Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day 120 - Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Thursday August 13

As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, I am jumping ahead to Snoqualmie Pass. I have done the section from White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass, and I need to take advantage of the days left in August to finish the sections of the trail that I haven't hiked. 

My wife drove me to the trailhead and I was hiking by 6:30. I knew the hiking would be difficult today because the trail climbs steadily, gaining 3,000 feet in six miles. 

What I didn't a anticipate was how difficult the trail was to walk on. In several places it looked like water had run down the trail, leaving rocks and roots to step on, over or around. For many miles the trail climbed through talus fields. I slipped many times when rocks would shift or roll under my feet. This is what the talus fields looked like.

And, it didn't help that my pack was heavy with four days of food. I compare today's effort to the days when I was crossing the passes in the high Sierras. I have seldom put so much effort into so few miles. 

To offset the difficulty, however, were the fantastic views of the rugged peaks. Mount Rainier could be seen in the distance, but the smoke from the Mount Adams fire made everything hazy.

Reliable water sources were few and far between since this summer has been the driest on record in Washington. There were several pretty deep blue lakes along the way, but the trail usually did not come close enough to use them as a water source. I carry 2.5 liters of water, and by midday I was down to one-half liter. That is very unusual for me and kept me worried for several hours. 

Around noon I noticed a mountain goat walking up the trail ahead of me. It didn't seem to be afraid of me. I yelled and waved my trekking pole and it finally climbed up a steep rock above me.

By early afternoon the trail descended almost 2,700 feet to Lemah creek. I hiked another half mile to a large creek that was supposed to have several campsites near the creek. I couldn't find them! I resigned myself to carrying water to dry camp. I was mentally and physically exhausted. As I headed uphill away from the creek, I noticed a side trail heading into the woods. I followed it and jumped for joy as I saw a wonderful campsite!

I am worried about the weather. Thunderstorms are forecast for tonight and tomorrow. I'll just hope for the best. 

I am camped at PCT mile 2424.1.    I hiked 22.1 miles today. The elevation here is 3,287 feet. 

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