Friday, September 5, 2014

Yoo 617 - Stevens to Snoqualmie, Part 2

Continuing on!

After Deep Lake we spent a morning meandering thru the woods. Woods hiking isn't my favorite hiking but I do enjoy how the sunlight dances between the thick trees and the distant sounds of roaring waterfalls and rushing creeks.

Plus it's way easier to find a "toilet" in the woods than on top of a mountain.

More foot soaking. Still no blisters for me. Greg had a couple small ones so his toes got taped.

After lunch next to the Waptus (I think!) River, we started a climb. Actually more of a CLIMB. We ran into a couple parties right as we started hiking up and they were all "ARE WE AT THE BOTTOM YET??". I got to inform them that they indeed were and that we were about to spend the next 7 miles ascending 2600 feet.

Our ascent quickly turned into a race though as rain clouds started moving in from the north. The storm looked really bad miles away...lightning and everything. Yet we pushed upward like idiots. Hard, too. We were booking it.

It eventually started raining. And then my shoes got wet from the thick undergrowth we were traipsing thru. I have yet to invest in quality WATERPROOF hiking shoes. My luck was wearing out fast on blister-less feet.

About three quarters from the top, we stopped for a snack and to decide if we really should continue trekking to the top in the storm. It wasn't bad where we were and I could even see patches of blue sky thru the rain, but I know how quickly weather can change in the mountains. Ultimately we went for it and I'm so glad we did. Right as we reached the top the storm clouds cleared and the evening was gorgeous.

AND OUR CAMPSITE. The campsite we found was killer.

Surrounded almost 360 degrees by craggy granite peaks in a soft alpine meadow. I was pinching myself. It's hard to believe that places like this exist when living in the armpit of Texas. I've seen them before BUT STILL.

Best meal of the trip: chicken and couscous. Greg = trail cook forever. I plan the meals and he executes.

Bug attack mid-picture.

All in all for day 4 we were at 15.5 miles with 3200 feet of up and 2000 feet of down. Half of that in wet shoes. Blister nurturing occurred that night.

I should write a children's book that promotes teeth brushing and outdoor adventure/travel. "Would you brush your teeth here?" And then it'd have pictures of toothbrushes and people brushing their teeth all over the globe. And outer space! So really I just need to go everywhere and take fantastic teeth brushing pictures because the story is already written. "Would you brush your teeth here?" Uluru in Australia. "Would you brush your teeth here?" Sail boat in the Mediterranean.

Don't steal my idea.

Ok, it's probably already been done. But if it hasn't...!

The bear bag took more than one attempt and slightly less than 20 attempts. It was not Greg's happiest bear bag night. But I was like, "Greg, this is the coolest place to be failing at hanging a bear bag. Look at this view!"

And then Greg was like, "You throw the rock."

He eventually got it.

I will GLADLY hike up all day to settle in to this evening view. Camping is so cool. This was our home for a night! For (mostly) free!

Horribly grainy but hello Big Dipper!

It was hard to fall asleep that night because I was so excited to be where we were. I wanted to stay out all night and watch the sky and listen to the distant waterfall and get eaten alive by mosquitoes. But more importantly, I was cold and that kept me up more than anything.

I have decided to give sleeping bags my own rating. You take the label rating, +15 for women, and an additional +50 for Teagan. Basically I'm looking at this Feathered Friends -60 degree bag for my 3-season needs. Too bad it's over a thousand dollars! Until then I'll get by with my $15 emergency heat-reflective bivy.

Look what survived the night!

Souped-up oatmeal for breakfast.

As we began our hike down the mountain, we ran into an older man hiking up by himself. He had a huge white pack and was carrying a camera. We chatted for a bit and found out that he was actually hiking the trail to work on a project. He asked to record my answer to why I love backpacking and had come all the way from Texas to hike the PCT.

It's so hard to answer those questions on the spot without just saying "Everything and because it's awesome." But I just poured out a bit of what was in my heart (JOY) and we started to move on.

That was when he handed me his business card: RON STRICKLAND.

His name was vaguely familiar and I later researched more about him. Basically a trail celebrity. He's working on promoting long-distance trails and hiking in the US (including the 7,700 mile sea to sea route!), helped establish the Pacific Northwest NST, authored booooooks, and so much more.

Totally unexpected and cool. Also, PhD in Scenic Trails Research?!

I know what I'm doing with my retirement.

Finally! Greg getting owned by a log! It's always hard to decide if it will be easier to go over or under. Under usually requires getting muddy and having to stand back up. Over is just awkward and often involves scratches.

Oh yes, shortly after this we ran into 3 trail runners trying to finish all 74-miles in one day. And then 10 minutes later we ran into 3 more.

It killed me. TO HAVE ACCESS TO THAT FOR A WEEKEND RUN. Also to be in shape for that. But whatever. I thought of them as I was settling into my sleeping bag later that night. Kind of weird that they saw everything I'd been experiencing for the past several days in just several hours.

The waterfall I listened to all night.

Moments before Greg accidentally dropped his trekking pole and had it quickly washed away with the current.


I stared in disbelief from the other side before cussing and jumping on a huge log that led downstream in an attempt to catch it. The pole disappeared as I was navigating around a tree but we kept looking.

It had to get stuck in this log jam, right?

Wrong. We followed the creek searching for a while but it was gone. Silly Greg. Every time we passed a lake after that point I would joke, "Maybe we'll find your trekking pole!"

So Greg was down a trekking pole but that was the only real tragedy of the trip. Not too bad.

Result of a 2009 forest fire. Kind of pretty with the new growth.

We had another longer afternoon hike UP and were getting super tired towards the end. There were stops probably every switchback. I was even ready to camp at the first flat piece of ground. But when that piece came up, we both decided to go just a little further...and were rewarded.

Another pristine campsite surrounded by peaks. It was even better than the night before because we had access to water. Not another soul was in sight. I was pumped!

Another 13.5 miles behind us, as well as 3,000 feet of gain and 3,600 feet of loss. Speaking of feet, they were definitely hurting. We were ready for a big dinner and relaxing sunset.

Have a great day :-)

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