170818 – Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Day:  117
Date:  Friday, 18 August 2017
Start:  Where the PCT crosses State Highway 906 in Snoqualmie Pass at Mile 2390.6, 2995 ft
Finish:  Camped by the trail at Lemah Creek at Mile 2411.3, 3196 ft
Daily Miles:  20.7 PCT, plus 0.2 back to the trail from the motel
Total PCT Miles:  1871.0
Weather:  Cool to mild and partly sunny.
Accommodation:  Tent
     Breakfast:  Omelette & hash browns, toast & jam
     Lunch:  Gorp
     Dinner:  Rehydrated sweet and sour pork with rice
Aches:  Nothing new
Highlight:  Breathtaking scenery as the trail wound its way around steep rocky crags, with wisps of cloud here and there, blue lakes below, and mountains near and far.
Lowlight:  Finishing later than I would like and having to cook and eat by headlamp.  I thought I was the only person stupid enough to be hiking so late, but while cooking dinner a young couple came hiking through with headlamps and kept on going.  A bit pointless hiking through this scenery after dark.
Pictures:  Click here

Position:  Click here.
Map:  Click here for Google Map

I was hiking by 8:30am after a big breakfast on a cool and partly cloudy morning.  After it crossed under the freeway that went through Snoqualmie Pass, the PCT entered the woods and began climbing, 3000 ft in all, during the morning.  It wasn’t too hard, being cool and mostly in the forest, and the grades were manageable. For much of the time, traffic on the freeway far below could still be heard, and there were a couple of glimpses of it from near the top of the climb.  There were also glimpses of Mt Rainier in the far distance, seemingly trapped between two layers of cloud.

At the top of the climb the trail left the forest and entered a new “balcony” world, hugging the tops of steep bare rocky slopes and working its way around a series of impressive rocky crags.  The trail was often loose rock and traversed many large scree fields, so it was a day for watching where you put your feet while walking and admiring the views only when stopped.  It also passed near some tranquil alpine lakes, while others could be seen far below in the valleys.

There were quite a few hikers out enjoying the scenery, but it wasn’t too crowded.  My goal was to walk 20-22 miles for the day, recognising that I had a late start.  In a perfect world, I will get to Stevens Pass, and State Hwy 2 for the hitch to Skykomish, the day after tomorrow, but that requires long days and the trail, while incredibly scenic, is slow going.  If it takes longer than three days, that’s not disastrous, but means less time off.  Anyway, for today, I wanted to get to Lemah Creek and cross it if possible.  There was a bridge, but it has been washed out apparently, and I may have to ford it.  Typically,  it took longer to get there than anticipated, as the trail zig-zagged its way down 3000 ft, and it was 8:00pm before I stood on the remains of the bridge.  There was a campsite on my side, and though it looked like I could get across without getting my feet wet, I decided to camp and leave it for tomorrow morning.

It has been a long, but good, day and I’m looking forward to putting my head down.

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