My plan was to get home from work, grab my pack, and drive to Chinook Pass, which is about an hour and twenty minutes from my house. I would get on the trail and hike NORTH to Sheep Lake. Depending on how long it took me to get there, I might hike on a bit further.
|Trail head at Chinook Pass|
|Sheep lake from near Sourdough Gap|
As I walked the trail shore, I noticed a man doing stretching exercises; he appeared to have just set up camp. His trail name was "Mungra", a through hiker who had been walking the PCT from the Mexican border. He had only walked sixteen miles today, saying that he felt like he had been walking uphill the whole way. He also said a lot of through-hikers were already in Washington because the snow was not a problem in the Sierras this year. He has hiked the PCT several times and said he might do it again next year.
Who knows, maybe I'll see him again on the trail?
Since there was a lot of daylight left, I decided to head up the trail to Bear Gap trail. The Bear Gap trail is where I started hiking about two weeks ago, when I headed north. I never did go south from the Bear Gap trail, because I was tired, and I didn't think I had enough time on my last trip.
|On the Pacific Crest Trail at Sourdough Gap. See the trail crossing along the side of the hill?|
|A friendly marmot wonders who is hiking the trail at this time of the evening!|
So, tonight, I headed north again. It ended up being six miles round trip, but I made it back to the lake by 8:30. I had just enough time to set up camp and eat dinner before dark.
As I snuggled in my warm sleeping bag, there was a bright moon lighting my tent. What a fabulous evening of hiking!
|My tent at the Sheep Lake camp site. Campers must keep at least 100 feet away from the lake shore.|
In the morning, I awoke at 5 AM and started packing up at 5:30. I didn't get a good sleep last night because there were strong gusts of wind all night. This morning, it is partly overcast, but a break in the clouds let the sun light up the mountain peaks above me. It was beautiful.
My plan for today was to hike SOUTH on the PCT. The elevation chart below shows the trail I traveled.
Note: This elevation chart courtesy of Guthook's PCT Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the CDT and AT.
I got water at Sheep Lake, and then headed south on the trail. The trail follows along highway 410 for about a mile.
|PCT has a view of highway 410. The pass is just to the left of the center of the picture.|
I crossed over highway 410 on the log bridge, and then headed up the trail. The wild flowers were amazing. And, there were lots of little sparrows fluttering about, seemingly with no care in the world.
|Wild flowers along the Pacific Crest Trail|
Often I would see several chipmunks chasing each other, using the trail as their highway.
I reached the high point of my walk and could look down in the valley at Dewey Lake. This lake is a rather large lake, which sparkled in the sunlight, its deep blue color ringed by forest. I made a mental note that I would have to climb back up this 800 to 1000 foot hill on my way back!
|Dewey Lake in the valley below|
|Dewey Lake from the trail.|
The trail steadily rises and I came to the trail junction to American Lake. There was a group of young men there, who had apparently hiked up from American Lake. The signage for the PCT is not good at this point. There is nothing identifying the PCT, other than a faint scribble on the sign that was likely added by some through hiker to help others on the trail. I wonder why they don't at least put up some of the PCT trail emblems at such junctures? I checked my Guthook trail map with my GPS to make sure I was still on the right trail. There would be nothing worse than to hike uphill for a mile or two and realize you were on the wrong trail!
The trail continued its steady climb and I was feeling the miles on my legs. At one point, I happened to take my eyes off the trail and look out at the surrounding view. Mount Rainier was awesome! The views were absolutely spectacular!
|Spectacular views of Mount Rainier|
As I headed back, I met more an more hikers. This is a popular hike, and now I know why. The views are priceless, and starting the trail at the pass makes it easy to enjoy the trail.
I got back to Chinook Pass at 3 PM. I figured that I hiked over twenty miles today.
I headed back toward home, but stopped for dinner at the Black Diamond Pizza and Deli.
Pizza and beer - yummy, yummy, yummy!