Date: Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Start: Where the PCT crosses State Hwy 2 in Stevens Pass at Mile 2461.6, 4055 ft
Finish: Camped by Pear Lake, 0.1 miles from PCT Mile 2480.1, 4843 ft
Daily Miles: 18.5 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 1939.8
Weather: Warm, sunny and hazy.
Breakfast: Breakfast burrito (very spicy!)
Dinner: Rehydrated chicken and dumplings with vegetables
Aches: Nothing new
Highlight: The mid-afternoon walk over the grassy and largely treeless Grizzly Peak and the following ridge was spectacular (real Sound of Music stuff ……. though I’ve never seen the movie), with hazy (see below) views across the mountains ahead to Glacier Peak and to the left and right.
Lowlight: The smoke haze is back, though I don’t believe there are any local fires. It marred the views and you could smell and almost taste the smoke all day.
Pictures: Click here when they can be uploaded which may not be until September 1st because of low Wi-Fi bandwidth and no mobile phone coverage.
I crept out of the Cascadia Inn (recommended) at 7:00am and walked a few hundred metres to the deli which was on the main highway. My timing was poor because there were a dozen bantering tip truck drivers, male and female, lined up to order their breakfasts before me. Their trucks were parked in a long line down the highway and I suspect this is a daily ritual. I eventually placed my order then waited on a bar stool, looking out at the trucks and service station across the road, next to an old guy who remarked that “It was better than watching television”. I think he may also be part of the daily ritual. It was entertaining, and I didn’t mind the wait for my super-spicy breakfast burrito.
I then left the deli, thanking the friendly staff, and walked to the main road and started hitch-hiking. A few minutes later there was a shout from the deli, and a sign saying “PCT HIKER NEEDS LIFT TO STEVENS PASS” was passed out the window to me to use. Almost immediately after I put it out, a car that had just passed did a U-turn and came back to offer me a lift. I quickly returned the sign to the deli and accepted the offered lift from a Seattle police dispatcher who had a few days off and was going to climb some mountains. After a quick drive and an interesting conversation, he dropped me at Stevens Pass and I was back on the trail by 8:30am.
The early walking in the forest was very easy and it remained comfortable as it turned up a valley and climbed into the mountains. The grades were generally manageable and there weren’t too many rocky sections. The tough trail of the last few days seems to be behind me for the moment, and I was back to my 2.5 miles an hour comfortable pace. Sadly, what views there were, were marred by the smoke haze that had returned, but the forest walking was fine and the trail passed a few pretty alpine lakes and crossed a couple of high meadows.
The highlight of the day was the walk over Grizzly Peak (see above), and perhaps getting to my target campsite soon after 6:00pm, my earliest for some time. I am camped beside a largish alpine lake, Pear Lake, and sharing my site with a couple of old guys (maybe older than me) who arrived after me. It was hard, today, not to think about getting to Canada and finishing this section. I think I was lucky that it was an easy hiking day, or I would have been thinking about it a lot more.