Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Yoo 616 - Stevens to Snoqualmie, Part 1

Two weeks ago now we began hiking a section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Stevens Pass, right off US Route 2 in Washington, en route to Snoqualmie Pass, right off I-90. There were 74 miles of rugged trail to cover in between.

The trip had obviously been my idea. I was sooooo ready for time in the mountains. Greg was excited but might have had a regret or two as his brother dropped us and our gear off and pulled away. The reality of the situation set in.

"Are we really doing this??"

"Of course we're doing this. I packed a ton of junk food and just paid for gas out here. Now grab your trekking poles, it's going to be awesome."

And it was. I have never had a hiking trip or trip of any kind go as well as this section of the PCT.

I'll let the pictures bring out the stories.

Isn't this a beautiful lake??

We started really late the first day and only had time to cover just over 4 miles (1200 foot gain, 600 foot loss) before dark threatened and we needed to set up camp. Lake Susan Jane was the name of the place and it was small and bug-ridden but just fine for our first back country attempts of the trip.

I set up the tent and blew up BOTH sleeping pads while Greg made dinner. Tuna alfredo, I think? It was beyond palatable and we scarfed it down lounged quite comfortably on a decaying log.

Then I taught Greg how to hang a bear bag and it only took 2 tries that first night. We have since decided that we're over bear bags and will probably splurge on bear canisters for future trips.

At least, there were several nights I would have handed out hundred dollar bills like candy for a bear canister but I might change my mind now that I'm back in civilization. Plus, what's a back country prayer without a line for protection of the bear bag?

I didn't even have to edit any zits off my face. What up!

Right, so we woke up and it was foggy. Pea soup foggy. We hiked for hours thru a foggy forest and as the day wore on I got my hopes up a bit as the fog showed signs of a retreat. There was even a glimmer of sunshine in one open meadow and I stood there and soaked it up.

But mostly it was cloudy and foggy.

If I remember right, this is Trap Lake. The trail went right above it and we sat on some boulders for lunch. Jerky, fruit leather, and Thai Chili Cashews. The Thai Chili Cashews were a Trader Joe's impulse buy and NEVER AGAIN. They were spicy with a weird after taste and not to our liking at all. It was a chore to eat them but we didn't have a lot of choice considering our situation.

Switchbacks! Greg's favorite!

So many log obstacles to get around.

Nothing feels better while backpacking than the above. Icy creek water! It was only day 2 and our city feet were taking a beating. We'd remained blister-free but still fatigued. The soak and a bit of massaging made the feet feel like new again.

We lost the trail when it hit this rocky section and started hiking up the wrong side. It was another trail that actually was a short-cut to the Pacific Crest Trail. Luckily there were a couple hikers on their way down that pointed us in the right direction. I mean, Greg was all for the short cut but I needed to follow the PCT!

This was hands-down Greg's favoritest section of the hike...ROCKY SWITCHBACKS! I think we had to have a brownie break for a bit of a morale boost up this climb.

The clouds we'd been hiking in and under all day thinned out and then receded late in the afternoon as we crossed the saddle to the other side of the mountain. It was glorious and as much as I'd been enjoying the trip before, I was beside myself! I just kept stammering, "We're here! I can't believe we're here! I mean, look at this!"

It's always so disappointing when the pictures don't do it justice. Three-hundred and sixty degrees of stunning.

I pick here to live every August for the rest of my life.

Another day another dinner. Tuna mac and cheese. Camped next to Deception Lakes.

This is what 14 miles and 4,000 feet of elevation gain and 3,000 feet of elevation loss looks like on us.

As we were descending into Deception Lakes we ran into a young man who announced that he'd hiked 25 miles that day. He wasn't even a thru-hiker and then our 14 miles felt like nothing. Thanks kid!

Rise and shine! It's hiking time!

Have I mentioned how good we slept? We slept goooooood.

Also, Greg looks so angry in all these pics! I promise he was having a good time. On a scale between THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE and It's-Time-To-Push-My-Emergency-Locator-Beacon-And-End-This-Experience, he was right at a "I love this but ARE WE AT THE TOP YET??" for most of the trip.

I reside more north of THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. But seriously.

It's so easy for Greg to climb over most of the logs...but so awkward for me.

Had to break up a couple bugs...they were hogging the log blocking the trail!

Greg elected to walk across those two logs on the left up there. Are you impressed?? I was. My track record for log creek crossings is south of perfect so I opt for the sandals and soak when I can. The water was frigid but I felt safer.

South...is directly behind you when reading this sign. Haha! But so helpful...

Our first view of Deep Lake after climbing for hours around Cathedral Rock.

Afternoon nap! We weren't in a hurry to finish the trail...

Refilling our water supply. My next trip will not include the bladders. They are such a pain to pull out and fill up! I see why all of the thru hikers use cheap, plastic water bottles and I am converted.

Plus our Nalgene bladders are awful. The hose easily pulls off the bottom causing all 3 liters to spill everywhere. It happened to me in Ecuador and it happened to both of us on this trip. I'm tempted to super glue it on but then we'd never be able to clean the hose...

So instead I will just ABANDON IT.

This creek was perfectly cool and we sat on rocks enjoying a foot soak for a while after the refill. We also met a thru-hiker who was about to finish the Pacific Crest and had also finished the Arizona Trail that year.

I want to be one of those crazies.

Camp at Deep Lake, day three. It was pristine. Though all evening and morning I was pining for a kayak.

I saw a lightweight inflatable dinghy at a sports store just yesterday and that would have been AMAZING. Next time...

We looked a little better on day three! Twelve miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain and 3,100 feet of elevation loss.

Greg doing what he does best on the trail...cooking food! Chicken with stuffing and gravy. Yes, please.

Mountain water I never want to leave you. Also, the Sawyer mini water filter? Eighteen bucks and amazing. RECOMMEND.

We were lazy most mornings. Waited for the sun to warm things up a bit before we really started moving. Plus we were on vacation! And sleeping bags are the most comfortable at daybreak.

THE SNACK BAG. The snack bag is sacred. Do not lose the snack bag.

I guess I'll leave it at that for now. But with a bit of this: I LOVE BACKPACKING. We were on this trip for 7 days and never once did I think a shower or any amenity that civilization offers (BESIDES BURGERS) sounded better than being were I was. My life feels so perfect when I'm backpacking. Simple. Just a repeat of working my body all day, enjoying stunning landscapes, and setting up shelter at night.


And now my dad is rolling his eyes and my mom is thinking "she is not my child."

Have a great day :-)

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