2022
Mile 2515.5 + 17 miles today
Total Distance Hiked: 336.5 +miles /538.5 kilometres
The sound of Glacier Creek, near which we were camped, was a constant hum through the night. We woke to clouds in the sky which made for a pretty pink sunrise. It was nice for a change.
We didn’t fully appreciate until about a mile from where we camped how close we were to Glacier Peak. For a few miles this morning we had fantastic views of the glaciers suspended near the peak.
Whenever we passed through a forested sections we encountered blowdowns. One area was so bad we lost the trail completely. Took a while to scamper back uphill and relocate it.
We passed a steady stream of enthusiastic and fresh faced southbound through hikers. By the time we started the descent to Fire Creek the rising sun had burnt off the clouds. The creek was a wet shoes crossing which didn’t matter as the sun was shining.
We made slow progress for the two miles up to Fire Pass, planning to stop for breakfast at the top. Nearing the top of the pass it we were surprised to encounter large patches of snow. It was still firm and grippy so no problem on the ascent. It was cold and windy at the top of the Pass so we were going lower down before stopping for breakfast.
The descent off the pass looked a lot more sketchier. So much snow hanging in on very steep slopes. We decided to get the steepest bit done first and then stop for breakfast and let the adrenaline settle. I found it scary, far more so then the Old Snowy Moutain in Goat Rocks Wilderness. With my heart in my throat once more I was questioning if Lake Chelan and Stehekin Bakery were worth it. There are easier ways to get there. Although we did have a pretty spectacular spot for breakfast.
The sketchy descent continued for some time before we were on snow free switchbacks. I can see now why all the southbounders were chirpy this morning
They had this beast of a pass behind them.
As we continued towards Mica Lake the sun was beating down on our back but ahead were ominous dark clouds. Looked very dramatic.
It was our intention to stop for a while and go for a swim in Mica Lake. Another lake we regretted not stopping at previously. But when we got to the lake it was almost completely under ice and snow. The water is such an intense blue colour and where the ice was melted around the edge it looked very deep and mysterious. No swim for us. The swim will have to wait until Lake Chelan.
Leaving the lake we had a couple of hours of very pleasant shaded forest walking. Countless switchbacks down to Milk River. The trail became quite overgrown and eroded as we got closer to the river with quite a few blowdowns. It was hot and our progress was slow. We could hear the thundering flow of the river but it was a while before we reached the bridge. The river is well named, its’ water has a milky hue.
The long switchback ascent away from milk river was on an overgrown and eroded trail exposed to the afternoon sun. We counted off the 36 switchback as a motivator to keep moving in the afternoon heat.
The absence of wildlife has been quite noticable. Apart from marmots, squirrels and chipmunks we have not seen much evidence of bigger animals. Today was the first time we’ve seen fresh bear scats near Milk River.
It was an afternoon of switchbacks, the 4 mile descent from Mica Lake dropped 2,400 feet at the Milk River crossing and then rising back the same distance on the other side in a very narrow valley. It was late afternoon by the time we reached the top of the climb.
It was just hard work, exposed sections of the trail were overgrown and eroded in parts underfoot. This made for very slow progress. We were rewarded with spectacular views from the top, snow covered mountain peaks in all directions – even got a glimpse of the top of Mt Rainier. The spectacular scenery continued when the trail passed through a relic glacial cirque at the base of Glacier Peak. Such a sudden transition in landscape. This was a barren boulder field with snow melt streams cascading down and not much vegetation cover.
We hiked another few miles before calling it a day. We were feeling exhausted, it was a truly hard day today.
What difference from your first experience on the PCT! Bet that you were glad NOT to be doing it SOLO this time!! At least you had wonderful views of the wildflowers at this time of year!
Loved the last shot of the marmot — seems to say it all!!
Yes, the marmot sums up our day 😊. It has been nice to share the beauty.